It seems simple but it’s actually quite complicated. Barbers and clients speak two different languages. There are clip sizes and terminology that unless you went to school for, you wouldn’t understand. Below are simple steps to remove the awkward communication breakdown that occurs when your barber asks “So what are you looking to have done today”.
#1 - Confirm that the lettuce on your head is in fact able to be coiffed into the style you’re looking for.
This one’s pretty simple but as barbers we can tell you from experience that you’d be blown away by how many people with corkscrew curly hair come in looking to leave with a pompadour etc. Assess whether your hair is curly, straight or wavy and make sure that the style with or without product is feasible to achieve.
#2 - Bring a picture, or two.
For years our clients have told us that they thought it might be offensive to their barber if they showed them a picture of the style they want. Hogwash! It’s unlikely that you’re able to rattle off the correct industry terminology that would be understood by your barber and quite frankly, it’s unreasonable for us to expect you would. The picture(s) are a starting point that allow you and your barber to get on the same page about what you want, and more importantly what you DON’T want.
#3 - All clips (sometimes referred to as guards) are not created equal.
The clippers/buzzers that barbers use to cut your hair have removable clips that determine how short your hair will be cut. Problem is there are two different types of clippers: one that uses metal clips and one that uses plastic clips. Maybe you know what length clips you want used and where, or you’ve heard barbers rattle off things like “a three to a one on the sides”. Just remember metal clips are shorter, so a 2 metal clip is not the same length as a 2 plastic clip.
#4 - Do a little research.
Barbers love Instagram. It’s a place where they can showcase their work. If you’re looking for a new shop and/or to get a feel for what atmosphere you can expect when you step inside, there’s no better place than IG. What’s more, we already told you bringing in a picture is a good idea. More likely than not you can find a shop near you, find a barber in that shop and bring him or her a picture of...a haircut THEY did.
#5 - Know the difference between a Barber and a Stylist/Cosmetologist.
Just because the sign on the outside says its a barbershop doesn’t mean anybody working inside is a barber. There are two trajectories hair professionals choose from when they go to school and the teachings are quite different. Barbers learn how to use a straight razor and cosmetologists learn color. Barber school focuses more on clipper work whereas cosmetologists learn more styles with scissors like layering. Maybe you’ve gone to a “barbershop” and the professional didn’t shave the back of your neck with a straight razor and hot lather? That’s because they were a cosmetologist and are unable to legally (even if they know how) use a straight razor...or they were lazy. Long story short if you want to play on the safe side, the general rule of thumb is if you’ve got long(er) hair you may be better suited with a stylist and shorter cuts that require superior clipper work are better suited for a barber.