How to communicate with your barber and get the cut you want (2024)

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.

How to communicate with your barber and get the cut you want (2024)


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

Use the Right Lingo

For example, say how many inches you'd like off, or if you want a hard or soft cut. If you want layers, don't just say you want short layers or long layers—let your hairstylist know you'd like short layers in one place and longer layers in another.

How do you communicate what haircut you want? ›

Use the Right Lingo

For example, say how many inches you'd like off, or if you want a hard or soft cut. If you want layers, don't just say you want short layers or long layers—let your hairstylist know you'd like short layers in one place and longer layers in another.

How do I show my barber what haircut I want? ›

Bring a picture (but only of your hair)

Barbers are visual people and pictures really help barbers visualize what you're looking for in a haircut and serve as a great guide. There's a catch though — the best photo you can bring in to show your barber is a picture of yourself after a haircut that you really liked.

How do I tell my barber I want a crew cut? ›

How to Effectively Describe the Crew Cut You Want
  1. Be clear about the length you prefer on top and how short you want the sides.
  2. Discuss the kind of fade or taper you're looking for. ...
  3. Talk about the final look - whether you want a textured, choppy look on top or something sleek and neat.

How do you actually get the haircut you want? ›

How to get the haircut you want, according to a top hairdresser
  1. Take the free consultation. ...
  2. 2.Do your research. ...
  3. 3.Be really honest. ...
  4. 4.Do take advice. ...
  5. Don't leave the salon if you're unhappy. ...
  6. Bring pictures of your own hair. ...
  7. 7.Be realistic. ...
  8. Stick with your hairdresser.
Feb 25, 2021

Do barbers like when you show pictures? ›

Always show a photo example to your barber, as there's no better way to get the hairstyle you want than showing a photo of a cut that at least, looks similar.

Can barbers suggest haircuts? ›

Starting the conversation with this question is essential, especially if you're not entirely sure about the specific haircut you want. Barbers are experienced professionals who can assess your hair type, face shape, and personal style to suggest a haircut that suits you best.

How long is a 3 haircut? ›

3/8 in 10 mm

What does a number 5 haircut look like? ›

A Number 5 haircut leaves the hair at a length of 5/8 inch, or approximately 16mm. This haircut is considered medium-short, offering a clean-cut look while still being long enough to provide some styling flexibility.

What length is a 1 haircut? ›

If you ask your barber for a number one cut, you are asking them to cut your hair so it is an eighth of an inch long. If you ask for a number eight cut, the hair left on your head will be one inch. Here are all the haircut length numbers and their corresponding clipper guard size: Zero: 1/16 of an inch.

What do you tell your barber if you want a trim? ›

Some may say the word trim when they really mean a super close shave. Try to talk in inches or centimetres rather than vague terms. For example, if you want a half-inch trim, say so. If you can't describe the length in inches, you could also ask for it in hair clipper guard lengths.

How do you explain what kind of haircut you want? ›

Tip #2 Avoid using haircut terminology
  1. Usually all the barber needs to know is: How short do you want the sides. How short you want the top. How you style your hair.
  2. Be as specific as possible. Don't just ask for a number 2 on the sides. Do you want a low fade, medium fade or high and tight?
Jan 1, 2021

How do you say what you want in a haircut? ›

Try to cover a few basic points.

The type of gradient you want (i.e., taper or fade) if you're going for a shorter style. How you want to style your hair (lots of product, low maintenance, swept to the side, etc.) How you want your neckline cut (i.e., squared or tapered)

How to tell your hair stylist what you want? ›

7 Tips for Communicating With Your Hairstylist or Barber
  1. Do your research. Before even talking to your stylist, make sure you do your homework on what haircut you want. ...
  2. Bring Pictures. ...
  3. Speak Up During Your Haircut. ...
  4. Ask lots of questions. ...
  5. Be Specific With What You Want. ...
  6. Ask For A Mirror. ...
  7. Be Honest. ...
  8. Conclusion.
Jun 13, 2018

How to tell what haircut to get? ›

First , consider your face shape . Different face shapes suit different styles , so it 's important to determine your face shape before choosing a haircut . You can do this by tracing the outline of your face in a mirror or by using an online face shape calculator .

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