Every year, Wahl award a coveted title to the barber that they see as the Best British Barber of the Year, and for 2016 the prize – awarded at Salon International in October – went to Andrea Raymond. Andrea is a 22-year-old Irish barber, and she’s also the first female barber to have received the title. After working for years in a number of barbershops and salons throughout Cork, this hard-fought award is a well-deserved recognition of her enthusiasm and skill.

Shortly after her win, I interviewed Andrea to get a better sense of how this relatively unknown barber had not only ended up on stage alongside popular professionals such as Paul Mac, but also managed to beat them to the title. I also wanted to find out more about working as a female barber in an industry that is still male-dominated, and get advice for other women in the profession.

One of the first things that I always try to find out from the barbers that I interview is exactly how they got started in the trade. The variety of different stories is amazing, and for Andrea it was a case of looking for a creative and practical career.

She said: “I wanted to do something to do with art, but I didn’t want to do anything to do with art college because I felt like you were told what to do. So I thought, okay, I’ll go into hairdressing.”

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This led to Andrea first starting at a hairdressing college, however once she started she found that “there was just so much theory, so much sit down, that it wasn’t for me. So I left and started an apprenticeship at a hairdressers, and while I was there I thought I’d do something a bit more. So, I started a barber course. [I] never thought I’d be a barber, but when I did I just realised this is for me.”

It’s becoming increasingly common for hairdressers to decide to move over into barbering, and for Andrea this is because it is both more creative and more challenging. Her work took her first to Bladez Barbers and then to Lancaster Barbers, where she still works today, both of which are found in her home town of Cork.

With this experience under her belt, Andrea was able to submit an application to the Wahl Barber of the Year competition that clearly wowed the judges. Before competing on stage at Salon International, this process meant sending off photos and information about her work. While chatting, she was kind enough to describe what’s involved, a simple process which any barber can easily complete if they have their own sights set on a similar award.

“For the Wahl British Barber of the Year it was posted on their Facebook page. So you pick 4-6 images of your work, it has to be a nice shoot, it has to be a high resolution camera – there’s a bit of fine print – but you send 4-6 pictures in by email with a small little bio of yourself; how you started off, how long you’ve been barbering.

“It was actually very easy to apply for it, and I think that was turning me off as well because you hear competition work and you think I’ve got to get a model, I’ve got to get a photoshoot going. But it was so straight forwards, I definitely recommend everyone to go for it for next year.”

Of course, while the entry process may have been easy, the competition isn’t – and Andrea did well to cut through hundreds of other entries to reach the live final. We talked a little about the style that she brought to the stage with her; refreshingly straightforward techniques and a focus on classic styles.

Andrea explains that rather than trying to emulate another popular barber, or deciding to stray outside the box for her competition work, she thought it was important to stay with what she does best.

andrea 8“I went with a skin fade, just a regular skin fade, didn’t do anything fancy. Cropped on top, textured. His hair was bleached on top but he had naturally dark hair. So with the texture on top I wanted it to look quite broken up so you get the contrast of dark and light, same as the contrast of the skin fade on the light skin.

“I like clean, sharp lines, I like to put as much effort into every aspect of the haircut as the next. So I just went plain, simple, easy structure – and it worked.”

Showing off your own speciality is the advice that Andrea picked up from other barbers who supported her, such as Reece and Allan Beak, and now it’s the message that she’s passing onto other barbers who may want to follow in her footsteps. In particular, the core advice she offers to young female barbers, who are wondering how to cut through all the noise is “don’t try to be anybody else.”

These wise words show that Andrea doesn’t just deserve her position as 2016’s Best British Barber for her skills, but also for the positive influence that she will be able to have on the up-and-coming stars of the trade.

There’s one final piece of information that I simply have to share with every barber reading this – and that’s what’s inside Andrea’s toolkit. I’m sure many of you, like me, are very enthusiastic about the huge range of clippers and other barbering gadgets that are out there, so never miss a chance to see which trusty tools are being favoured by the professionals.


Unlike a lot of barbers I’ve spoken to, Andrea is all about corded models, preferring choices such as the Taper 2000 – which she’s always sure to have two of – to their cordless equivalents. She also uses the Wahl Beret Mini Clipper, the classic Wahl Shaver which remains a firm favourite with barbers across the country, and the Wahl Icon. Aside from the Wahl Beret, all her tools are corded; this has even led her to make her own crunch head Magic Shaver, by swapping out the flat head that comes with the corded version.

She also uses the Finale Foil Shaver, which is an “exception” to the rule since Andrea has found that although it’s cordless, it gives excellent results: “sharp, clean, easier on your hand”. Finally, she is adding some custom-made scissors from Dan ‘Quartered Steels’ Wild, as they will last longer and be tailored precisely to her cut.

It was a real pleasure to meet Andrea – a modest and grateful barber who was a real pleasure for me to interview. As she talked to me about her work, the drive and determination certainly shone through! We finished the interview by talking about her advice for female barbers who may be looking to follow her example and make a bigger name for themselves in the barbering industry. I’ll leave you with her parting words, which can also apply to any early career barber: “stick to what you’re good at. Perfect your own techniques, your own skills. So just don’t try to be anyone else and that will get you far.”



Written by Larry the Barber Man