Get the Perfect Haircut: How to Talk to Your Barber

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Think back
to your last haircut. How’d you feel about it when you walked
out of the shop? Disappointed? While your disappointing haircut
might have been due to poor barbering, it’s often the case
that your poor communication with the barber was at least partly
to blame. 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. For example, I knew an old
barber (and I’m talking old) who’d give every customer
a crew cut if the customer didn’t explicitly say exactly how
he wanted his hair cut.

If you want
to avoid this fate, you have to learn how to talk to your barber.
But telling a barber what you want can be intimidating for a man,
especially with all the special lingo they throw around. Well, never
fear. I called up registered master barber Steve Hankins from Red’s
Classic Barbershop
in Indianapolis, IN to get the scoop on how
to confidently communicate with your barber. With his tips, we’ve
created a comprehensive guide on what to say to your barber so you
get exactly the haircut you want next time you plop down in that
chair. Let’s get to it.

Tell him
what general style you want

When you first
sit down in the barber’s chair, try to give him a 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 bring in a photo of the look you’d like to achieve.
Once you’ve got this covered, you can then get into the specifics.

Tell him
how much you want taken off and where

After you tell
your barber what general style you want, tell him exactly how much
you want taken off. Don’t just say, “Give me a trim, Mac”
or “Just a little off the top.” One barber’s trim
is another barber’s close shave. To avoid getting your hair
cut too short, Steve says to be specific with how much you want
taken off. “Short and long are all relative from barber to
barber,” he says. 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 taken off, let your barber know you
don’t know. What he’ll probably do is just cut 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 just walk into the barber and tell him “I
want a 2 on the sides and a 3 on the top.”

Tell him
if you want a taper

When you’re
at the barber, you’ll likely hear the word “taper”
thrown around quite a bit. If you’ve been nodding your head
all this time and saying “Yeah, give me that!” even though
you have no idea what a taper even is, here’s a quick rundown
on what a taper means when it comes to haircuts. A taper gradually
changes your hair length from the top of the head down to the nape
of the 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 some men prefer that their
hair length be the same all around their head. Make sure to tell
the barber your preference.

Tell him
what kind of neckline (or nape) 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. If you don’t keep it clean
and trim, a great haircut can suddenly look unkempt. When choosing
what sort of neckline you want, you have three options: blocked,
rounded, and tapered. Each has their pros and cons.

A blocked nape means cutting a straight line across the natural
neckline. When done correctly, your neckline will have the appearance
of a squared block. If you’re self-conscious about your skinny
chicken neck, a blocked nape can give you the appearance of a wider,
thicker neck. If you already have the neck of a drill sergeant,
go with another type of neckline. The biggest drawback with blocked
napes is that they will appear untidy as the hair grows out. Once
the hair begins to grow under the neckline, the new hair growth
sticks out like a sore thumb. If you decide to go with the blocked
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.

A rounded neckline simply takes the corners off a blocked nape finish.
Like the blocked neckline, the rounded nape can start to look untidy
once hair starts growing below the neckline.

Instead of creating a strong line at the nape of the neck, a tapered
neckline follows the natural neckline and gradually shortens the
hair as it gets closer to the bottom of the neckline. A tapered
neckline can slim a wide neck. However, the biggest advantage to
the tapered nape is that as your hair grows out, the neckline remains
blended and neat. You won’t need frequent touch-ups as you
would with a blocked or rounded nape.

the rest of the article

27, 2010

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