Five Minutes With Aryeh Blanshay: Styling Hair Trends on Campus

An inside look at one barber's incredible success.

Aryeh Blanshay is a 22-year old undergraduate at Yeshiva University pursuing majors in Accounting and Marketing. He’s also the successful owner and operator of YU Barber, a pop-up barbershop previously known as Ten Dollar Barber. Blanshay first found a gap in the market when he was studying abroad and couldn’t find someone he trusted with his hair. After teaching himself to cut his own hair, he found willing clientele in his peers and began charging them $10 a haircut. The business moved with him to upper Manhattan where he set up shop in his dormitory and later in his Washington Heights apartment.

Appointments are available on his website and Blanshay posts to relevant Facebook groups when he’s offering new slots. A seat in Blanshay’s chair is in high demand and openings are often snatched up quickly. We sat down with Blanshay to hear his advice for men looking to step up their hair game, more about his business, and his trend predictions for 2017.

Five Minutes with Aryeh Blanshay

Aryeh Blanshay blonde haircut
One of Blanshay’s customers post-YU Barber haircut and styling. Photo credit: Aryeh Blanshay

All Things Hair: Can you tell us a little bit about your business and how it began? Where did you first learn to cut and style hair?

Aryeh Blanshay: Not to venture down the cliché route, but I’ve been styling my hair since I was a kid. I’ve always been fascinated with shapes, colors and design, so hairstyling sort of became a natural application of those principles. Being well-groomed was definitely good for my ego, too! Of course, I’ve since moved on from the cheap, crunchy hair gel I used in the fifth grade–the stuff that turns your hair into a cement sculpture worthy of Michelangelo’s name– but the interest in hair was spawned early on.

After high school, I studied abroad and was too nervous to trust the barbers nearby with my locks. I took matters into my own hands–literally. In learning to cut my own hair, I probably had the best luck a barbering student could ask for: a class of about 50 teenagers who were more than willing to let me practice on them–for two years. They even paid me! This virtually unlimited supply of clients to practice on helped me hone my craft and build a small following and early on. When I came back home, it was obvious to start a small shop in my living room.

What were some of your favorite trends for 2016? What do you predict will be popular in 2017?

I love how people are becoming increasingly less focused on trends, and so much more focused on timeless personal style and seasonality. It’s a revolution where not everybody is doing the same thing–we’re seeing a crazy range of diverse personal expression today. 2016 saw the resurfacing of many gentlemen’s classics–side parts, pompadours and quiffs–supplemented nicely with modernized fades. I really like updating classic looks from back in the day.

I think next year will show significant numbers of people putting in the time to maintain their hair, which will allow many more options to shine through. I don’t think any specific style will stand out, and I love that! People should do their thing. 2017 will show guys embracing wearing their hair in more seasonally and venue-appropriate ways that they haven’t done before due to the time it takes to style and maintain. So I think we’ll definitely be seeing the wide range of styles from all over the years that emerged in 2016 (and more), but guys will be putting a lot more effort into executing those looks appropriately.

What would you tell a guy who is looking for a low maintenance hairstyle/haircut?

Simple. Just ask your barber to spend an extra five minutes after your haircut to teach you how to blow-dry your hair. Or look it up online by yourself. Blow-drying turns every haircut into a low-maintenance one. It’s quick, super easy, ensures your hair stays in place the whole day, and it honestly takes less than a minute to do after you shower. What’s more low-maintenance than less than a minute of work? Sounds like a no-brainer to me.

Do you have any professional hair care tips you can share?

Protect, protect, protect! Don’t treat your head like trash and it’ll behave. Nobody wants dry hair and dandruff. Shampoo only as often as necessary because it removes a lot of natural oils that keep your hair and scalp healthy. Always use conditioner as regularly as you shampoo, to put some of those oils back in. Do the same with hair products – avoid ones that are loaded with oil-sucking agents, and use something with conditioning properties instead. The same goes with exposure to high heat (think hairdryers and irons): definitely use a heat protecting spray to keep your hair in check and avoid damage.

What’s one of your favorite products and why do you love it?

 I’m obsessed with TRESemmé Styling Putty. It’s unparalleled. Nothing beats the stuff. It’s been with me consistently for eight years, and I’ve spent those years trying all kinds of products in the industry, from drugstore brands to ones you can’t even get in the US. Most I toss after one use because they just don’t compare. I think it’s the most versatile product out there, period. I can do both greaser-pompadour looks as well as dry, bedhead looks with it. The putty is significantly easier to apply than clay, but has just as much hold without weighing your hair down. It adds just the right amount of texture and gives you the option of shine (style with water) or matte (style dry). It’s more water-soluble than anything I’ve ever used. Hell, the stuff rinses off your hands without soap. Most incredible product on the market to date.

Looking for more interviews with hairstylists? Check out 5 Minutes with Ursula Stephen: Beauty and The Brand.

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