Not all men’s haircuts are created equal. Who hasn’t had a haircut that, when you get home and look at yourself in the mirror, you realize you could’ve employed your roommate to do the same thing with a razor and a pair of office scissors? You don’t need to undergo a manscaping marathon to look sharp. But here are a few tips to help ensure your next haircut rocks.
1. Eye on the Prize
Going in, have an idea of what you want to look like. Even a master barber won’t be able give you the style you’re going for if you can’t explain it to him. Let’s say your hair is thinning and you’ve hit your panic-button – you need to do something about this now. You can tell your barber, “I want to do something about my thinning hair.” And he’ll be able to give you a contoured cut that accentuates your best features. But what you should really do is show him a picture of Jude Law around the time that he faced the fact he was balding and kept it short. Having some visualization of your idea on hand will help your barber turn that idea into a reality.
2. Listen to Advice
That idea of yours is key, but it’s also just the first step in this process. If you’re getting a haircut with a BSG-caliber barber, you’re working with a pro. So think of your session with him as a board meeting in which you’re the chairperson. (Pun intended.) Let’s go back to that Jude Law moment. You say that you want to look like Mr. Law. But your barber suggests that because you don’t have the same features as he does, you should buzz it down even shorter. You exercise on the reg, and you’d fit the Marine look naturally. You definitely don’t want to leave his establishment disappointed with how you look, but take a moment to hear him out. Just like if you stopped into a bike shop to buy a premier bike, you’d probably weigh what the mechanics have to say before making a purchase. Same thing here. Tell your barber about your vision, but also be willing to modify that vision if his tips seem sound.
3. Know Thy Stylist
At the same time, you’ll probably lend more credence to your barber’s advice if you’ve vetted him beforehand. As with any contractual situation, you want to know you’re in good hands, and you often find the best professionals through word-of-mouth. Also, check out barbershops and their stars on Instagram. Typically, they’ll have posted the men’s haircuts, beard trims, and straight razor shaves they’re most proud of. Browse through them. Figure out if you like your stylist’s style. Then make a decision. Don’t expect to stroll into a random salon and get a great result — you’ve got to do your homework first. And that homework may mean scrolling through other tastemaker accounts like Men’s Health for ideas on the suavest hairstyles of the year.
4. What’s the Damage?
Chances are, if your homework is done and you take heed of an expert’s advice, you’ll get a haircut you’re happy with. But if there’s something off about it, be upfront with your barber. Tell him you wanted it shorter, longer, styled to a specific look, whatever. No need to berate the man, but don’t just pay him and pretend that you liked his work. And remember, he’s a pro — he’s encountered criticism and pushback before. Broach the topic with this tone: “This is good, but I was hoping it’d be more like this …” Which dovetails back to point #1 (“Have an Idea”): Know what you want. Make sure you and your barber are on the same page. And if you get a few haircuts and you still don’t like them, then it may be time to seek out another barber. That decision could be a letdown on both ends, but it’s way better than paying for a service that you don’t even like.
5. Change with the Seasons
In many ways, getting a men’s haircut that rocks can be broken down into two strategies. The first is to decide on a standard look that you and your barber think fits your style, and then get that same haircut every time. The second strategy is to keep up with the seasonal or yearly trends in hairstyling. Strategy #1 is fine. Each time someone takes your picture, you know how you’re going to look and that you’ll like it. No surprises. But the second route may be more fun and creative. You can match your body type to your style and then pair your haircut with your wardrobe. That way, your look grows with you, even as you’re on point for each upcoming men’s fashion season.
6. Beard & Mustache
You, sir, should not just be proud of the hair atop your head. You are also the owner of the hair upon your face, which may include a goatee, a mustache, or yesteryear’s mutton-chops. Growing out, sometimes shaving, and regularly maintaining that facial hair has taken time, and by now it’s an integral part of your look. So make sure you go to your appointment with an idea of what you want for your facial hair, too. That should help round out the small touches of the vibe you’re going for.
While it may seem like an afterthought, when you’re shopping for the best barbershop, find out about the amenities they offer. Do they give a sports massage? What about a scalp moisturizing session? Hair removal on your back, neck, shoulders? Even a shoeshine? Sure, all these perks could be sales ploys, but those ploys may also help you relax. Any barbershop with good business sense knows that barbershops are something like a spa for men. If you feel good, you look good. If you look good, you’re more apt to treat yourself.
So, treat yourself. Go to the barbershop and relax. That’ll help you find a men’s haircut that rocks, and a style that’s right for you.