Artists with Razors

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Although traditional barbers, with their long white coats, have become a thing of the past, today the profession has become an urban art form in which creativity, good service and music go hand in hand.

On Nicoya’s streets, a new style of popular barber is catching the attention of men and some women looking to define their eyebrows.

Emanuel Guerrero, of Barber Extreme, learned the trade in the streets by experience, watching other barbers and practicing with friends from the neighborhood. “At the age of 13, I grabbed a razor and that started everything. My goal was to learn for myself and now I have my own profession,” he said.

The trend was initially seen in town about ten years ago, when a group of people from Limon set up their business downtown. The “Caribbean” style quickly became fashionable, which involves short hair, defined eyebrows, short sideburns and a straight line along the forehead.

Many visit the shops looking for styles that most clearly represent their personality. The most daring clients leave with a star or the logo of their favorite soccer team shaved onto their head.

Javier Madrigal, one of Barber Extreme’s regular customers, explained that, in addition to cutting his hair and nurturing his style, the barbershop is a place to make friends.

“I like to come to the barbershop because we’re like a family; it’s like forming a friendship – you sit down and they know what you like,” he said. And sitting in a chair at one of these barbershops is an experience that involves much more than a simple haircut.

Charlie Matarrita and Giovanni Jimenez, barbers at New Style, say that many times their work is an opportunity to strike up a friendship with the client, to talk about personal problems and joke for a bit while drinking coffee. It just takes passing by the shop on a Saturday afternoon to see their clients enjoying the rhythm of reggaeton inside.

Javier Moreno, from Barberia El Parce, has been a barber for 18 years. “In my homeland, Colombia, street barbershops are common. I learned by watching and when I came to Costa Rica, I learned to appreciate what I do because I know wherever I go in the world, if I take clippers with me, I won’t lack work,” said Moreno.

The truth is that it’s not easy to master using a razor like these barbers do. For many, the barbers’ creativity with their hands is a special gift that not just anyone has.