Mahesh is back this week with another episode of Mahesh’s Musings, and today he’s teaching us how to get the haircut we really want. The barbershop world can be intimidating because shops are busy, customers and barbers are speaking in industry lingo, and if it’s your first time at a men’s barbershop, you don’t know who to talk to or what to say (if you're wondering about barbershop etiquette, check out this article for some tips).
When you’re not communicating properly with your local barber you're setting yourself up for disappointment. Language is complicated and while one word may mean something to you, it may mean something completely different to someone else. For example: To you, a short haircut can mean a traditional scissor cut, while to a barber it can mean a buzz cut. You need to know how to ask for what you want before your barber can get it right!
Mahesh has a few guidelines here on making sure you set your barber up for success. This way you’ll be a happy customer who keeps coming back, and the barber gets it right on the first try! Everybody wins.
Be Prepared for Your Appointment
No matter what it takes, show up to your appointment (or as a walk-in) prepared! Know what you want, or at the very least, know what you don’t want. Having a picture is going to be extremely helpful because of the different perceptions of language between people. There aren’t many things worse to a barber than a new client coming in with a full shop and saying “Yeah… I don’t know what I want - what do you think?”
Unless your barber has known you for years, making personal recommendations on something completely new can be tricky. Do your research, have your images, and be open to suggestions based on the information you provide. Youtube and Google are excellent resources for looking up inspiration for your haircut.
All that too much for you? In sum - if you don't know exactly what your cut is called or you're a newbie, bring a picture.
Choose The Barber You Want
When it’s a busy day for walk-ins and the barbershop is full, you should still wait for the barber you want. Like tradespeople, different barbers have different strengths and different weaknesses. If you’ve had a particularly great experience with a barber and don’t want to compromise that, you do not have to take the first available barber. If your selected barber has a day of appointments, make an appointment to come back or be willing to wait your turn. A solid customer-barber match is important, so you don’t want to miss that opportunity once it comes up.
The haircut is all about you being happy - and if that means a specific barber does your haircut, then so be it.
Back of the Haircut
Every barber is going to ask you about the back of your haircut, which is where most customers struggle. They don’t know what terminology to use (let alone what it means), and they don’t want to appear silly or uninformed, so they just go with whatever the barber recommends. Here are the terms you need to know when describing what you want:
Tapered (the “Safe” option): You’ll have a sharp line in the sides of the cut, angled inwards, and the bottom is faded to the skin. Mahesh says if you don't know what you want or you don't have a preference, this is a solid pick.
Rounded: The bottom edge of your haircut has a hard and well defined line, but it curves out from the cut. According to Mahesh, there aren't many people who can wear this look without drawing attention to the back of their necks.
Square: The hair is cut with a hard line and sharp corners. This doesn’t look fresh as long as other cuts, but if you’re into sharp lines and having a solid haircut, the maintenance cuts are worth it.
Pro Tip - If you’ve never seen this before and you’re curious, request this cut from your barber and let them know you’d like to see how it looks before settling on it. If you don’t like it, ask them to make it blend more naturally or “soften it up”.
Texturizing or Thinning
These are two totally different things, and you should know the difference.
Thinning involves using specific techniques in order to reduce volume and density in the hair. Thinning can create texture in the process, but ultimately the intention is to reduce the volume.
Texturizing is cutting the hair at angles in order to achieve a controlled but messy effect - the hair separates more naturally and using product doesn’t create hard lines and chunks in your cut.
Hopefully you found all of these terms and guidelines helpful. Now the next time you meet with your barber you can rest assured that you’ll have the information you need to develop a meaningful connection and communicate your needs properly. Need any other help or tips? Shoot them over to [email protected].