Communicating with barbers about style

Once you know how to speak to your barber about what haircut you want, you need not be disappointed again!

Imagine you are going to different barber for the first time, or perhaps you are thinking of a drastic restyle. There is a risk that it may not end in a result that you hoped. So how do you go about asking for what you want? There are several important things you can do to minimise that risk.

A picture paints a thousand words

The first thing you can do (and perhaps the most helpful for barbers) is the easiest thing for you. Bring a picture. Find images of the style you like, or even several styles that have elements you have identified you want. The more photos you can show, the better your barber can recreate the style for you. It acts as a great starting point for great communication, leaving conversation to iron out the details.

Great places to find images are:

  • Pintrest
  • Tumblr
  • Instagram
  • Google Images searches

The benefit is that you can save them to your phone and your barber can look through and enlarge images with ease. However it is still possible to find images in magazines, and bring along the physical page.

If you once had a great cut you were really happy with, and you have a photo – show the barber. Even if the cut was by a different barber.

However you choose to provide reference images, you can be sure that it not only makes your barbers job easier, but actually makes it far more likely that you will end up looking like you hope.

Being realistic and honest

Of course it should be noted that you must be realistic with your cut selection. Certain types of face will not look good with certain types of cut. That’s just life. Well – genetics and geometry. A good barber will always try to tactfully tell you if a haircut will not suit you, however with some compromises it may be possible to adapt it for your features or pick parts of the hairstyle that will work for you. You must also be honest with your level of commitment when it comes to the effort and time you can manage when it comes to styling and maintenance. Also bear in mind that your natural hair type may restrict types of style you can pull off. Mention if you intend to grow facial hair. Mention how long you want the style to last. Mention that you don’t like your ears much, so could the top be covered. Basically – the more you can tell your barber, the less scope for error.

Being clear and specific with words 

Another thing you can do is to use simple, clear, and effective language so there can be no misunderstanding about what is meant – especially when it comes to critical factors like length, texture, and styling. If you are not sure about something, it is perfectly fine to ask for it to be done incrementally. If cutting in a fringe is something you want but do not know specifically what length, it is acceptable to start off a bit longer and request another inch off – or use your hands to indicate – point how high you want the fringe. Describe carefully the type of finish you want to achieve – shiny, matte, textured, natural. Do you want a smart style? A relaxed style?


If your barber does not seem like they want to listen to you, it may be the best thing for both people to call it off. Use your judgement.

Good luck!

Until next time, as always, tight fades.

Dark Stag Team 

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