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How To Get Exactly The Haircut You Want, Every Time

GroomingHow To Get The Exact Haircut You Want, Every Time

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Why leave it to chance when you don't have to?

In an ideal world, going in to get a haircut would be a smooth, painless endeavor. Your barber would be someone you trust, who knows exactly how you want your locks to look, and as you walk into the shop, they’d greet you with a smile and just the right amount of conversation: not too much that you can’t relax, but not so little that the silence would be deafening. After securing the cape around your neck (to the perfect tightness, of course), they’d go to work without any need for instruction, trimming to exactly the specifications you would have requested had that been necessary. A snip here, a shave there, in fifteen minute’s they’d be done, and you’d walk away not only satisfied but deeply pleased—you know, the same feeling you get when you order a steak medium-rare and, sure enough, your meat reveals a perfect level of pink upon your cutting it open.

Sadly, though, more often than not that’s not how the experience ends up going down. Maybe your usual guy/gal is out of town and you’re stuck with someone new chopping wildly at your mane. Or maybe you’ve decided you want a change of pace, follicularly, but simply aren’t sure how to articulate that to the person wielding the scissors. In any case, the fact is that every once in awhile, you’re going to need to speak up about exactly what you’re looking for in order to get the best result possible. For just such an occasion, we’ve compiled all the specific questions you need to be able to answer before the first strand falls to the barber shop floor.

What Overall Style Are You Going For?

Above all else, this is the most important piece of information you need to be able to communicate to your stylist when getting a haircut. Tell it right, and all the rest should fall into place relatively easily. Tell it not-so-right, and the chance that you walk away disappointed will skyrocket. So figure out what you want, and figure out how to express it to another person. Bring a picture if you have to. Or, maybe, a guide.

Do You Like Structure, or Do You Style Your Mane More On The Messy Side?

Once you’ve told them your overall hopes and dreams for your cut, many barbers will then ask what vibe you’re going for with your ‘do; i.e. are you going to style it more conservatively, or are you going to be embracing the current trend of more messed-up manes? Or, do you want a ‘do that can do both? Depending on your answer, a quality stylist will then be able to make a few decisions of their own with respect to things like texture, edges and the use of of thinning shears.

How Long Do You Want It?

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Now that you’ve got the general chop down, and how you plan on styling it, time to get down to the nitty gritty. To start, there’s the question of length. For longer cuts, the answer’s easy: simply show them where you want the base of your hair to land and they’ll figure out where to go from there. For shorter cuts, though, there tend to be follow-up questions. Such as, how much of a contrast do you want from the sides to the top, in any at all? And do you want to be able to see skin through the hair? How much? Essentially any haircut can be adjusted to meet your preferences here, so don’t be shy.

How Long Do You Want Your Sideburns?

Remember: because of the way they frame your face, sideburns are going to act as a focal point whether you like it or not. So you better get them right now, while you’ve got the chance. Length is a large part of that: as we’ve said before, exactly where your burns land can make or break an otherwise stellar cut. Choose wisely.

And Do You Want Them Squared or Tapered?

As opposed to the above, this is a matter of preference. Do you want a finite end to your sideburns, or do you want them to fade from visible to nearly non-existent as they inch down your face? The former is the classic choice, sported by men for millennia; the latter tends to be for the more daring among us, pairing particularly well with that fade haircut that’s oh so popular nowadays. Then again, after a few days growth the latter will turn into the former, so really, it’s all moot in the end. Don’t stress too much about this one.

As For Your Neckline, How Do You Want That Handled?

You’ve got three options here: blocked, rounded and tapered. And, as we’ve discussed in the past, there are pros and cons to each. A good rule of thumb, though, is to go the same direction as you did with your ‘burns. That is, if you’re going with a tapered burn, go ahead and do the same with your neckline. Alternatively, if you’ve chosen clean lines on your face, then the back of your head should follow suit, with either a rounded or blocked base.

What Kind of Product Do You Use?

Often the final question your barber will ask before they snap off the cape and send you on your merry way, this question is important because it’s often followed by a tutorial on how to properly style your freshly snipped hair. Meaning that, if you aren’t honest, you’re going to have to blindly figure it out on your own the next time you’re getting ready.

And who’s got time for that, really?

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