What should I do for my first haircut in a decade or two?
October 21, 2012 8:26 AM   Subscribe

For the past ten years, I've been giving myself buzz cuts. Now that I want a real haircut, what should I ask for when I go to the barber?
posted by adgl to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Bring a picture! :) That can really make a difference.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 8:32 AM on October 21, 2012

Folks'll need a picture of you to advise on haircuts if that's what you want us to do.

As for talking to my barber, I always say "just long enough that you can't see my scalp, parted on the left"

You might want to go to a better (and more expensive doesn't always equal better) barber the first time and let him or her advise you. Afterwards if you like it you can take pictures and then tell other barbers: "like this".

Don't get caught up in a discussion of clipper guard "numbers" as this can vary from place to place.
posted by Jahaza at 8:40 AM on October 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you're going to a barber (as opposed to a stylist,) they generally have a repertoire of classic men's haircuts and an idea of what will look good on your head. A dude can wear a haircut -- not any, mind you, just a -- from 1952, 1972 or 1992 and still look damn good. This is one of the few upsides to the fact that long-ish hair on men has never been considered particularly appropriate and there's only so much you can do with short hair.

Google image search for "classic men's hairstyles" (i.e. not GQ's men's hairstyles of 2012 list) and try to pick two or three. Bring pictures and ask the barber which he thinks will look better on you.
posted by griphus at 8:43 AM on October 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

How short do you want your hair? Even if you are looking to keep it very short overall, you can tell the barber to fade it around your neck, ears, and sideburns - this will result in a cleaner and more defined looking haircut than you can usually get at home.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:44 AM on October 21, 2012

For new guys, my barbershop asks, "short, medium, or long?", assuming something you can comb. Personally, I ask for "barely combable on the sides, block the back (vs taper), longer on top" and it works out.
posted by notsnot at 9:09 AM on October 21, 2012

A picture is truly worth a thousand words in this case. I bring the same picture every time, even to people that have cut my hair many times. The skill of the haircutter involves two different things; someone who can competently execute a hair cut and someone who can imagine what kind of haircut to give you. The latter usually costs more. If you eliminate that you solve a lot of problems and widen the pool of people who can give you what you want. I’m also a big believer that you don’t tell professionals how to do their job, you tell them what you want. The picture accomplishes this.

I do the same as you, buzz cuts at home for long periods , then let it grow out and bring the picture.
posted by bongo_x at 10:20 AM on October 21, 2012

As I guy who still struggles with haircuts I would say that the most important insight for me has been: stick to the same hairdresser! Not just the same establishment but the same competent and perceptive professional who will learn your hair and how you like to cut it after 2-3 visits. It really worth investing some time finding that professional.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 11:05 AM on October 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

thanks for this question; and all the answers. i've been cutting my own hair since i was 13 (32 fucking years! holy shit) and suffer the same dilemma. i don't know how to ask for a haircut and no matter who cuts it or how much i pay they just seem to reinforce whatever self-inflicted bad haircut that drove me to a professional in the first place. ah vanitas, what once was punk authenticity just gets sad as the years pass; i'm too old to have a wonky haircut but i don't want to look like somebody's dad either.
posted by Conrad-Casserole at 11:20 AM on October 21, 2012

I used to buzz my hair myself as well, but decided I wanted a little more definition. I tried to explain in to several barbers with varying degrees of success. Then, voila! I found an old school barber in Milwaukee that did it right: the high and tight. Still short and simple, but I can play around with the length on top depending on my mood, and even comb it sometimes, with the bonus that the sides and back can be made REALLY short (which I like), without making me look like a skinhead all around.

The only weird thing is that people sometimes automatically assume I'm in the army.
posted by hafehd at 12:59 PM on October 21, 2012

If you want a short haircut, have an idea of what length of clipper guard you want on the sides and back -- not everyone uses clippers, but they'll understand what you mean. For example, I usually ask for "about a #4 on the sides and back, a bit longer on top with some texture". This has never steered me wrong. Texture just means they cut it a bit unevenly to give it a bit of a messy look.

If you want a longer haircut you probably should bring in a picture of what you want.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 1:32 PM on October 21, 2012

I know this is probably a real temptation after having gotten a decade of haircuts for free, but avoid the ten bucks and under instinct, and go to a nice salon and have someone do it and part with the forty bucks or whatever, depending on your city.

That's the difference between having that bowl-shaped sculpted newscaster/high school principal guy hair and that kind of ruffle-y unkempt-but-intentional look. Then they'll charge you another $18 for some product, and that's okay too because if you like your hair short you won't have to buy that again until 2015.

And as far as what to ask for, I would just let them have their way with you if you tell them a little about your lifestyle. If you get a salon recommended by a friend (female friends count) they will not be giving you cornrows or anything. If they don't get it right, and don't seem to listen, get the next haircut somewhere else.

And if they do get it right, that hair stylist will be like your dentist--the person you go to to take care of that particular thing.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:50 PM on October 21, 2012

« Older Tips for urban cycling as aerobic/cardio workout?   |   How would a prepaid sim work with my iPhone? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.