In Pictures

In pictures: The barbers of Freetown

Photographer Olivia Acland has been documenting the barber shops that line nearly every busy street in Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown.

Most people will tell you that they have a trusted hairdresser who they visit on a regular basis. Geoffrey, a 29-year old tour guide, said: "Appearance is very important in Sierra Leone, people want to make sure their hair looks good."

Barbers also take on the role of counsellors, listening to clients agonise over their love lives or confide in them about family crises. The barber shop provides a safe space for people to sit back and unwind - after all, it's important to feel relaxed as someone takes a knife to your chin or a pair of scissors to your head.

Customer having his hair cut Image copyright Olivia Acland
Image caption This customer opts for the "Michael" style, named this way after Michael Jackson. It costs 8,000 leones (£1.40).
Ronald outside his shop Image copyright Olivia Acland
Image caption The owner of this barber shop, Ronald, decided to have it painted in this way as he "likes American and English people's style".
Mana Image copyright Olivia Acland
Image caption Mana has been a barber for 10 years. He says that on average he receives seven to eight customers daily and strives to make at least 10,000 Leones (£1.75) in a day's work. Laughing, he tells me that he knows all the gossip in Freetown.
Arthur's hairdresser Image copyright Olivia Acland
Image caption Arthur had his shop painted like this three years ago, he wanted to make sure that the place was eye-catching.
Arthur at work Image copyright Olivia Acland
Image caption John visits Arthur's barber shop on a weekly basis to maintain his look.
Arthur in his shop Image copyright Olivia Acland
Image caption Arthur always listens to the radio as he works, he says it helps him relax and cut well.
Lucy having her hair cut Image copyright Olivia Acland
Image caption Lucy visits her barber once a fortnight and pays a rather steeper 20,000 (£3.50) for her low cut look.
A barber shop in Freetown Image copyright Olivia Acland
Image caption Dreadlocks are fashionable among some young men and require attention to keep looking good. This barber shop is designed exclusively for those with dreads.
Kolenzo and his sister Image copyright Olivia Acland
Image caption Barber Kolenzo and his sister relax in the shop waiting for customers.
Mobile hairdresser Image copyright Olivia Acland
Image caption Mobile hairdressers are common. This man works as both a barber and a soldier in the president's military parade. He cuts the hair of a colleague outside State House.
Barber shop in Freetown Image copyright Olivia Acland
Image caption This barber shop beside Freetown's stadium stays open as late as 11pm to catch anyone needing a shave on the way in or out of an event.

All photographs by Olivia Acland

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