Guy Files: How To Ask For The Perfect Haircut

By Josh Nichols
In Style

Getting the perfect haircut from your stylist or barber isn’t just luck—you have to know what you want, and how to ask for it. Sometimes talking to your hair care professional can be difficult, but getting them to give you what you want is easier than you think.

Below are a few ground rules, tips, and tricks that every guy should know to help them achieve haircut perfection. By committing these to memory, I promise you will leave the barber chair looking studlier than when you walked in—with a confidence boost to match.

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1/ Be Prepared: I have no idea who ran around telling people that hairstylists hate it when you bring in pictures of what you want. This is one of the biggest misconceptions we see at the salon. If your stylist rolls their eyes at you or scoffs at you bringing them a picture of a cut you like, don’t let them cut your hair—it’s that simple. If you don’t have a picture, try referencing a celebrity. Communication is the key to getting what you want. You might think you know how to describe it, but that doesn’t mean your stylist will understand. The only surefire way of getting what you want is to show them what you are looking for.

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2/ Stay Positive: If you walk into your salon or barber shop expecting to be disappointed when you leave, you probably will be. Walk in with confidence and smile at your barber; shake their hand and tell them you are excited to get your haircut. Positivity is contagious: If you are excited to get your hair cut, they will be excited to cut it. Once you sit down, avoid telling your stylist what you don’t want. Instead, tell them all of the things you like about your hair, and how you might like to try something new. If you focus on the negative, so will your stylist. By focusing on a positive outcome, you are much more likely to leave with a smile on your face.

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3/ Know Your Products: This really gets me: A client walks into the salon, sits down, and tells me what they want. I ask: “What product do you use in your hair?” I cannot tell you how many guys will sit there and lie to their stylist’s face when they pretend to not know. When a guy finds a product they like, trust me, they know what it is. When you tell your stylist you don’t know what product you use, you’re basically telling them that you’re embarrassed you bought something that isn’t in their salon. We don’t necessarily even care what brand it is you have at home, but what we do need to know: Is it a paste, pomade, wax, clay, or gel (to name a few)? We ask this question because it gives us key information to give you what you want. The type of product you use tells us about your hair texture, your styling process, and the type of finish you prefer. If you really don’t know what you have at home, it’s time for new product.

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 4/ Be Open To Suggestion: We have already established that you have to tell your stylist what you want, but make sure you ask for their suggestions too. Not every style works for every hair type. You may have unrealistic expectations for your hair and it’s our job to steer you in the right direction. We may not be able to make you look like Justin Timberlake or David Beckham, but we can certainly adapt those cuts to fit your personal style and hair type. I’m not suggesting you give your stylist free reign, but a little artistic license can go a long way.

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 5/ Show Appreciation: A good cut can sometimes cost you more than you are used to paying, but your confidence and good looks should be worth the extra bucks. If you are happy with your stylist, they are actually worth 20 percent more than the price of your cut. That’s right, fellas, you need to be tipping your stylist for their work. A 20 percent gratuity is customary for a job well done. A 10 percent tip tells us you don’t like your hair, and you’re just too big of a wimp to tell us about it. If you like your cut, tell your stylist you like it. Take some cards, and send in some of your friends. Most reputable barbers and stylists will offer you some sort of loyalty program. Sending in your friends is not only a big compliment, but could win you a discounted service the next time you’re in, offsetting the cost of that tip.

All photos courtesy of Mens-Hairstyle.com.

Josh Nichols is a 15-year industry veteran who is a nationally recognized expert in hair styling. A St. Louis native, Josh attended Current Trends Academy and went on to become a top revenue stylist at the award-winning American Image Salon in Chesterfield. Josh opened his first salon—Josh Nichols Studio—in 2010. He has since expanded his services, added employees and relocated to Clayton, renaming his salon KINK Salon in 2012. His latest project, Notch, a men’s barbershop concept, opened August of 2014 in The Grove.

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