Just two blocks from busy Oxford Street in Darlinghurst sits the unassuming little sister salon of Surry Hills’ Barney Martin, BM2. Recently celebrating its first birthday, the more intimate slice of the OG salon - that has had a dedicated clientele for 15 years - is already becoming one of Sydney’s most sought after seats. The relaxed and quirky, but ultimately chic, space is paired with a Barney Martin guarantee your hair is, quite literally, in the best hands. Here, Beauticate Managing Editor, Rikki, put all her trust in those hands to achieve a pixie...
I almost miss it. Just a hop, skip and jump away from Beauticate HQ, we were delighted to find out Barney Martin’s latest iteration was our neighbour and couldn’t wait to book an appointment. Expecting a space as noticeable as the corner-stationed BM Hair on bustling Crown Street, with its turquoise door, I am a little surprised to find a more muted exterior. But, with the signature neon signage on a windowed entrance, tucked into a street-level grey rendered alcove, it is still unmistakably Barney. Relieved to be in the right spot, and a bit early, I have time to freak out a bit. See, I am here to get seriously cut…
Since the day I landed after my honeymoon three years ago and booked a haircut before we’d even hit the cab rank (because, there’s an odd unwritten rule about long-hair and brides), my hair has gotten progressively shorter. Aside from a small stint with hair extensions last year, I’ve been experimenting with shorter shapes. But, having my son a bit over a year ago, there's a new level of difficulty to this plight. I’ll just get this out of the way early: I don’t want The Soccer Mum haircut label. So many mums get the chop because EASY is key. And, those chubby little hands have serious grip, ripping out any low-hanging strands. I just don’t want to have the haircut that has made many a meme. When I asked Beauticate boss lady, Sigourney, for the best short hairstylist that I can trust to chop my hair to a pixie, she did not hesitate to say ‘Barney!’.
I’m quite attached to my hair (you can read about my tress navel gazing here), so to go a length that will not easily pull into even a tiny ponytail is a bit terrifying. And, won’t lie, also a bit liberating… if executed well. Stepping into BM2, 36 reference screen shots in hand, I am nervous. But, the butterflies I harbour disappear when Barney himself greets me at the front desk. There are no airs and graces here - despite the uber cool aesthetic - and this is going to be ok. He is warm and attentive, as are his staff, and immediately seats me with (up-to-date!) magazines and a latte. The first thing I notice as I’m being gowned-up is the polaroid wall - a signature of the Surry Hills salon. All smiley, glorious-haired clients, Barney’s arm draped around their shoulders, as a cute little diary of the work he’s done. It’s a personal touch and reassurance Sig was right - he is essentially responsible for some of the best ‘dos in Sydney.
He washes my hair at the basin as we chat about Game of Thrones and how it can’t possibly be a two year wait until next season, can it?! And a bit about what I’m after. I think I say ‘no mum cut’ maybe 687 times, but I need not. He’s got this, and there’s no mucking around. He tells me he’s going to to to razor cut after revealing he has learnt the technique from some of the very best in the business, to give me a week-old cut look. After dividing my hair into three sections, from part to crown, in one swift move he cuts the first section to about a five centimetre length - there’s no going back! I opt to keep a longer fringe (or, as Barney calls it, a safety net), but give him free reign in the back. I expect to be more and more anxious as the hair drops away, but it’s quite the opposite - why haven’t I done this earlier? He crafts the cut to perfectly accentuate the better parts of my face (I’ve got ok cheekbones and a long neck), taking away from the less liked areas (a weak chin). He even slows down so I can boomerang the change for Insta (this is very important…). Before long, I’m a bonafide pixie. And, very honestly, I’ve never felt better about a cut.
He gives my hair a quick blow dry blast, using a flat brush so as not to keep texture (avoiding a rounded too-done finish) and scruffs in a small R+Co Mannequin Styling Paste. I take a thousand mental notes - although short hair is seemingly easier to maintain, styling properly is what will make or break this going forward. I can’t wait to scroll through the pixie tutorials on Instagram and play around with this new look. My earlier thoughts are reiterated by my husband when I get home; I should have considered this cut a long time ago. But, only at the hands of a master.
2/295 Liverpool St
Ph: 02 8068 6687
Review by Rikki Hodge-Smith