Here's How to Actually Leave the Barber Happy

Jun 28, 2018

Nothing spells regret like walking out of your barber shop with a poor cut—and that disappointing visit can mean weeks of bad hair days. But just because you're not chopping your own locks doesn't mean you can't maximize your chances of getting a quality cut. You can (and should) strategize before you next trip to the salon. Trust us—an action plan before is much better than after when it comes to taking a blade to your mane. Read on for five ways to set yourself up for a good cut.

1. Bring a Reference (or Two)

Don't be afraid of bringing along a magazine cutout of your favorite hair model celebrity or even pulling up a photo on your phone. An example is the best way to articulate to your stylist (and yourself) what you're looking for in a cut. "Clients always apologize, thinking that it'll somehow offend us or limit our creativity but in reality, it's a more efficient way to communicate a vision and it allows the barber to 'get down to business,'" says Bumble and Bumble stylist Andrew McCormick.

2. Have Realistic Expectations

Even the best hairdresser can't whip up a David Beckham mane out of thin air. Your cut goals should stay within reason. "A good barber will know how to adapt a style to your face and your hair type, but you have to respect reality. If you have thinning hair, a barber can create the impression of fullness and provide products to fatten up your locks, but you aren't going to leave with more hair than you came in with," McCormick says. Aim high—just not hair-transplant-surgery high.

3. Ask Questions—and Take Notes

"Guys always complain about not being able to recreate the look they got from the barber when they try it themselves," said McCormick. There's a simple solution to this—pay attention during your cut. If anyone's an expert on your hair, it's your barber. Take note of what products or heat tools they use, and ask about their process and at-home tips.

4. Weigh It Right

It's common for men to complain about the weight on their hair after a barbershop cut. You'll recognize this feeling if you walk away feeling like your hair is too thick, too heavy, or grows out too quickly. "This is the result of hair being cut too bluntly (usually to save time) with the scissors. Ask your barber or hairstylist to 'point cut' hair to avoid this. The razor is another tool that can be used for a softer cut—compared to shears—and as a way to remove weight from the interior seamlessly" said McCormick. If you've ever felt this post-barber woe, make sure to mention weight at your next visit.

5. Do a Dry Run

"Regardless of how hair is cut wet, some weight isn't noticeable until the hair dries and inflates. A good barber will check over the cut when it's dry and chip out excess 'boufyness,'" he says. In other words, don't leave the barber with wet locks. It's important to know how your new cut will hold up when dry. If it's too fluffy, your barber can trim, point cut, or channel as necessary.

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