Ask anyone; choosing the right barber is not a decision to make lightly. Our barbers are the architects of our image and, if we’re lucky, our therapists/friends; needless to say, the barber client relationship is about more than just cutting hair.

When Idris Elba saw that his eldest son Riaze Foster showed strong clipper skills and a love for grooming, he knew he had found his barber. This is not the first time the father and son have worked together; Riaze previously acted in Idris’ directorial debut, Yardie; a crime drama filmed in Jamaica and England. We sat down with the pair to talk about grooming, trusting your barber and Riaze’s must-have grooming products.

Idris and his son, and barber, Riaze Foster talk shop

Q&A

Idris Elba and Riaze Foster

What was it like working with your dad on Yardie?

Riaze:  It felt really good to work with my ol’ man; he’s been in the business for as long as I can remember. And as an actor/director, he knew exactly how to get the best from his actors. He spoke our language.

You both are working actors; how valuable is it to have this time together?

Riaze: Very valuable since our schedules rarely align.

Idris: It’s incredible, we get to make a film together, and we’ve both made films as actors and directors. We’re not just actors and barbers; we’ve always been a multitasking family.

Like I always tell my clients. “If you look good, you’ll feel good.” Your image can change your mentality and the way you relate to others.

Riaze Foster

Okay, so let’s get down to it. Were you always confident in Riaze’s barbering skills?

Idris: Not at first. I knew he could do it because I saw his skill with fades, but I wasn’t sure I trusted him around my moustache. If you get a moustache wrong, it could mess up your whole day. 

Riaze’s love for barbering started nearly ten years ago and has grown into a successful branch of his multi-hyphenate work life. “ I learnt the long way; I started out sweeping barbershop floors and running errands in exchange for my training.” He now has his studio in London.

When your dad gave you your first shot at cutting his hair, were you nervous?

Riaze: I started cutting his hair while on holiday, or when he had downtime, so it wasn’t a big deal if I got it wrong! I wasn’t nervous because there wasn’t anything riding on those early cuts.

Idris: He started cutting my hair when I started trusting him to cut it. I don’t remember the exact date, but I wanted to support him, and he wanted to prove that he could do it really well. I believe I asked first. 

Eventually, that trust led to Riaze grooming Idris for major press events, awards shows, cover shoots, and even on his wedding day to his wife Sabrina Dhowre Elba.

The go-to look: The Taper Fade 

So now that we know how your barber-client relationship started let us in on your go-to cut. “My favourite look on him (Idris) is a taper fade; simple, classic.” says Riaze about his Dad. The taper fade in the men’s hairstyling world is a new classic; combining the traditional fade and taper hair cut.

For us barbering novices out there, the taper fade is a gradual cut, usually using electronic clippers, “starting longer at the top of the head and getting shorter as you go down to the natural hairline on the nape of the neck and sides of the head.” according to American Haircuts.

Riaze:  My go-to clippers are The Senior by Wahl, they’re a pretty reliable brand, and then I use Sunny Isle  Jamaican black castor oil for beards. 

Jamaican Castor Oil

Jamaican Castor oil has long been a cult home remedy for maintaining frizz, promoting hair growth and keeping locks lustrous. Now a mainstream favourite, this product is celebrated for its high softening concentration of omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids.

Wahl clippers

“This clipper is designed to create seamless blends while hard or soft line fading with a lever that adjusts taper and texture. It’s the ideal clipper for over comb work and for bulk hair removal. These features are housed in a high impact, durable metal case.”

Who’s look were you inspired by growing up?

Idris: Growing up, I was inspired by Wesley Snipes in New Jack City. He had a half step high top, and I always thought it was really cool.

Why do you think some men are hesitant to take care of themselves?

Idris: All men “take care of themselves”; I think it’s just to what degree. Vanity amongst men is kept at the barbershop; go in, get your hair done, come out looking swaggy. We listen to our barbers, so talking about skin is a natural place. 

Riaze:  Like I always tell my clients. “If you look good, you’ll feel good.” Your image can change your mentality and the way you relate to others.