Getting a Better Haircut

Getting the perfect haircut involves more than just going to the barber and saying, “trim it up.”  It’s important to know how to spot a good (or bad) haircut and how to communicate with your barber or stylist.  This section of Haircuts for Men gives you insides tips on how to make the most of your visit to the barbershop or salon.


Tip 1: Know how to spot a bad haircut. Two of the haircuts below are bad, one is flawless. Here’s what’s wrong. 1) In the first photo, there is a visible line between the clipper section and the section that was cut with shears and the neckline is blocked crooked and too high. Blending is poor and the cut looks uneven. 2) In the middle photo, there is a highly visible line in the side of the haircut. A properly blended haircut will never have visible lines of demarcation. Here’s what’s right. In the third photo, there are no visible lines of demarcation, the neckline is expertly tapered and the finishing lines behind and around the ears are clean. After your next haircut, go home and look

in the mirror. If you see visible lines, bad blending, or sloppy finishing (blocking, trimming around ears), find a new barber!

It is also important to know the proper men’s haircutting terms so you can more effectively communicate with your barber as well.

Tip 2: Make an appointment. You don’t want your barber rushing through your haircut, so find one who takes appointments. This way he’ll have enough time to give you a great cut. And for God sakes, be on time.

Tip 3: Be nice to your barber. Do you really want to piss off the person who’s cutting your hair? It is amazing just how many people are rude the their barber.

Tip 4: Know what you want and be realistic. Your barber’s not a mind reader. Have a clear idea of what you want and communicate clearly to your barber. You can communicate more clearly if you know the terms. Scroll down for a list of common barber terms. Also, don’t expect your barber to give you a George Clooney haircut if you’ve got Anthony Edward’s hair. A barber cannot change your hair texture or create a new hairline for you.

Tip 5: Listen to your barber. Barbers are paid to make you look good. If your barber makes a suggestion, give it a try. You may walk out with the best haircut of your life. If you don’t like the cut, don’t worry…. it’ll always grow back!

Tip 6: Know the difference between a blocked and tapered hairline. The examples below show how a blocked hairline can add the illusion of width – not a good thing if you are heavyset or have a thick neck, but probably a good option if your neck is long and skinny. The second set of photos shows a hairline a few days after the haircut. Notice how the tapered haircut looks clean while the blocked cut already looks sloppy.

Tip 7: Find a barber who cuts your style well. Looking for a good barber? Here’s the easiest way to find one. Ask. If you see a guy with a great haircut – one that’s similar to the style you’re looking for – ask him where he got it cut. Just walk right up and say, “Hey man. Cool haircut. I’ve been looking for a new barber, who cuts yours.” Yeah, it might be a bit awkward, but you might just find a great barber in the process. Oh… and regardless of what you might think, the guy will consider it a compliment that you asked.

Tip 8: Don’t be first or last. Make an appointment for the midde of the day. Most shops are slower and your barber will have more time to spend. Never try to “squeeze in” at the end of the day. Your barber will be tired and not at his best.

Tip 9: Find a real barber or men’s salon. Barbers cut only men’s hair, so they’ve got more practice with it. Often, salons squeeze men’s cuts in while another client’s color or perm is processing. You’ll get better results if you are the focus attention. Also, stylists are trained to create soft, round, pretty styles on female clients. Barbers are trained to create lean, masculine shapes. So, even for longer hair, you’re likely to get a better cut at a barber shop or salon which focuses on men’s hair.

Tip 10: Tip well. A significant part of a barber’s income is tips. The standard tip for a barber is 15% – 25%. Although a barber will never admit it, he will take better care of his clients who tip well, because those clients are taking care of him. Don’t tip and you’re sure to get a rush job! You’d be amazed at how much more attention you get if you’re known to be a great tipper.

Tip 11: Take a picture. I’m not sure why so many men have such a problem with this one, but it you’re looking for a new style and you find one you like in a magazine or photograph (or this website), print out a copy and take it with you to the barber. There is nothing wrong with using pictures of mens haircuts to help you communicate with your barber!  This will help the barber understand exactly what you’re after without having to explain it (something we guys are notoriously bad a doing). Just be realistic. If you look like Bill Clinton, a barber can’t make you look like Brad Pitt or if your hair has the texture of a pot scrubber, he won’t be able to make it silky smooth. The photo will, however, give your barber an idea of what you want so he can create a similar style that works well with your hair and face. Oh, and no he won’t think your a girlie man for taking a photo – he’ll appreciate the effort. I always do.

Tip 12: Change it up. Some guys get stuck wearing the same haircut forever. Once in a while, change it up a bit. Go for something completely different. Your partner will likely enjoy the change and you won’t believe how many people will take note. You may also find a new style that works much better than what you’ve been wearing. So, take the plunge. It’ll always grow back if you don’t like it.

DISCLAIMER: The advice I provide is not intended to be a substitute for a personal consultation with a barber or stylist. Any information or materials posted on this service or transmitted from this service are intended for general informational purposes only. Determining a proper haircut or service depends upon a personal inspection of your head and face shape, hair type, and scalp condition. By using this service, you acknowledge that I am not liable for haircuts or services performed based upon the advice given or content posted on this service. The responsibility and liability for any service performed is that of the client and barber/stylist performing the service.