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Grooming Tips

How to communicate with your barber and get the cut you want

A man’s hair is an important part of his identity. Getting the right cut for you can boost your confidence and make you feel ready to take on the world. When it comes to making sure the cut you receive is in harmony with what you want, it’s important to be able to communicate effectively with your barber. Whether you’re looking to try a new style, or you’re visiting a barber who has never cut your hair before, to avoid disappointment it’s a good idea to have a strong notion of what you’d like. Your barber wants to do what is going to make you happy and the best way to make sure that happens is to express that effectively. To help your barber do the finest job possible, and to ensure you leave the barbershop feeling like the best version of you, here are some tips on effective barbershop communication.

Be prepared

Your barber is likely to ask you about your hair-care routine, what products you use (if any), whether you blow-dry, towel dry or allow your hair to dry naturally, what sort of comb or brush you use… they might even ask about your lifestyle and occupation. This is all to help your barber understand what sort of cut and treatment your hair requires. There’s no use your barber creating a look for you that you’re never going to bother - or be able - to replicate. Be prepared to answer some questions about your hair, your routine and what works best for you day-to day to help your barber give you a cut that’s going to work for you and your lifestyle.

Bring a picture

Accurately communicating the look you want using only words can be difficult even for the most eloquent among us. Before your appointment with your barber, find pictures that demonstrate the sort of cut you want. This can be one single picture that fully represents your desired look, or a few different images that highlight individual features, for example one that shows how long you want your sideburns, another that illustrates your ideal parting. Your barber will be able to understand what you’re going for and translate it to your own hair.

A tip: when choosing a picture, try to find a model that shares your face shape and hair type. Requesting a cut that looks great on someone with fine, straight hair might not be possible if you have voluminous, curly hair and similarly the sideburns that look perfect on a long-faced model might not look quite so good on a rounder face. Of course, your barber will voice any doubts they have about the suitability of your chosen looks, but you can save time and awkwardness if you arrive having thought about this in advance.

Avoid Jargon

It can be tempting to try to describe how you want your hair using words you’ve heard barbers use in the past. However, it’s worth noting that one barber can have a very different understanding of the meaning of a certain term compared to the next barber. While your previous barber may have described your usual cut in one way, your next barber might not interpret that description in the same way, and you risk leaving the barbershop with a very different look to the one you’d envisioned. Try instead to talk about how you want your hair to feel. If you want lots of movement in your hair, or you want it to be smart and tight, don’t be afraid to express that. Don’t worry about sounding inexperienced or unclear, if your barber is unsure they’ll ask, and they’d rather you took the time to explain fully than end up with a cut you’re unhappy with.

Be Specific

Another way in which communication lines can become crossed while in the barber’s chair is by using vague words like ‘long’ and ‘short’. Saying you want your hair to be long on top can mean very different things to different barbers. Try to be specific about exactly how much you want taken off. ‘I want a couple of centimetres taken off the top’ is far more clear and lets the barber know exactly what you want. If you’re not sure exactly how much you want taken off, tell your barber that. Then they can shorten your hair incrementally and ask you to signal when you’re happy with the length.

Be honest

As already stated, your barber wants you leave their shop feeling happy and confident, and the best way to ensure that happens is to be honest about your hair. Any cowlicks, whorls, unruly curls or unusual things your hair has been known to do at certain lengths is all valuable information for your barber. Tell them about any thinning or balding you’d like to disguise, or anything you really don’t want them to do to your hair. The more your barber knows, the better equipped they are to make your chosen style work with your hair type and avoid highlighting anything you really don’t want the world to see.

Trust your barber

If your barber expresses any doubts or offers any advice about the style you’ve asked for, a good tip is to pay attention. Your barber is a professional and has seen a lot of different cuts on a lot of different heads. A good barber will be able to tell if a style isn’t going to work in the way you’re envisaging with your particular hair type, and will more often than not be able to advise on an alternative cut that will achieve a similar look but works better with your face shape. Trust your barber.


As long as you’ve explained what you want as fully as you can, whether that’s through pictures, precise lengths, or a description of how you want it to feel, your barber can get on with making sure your hair turns out how you want it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions throughout and get ready to enjoy feeling like a new person at the end of it. At ADAM Grooming Atelier, we understand how tricky it can be to express exactly how you want your hair to be cut. Our barbers are experts in hair and do everything in their power to ensure your cut is everything you hoped it would be and your experience is relaxing. For the full barbershop experience, book an appointment today.

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