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November 24, 2012 4:10 PM   Subscribe

I'm tired of the cheap, shapeless, slapdash men's haircuts I get at chain salons. I definitely don't want (and can't take care of) expensive salon hairstyles. What's my haircut strategy?

Ever since I've started paying for my own haircuts (roughly contemporary with my first year at college), my strategy has been to walk into a Haircuttery or similarly priced unisex hair-place, sit down with the first available stylist, and ask for "#4 on the sides, scissor cut on top, and square at the neck."

I end up with a generic short cut that looks clumsy in the front and sticks up at the top. Upon coming home, I usually find uneven areas. After growing out for a few weeks, it starts looking shapeless, as hair on the top of my head starts awkwardly overhanging the sides, messily scatters across my forehead, etc.

I have a big round head with "strong features." My dark brown hair is fine, limp, slightly wavy, and gets greasy quickly.

I've looked at style books in salons a couple of times, but they show flamboyant, sculpted 80s hairstyles. I don't know what any TV celebrities look like, so I can't easily match myself to someone with a similarly shaped head. I also don't have the practiced eye to notice fine details in the haircuts of the people around me. At best, I can tell if it's a long or short cut, and whether hair gel is involved. I would need to look long and intently to notice things like how the temples are shaped or how the sides transition into the top. And shouldn't taking care of these details be a part of the stylist's job?

Keeping these constraints and limitations in mind, I need a hair styling strategy. I am especially grateful for local suggestions (DC and Maryland suburbs).

In a nutshell:
  • I want a cheap, low-maintenance cut that's easy on the eyes.
  • Styling products should be involved minimally or not at all.
  • The cut should be delivered with someone with attention to detail who will consider the geometry of my head and its various features.
Basically, I want a cheap, no-nonsense, professional hair advocate. How do I find one?
posted by Nomyte to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (43 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
You might end up just needing to pay a little more. I go to an expensive stylist and don't ask for anything special, but she gives me a quality, low-maintenance haircut every time. With hair I've found you get what you pay for.
posted by stoneandstar at 4:17 PM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Are there regular Men's Barbershops where you live? Preferably staffed by dudes in, say, at least in their 50s? Basically, the best strategy (and the one that works for me) is to get an old man to cut your hair. They know classic styles that will look good on you, they're experienced with all sorts of different heads and faces (keep in mind a big part of their job is to make balding dudes look good,) and they are very well aware of the fact that most men have no truck with a haircut that requires product. Just tell them where you'd prefer it shorter and where longer and if you end up with something awful, well, it grows back and it's really tough to seriously fuck up a dude's hair if you know what you're doing.
posted by griphus at 4:18 PM on November 24, 2012 [12 favorites]

In other words, expensive doesn't always equal high-maintenance, flamboyant, or doused with salon product. You pay more because you're hiring people who really know how to cut hair. (And who pay attention to things like head and face shape.)
posted by stoneandstar at 4:18 PM on November 24, 2012

(NB: Old Guy haircuts will generally be more expensive than unisex mall places. Also, if they do straight-razor hot shaves, get one too. They're awesome.)
posted by griphus at 4:19 PM on November 24, 2012

I would look at Yelp etc for old school barber shops in your area that are well reviewed. Not a Supercuts chain, but a Moe's Barbershop. Ideally convenient enough to your commute that you could find the time to stop in once every 2-3 weeks. Spend $12-$18 on a cut. If it works, come back in a few weeks for a $5 cleanup trim. Rinse and repeat. If it doesn't work so well, try the next place on the list. Be prepared to make smalltalk.
posted by mumkin at 4:21 PM on November 24, 2012

When I had hair, I'd find the oldest, crustiest-looking barber shop (not a salon!), preferably full of old men who looked like they had nothing better to do all day than sit around bullshitting, go in there, and try and tell the old guy there what I wanted. I'd also go in for the real shave with a real throatcutter because those are fantastic.

Perusing Yelp, with no knowledge whatsoever, I'd try Louis, Camillo, or Wall's.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 4:22 PM on November 24, 2012

The problem is you're going to a cheap salon. You need to either be willing to pay more for a better salon, or get out of salons entirely and find a good barber.

The latter I haven't done in years, but it sure as heck didn't give me unevenness when I didn't want it. And you sure as hell won't need maintenance - old school barbers are not in the business of providing cuts to anyone that need major effort to rebuild each morning.

As for salons, they don't necessarily equate to a "difficult" hairstyle. I - and most of the men I know - go to salons for cuts that generally involve either zero or minimal maintenance on a day-to-day basis. (For example, I toss some product into my hair and shift it around in the morning after I shower; it takes me about three minutes from start to finish.)

I was a little intimidated by the process when I started going to salons, in part because I thought - as I think you do - that I needed to really know exactly what length I wanted, know the subtleties of fading, etc, etc. Nor did I have to know what celebrity I wanted to look like, or anything else, really. But having gotten a recommendation from a friend, I was able to basically walk in, sit down, and say something like this: "I just need a basic cut, short and simple, and please get rid of the sideburns." Men going to salons and not knowing exactly what they want is not an unusual problem for a stylist to solve; a decent stylist will, in fact, be a "professional hair advocate" and will be able to handle with ease you saying "I haven't got a clue, just make me look okay."

I do want to note that both of these are going to be more expensive than a Hair Cuttery or similar place. But not by a lot, in the scheme of things; it might seem like a lot that it might cost, say, twice as much as you're used to, but its' just another ten or fifteen bucks a cut, and you'll be much, much happier with the results either way.

My final note: You say "After growing out for a few weeks, it starts looking shapeless, as hair on the top of my head starts awkwardly overhanging the sides, messily scatters across my forehead, etc." Well, "a few weeks" is a normal time between haircuts, at least for me - and that's exactly why. It gets too long, too sloppy, now it's time to go back. Hair keeps growing; that means I have to keep getting it cut. Annoying as an ongoing expense - I wish I could just get it perfect once and never touch it again - but that ain't changing any time soon.
posted by Tomorrowful at 4:24 PM on November 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yeah, barber. Around here, they seem to be fairly competitive with the chain places, including the ones not run by old men. (Word of caution: the very old men may not be able to see so well. In college, the guy who cut my hair was a veteran of the Second World War and would definitely miss bits because he just couldn't see them. I'd have to get them with scissors when I got home. But he was super cheap. (How do I know he was a veteran? He was once cutting another old man's hair and they were chatting about getting frostbite invading Germany. Well, that and the DAV thing on the wall.))

Or find the cheap chain haircut place that doesn't have massive staff turnover. We have a Great Clips downtown that gets a lot of office workers, which helps their ability to do 'generic man's haircut' and the people who have worked there as long as I've lived here are pretty good.
posted by hoyland at 4:25 PM on November 24, 2012

Even dudes need to bring in a picture to a stylist sometimes. Have you noticed anybody with a really good haircut on TV or in movies lately? Print out a picture of that person and show your next barber what it is you like about it. My dad did this 30 years ago and has been able to retrain every barber he's been to just by showing them the same damn photo of Sean Connery or whoever the hell it is (he won't tell me) since then. He always looks great.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 4:27 PM on November 24, 2012

Response by poster: Have you noticed anybody with a really good haircut on TV or in movies lately?

The last movie I've seen was The Room about six months ago. I do not want to look like Tommy Wiseau.
posted by Nomyte at 4:34 PM on November 24, 2012 [3 favorites]

The last movie I've seen was The Room about six months ago.

This is what the magazine racks at the grocery store are for. Flip through one of those until you find the little cherub with hair you'd like, and use that picture.
posted by carsonb at 4:39 PM on November 24, 2012

Nthing the classic men's barbershop suggestion. Have you ever seen a picture of a guy from the fifties and thought that their hair looked bad? Not me. Those are the classic styles, and a good old fashioned barber will do those styles, and pretty much only those styles. All shapes and sizes of head will look good in the classic mode.

Also, it's fun to keep going to the same shop. I've been going to the same guy for twenty years: he knows my father, he knows me, he even knows my girlfriend from when she stops by to visit. Some things are worth keeping around. Old fashioned barbershops are one of them.
posted by Think_Long at 4:41 PM on November 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

How often do you get your hair cut? Men tend to wait far too long between cuts. A decent style that doesn't require product will grow out of that style in about a month, so get used to regular monthly haircuts with the same stylist each time. If you go to chains, you'll have to try to explain what your last cut was each time, and the different techniques by each stylist will work differently for you.
posted by xingcat at 4:46 PM on November 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

I've been really happy with Spa Mesu in downtown Silver Spring. Prices are very good for a non-mall-chain salon, and the owner/principal stylist Mesu is both very talented and will take the time to talk to you about what you want to accomplish with the cut and figure out how best to achieve that. Plus, she is the best head shampooer I've ever encountered--like, seriously, died and gone to heaven good--and you get a complementary cup of Ethiopian coffee. Perhaps that runs counter to your "no nonsense" criterion, but it's some seriously blissful nonsense.
posted by drlith at 4:47 PM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

It'd be easier for us to pick out a hairstyle for you if, say, we knew what you looked like. Or if you had a picture of someone that looks like you. Barring that, your best bet is to go to an actual barbershop, not a chain, and talk to the barbers there, as griphus suggested.
posted by FirstMateKate at 4:48 PM on November 24, 2012

Also, from your description of the sticky-uppy parts, it sounds like you have cowlicks, which should be left slightly longer. A good barber/stylist will be aware of your cowlicks, but sometimes they're not obvious until the hair itself is cut.
posted by xingcat at 4:49 PM on November 24, 2012

I like the barbershop idea, but I disagree that this is the fault of the cheap stylists. It sounds like they're doing exactly what you tell them. I've had reasonably good outcomes with Supercuts stylists, but I've always brought a picture. I get that you're proudly not-media savvy, but you can google "men's haircuts 2012" or something similar and get a bevy of pictures. If you can't stand to do that, or don't trust your instincts, ask a loved one or trusted friend to pick one out for you.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:00 PM on November 24, 2012

Haircutters are like doctors; you want to find a good one - probably by word of mouth - and for the love of god stick to them like glue. They don't have to be expensive, but you are playing Russian Roulette with your hair the way your doing it. Ask around, find a good cheap one, and stick with it. Alternately, shave your head, and never worry again.
posted by smoke at 5:13 PM on November 24, 2012 [5 favorites]

A dissenting opinion about old-school barbers.

You said you're tired of ending up with "a generic short cut." Generic short cuts are the only things I've ever gotten at any classic barber shop I've visited anywhere, including various cities' beloved institutions. It wasn't from lack of trying. I'd be really assertive about telling them to leave some length in specific places--inevitably, they'd nod and proceed to buzz the living shit out of everything. (One tactic a friend tried was to ask for longer hair than he currently had, but apparently nothing can stop them.)

If you just want a better-quality generic short haircut, then maybe the right old-school barber is what you need. But if your hair and head are kind of screwy (like mine), and you need someone to actually size you up and apply some creative thinking to what would look best on you, I'd avoid barbers altogether and go the salon route. Bringing a picture is a good idea.

FWIW, I've had good experiences about 80% of the time at the local Aveda Academy, but I do that because I'm on a budget. What I like about it, aside from the price, is that (1) the students listen; (2) there's oversight from an instructor (checks and balances are always a plus), and (3) they're specifically being trained to give you something personalized, not just apply a template.

Good luck!
posted by Beardman at 5:27 PM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

One thing to notice is how long a good haircut lasts. This really varies so there's no hard and fast rule. Once you get a cut you like, pay attention to the point where it changes from good to not-so-good. Adjust your schedule accordingly. Expect to need a haircut every four or six weeks to look your best. In my experience, six weeks is pushing it but everyone is different. More frequent haircuts are one of the secrets to low maintenance.
posted by conrad53 at 5:38 PM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Have you thought about getting a hair cut similar to Wentworth Miller or Channing Tatum? They're celebrities with buzz cuts. I am by no means a hair expert, but it seems like this hairstyle would be a relatively easy job to pull off even with a mediocre hair stylist.
posted by livinglearning at 5:39 PM on November 24, 2012

Response by poster: To add: right now I'm spending about $25 (tip included) on a cheap haircut. Previous checking suggests that a haircut at a barbershop downtown, of the sort suggested by Ghostride The Whip above, costs around $30 before tip, which sort of pushes it into "fancy restaurant meal" territory. Spending that much monthly seems a little irresponsible.

I'm not sure what to make of carsonb's "little cherub" comment. I don't want to look like a little cherub, and little cherubs don't generally have my head shape.

For reference, here's a webcam pic. I don't think a buzz cut will work for me.

Also, I'm not "proudly not media-savvy" or whatever, I just have a genuinely hard time identifying celebrities I look like or would like to look like.

I live in a college town, so most of my male friends are graduate students who just go to the Haircuttery and deal with it.

So far the consensus is tending toward exploring regional barbershops.
posted by Nomyte at 6:04 PM on November 24, 2012

Diego's in Dupont is about the same cost as haircuttery for men and much more personalized. Cash only but you get to hang out with awesome old Italians who have cut hair for a lot of famous men.
posted by Luminiferous Ether at 6:09 PM on November 24, 2012

Basically, I want a cheap, no-nonsense, professional hair advocate. How do I find one?

You get what you pay for. And going to a more professional salon does not obligate you to use hair product.

But strategically speaking, a barber who has been in business for a long time and has ownership of the building in which he works will have lower overhead costs and thus doesn't have to charge as much. Find someone like that.

But I might add that spending $30-$40 every 6-8 weeks on a haircut is only irresponsible if you don't care what it looks like. If you do care what it looks like, then you have to take a certain amount of responsibility for paying for that. (or search around until you find the cheap-awesome-barber-that-no-one-else-knows-about).
posted by deanc at 6:11 PM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm in the "find an actual barber, stick with that barber" camp. The main problem with chains is that there's usually high turnover of staff, when the way to get consistently good haircuts is to have one person cut your hair on a regular basis. So when you go to your old-school barber, perhaps cycle through the chairs over a few months -- or make a joke when you walk in about who wants a challenge.

You can sometimes find places that manage to straddle between barber and salon, but they're much rarer.

And deanc's right: $30/month for a haircut in a relatively expensive area is hardly "irresponsible" when $25 is the going rate at SuperGreatClipperCuttery.
posted by holgate at 6:26 PM on November 24, 2012

If I were you, I'd go quite, quite short with a very little length on the top - I, a brutally honest internet stranger, say that your hair itself is pretty average (although the color is good!) and you should probably keep it from being floppy because it distracts from your features, which are good. I say this as someone with the opposite concern - thick and glossy hair but exceedingly blah features, small in a flat face. I think you would look good with something close to a buzzcut, actually.

One thing you can do: get a nice salon cut every three or four haircuts and get the maintenance cuts in between at Great Clips or wherever.

Also, if you know any artsy people, some of them probably have friends who cut hair and who would cut your hair for cheap or free. These will not be professional haircutters, just people who like to cut hair on an amateur basis, but they'll be at least as good as Great Clips and have the advantage of knowing your milieu and expectations.
posted by Frowner at 6:27 PM on November 24, 2012

...right now I'm spending about $25 (tip included) on a cheap haircut. Previous checking suggests that a haircut at a barbershop downtown, of the sort suggested by Ghostride The Whip above, costs around $30 before tip...

Assuming a $5 tip, getting that haircut every six-seven weeks instead of every month will even it to a workable extent with your budget.
posted by griphus at 6:28 PM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Frowner, thanks, I'm really flattered! In the past, stylists have repeatedly mentioned that I should keep some length to offset my protuberant ears, nose, and chin. Nonetheless, I've been gradually pushing for a shorter cut, despite my mother's protestations that it makes me "look like a convict." Haven't tried going shorter than 3/8", but will consider it.
posted by Nomyte at 6:34 PM on November 24, 2012

My ex had a cowlick in front, which helped make a good cut a challenge, and was in the military. He got his haircut every week or two. After he figured out a couple of things to say to barbers, his method was to try out several barbers (the individual workers) at the barbershop on base when we first got to a new duty station. He would find one or two people who did what he liked and then he simply wouldn't let anyone else cut his hair.

He was extremely fashion challenged when we met as teens (think something straight out of "Revenge of the nerds") and I talked him into his first decent haircut and took him shopping and got him a decent outfit or two while we were still dating. In our twenties, on at least two occasions, we met the mother of some female friend of mine who promptly commented about what a handsome, well-dressed man he was -- quite the looker and all that -- and they could "see why I married him". On both occasions, we both immediately burst into laughter. Even after I taught him to dress better, he did not have a great eye for such things. He did better but still consulted me on fashion advice while we were divorcing. But he learned how to pick a hairstylist that got him good results. You can too.

You can keep trying random hairstylists and if one gives you a cut you like, get their name/card. Then go back. You can improve on that process by asking people who look great if there is anyone they would recommend. You can also see a consultant just once to get feedback on how to meet your hair needs and take your newfound wisdom someplace affordable thereafter. You could also ask a more fashionable friend to help out. Someone with a good eye and some taste can really help with something like this and probably would enjoy doing it. I was fine with dating a nerd. I took him shopping because he had self esteem issues, not because I cared what anyone thought about my boyfriend. Fashiony people are often social and like shopping and so forth. Let a fashiony friend make you over.

If you post a better pic, facing forward like a mug shot and without putting your hand on your face, it would be easier to get an idea of what kind of style might be flattering. As a general first impression, I think you could easily go with a shorter guard than a #4. It would be a stronger style statement, take longer to grow out wild and wooly, and I think it would look fine given your features and hair type. I am female and routinely go with a #2. My health issues mean product is a big no-no. I go quite short and leave a little bangs in front to soften it. I get compliments on it.
posted by Michele in California at 6:36 PM on November 24, 2012

I think you should go a little longer, definitely. I understand your reluctance--the idea that slightly longer hair is higher maintenance, but the bonus is often that you can go just a touch longer between haircuts. David Duchovny's had some slightly shorter cuts that would look good on you. A touch longer on top, with a bit more texture. The only product you would need is a tiny bit of pomade every day (like, a dime-sized drop). I wouldn't be afraid of your hair touching your forehead or anything like that. It'll do a lot of soften your features.

(Big nosed guys with floppy, touchable hair? Hot.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:47 PM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

My barber shop is staffed by two owners who are about 40 and a couple younger guys. The founder of the shop (who is now a fireman) and the current owner are former military, tattoos all over, rockabilly-retro types. They're fiercely proud of doing the best damn cut around (and for about what the Great Clip type places charge!).

Generally, they ask "short, medium or long" for new customers, or ask how long it's been since your last haircut (once I heard a new customer joke, "bless me father, for I have sinned. My last confession was nine weeks ago.").

Your best bet is to find someone who has the same head shape as you, whose haircut you like. Barring that, find a real barber (if they offer shaves, that's a good sign) and explain what you've been doing, what you're looking for, and ask them to whittle it down and see what works out. Tip generously, and next time you're in there you can just say, "the usual" and feel like a million bucks.

(side note: barbershop shaves are awesome. My best man paid extra for us to go in and have shaves on the morning of my wedding. The extra was because they generally don't do shaves on Saturdays. Anyway, not that I have a fast-growing beard, but I didn't have to shave until, like, the next Wednesday. And I felt like a GOD.)
posted by notsnot at 7:10 PM on November 24, 2012

What's my haircut strategy?

1) Find a talented stylist at a chain salon (quality)
2) Always bring in a picture of the exact haircut you want (clarity)
3) Make appointments so that you only see that stylist (consistency)

My worst haircuts have usually come from walking in to a random chain salon and giving vague instructions to an unskilled stylist I had never met before. Now I do the exact opposite of all those things. Finding the right person takes some time and a bit of luck, since you are aiming for the cheap end of haircuts, but this damned economy has meant that many people with the talent to work in a higher-end salon are employed at chains. I found mine through luck, but you might try searching yelp reviews for a string of "ask for X" comments.
posted by eddydamascene at 7:16 PM on November 24, 2012

I got some great advice when I asked about this previously. bottom line, spend a bit more money, do your research, stick with someone good when you find them.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:19 PM on November 24, 2012

...as hair on the top of my head starts awkwardly overhanging the sides...
my '#3 on the sides, scissor cut top' haircut gets does the same thing unless I ask for a "high fade"
posted by itheearl at 8:55 PM on November 24, 2012

Response by poster: Also, sorry to anyone who clicked on my pic without AdBlock enabled. I just took a look at the ads on that site and yikes!
posted by Nomyte at 9:25 PM on November 24, 2012

Anecdata: When I decided to chop off all my hair, I went google-image searching for "short haircuts." I found a general range of what I wanted (I think I had three pictures, a couple were celebs) and just saved them on my phone. When it was time to sit in the chair, the stylist was happy to go through the pictures I saved and tell me which ones would "work" with my face and hair texture. Just make sure the pictures match your relative hair texture. It took a couple of haircuts to get to the happy place, the one I mean when I say "the usual" but it was worth it. Also, ask the place beforehand what they can/will do if you're not happy with the haircut. Mine will try to fix any haircut at no charge up to two weeks after I get it.

If you'd like to go longer between haircuts, the hair overhanging the sides can be addressed with hair product. I have three kinds of hair products, for different "phases" (i.e., the closest I am to needing a haircut, the higher the hold needs to be) and all of them take about five minutes to put in. You can go to a place that markets hair products (I think I went to Ulta) and tell them you're trying stuff out. They'll either try one out on you there, if you're up for it, or they'll direct you to the trial sizes. When hair product isn't helping me anymore, that's my sign to schedule a cut.
posted by dean winchester at 9:58 PM on November 24, 2012

The best haircut I've ever had I walked in to the local barber shop and asked for medium short. And then I never went back because I moved cross-country.
posted by ckape at 11:53 PM on November 24, 2012

Print pictures from places like Tumblr. When I decided that I wanted Morissey's hair, I brought in a picture of the hair that I wanted. An hour later, that was my hair.

For what it's worth, I skipped the barbershops run by old men and instead chose a place staffed exclusively by women having pink or blue hair.

Downside is that my hair costs $60/cut after tips, but I only get it cut a few times a year, so it seems worth it. I'm sure that I'm screwing up by getting a really awesome haircut every 20 weeks instead of a mediocre haircut every 8 weeks, but whatever, that's the way my budget rolls. Quality over quantity?

Anyway, I had to go the extra mile because of all the other places that had been cutting my hair had this weird thing where they would pretend my hair wasn't really curly. I don't know what that was all about.
posted by oceanjesse at 5:01 AM on November 25, 2012

If you really don't want to fuss, just get the military #2 all over from a hairdresser salon in Chinatown for less than $10. With the right jacket, you'll look like the guide from Tarkovsky's film 'Stalker'. It might feel odd at first, but you'll get used to it.
posted by ovvl at 9:33 AM on November 25, 2012

If you are going to go with something like a #2 all over, buy your own hair cutting kit for between $12 and $30 and do it yourself once a month. "One time expense" which covers multiple haircuts for months or possibly years to come. Then you can touch it up any damn time you start feeling like it is getting wild and woolly for a few minutes time investment and a few cents worth of electricity.
posted by Michele in California at 12:12 PM on November 25, 2012

Response by poster: If you really don't want to fuss, just get the military #2 all over from a hairdresser salon in Chinatown for less than $10. With the right jacket, you'll look like the guide from Tarkovsky's film 'Stalker'. It might feel odd at first, but you'll get used to it.

I work with powerful magnets and sometimes young children. No biker jackets or stark cuts. People already describe me as stern and glowering. I'm shooting for "approachable."
posted by Nomyte at 12:33 PM on November 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Hi Nomyte. In my teen years I had long flowing locks: back in the late 70's there was a law that if you didn't have long hair, then you would be shunned by your peers. Thank god those days are over. Now you can do what you want, within reason.

I started cutting my hair close when I was working in dusty environments and my mane became virtually unmanageable. Since then, I have noticed that many guys I know are also doing close haircuts. Some of this might be because close hair flatters early baldness patterns, but, hey.

You wear the clothes that fits in your professional environment. The kids should be okay if you are relaxed and treat them with respect. The approachability thingy has a lot to do with attitude, I know, because I glower too, that's the way we are, but we have to consciously force ourselves to be sociable. We are stern and glower because we are shy, and we have to make that extra effort to be nice to people because we don't have the same natural ease that not-shy people have.

The hair that we have should not really be that significant, but only when we get past the phase that politicians and country music stars inhabit, because hair is a social signifier, and also as the Danny character in 'Withnail & I' says: "All hairdressers are in the employ of the govt..." Tarkovsky's 'Stalker' is a subtle film, but I would not recommend it unless you like bleak slow patient cinema.

I think you should try out a stark cut. If you don't like it... it will grow out.
posted by ovvl at 4:54 PM on November 25, 2012

Basically, I want a cheap, no-nonsense, professional hair advocate. How do I find one?

I will personally say that until a few months ago, I'd been going to a barbershop ($13 cuts), plopping my butt into the first open seat, and taking whatever I got. This means I get the new guy a lot. What I've found is that the haircut I get there is pretty variable; it depends not just on the person cutting the hair, but on how much time they can spend with you. That is, if it's a lazy day and nobody else is waiting, I tend to get a better haircut. Big Saturday lineup? I get rushed through. On average, the haircut lasts three weeks before it starts to look sloppy.

Then a few months ago I sat down in the chair and a new lady said "I've never cut hair here before, so I'm going to do a really good job, because they're all watching me." It took an hour. My hair looked fantastic. It even looked pretty good after five to six weeks.

The next time I went back, she was gone.

So I've started going to a salon. It's over double the price, but it's a consistently good haircut. I make an appointment, it takes an hour, and it grows out well. Clearly I think it's worth a little extra money; only you can make that call.
posted by Comrade_robot at 10:12 AM on November 29, 2012

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