Getting through to your barber is not always easy, as you'll probably not know the technical jargon needed to emphasise precisely what you want. So we decided to put together a guide to help you let your barber know exactly what you want.
There are several easy steps you can take to communicate better, so here they are.
When was your hair last cut? This question is important and most decent barbers will always ask you this. Here they can get an idea of who short your hair was last time you had it cut. If they don't ask, then make sure you tell them. Most peoples' hair grows at roughly the same rate, so it will give them a good indication of how much hair should be taken off depending on what you want, and what you're used to.
Always show a photo example to your barber, as there's no better way to get the hairstyle you want than showing a photo of a cut that at least, looks similar.
It's always best to choose a photo where the model in the picture has a similar hair texture to your own. No point turning up with a photo of Brad Pitt if your hair texture is closer to Justin Timberlake (he has much curlier hair)
The barber can then advise you on how you can get a look closest to the style you've shown him in the photo, and you can ask him to modify certain details, such as, keeping it slightly longer of the ears, or longer at the front, etc.
There are a few key barbering words you can learn, such as 'tapered at the neck', or 'square neck' (though we generally wouldn't recommend square neck). Nice and 'textured'. This phrase will make sure you communicate with your barber that you would like to be able to rough up your hair and that you would like your barber to take out the weight from the ends.
'Blended' is a term you'll probably be familiar with, and will distinguish whether or not you want something quite classic or not, or perhaps more extreme, through a disconnection.
Know your grades, as barbers can tell a lot by the clipper grades that a client previously has had. So, if you're generally a grade 3 man, the barber will tell a lot by this.
Mention your profession. If you're a high-flying barrister, then a rough cut on top that is disconnected from the sides, probably isn't what you are after. Whereas an art student is probably more at liberty to try new things and go more in the direction of extreme styles.
Chin up, son. Speak clear! Without being patronising, it really will be at your benefit to speak clearly and precisely to your barber. And don't worry, we get it, it can be intimidating going to your barber and not really knowing how to get your point across.
Avoid using terms such as 'sort of like this', 'sort of like that'. This is where classic miscommunication can occur. Rather than say 'I want it left kind of long', what you might want to say is that you want a mid length cut. Which brings us onto another good point.
Learn the length categories, which is pretty simple and breaks down into three:
Short, mid length, and long. You can mix up these terms pretty fluidly. So if we sum this up into a dialog between barber and client, it should go something like this, from your part.
Example 1: "So, I last had my hair cut about six weeks ago. What I want this time is a nice short haircut, similar to last time, perhaps left a touch longer on top, nice and textured, tapered out at the neck".
Example 2: "I had my hair cut last about 10 weeks ago as I'm trying to grow it. Here's a picture of how I want it to be. [show picture]. Obviously no clippers as I want it to be short to mid-length and to grow this fringe out, so overall a natural finish using my natural hair texture so it's easy to manage".
Check that your barber understood - they'll often reiterate what you've said - and bingo! No confusion, and you'll leave with the cut and style that you were looking for.