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Getting a Men's Haircut in Turkey

Updated on September 6, 2017

Experience the art and culture of a Turkish haircut

A good way to experience the unique Turkish culture is to get a men's haircut in Turkey. It is a form of art and a national treasure!

Turks are very hospitable and friendly people. Walk into any barber shop in Turkey and you will be welcomed and made to feel like a king.

Discover all about the wonderful experience of getting a men's haircut in Turkey. Watch out for the fire!

Turkey: Must do list

Drink çay

Eat pide

Visit Ephesus

Shop in the bazaar

Get a men's haircut!

A national treasure

A skilled profession

Turks take hair very seriously. So seriously that it is considered a national art form and foreigners are not allowed to be employed as barbers in Turkey.

The apprentices spend many hours just watching, cleaning and preparing equipment before they are even allowed to touch the hair.

Enjoy the hospitality

Time to relax before your haircut

In Turkey, a typical men's haircut requires about two hours. The first hour is spent waiting while other customers have their hair done. During this time you are offered çay (Turkish tea). You can chat, read the local newspapers or watch the Turkish television. Sometimes you get a shoulder or arm massage from one of the assistants.

the barber dips a ball of cotton wool in methylated spirits... they then set fire to this and ...

Before: An old Turkish haircut! ... and after: a new Turkish haircut!

Before: An old Turkish haircut! ... and after: a new Turkish haircut!
Before: An old Turkish haircut! ... and after: a new Turkish haircut!

The artist at work

Earth - Water - Wind - Fire

When you are seated, the barber will wash your hair if necessary then dry it. A cape is fastened around your neck and you are asked how you would like your hair done. The first step is carefully trimming the area just around the ears and at the back. Several different combs on the electric trimmers will be used to get it just right.

This is followed by a wet cut.

If you have a beard or mustache, this is trimmed and shaped if required. Plenty of shaving cream with the long handled razors.

Any extra hair on the face is either waxed with a pine resin, pulled out with tweezers or string. A cotton thread is twisted and the resulting loop is opened and closed over the hair to be removed. Nose hair is trimmed with small scissors.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the haircut is when the barber dips a ball of cotton wool in methylated spirits. Perhaps you think this is for cleaning something? Not exactly. It depends on how you define cleaning. They then set fire to this and flick the flames into your ears to burn the hairs. Also any stray hairs on your face.

Finally the hair is washed. Then blow dried. Then gel is applied. Followed by hair spray and deodorants.

My recent look - From my usual barbers, but a different Turkish haircut for me

A fresh Turkish haircut
A fresh Turkish haircut

I have had more haircuts from different barbers since these photos, but the style is still the same.

Compliments

Customary sayings

When everything is complete, you pay and the barber will say "Sıhhatler olsun" meaning "May it be healthy".

An appropriate response might be "Elinize sağlık" - "Health to your hands".

You will probably get a lot of compliments from people about your hair - mostly "Sıhhatler olsun". This should not be confused with similar sounding phrases: "Saatler olsun" which means may you have lots of clocks; or "Saçlar olsun" meaning may you have many hairs.

Video of one of my Turkish haircuts

Hair length

I really enjoy a Turkish haircut, but I tend to let my hair grow long in the winter to avoid the cold. Some people prefer my hair short, some think longer is better. What do you think?

What is the best hair length for me?

If you have a local Turkish barber, please provide their location. When there are a few entries, I will add a map. I am particularly interested in finding barbers outside of Turkey. My own barber however, will remain secret - I don't want everyone crowding into his little shop and making the queue for haircuts longer than it is.

© 2007 Peter Murray

Share your Turkish haircut experience

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    • Travel Shepherd profile image

      Michael Shepherd 4 years ago from Ennis, Co. Clare, Ireland

      I will be in Turkey for two weeks in January. I will definitely be going to a hamam; I will have to consider the barber.

      Cheers,

    • petermurray profile image
      Author

      Peter Murray 4 years ago from Izmir, Turkey

      @Elyn MacInnis: No, but it is warm. They move the flame so quickly that only the hair is burnt.

    • Elyn MacInnis profile image

      Elyn MacInnis 4 years ago from Shanghai, China

      Did they ever burn your ears??

    • DonD LM profile image

      DonD LM 5 years ago

      Turkish haircut looks so clean, a well groomed haircut indeed. Superb lense.

    • Optionstradingiq profile image

      Optionstradingiq 5 years ago

      Hi Peter, thanks for your advice about the text list module! Greatly appreciated. Thanks Pal!

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 5 years ago from Idaho

      A very unique and interesting lens, Blessed!

    • trustytraveltip1 profile image

      trustytraveltip1 6 years ago

      Hahaha a great lens, although a Turkish barber almost broke my neck once...come checkout our lenses for more great info on Turkey!

    • chezchazz profile image

      Chazz 6 years ago from New York

      Sounds spa-like, and if I am ever lucky enough to visit Turkey I will not get a haircut beforehand so I can try it. I had a great-uncle who was a barber and I thought a steaming hot towel and straight-edge razor shave were scary before I read about the flaming cotton ball.

    • Titia profile image

      Titia Geertman 6 years ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

      Interesting to see, but I can't say I like the results. Too clean and too neat, especially the line of the beard, yak. I liked your beard and hair as they were before much, much better, sorry.

    • chefkeem profile image

      Achim Thiemermann 6 years ago from Austin, Texas

      Very interesting report on Turkish haircuts. I love to read about people who take great pride in their craft. :)

    • profile image

      moonlitta 6 years ago

      I have to admit the burning ball startled me. I didn't know about this habit of Turkish barbers.

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 6 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      I like quirky travel lenses like this. Fun cultural experiences. I think you should make a lens about every one of the activities in your "must do" list.

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 6 years ago

      I like your haircut!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 6 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Whew! Very interesting. Thanks for sharing!

    • joanhall profile image

      Joan Hall 6 years ago from Los Angeles

      Fascinating! Thanks for sharing this interesting custom.

    • Hairdresser007 profile image

      James Jordan 6 years ago from Burbank, CA

      i just watched the video. I noticed that the little trimmer they use is the Contura Trimmer by Wella. I use that too!

    • Hairdresser007 profile image

      James Jordan 6 years ago from Burbank, CA

      As a hairdresser, I have to say this is interesting. I think it is also interesting that they do not allow foreigners to do haircuts! I would love to go there sound relaxing and not rushed and like you are just allowed to enjoy the experience. Your new haircut looks great!

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 6 years ago from Canada

      What an unusual and interesting subject for a lens!

    • stuhaynes lm profile image

      stuhaynes lm 6 years ago

      Like the haircut!

    • profile image

      gobbleupinfo 6 years ago

      Do they permit female barbers? I'll have to share this lens with the "barber" in our family! Enjoyed your lens. I intend to check out your other lenses.

    • desilegend profile image

      desilegend 6 years ago

      Do they do hot towel shave?

    • profile image

      JennySui 6 years ago

      Very interesting and informative lens!

    • profile image

      ZazzleEnchante 6 years ago

      Entertaining, fascinating, enjoyable, interesting lens! Blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • jmorgan17 lm profile image

      jmorgan17 lm 7 years ago

      Really enjoyed this interesting lens. I really like the compliments and customary sayings. Health to your hands, may it be healthy or may you have a lot of clocks!

    • carny profile image

      carny 8 years ago

      Sounds fascinating. Two hours is surely a long time though. Hehe.

    • profile image

      nickclaw 8 years ago

      I really like this lens! Very informative. And the barbershop is a great place to practice Turkish phrases!

    • profile image

      ZBT 8 years ago

      For a girl, I wear my hair ultra, ultra short - so, I can really appreciate your lens on Turkish haircuts. Really cool. I learned something new. Thanks!

    • profile image

      ZBT 8 years ago

      For a girl, I wear my hair ultra, ultra short - so, I can really appreciate your lens on Turkish haircuts. Really cool. I learned something new. Thanks!

    • profile image

      chubred00 9 years ago

      I love this lens! What a wonderful tribute to this remarkable experience. I love getting my haircut here. One thing you fail to mention is the great relationship that one forms with his barber after repeated visits. You're treated as a family member visiting from out of town every time you return. It's a great experience.

    • Amanda Blue profile image

      Amanda Blue 9 years ago

      This is an amusing but also very interesting lens, which I find particularly fascinating as my father was a Greek born in the early 1900s in Istanbul (then called Constantinople.) Thank you for an eye-opening look at the Turkish people. 5*

    • profile image

      thoughtful 9 years ago

      This is a very unique and interesting lens. Now that I am living in the UK Turkey holiday destination that I hear good things about. Thanks for the info.

    • profile image

      thomasz 9 years ago

      Interesting lens. Nice info.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      you really did a great job by sharing about culture ,it will be very helpful for those who are planning to visit that place, great work!great lens i feel happy if you would see my lens:

      RomanticCheapDateIdeas

    • NorDac LM profile image

      NorDac LM 9 years ago

      Nice lens. Great use of the "Talk Bubble" it highlighted an interesting point in your previous text area very well, I'm going to have to remember that trick :)

    • profile image

      Ratcha 9 years ago

      Well done! I love learning about cultures. Thanks.

    • profile image

      badmsm 9 years ago

      I love this, it's amazing how so much ritual is put into something that seems so mundane to many of us. Thanks!

    • cathyswraps profile image

      cathyswraps 9 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your lens. You must be very proud to have been recognized by Seth Gordon, good work. I'll be applying what I learned here to my lens http://www.squidoo.com/cathyswrapsflowers. Please stop by and say hello.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Great Lens here 5 stars from me and thanks for joining my group "Travelmania".

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Very interesting lens. I never knew this before. 5 stars and lensrolled.

      This Shirt Rocks

    • profile image

      shinhwa 9 years ago

      it's not so often I can find a lens that's as "well put together" as yours.

      Im amazed.

      keep it up!

      Ciao from business credit cards

    • LisaDH profile image

      LisaDH 9 years ago

      Wonderfully fun topic! I've never been to Turkey, but once made a horrible cultural faux pas by allowing a male barber in India to give me a head massage in the front yard of my guest's house. Apparently it was fine for the man I was traveling with to do it, but not for me. Oops!

    • drchris2 profile image

      drchris2 9 years ago

      I always went to a Turkish babershop in Holland. Suprt cheap and the best haircuts I ever had. I was the only non turkish customer, always treated like a king. Great Lens!

    • profile image

      anie 9 years ago

      good one , nice to see about different hair style culture.

    • Retro Loco profile image

      Vicki 9 years ago from USA

      Very interesting lens. It's always fun to learn about other cultures. Hope you'll visit my Retro Christmas lens.

    • profile image

      ancora 9 years ago

      Turkey definitely gets my vote. Fascinating country.

    • profile image

      PWLC 9 years ago

      BEEN TO TURKEY ITS NOT ALL THAT GREAT PEOPLE AMARICA HAS MUCH BETTER

    • profile image

      panacea 9 years ago

      As a Turk, I loved your lens! Wonderful observations from the barber shop. I missed having Turkish style haircuts in US. Good luck with your business and lens! Eline saglik :)