The Polish hair cut

There are few things I hate more than having my hair cut. I find the experience of watching a complete stranger wielding sharp objects around my head deeply uncomfortable. There’s something very alarming about a person radically altering your appearance in public while you sit there in a strangulating bib. I strongly suspect most men feel this way but it’s hard to be sure since there is no feasible way of introducing the subject into casual pub conversation. The person who figures out how to cut men’s hair in a way that doesn’t make them feel like helpless infantile buffoons will make a great deal of money. Eventually I will go completely bald and the whole nightmare cycle will be over. In fact, the more I think about it the more I suspect male baldness is simply an evolved escape mechanism.

Having your hair cut in your own country is bad enough but having it done in a foreign language with foreign gels and other mysterious apparatus is the stuff of nightmares. As it turns out, however, I’ve discovered there are several advantages to getting my hair cut in Poland.

In the UK it is becoming increasingly difficult to find men’s barbers. Almost the only places left that cut hair have become ‘hair salons.’ Walk through the door of a salon and you become the kind of man who has a ‘hairstyle’ rather than a ‘hair cut.’ This is all well and good if you’re a TV celebrity, a male prostitute or an Italian but for the rest of us the whole idea is deeply disturbing. My wife goes to a salon. She’s in there for hours and comes out looking even sexier than when she went in. Half an hour would kill me. Fortunately Poland is blessed with thousands of strictly men’s barbers. They are staffed by fat men with mustaches who learned their craft on the scalps of a million conscripts. It’s almost relaxing. Gel is rarely mentioned and the whole thing is over in less time than it takes to go completely insane by staring at your own troubled face in a mirror.

men with hairstyles

Men with hairstyles and a whole lot of other problems

Poor service
The first time I visited my local barber he really went to town. Discovering I was a foreigner he assumed my hair cutting tastes would be highly sophisticated. I was in there for what felt like weeks. At one point he went through a bizarre ceremony of combing clippings out of my hair and showing them to me against the background of a pure white linen napkin. I had no idea what to say or even what I was supposed to be saying something about. Nice clippings? Well done? Is that my hair? He was a small man. So small he had to stand on a box to reach my head, which made me wonder why he hadn’t invested in a lower chair. That night I had a dream about a midget clothed in napkins running around on my brain with a lawnmower.

The next time I went the entire charade had been dropped. He buzzed through my ridiculously long hair in 10 minutes and never went near a starched white napkin. I would have kissed him if my bad back allowed me to bend down that far. On every subsequent visit chair time has been trimmed by a few seconds. I’m hoping that if I keep going long enough the actual time spent cutting hair will reach negative figures — I’ll become well-groomed simply by walking in his direction.


The Polish moustache: extruded from the face by pure effort

Low expectations
The male hairstyle is not big in Poland. Most Polish men go with the conscript buzz cut or a kind of limp 70s shag that sets off their porn star mustaches a treat. By putting in the minimum of effort I’m suddenly a sensation. In fact most Polish women regard the conscript buzz cut as sensational. I tell the hair cutist I want a ‘normalny’ and that’s enough to set me apart from 90 percent of Polish male heads. I am so sorely tempted to grow a mustache though.

Buzz Aldrin

The ultimate ‘buzz’ cut: astronaut Buzz Aldrin in the Lunar Module.

Tagged , , , , ,

19 thoughts on “The Polish hair cut

  1. Justine says:

    I hate the conscript-cut! I have no idea what Polish men are thinking, it turns me off big time (I’m a Polish woman). It’s seldom flattering, most men end up looking like criminals and/or retards. And the idea that women like it? It’s making me depressed…Maybe it’s some reminiscence of “podgolone lby” of Polish nobility…Please don’t tell me most Polish men do that (I’ve been living outside of the country for a long time).

  2. Bartek says:

    Island, couldn’t you find a more ugly photo for the heading of this post.

    It looks like a promotion picture of a retard-disco club. They look like sunburnt dresiarze.

    I don’t go to barber’s at all… I have my hair cut with a hair-clipper…

  3. bob says:

    ‘They look like sunburnt dresiarze.’ Nah, sheep dipped dresiarze

  4. Bartek says:

    Island, I’d’ve forgotten. Many happy returns of this beautiful round anniversary. Yes, I don’t know how it feels, but I’m bracing myself to find out, in eighteen years…

  5. ania says:

    Happy Birthday, Island!

    Only nice, quick haircats! :)

  6. Brad Zimmerman says:

    Mine is “short, not buzzed” and I agree with Justine, most Polish guys look like they are either criminals or trying out for the swim team (100% bald).

    The reason this is done this way is obvious, though: it’s cheap.

  7. wildphelps says:

    The photo of the young men – I never knew there were Polish Oompa Loompas, let alone pubescent Oompa Loompas.

    I got lucky with first haircut in Poland. It was a place for men, but the person who cut my hair was a woman. After trying to explain how I wanted my hair cut, she smiled, said something reassuring, and told me to sit. 10 minutes later as she was finishing, she told me in a non-seductive, non-patronizing way, matter-of-fact way that I looked better now and was handsome (kind of like an nice aunt would). I knew then I would always get a good haircut from her…

  8. Chrisoz says:


    You should go here:

    Looks like it’s near Bob’s house too.


  9. Steven says:

    I,m just impressed that you can produce 394 words about the Polish Buzz Cut Guy.


  10. island1 says:

    Thanks all for the birthday wishes (even though I thought it was a closely guarded secret). Unfortunately I had to attend a funeral, hence my slow reply.

  11. DeCoy says:

    I’ve worked with guys before that seemed to go to either ends of the spectrum when it came to hair-cuts. One guy I sat beside would cut his own hair using an electric shaver, and that was obviously a close buzz cut…

    Another guy once paid €55 (yes €uros!) to have his hair-cut in one of those fancy salons and I admitted to him that it did not look a whole lot different after compared to before, so he realised he probably was fleeced.

    Belated birthday greetings Island!

  12. Justine says:

    I was going to say that you must be a man if the €55 horrifies you ;) I’m getting used to paying thrice that sum. But on the other hand it includes highlights, the cut itself being much less expensive, so maybe your shock is partly justified.

  13. Pioro says:

    That first picture is actually a group of Italian-American teens in New Jersey displaying the latest in Guido trends and fashions.

    If you want to learn more about the horrors of Guido culture I strongly recommend MTV’s reality show Jersey Shore.

  14. raf says:

    Overheard on a train in Dublin, group of teenagers on their way to school in the morning on their absent classmate:

    “He’s gay, he’s totally gay. Look: man bag, yeah, man bag! The Polish haircut… I’m tellin’ ya he’s gay!”

    I was tempted to get up and ask them what “Polish haircut” was. The strong likelihood of the answer being “yours!” prevailed though.

  15. Finrod Felagund says:

    I have a Czech/Norwegian background and I am here in Krakow for about three years. Sincerely, the typical Polish hair cut scares me, because men who have it look mostly like primitive hooligan-criminal-skinhead-Nazi folks, who are often very aggressive. Before Christmas five of those attacked me for no reason shouting that I was a Jew – but I felt uncomfortably near such looking men even before that. I don’t know, whether it’s some kind of fear that they could be labelled as gays or something, or it’s some cultural thing (the cult of force), but it’s as annoying as meeting a group of Gypsy loud teenagers in Ostrava…

  16. Marcin says:

    I have a regular hair cut, just cut short, but no too short.

  17. Agnieszka says:

    Oh my god, I hate this hair cut so much!:/ It’s depressing how many men in Poland wear it and how unflattering it is in most cases. I’ve spent the recent academic year in Britain and I was amazed at how many men my aged I actually liked. And it took me some time to realize that they were not more handsome than polish guys… but they actually had more hair than a hedgehog. It felt so depressing to go back home_^_”
    Fortunately, at least in Warsaw, more guys started keeping their hair longish… what a relief.

  18. YouNxt says:

    Love the fake n’ bake on the two Polish Guidos

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s