It’s really easy to make sure your haircut is perfect every time.
All that’s required is a little bit of forethought and a few key facts to remember to tell your barber.
Good barbers will sometimes ask these questions all on their own, but if not, take a proactive approach. After all, it’s your hair.
So the next time your barber asks, “what are we doing today?”, this is exactly what you should say:
1. Tell your barber how long it has been since your most recent haircut
Barbers know how long it takes for hair to grow, so if you tell them how long it has been since your hair was last cut, they can imagine what your hair looked like way back when.
From there, you can either tell them you want it to look the same or describe how you want it to be different from last time.
And don’t worry — different people’s hair doesn’t really grow at different rates. That’s a myth, Boston-based barber Van Capizzano at Ball and Buck told Business Insider.
2. Tell your barber about your lifestyle
To give you a cut you’ll love, your barber needs to know more about you, according to barber Kyle Holbrook of Fellow Barber in San Francisco.
Tell your barber where you work, what you do for fun, where you go on the weekends, how you wear your hair, whether you put product in it every day, and anything else you think might be helpful.
Essentially, you want your barber to give you a cut that will fit seamlessly into your lifestyle and reflect your personality, Holbrook told us.
3. Be specific about how you want your hair to look
This may seem simple, but most guys aren’t doing it right. Some aren’t even doing it all.
Barbers are experts in their craft, but they aren’t mind-readers. You can’t just expect them to fill in the gaps. Don’t just say “short on the sides, long on the top.” That’s not enough for them to go on.
Here’s some terminology to use to get the haircut you want:
When specifying how long you want your hair to be, inches are the best figure (1 inch, 1 1/2 inches, etc.).
It can also be helpful to know the specific number of the clippers you want your barber to use. If you don’t know what setting of clippers you prefer, ask your barber to start with a longer setting and progressively get shorter until you find a style you like.
Men with longer hair especially need to be clear about how much hair they want cut off. Most will tell the barber just to keep the hair off their collar. This gives a neat, professional look.
Men with longer hair might also ask for a layered cut, which gives more movement and dimension to longer hairstyles.
If you don’t want your sides to be all the same length, ask for a tapered cut, which means your hair gets gradually longer toward the top of your head.
Make sure to specify how sharp you want your hair’s transition from long to short to be. For no transition, ask for a shaved part (long on top, buzzed on the sides). For a more conservative style, ask for a natural or blended transition.
For more manageable hair, ask the barber to add some texture to the top. Texturing will thin out the bulk of your hair and is great for anyone with thicker hair.
You can either ask for a tapered (natural) neckline or a squared (block) neckline in the back. A tapered neckline will follow your natural hairline, while a block hairline cuts straight across. Most men opt for the tapered neckline, which usually looks more natural.
Tell your barber how long you want your fringe (aka bangs) to be in the front, and if you sweep it to the side or style it in any way.
The goal is to be specific enough that your barber will know exactly what you’re imagining.
4. Bring a picture (but only of your hair)
As Capizzano puts it, “barbers are visual people.” Pictures really help barbers visualise what you’re looking for in a haircut and serve as a great guide.
There’s a catch though — the best photo you can bring in to show your barber is a picture of yourself after a haircut that you really liked. A picture of someone else’s hair doesn’t take into account your hair’s individual traits, like thickness, texture, and hair line.
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