Your cart is empty
How to ask for what you want at the barber’s so you don’t leave feeling like a mug


How to ask for what you want at the barber’s so you don’t leave feeling like a mug

Here’s how to ask for what you want at the barber’s so you don’t leave feeling like a mug.

  • Find your style4 MIN LONG
  • Find your styleMEDIUM EFFORTS
  • Find your styleNONE

June 2019

By Robert Young


We’ve all been there. Staring in the mirror while the barber chops our barnet, not quite sure if we’ve asked for the haircut we actually wanted. But, being stubborn as we are, we grin and bear it, our butts glued to our seats, gripping the arms of the chair, unable to simply pipe up and say, “you know what, mate, sorry, but I actually wanted something different”. Or, in an equally unsatisfying scenario, we go back time and again for the ’usual’ too terrified that we might not like the ‘unusual’.

Communication is key when you’re strapped in the barber’s chair, according to Dom Williams of AONO Barbershop in London. But what other top tips are there to make sure you don’t leave the chair feeling like a complete mug? Here’s our guide so can master your own follicular destiny and leave the barbers as happy as a clam.


It’s called Pinterest. If you’re changing up your look, then do your research and gather some references. After all, your barber might be able to read your hair, but he can’t read your mind. Based on your mobile scrapbook, he’ll then give you some advice on which of your references are realistic for your hair type and face shape. The Zayn Malik might be a no-go, but the Justin Bieber might work a charm - at least it won’t be the Susan Boyle.

The more examples you can give him, the richer the portrait you’ll paint for the man wielding the shears. It’s about managing expectations. As Dom puts it “a barber can always recommend a cut, but sometimes the end result might not be what the client wanted, and so they blame the barber. If you’re unsure how to explain what you’re after, bring photos. I find a photograph is better than an explanation any day.” A picture really does say a thousand words. Or at least six: make me look like this please.

Pictures are great, but don’t get ahead of yourself. Your barber is not a plastic surgeon and can’t re-fashion your jaw line for all the pinning in the land. But, he can create clever optical illusions that give you angles where previously there were none. Just don’t turn up expecting to be transformed into Machine Gun Kelly if you’re more partial to a pizza than pilates.


There’s a good chance you’ll be sent directly to wash basin on arrival - so it’s no issue turning up with dirty hair. However, a head full of product can be annoying if your barber’s going straight in with a clipper cut “but we understand if you’re coming straight from work” says Dom. What’s less forgivable is lateness, or even worse, no shows. If you want your barber to give your locks the love and attention they deserve, turn up on time.


Like with any area of expertise, the barbershop comes with its own vernacular - and you’d do well to learn a minimum of it. A taper, for example, is a gradual change in length from the top to the neck. Layers are when longer hair rests on top of shorter hair. Your arches are the spaces between the back of your ears and your hairline. We could go on, but you get the idea - it helps to have some jargon under ya belt.


Your hair won’t look the same dry as when it’s wet, so don’t rush out the door. Your barber should fully blow-dry and style your hair before releasing you to the wild. This is the best way to see if you’ve got what you were hoping for. And if you haven’t, then speak up for Pete’s sake.


You may also like


A step-by-step guide to maintaining your beard

Go beard or go home. We walk you through the essentials of keeping your bristles in tip-top condition.


Top shave tips for men with sensitive skin

The work involved to keep skin smooth and blemish-free involves more than what our fathers taught us about shaving when we were young. Follow these tips for a more comfortable shave.

Community at work


Please enter your email address below and we will send you a notification when this item becomes available.

This item will automatically be removed from your cart after you submit your email.