4504 Butler St., Lawrenceville. 412-326-5964 or www.mistergroomingandgoods.com
Steaming hot towels wrap Jeremy Jacobs' face as he reclines in a barber's chair. His nose and mouth are exposed just enough to breathe, and to mumble that he's feeling pretty relaxed. Under the towels is a sizable beard.
"I've had it since senior year of high school," Jacobs says. "It hasn't always been this big. I've shaved it all once since then, and it was a disaster. I looked like Patrick from SpongeBob."
Jacobs is at Mister Grooming and Goods, in Lawrenceville, for his monthly "Beard Line-up," a shave and shaping of the beard, and one of the shop's main services.
"Beards are so big right now, and there's so much that goes into taking care of a beard," says Heather Shurina, who owns and manages the shop with her husband, Michael.
"There's actually a beard competition taking place at the end of October," she says, referring to the Steel City Beard & Mustache Club's annual contest; the club advises the salon on facial-hair products.
But while Mister Grooming and Goods regularly caters to men with facial hair — stocking its shelves with beard oils and balms bearing phrases like "Can you handlebar?" — the array of man-pampering options is varied. There's the "Man Hands" manicure; the "Sweeney Todd" hot lather and straight-razor shave; the "Hangover Cure," complete with a peppermint-towel treatment; and the "Uncle Jesse" cut for medium-to-long-haired guys.
Vintage-inspired chandeliers light the walls — some papered in yellow-and-gray damask, others solid red — and four chairs line each side. A mix of tchotchkes, taxidermy and religious iconography make a fun décor.
"We kept adding chairs in hopes that we could take walk-ins, but we kept booking up," Shurina says.
Customers mill in and out. Vivian Qiu, of Oakland, sits in the station next to Jacobs for her first haircut at Mister. Though the shop's focus is men, some services for women are offered. Qiu was having the several inches from the nape of her neck on up shaved — an undercut. Think David Beckham or even A.J. Burnett. The New York Times even published a piece on the cut's popularity just last month.
"It gives you options to get different looks with your hair up or down," says Qiu, whose hair is long on top.
Six of the nine employees at Mister sport undercuts.
Co-owner Michael Shurina, who wears an undercut with a pompadour, says his mission is not only to give a good haircut, but also to make sure people look good the next morning.
"The important thing is to make sure they can do the same thing at home as we do here when they're styling their hair, especially if they're wearing a pompadour. All barbers here spend a lot of time training," he says.
And worker morale seems high.
"This is the best job I've ever had," says barber Ali Lorenzini. "I basically work with my best friends and cute guys all day."
2nd: Graham's Barber Shop, Lawrenceville
3rd: Alder Street Barber, Shadyside