how to talk your barber
Written by Dr. Sedat Öz
3 March 2021
Average reading time of this content is 6 minutes
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How to avoid a bad haircut

Men aren’t always the best communicators – we tend to make assumptions, swerve the tricky topics and use as few words as possible when it comes to making our preferences known. However, while this might make you look mysterious and intriguing when out on a first date (beware: having to carry the conversation can get wearing after a while), this can prove disastrous when it comes to choosing and asking for a new haircut.

Knowing how to talk to a barber and knowing how to get the haircut you want are important life skills to master and the good news is that it doesn’t take too much effort to get good at walking out of the barber’s shop with the cut and colour you wanted, while avoiding the hairstyle from hell. Here are some tips for how to ask for a haircut you know you are going to love.

Shop around

Before you can work out what to ask for at the barber’s, you need to do plenty of research. For a start, work out where you want to go for your cool cut. You may have a tried and trusted barber who has been caring for your locks for years, and that’s great, but if you don’t, shop around for a suitable supplier whom you can trust to sort out your style with as little fuss as possible. Ask for personal recommendations, read reviews and check out the styles that feature on the barber’s website or advertising posters. Don’t be swayed by price – the most expensive isn’t always the best, but you do need to invest a decent amount into your hair care, so don’t automatically opt for the cheapest either.

Make friends with your barber

Again, if you want to feel more at ease when deciding what to tell your barber about your chosen haircut, it is a good idea to make friends with them first to help you feel more at eased and to give them a. better idea of your personality, lifestyle and preferred look. As soon as you find someone you feel you can get along with and trust to cut your hair, stick with them for further appointments. Listen to their advice and make it as easy as possible for them to look after you properly by arriving prepared for your appointment. Most stylists prefer clean, dry hair to work with, although they may re-wash or spray it with water when you get there. Never arrive with a head full of products, such as leave-in shampoos or conditioners, gel, spray or wax, as they will have to spend ages removing it first, which eats into cutting and styling time. Finally, tip well and don’t be late!

Know your hair

Different hair types need different care routines, especially trickier textures such as afros or wavy, thicker hair. Make sure your stylist is skilled in handling your hair type, and that you have also done your own research into the best way to cut, wash, condition and care for it at home. Know what roughly suits you too – it’s no good asking for the trendiest style around if it going to look horrendous on you. Don’t just assume that your favourite footballer or actor’s look will transfer seamlessly to you either. Look back at old photos of you to see which styles have worked in the past – and to spot which have most definitely not! If you want to dye your hair, again check first to make sure the colour will suit your skin tone. Know whether your hair is prone to being greasy, dry, flyaway etc. and how you can mitigate against that with different products and hair treatments. Last, but certainly not least, ensure that any allergy information or medical details are up to date and that you know if there are any types of products or ingredients that could cause a reaction if used on your hair or scalp.

Match your lifestyle

Work out how much time and effort you want to give to maintaining your new style, as some will be more complicated to maintain than others. Is your regular routine set up to include lengthy hair preparations in the morning, or do you prefer to give it a quick wash, towel dry, comb and off you go? This will help you narrow down the options and stop your dream style turning into the bad haircut of your nightmares. What job do you do? Hobbies? If you have an active job that requires you to be physically fit and unencumbered by flamboyant hairstyles, this can help you choose how to get your hair cut. Conversely, if you like and are free to use your hair to make a statement, use this to ensure that you never have to know how to deal with a bad haircut ever again.

Learn the lingo

Do you know your fade from your layering? Your crew cut from your wedge? Knowing how to describe the various hair styles you want – and, more importantly, do NOT want – can help avoid any misunderstandings from the start. It can be tempting to try and appear more knowledgeable than you really are when visiting the barber, but once the clippers start working, there is often very little you can do to rectify a haircut once you see it going in the entirely wrong direction. Read hairdressing magazines, check out fashion and style websites and ask your barber for help if you come across an unusual term, or want to make yourself totally clear when describing what you want your hair to look like.

Change it up

Finally, while there is a lot to be said for finding a signature style and sticking to it, there is no harm in ringing the changes once in a while. Just make sure that you plan carefully first. Follow the steps above, namely finding a barber you trust, getting to know them, learning more about your hair and lifestyle and knowing how to describe what you want, and you should not be steered too far off course. Find photos of styles you like – and which suit people who look roughly the same as you in terms of skin tone, facial shape and features and general appearance and see what your stylist thinks about helping you achieve a similar look. If something does go wrong, however, remember that hair does grow back, so it may seem horrendous at the time, but things will readjust in due course.

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