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How To Talk To Your Barber And Get The Perfect Haircut

Learning how to talk to your barber with all the information they need will help them give you the haircut you want, and in a hurry.

Take a moment and think back to your last haircut. At the end of the haircut appointment were you happy or disappointed? A bad haircut can be the consequence of just simple bad barbering, but poor communication with the barber might be partly to blame. Remember that barbers can’t read minds. If you don’t tell them exactly what you want, you’re going to get whatever haircut the barber feels comfortable giving and feels like would work for you. Here is a comprehensive guide on what to say to your barber so you get exactly the haircut you want, the next time you sit down to get your hair cut.

Tell your barber what general style you want

Firstly, you need to give your barber general description of the style you want. Are you looking for a crew cut? Are hoping you to look like Don Draper? Perhaps you want a more modern style. You might want to show a photo of the look you’d like to achieve. Once you’ve got this covered, you can then get into the specifics.

Tell your barber how much you want to be taken off and where

After you tell your barber what general style you want, tell him exactly how much you want to be taken off. You can’t just say “Give me a trim” or “I want just a little off the top” because one barber’s trim is another barber’s close shave. To avoid getting your hair cut too short, you should be specific with how much you want to be taken off.

Short and long are all relative from barber to the barber. So say things like “an inch off the top” or “a quarter inch off the side.” If you don’t know exactly how much you want to be taken off, let your barber know you don’t know. If you say that, they are probably going to cut just a bit off to see if you like it. Then if you want it shorter, you can go shorter. If you’re a clippers man, memorize the numbers of the guards you use. Then you can know for the future haircuts, and you can just tell your barber “I want a 2 on the sides and a 3 on the top.”

Tell your barber if you want a taper

Here’s a quick rundown on what a taper actually is, for the ones who do not know. A taper gradually changes your hair length from the top of your head down to the nape of your neck. The taper usually starts off long at the top and gets shorter as you go down to the neck. The length of the taper can vary. You can have a really long taper or a short taper. Most men’s haircuts involve some sort of taper, but that is not the rule and some men prefer that their hair length be the same all around their head. Make sure to tell the barber your preference.

Tell your barber how you like your sideburns

Tell them how you would like to have your sideburns done. You should tell him how long and how thinned out you want them. The length of sideburns can be:

  • Top of the ear

  • Mid-ear

  • Bottom of the ear

Tell your barber how you want your arches

Arches are the spaces between your hairline and your ears, and this is how you can trim them:

  • High arch

Your arch can be cut around your ear higher into your hairline. The higher arches are going to leave more space between where your hairline ends and your ears begin. Men with a bit smaller ears might consider a getting higher arch as it can make the ears appear larger. The disadvantage of having a higher arch is that it can look messy and awkward as your hair grows out. And if they’re too high, they make you look pretty dorky.

  • Natural arch

For most men, keeping their natural arch is just perfect and the way to go. If you tell your barber to keep your natural arch, they are going to clean it up with some short trimming and you are good to go.

Tell your barber what kind of neckline you want

A lot of men don’t think about how their neckline looks because they hardly ever see it, but the masses of people who walk and stand behind you get to eyeball it every day. Even the greatest haircuts can suddenly look unkempt, if you don’t keep it clean and trim. When it comes to the choice of the neckline, you have three options: blocked, rounded, and tapered. Each has its pros and cons.

  • Blocked - A blocked nape means cutting a straight line across the natural line of your neck. When it is done well and correctly, your neckline will have the appearance of a square block. If have a skinny neck and you’re self-conscious about it, a blocked nape can give you the appearance of a wider, thicker neck. If you already have a wide and thick neck, you should go with another type of neckline. The biggest con with blocked napes is that they will appear a bit untidy as the hair grows out. If you decide to go with this type of neckline, it’s recommended you go back into the barber once a week to clean it up. Or better yet, learn to do it yourself.

  • Rounded - A rounded neckline is simply taking the corners off a blocked nape finish, giving it a slightly rounded look. The rounded nape can start to look untidy once hair starts growing below the neckline, so just have that in mind.

  • Tapered - A tapered neckline follows the natural neckline and gradually shortens the hair as it gets closer to the bottom of the neckline, instead of creating a strong line at the nape of the neck.

If you have a wide neck, tapered neckline can slim it. That is cool, but the biggest advantage to the tapered nape is actually that as your hair grows out, the neckline remains neat and blended. No need for frequent touch-ups that you need with a blocked or rounded nape.

Listen to your barber

After you’ve told the barber what you want, you should start listening to your barber’s suggestions. A lot of guys come in the barber’s salon with an idea of how they want their hair, but it’s just not possible with their hair type/length/face shape/head shape, etc.

As a customer, you need to come in with an open mind and you need to be a bit flexible. Listen to what your barber has to say and trust their expertise because they 100% know more about cutting hair than you probably do.

A good barber should listen to what you’re looking for and give you feedback and advice and ask you if you are happy with how your hair looks as they go along. As any relationship in your life, your relationship with your barber is like any good relationship-communication should be a two-way street. If your barber listen to your wants and give you a great haircut that is fast, it’s probably time to pick a new barber.