Grooming | J.P. Kempt in Lower Haight, SF

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When I was in high school, I used to get my haircut at a no-frills barbershop across the street from where I played counter-strike. It was great, very convenient and not to mention a pittance for the quality of service one would receive when requesting the standard “barber’s cut”

I’d get the same old haircut, little off the top, clean the sides, the usual. It was really consistent, I was happy with that until I had a quasi-punk “rebellious” phase in college and decided that a faux-hawk was the way to go, then eventually an indeliberate off center mohawk which I had almost DIY’ed but gave up and asked the help of my older sister. Oi oi oi! (it was a fun thing to do, but wasn’t very versatile I soon learned. Barong and mohawk don’t mix!)

Fast forward to my being a model and getting exposed to different hairstyles and such, I then found Toni & Guy and have never left. Nelson Cruz (creative director) and who also happens to be a good friend of mine is incredibly talented. So why am I writing about a barbershop?

Well, hairsalons get the job done. But still don’t have that old-fashioned style service that one imagines The Rat Pack (Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis among others) would have. The heated towels, big ol’ metal barber’s chairs, and like it or not a mixture of hair tonic/talcum powder smell. Blame it on nostalgia but I sometimes want to get my monthly trim at a traditional barbershop. Better judgement of course wins as I know that my finicky hair requirements demand more advanced techniques that kuya might not be skilled at.

Still. It’s a manly haven, an off-limits safezone from women when you don’t want to go shopping for bedsheets or scented candles. So when I was in Lower Haight in San Francisco, I had to check out this J.P. Kempt place when I saw it when my road manager Ben was checking out another store right next door. The place looked just like any traditional barbershop, but upon research using the ever trusty google I learned that they combine modern techniques to keep up with the times. 

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The shop’s proprietor was dubbed the “Rock and Roll Barber” by VH1 and the Village Voice, and “one of the best barbers in the country” by Esquire and Best Life magazines, Shorty Maniace is considered a leading expert in men’s grooming. – from their website. I wanted to get a haircut but alas, I only had ten minutes before I had to regroup and be shuttled off to dinner. So I figured I’d just check out their hair stuff (a few minutes of grooming goes a long way fellas)

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The place was well-stocked with various pomades, hairwax, aftershave, and shaving cream. I was looking for shaving cream.

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The gentleman who helped me out suggested Musgo Real shaving cream, which was decidedly old world. (Art of Shaving supposedly tries to mimic what Musgo Real is. Hmmm) I automatically bought the neutral yet demographically correct sales pitch and left the shop happy to have found such a place.

I’ll definitely be back, get a haircut and see what they can do. I wonder if they have a new and improved J.P. Kempt equivalent of gupit binata.

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When in San Francisco, check out



351 Divisadero Street
San Francisco, CA 94117

Book an appointment online
or call (415) 437-1300