Your hair is a critical part of your total look -- next to your face, it's one of the most important things that can influence how people perceive you. Getting the right haircut to compliment your facial features and enhance your look starts with being able to effectively communicate with your barber or stylist. To that end, I offer these tips on how to talk to your barber or stylist.
Bring a Photo
This is one thing guys, for some reason are embarrassed to do, but a picture says a thousand words and can help show your barber or stylist exactly what you have in mind. Often, haircutting terms aren't consistent from stylist to stylist (a "short back and sides" can men different things to different stylists), but a picture will show exactly what you're after. That said, when choosing a style (which you can find right here in one of our men's hairstyle galleries), be realistic. Choose a style on a guy with a similar hair type or features as you.
Ask for Suggestions
Here's the deal, barbers and stylists are specifically trained to know what style will work with your hair type and face shape. If you're stuck in a rut or don't know what will look best, ask for suggestions -- and go with what your barber or stylist tells you to do. You'll more than likely end up with the right haircut for your facial features and lifestyle -- if not, it's hair and will always grow back. If the person who cuts your hair doesn't offer any suggestions, it may be time to fire your barber or stylist and move on.
Talk About Your Problems
Talk with your barber or stylist about what you don't (and do) like about your hair. Do you feel it is too dry? Do you have a bad cowlick? Tell them about it -- this will enable them to work solutions to your hair concerns into your service. A modification to your cut can help tame a cowlick just as the right product can bring life to dry hair. You've got hair problems? Your haircutter, more often than not, will have solutions.
We all have ideas on what we'd love our hair to look like, but it's important to be realistic. If you're a middle aged guy with a receding hairline (like me), you're probably not going to leave looking like you swapped hair with Brad Pitt. Most great barbers or stylists will try to work with the head of hair you were born with and not try to reinvent the wheel. In my opinion, the best haircuts are those which don't require a great deal of fuss or product and look good until the next visit to the salon.
Stick to The Plan
Once you've decided on a style and work has started, avoid changing course. Nothing will aggravate a barber or stylist more than having a client say, "could we go shorter" as they're finishing up a haircut. Often, changing the length of the cut (or even part of it) will require recutting the entire head. If a stylist is on a tight schedule, you'll most certainly get a rush job. I've actually been know to tell a client "no" if I don't feel I have the time to accommodate the change and not rush.
Use the Word "Short"
Different stylists have different interpretations of what a short haircut should be. I come from a barbering background and have done tons of military style haircuts. To me, a short men's haircut will show a little skin -- probably more than someone accustomed to wearing their hair a little longer would be comfortable with.
Talk About Your Lifestyle
If you're a low-maintenance guy, make sure to let your barbers or stylist know that up front. You don't want to leave with a style that requires a great deal of time in your morning routine if you're a "wash and wear" kinda dude. A haircut designed to be "styled" each day won't look good if you don't take the time to maintain it, so you'll want to opt for a style that is more fitting for your lifestyle and level of comfort with styling.
Ask About Product
Most barbers or stylists will use some sort of styling product in your hair. Pay attention here! Notice how much product they're using on you and how it is applied. Ask questions -- have your barber or stylist show you which product they're using and get detailed instructions from them on exactly how to use the product. There are literally hundreds of styling products, so navigating those waters can be confusing.
Now that you've got the basis on how to talk to your barber or stylist, you're on your way to getting the best haircut you've ever head. Just remember to never be shy or embarrassed to ask questions and be open to suggestions. The person who cuts your hair wants to make you look your best so you'll keep coming back. Once you find a barber or stylist you're comfortable with, I recommend sticking with them. The more comfortable you are (and the better you know) the person cutting your hair, the more open to communication you'll both be. Now, go get a haircut!