Have you ever found yourself sitting in the barber’s chair at a complete loss for words? Men can sometimes have a bit of a communication problem when it comes to visiting the hairdresser, and it can be a bit problem. Failing to articulate what you want when it comes to your haircut and style is a recipe for disaster. Barber’s aren’t mind readers, so lacking know-how when it comes to your hair-do can spell disaster and have you leaving the barber’s chair with a hair fail. It’s a common complaint of many barber’s that some men just can’t seem to get the words out when it comes to deciding what to do with their lacks. A lot of guys will sit down and give a vague description of what they want, or simply have no idea whatsoever. Others may ask for entirely the wrong thing, mistakenly believing what they’re asking for is what they are picturing in their heads. These mistakes are easy to make, there are plenty of trendy terms floating around, but few guys take the time to do their research or consider their hair type, face shape and styling needs. Some guys will stick to the same haircut for far too long because they’re unsure of where to go or what to ask for when it comes to their hair. If you’ve clung to clipper setting number three or walked out of the barbers with an atrocious hairstyle as of late, then it might be time to learn the lingo.

Learn how to get what you want in the barber’s chair with our helpful tips below.

Be honest about when you last had a haircut

Your barber will ask you when you last had a haircut when you sit down. It’s important to be honest and give as accurate a timeline as you can. If it’s been a while, or you’ve forgotten it can be tempting to tell them that you’ve had one more recently but it’s important not to do this. Most hair grows around half and inch a month, so your barber might take less off if you tell them you’ve had a cut more recently. Having an accurate idea of whether it’s been a month or six weeks or more since your last hair cut will give your barber a more accurate starting point when it comes to your hair. It will help them to cut and shape your hair in a way that will reduce maintenance.

Know which tool you prefer

The two most often used tools of the trade are clippers and shears for men’s hair. Clipper cuts are better if your aim is for a shorter cut, whilst shears are much better for longer hair. For some cuts, both tools will be necessary and skilled barbers will know how to use both to achieve an excellent cut that suits your face shape and hair type. Most barbers will know what tools they need to use to achieve a desired look, but having an idea in mind of the cut you’d like to achieve and the tools you prefer is a good way to get the most out of your haircut.

Bring inspiration pictures with you

As the saying goes, a picture says a thousand words. If you struggle to articulate what you want, then bringing a picture a long to your hair appointment is one of the quickest ways to get around any confusion. Before you go to your barber, have an idea of the look you’re aiming to achieve and bring it with you. Your barber will be able to adapt the look to suit your face shape and hair texture and you’re sure to leave the appointment much more satisfied then you would with some vague instruction to do whatever looks good. It’s even better if you have a photo of a haircut that you’ve had previously that you really liked. Your barber should be able to recreate the look and you already know that you loved it once!

Stay loyal to your barber

A good haircut is as much about finding the right barber for you as it is about communicating the right things about you hair. A good barber is a good listener and they will get to know you and your hair preferences. Over time, after visiting your barber regularly, you will build up a relationship with them. A good relationship with your barber is key to consistently good hair. Your barber will know your hair history, concerns and any lifestyle factors of yours that might affect your haircut. A skilled barber will be able to develop the perfect game plan for your hair and will spend time with you figuring out what to do with your hair. A good barber will also spend the time with you to explain what they’re doing with your hair and how to ask for it in the future, that way you’ll never get stuck for words in the barber’s chair again!

Get to know your hair

Everyone has different hair. The texture, thickness, moisture levels, previous colour treatments and length of hair can all influence the kind of haircut that might look good on your hair. Make sure you have a good working knowledge of your hair and how it behaves so that you can keep your barber informed about its condition that will help them to steer you away from anything that might not work. Certain styles for instance might not look good on extremely thick or coarse hair, or hair with extreme colour damage probably shouldn’t be bleached, your barber might recommend certain products for thinning hair and the list goes on. Knowing your hair intimately and being able to explain it to your barber will get you much better results.

Get to know your hair terms

One thing that happens a lot is that men will come into the barber and use terms that they don’t properly understand. Maybe you’ve heard words used with a previous barber, seen them on the internet or heard your friends say them. You might think you know what they mean, but it’s always better to be safer rather than sorry and double check. Don’t ask for a fade if you don’t know what it is. It’s a quick way to walk out of the hairdressers feeling unhappy. Don’t mention hair terms you don’t understand. If you don’t know much about proper hair terms, try talking about how you’d like your haircut to feel. If you prefer your hair to look professional and slick, then say so. If you like a bit of movement, then say this to your barber, rather than trying to use terms like ‘layers’ or ‘graduation’. Your barber will be able to interpret what you want – you don’t have to prove anything!

Learn the difference between a fade and a taper

The fade is experiencing a bit of popularity recently, so plenty of men are walking into the barber and asking for it. Don’t ask for it unless you know what it is! Traditional fades are cut all the way down to the skin at the hairline, this looks great on some people and is a very classic hairstyle but it’s not for everyone. What a lot of men are looking for is a gradient effect, where the hair tapers down in length, but isn’t cut to the skin. This is called a taper. If you’re struggling with the difference, take a photo of what you’re looking for to the hairdresser.

Don’t use the number system

Most men have learned to use the numbering system for electric clippers since they were boys. It certainly has its benefit, if you say three all over every time, you’ll pretty much get a consistent haircut every time you see the barber, no matter which barber you see – at least in theory. In reality, whilst the clipper settings are a good guide for haircuts they aren’t really the best reference point for a new barber. Different clippers, skill levels and interpretation will always lead to a different haircut. You can’t get the same haircut with a different barber.

Understand the difference between cutting and styling

Your lifestyle should be a major determinant of what kind of haircut you get. Why is that you ask? Well some haircuts will require a lot of styling to sit in the way that you imagined. Are you a laid-back kind of person? Then a haircut that calls for a blow-dry, multiple styling products and regular maintenance might not be the right choice for you. If you’re not great with hair up-keep then it might be a good idea to choose a style that looks good with minimal effort and product. The haircut is only one of the components of your hairstyle, in actual fact there is a lot more to it than only the cut.

A few barber etiquette rules to follow

Good communication with your barber is also about good etiquette. Respect the person who cuts your hair, or else you might be walking out with a bowl cut!

Some important rules to keep in mind include arriving on time. Barber’s will usually have a number of appointments with clients set up throughout the day, arriving late will not only have an impact on the amount of time they have to focus on your haircut but it will also negatively impact the rest of their clients. The later you are, the less likely you’ll get good results out of your barber. If you’re running behind, it’s courteous to call. It’s also quite rude to sit on your phone when you’re in the barber’s chair. It can make it hard to cut your hair and the movement can make it difficult to get an accurate cut.

Another important piece of etiquette to keep in mind is that you should try to engage in conversation with your barber. Don’t be a grump! The more you talk to your barber, the better your relationship with them will be for future cuts.

Building up a good rapport and getting to know your barber is a life essential. Learning to communicate what you want will get you better results with your hair and will likely lead to you learning a thing or two from your barber. Communication is a major life-skill, and when it comes to the hairdressers chair you’ll get much more bang for your buck with a bit of research and time spent communicating your needs and thoughts. Life is too short for a bad haircut, so put some thought into your needs and what suits you and make sure you talk things over with your barber. If things aren’t working, or you feel stuck in a hair rut then it might be time to find a new hairdresser – finding someone you feel comfortable with is important.