“How would you like it cut today?” It’s the question that grates practically every man out there, but the one we get asked every time we visit the barbers.
The usual response is a few mutterings to make it look like the last time – and your barber is then left with the task of filling in the pieces and trying to work out exactly what you do want to achieve with your hair.
When you consider how much difference a haircut can make, it’s quite alarming to see so many of us dismiss this question so quickly.
A study at Stanford Graduate School of Business concluded that small changes to your appearance, like getting a haircut, resulted in more confidence and better performance in your job. They called it an investment in your success.
Bearing this in mind, it’s even more incredible to read that the typical man based in the UK will change his haircut just once every six years – with some stooping as low as three times throughout their whole life. On the opposite side of the coin, the average female will look to change things up a couple of times a year. There’s a massive difference.
When you tally everything up, the surveys begin to make sense. Your haircut is responsible for portraying who you are; the guy with surfer locks is going to promote a completely difference image to the one who has gone for the shaven-appearance.
Therefore, when you are asked that dreaded question, it’s time to actually think about your response. Here is what you should be looking to tell your barber, before he gets to work.
Your identity can be promoted through your haircut
As we’ve already addressed, your haircut is central to your whole identity. However, barbers aren’t mind readers – they don’t know what you do for a living, or what kind of lifestyle you lead. As such, you need to point them in the right direction.
Tell them what you do for work, your general hobbies and any other activities you engage in. Some lifestyles just aren’t suited to some haircuts and your barber knows this – so give him every ounce of help he needs.
This is something far too many of us just don’t do, and it’s completely understandable. Most of us just don’t know how to answer that dreaded opening question – we just don’t know about the lingo used in the hair industry to be confident about answering it suitably.
The trick is to stay specific. How long do you want your hair? Preferably answer this one in inches. How many clippers should your barber use? Some of us might not know the answer here, but if you do, fire ahead.
There are so many other factors that your barber could take into consideration as well – several of which we will look at through the next few points.
Don’t just nod if you get asked about a taper
One of the points is about tapers. This is something which is often branded about amongst barbers and generally, we’ll just nod and agree. The trouble is, most of us don’t have a clue what a taper is.
A taper can be described as something where your hair changes length as it progresses from the top of your hair down to your neckline.
Some guys will like this length to remain consistent, while others will like it to start long at the top before shortening. The choice is yours.
High or natural arch?
Another one of those “technical” questions that can help your barber immensely is about your arches. This is much simpler to describe than a taper; it’s just the space that sits between your hairline and ears.
Generally, there are two types of arch. The high arch will provide more space and is generally recommended for those of you who have small ears, as it will make them appear bigger.
Then, there is the natural arch. This is what suits most guys and the hair will naturally sit around your ears, without the gaping gap.
What about the sideburns?
Sideburns are one of the more understood phrases and you probably know exactly how to describe your preferences. You can help your barber immensely by just telling him how long you want them.
Do you want them to finish at the top, middle or bottom of the ear? It’s that simple.
Your four neckline options
One of the schoolboy errors about getting a haircut is that we all concentrate on the front; completely ignoring the back.
However, the neckline is still important and other people will set eyes on it. This is again one of those slightly complicated issues and if you are to give your barber maximum knowledge about what you really want, it’s worth identifying the three main types of neckline:
- Blocked: The name of this neckline says everything about what it is; if you opt for the blocked approach your neckline will look very rectangular like a block. It can make skinny necks look that little bit wider, but on the flip side it can make wider necks look a bit over the top. Another factor is that they do tend to grow out, meaning that they require regular maintenance to keep them in order.
- Rounded: This is just a rounded variation of the blocked neckline. In other words, the corners are just rounded off. Again, maintenance is a must, as the hair can start to grow out and look unruly before long.
- Tapered: For those of you looking for the least amount of maintenance, the tapered look could be the route to follow. This follows the neckline, with the hair shortening as it reaches the base. It means that everything blends into one and just looks a lot neater.
It’s not just about length
A lot of this guide has focused on length, but you should also be providing hints to your barber about the texture.
This is something that can make or break the haircut and unfortunately, it won’t be a straightforward answer. There are umpteen types of texture, although your barber will probably be expecting one of the following terms:
- Thinned out: For anyone who has a thick mane that just looks too heavy, this is probably the best answer. This will involve your barber using thinning shears, which will just take some of the volume out of your hair.
- Razor: This is probably the answer we are all familiar with. As the name suggests, it will involve a razor, with the advantage being that your hair will lay flatter and again make the texture a little less bulky.
- Choppy: The previous two types are more for those of you who want to reduce that heavy hair, but the next is for the group on the other side of the fence. Your barber will cut your hair at a whole host of different lengths, usually at a 45 degree angle, and it can then be styled in any way you desire.
- Layered: Finally, we’re onto the layered look. If you happen to be losing your hair, this is a great way to go. It involves longer hair sitting on top of short hair, with the result being that suddenly your hair looks to have a lot more volume.
Time is the perfect calculation for barbers
Now we have got the specifics out of the way, let’s put another piece of advice out there; tell your barber exactly when your last haircut occurred.
Let’s not forget, your barber knows hair inside out. Hair grows at exactly the same speed regardless and therefore, if they know how long it’s been since your last cut, they can quickly picture exactly what your hair looked like.
It’s then easy to spark conversation. Did you like your hair at that point, or do you want something different?
What has been your favorite haircut?
Again, to help with the visuals, a picture can be an absolute godsend for your barber. If you have had a haircut in the past which you really liked, show them a picture and let them get to work.
Showing them an image of someone else’s cut isn’t going to do that much good – by seeing what your hair previously looked like it’s much easier for them to manipulate it accordingly.
Be open to advice
Finally, even though we’ve been telling you to be as open and honest as you can when instructing your barber, let’s not forget that they are the experts.
They know exactly what works on different people’s hair and will be able to point you in the right direction. If you make a suggestion, they’ll immediately know if it’s a practical one and if it will work with your hair.
All in all, it’s about creating a two-way relationship – you provide as much information as possible, and your barber will respond accordingly.