“Okay what’ll it be today?” asks the barber.
“Uh… Just a normal haircut please,” says the dude who’s about to get a haircut he hates.
Even instructions like “shorter on the sides and longer on top” are pretty much worthless, since that describes essentially every male haircut.
Find a picture and save it to your phone
Some guys have a problem with this, maybe because it feels a little feminine in nature to have a premeditated approach to a hair cut. Man up and admit you care about hair. Find some haircut you like, even if it’s a picture of yourself last year, and show it to the barber. This is much more helpful than your vague directions that lack any of the appropriate hair vocabulary.
Your barber will understand your hair much better if you simply let him/her know when your last haircut was. This is often a better guide for the barber than your vague requests for length.
Share your bad stories
Let your barber know what you don’t want to happen. If you don’t share your distastes, you can’t be mad when the stylist doesn’t know.
Learn some lingo
If your hair is thin, you might ask for a “choppy” look, which means the barber will use a cutting technique that adds texture and volume to your hair. If your hair is thick, you can ask for some “thinning,” and the barber will use special thinning shears to decrease volume.
“Short” and “long” don’t mean much
Long to one barber might be short to another, so avoid those words. Try to use numbers, as in inches, if you’re giving direction.
Your ears matter a lot
Telling your barber to go neater or messier around the ears is good direction that will influence the rest of the haircut. Neat lines around the ears generally mean you want a sharper haircut in general.
Network to find your person
Many men who complain about haircuts simply go to the closest barbershop they know of. To drop a dad quote on you, nothing good in life comes without a little work. If you see someone with a haircut you like, ask where they got it cut.
We know this is a hard one, because hey, when do you see the back of your own neck? Here’s what to tell your stylist or barber:
Blocked: Great for skinnier necks, a blocked neckline means your hair is cut horizontally in a straight line. Beware, this neckline can get messy fast as the hair grows.
Rounded: This is just like a blocked neckline, except the edges are rounded.
Tapered: This means that the hair on the neckline gradually shortens as it moves down the neckline, until there is no hair at all. This is a great choice because the back of the head maintains a tidy look for longer.