30 Things Your Barber Wishes You Knew
You all loved our piece on the 30 things your tattoo artist wishes you knew, so we’re back again – this time, with the hidden barbershop lore you need to know.
Listen, your barber’s probably a nice person. They smile every time you come in, and you leave with the freshest cut. Beneath their smile, though, they might be seething if, say, you didn’t shower before showing up.
Don’t make your barber sad. Keep the following 30 things in mind, and your relationship will be as fine as a single strand of hair:
1. Look at their work before you show up
Barbers are artists. Like any artists, they pride themselves on their work, and you’ll probably be able to find a portfolio of some of their best stuff on their website or Instagram. Find a barber who does cuts that wow you, and cuts that are similar to the style you’re looking for. Book with them.
2. Don’t make your first appointment on a weekend
Everybody’s working for the weekend – except barbers. They’re working on the weekend – that’s when people have time off, and that’s when barbers get busy. You want to get to know your barber, and during the weekend rush, they might not have any time for idle chit chat. Book your first appointment on a weekday so you can start building the relationship.
3. Shower first!
Imagine running your fingers through someone’s greasy, smelly, knotty hair.
You brush your teeth before a dental appointment (I hope) – take a shower before an appointment with your barber. Trust me – they’ll like you a lot better if you do.
4. Don’t use product
I get it. You want to walk into the barbershop with your hair nicely styled, as if to say “This is how much I care about my hair, so I need you to care about it too”. Who doesn’t want to look almost as good walking in as they do walking out?
Don’t do this. Product makes it much harder for your barber to work with your hair. Clean hair is a clean slate – a canvas on which the barber can paint a new hairstyle. (Or something like that).
5. Don’t wear a hat
On the flip side, you might have gone without a haircut for a long time, and now you’re looking like you front a B-tier 80s hair metal band. You might want to hide your less than stellar styling with a fedora – don’t. This can mess up your hair in the same way product does, making it harder for your barber to work with.
6. Eat beforehand
You might spend 20 minutes in the chair, or you might spend 2 hours. Either way, if you’re like me, hungry=hangry, and when you’re being asked to sit still and make idle conversation while your mind is on the smell of the footlong subs you could buy next door, you’re not going to have a good time. As the old saying goes, eat first, get haircuts later.
7. Show up on time
Yes, you’re on a blog for a company that does online scheduling. No, we’re not just saying this because people showing up late is a collective pet peeve of ours.
Showing up late is rude. What’s more, you’re robbing yourself of the best possible haircut as much as you’re robbing your barber. They only have so much time in their day, and if you only give them 15 minutes out of the allotted hour to cut your hair, it could turn out like this:
8. Know what you want
*You’re not a cartoon child – you can make decisions!
Aside from people who don’t shower, a barber’s greatest bane may be people who walk in with big, naive grins on their faces – the people who say “Just do whatever you want!”.
Your barber will oblige this request if they have to, but they’d rather not. Most of the time people say “do what you want”, what they actually mean is “read my mind and if you don’t get it right I’m never coming back here again”.
Don’t be that person. Your hair is going to stay with you after the cut, so you should have at least some idea what you want done with it.
9. Bring in pictures
*Try to pick pics that aren’t crowded with dinosaurs, though.
You know the old saying – a picture is worth 1000 words. That’s especially true when you’re in a barber shop and you want a particular style, but you’re not sure how many inches of hair you have, what kind of tools you’d like the barber to use, or how to describe the hairstyle you want.
10. No two people are exactly the same
*Not even these creepy twins!
No matter how good your barber is, your cut won’t look exactly like the one in the magazine. For better or for worse (though studies show only very attractive people read our blog), you have a different face and a different build than every other person on the planet (identical twins aside).
All of this will influence the way your hairstyle looks, even if the hair itself looks exactly the same. This is also why your barber might recommend slight alterations to a style to suit your look better.
11. No two people’s hair is the same
*Oh they’re…still here…
I hate to break it to you, but there might be some hairstyles that are total nonstarters for you. People’s hair is about as different as their fingerprints. Your barber will try to accommodate any requests you have, but they’re only human – you’ve got to work with what you’ve got.
12. You only have so much hair
I’m not dissing the follically challenged, here – even someone with more hair than Cousin Itt has only so much to work with. That means you can’t keep asking your barber to change the style as the haircut keeps going – eventually, they’ll have no choice but to shave it all off. Pick a style and stick with it – don’t ask them to change things up 10 times over the course of a cut.
13. Your barber might be a miracle worker, but they’re not a magician
You’ve got to keep your expectations in check. Your barber can’t make you grow hair. They can’t make bad hair days go away forever. They will give you an incredible cut, and they’ll even give you styling tips, but they’re not alchemists.
14. Listen to your barber’s suggestions
Your barber wants you to come back again and again. They don’t give you suggestions for no reason, or to be patronizing, or anything silly like that.
They give you advice because their recommendations will make you look great. Clients who love their cuts come back, and that’s what your barber wants. Trust them. They’re artists, and they want you to look great.
15. Keep the conversation flowing
Your barber wants to get to know you. That doesn’t mean you should confess your darkest secrets to them (at least not on the first visit), but it does mean you should make an effort to be open and honest.
You can keep the conversation hair-related if you want – what style you’re interested in, barber shops you’ve been to in the past – or you can make small talk about your hobbies and interests. You’ll get to know them, they’ll get to know you – it could be the start of a beautiful friendship.
16. They love it when you know the lingo
If you don’t know a fade from a taper, you’re going to have a hard time talking to your barber about what you want. Fortunately, there are guides to barber shop lingo that can help you better express yourself to your barber.
17. You should talk about your hair’s history
*No, silly, not your hare’s history!
Does your hair start curling uncontrollably when you grow it past a certain length? Have you had someone use a straight razor on your hair, with disastrous results? Have you bleached your hair so often it would make Guy Fieri blush?
Tell your barber. This kind of information can change what tools they use and what cuts are viable.
18. Talk about your hair’s future, too
Are you growing your hair out after this cut? Do you plan on making regular visits to your barber? How do you plan on styling your hair, and what products do you plan on using? Talk about it – it can inform both your barber’s hair cutting decisions and the advice they give you.
19. Friends make the barber’s pole go round
I’m not saying your barber has to be your best buddy, but make an effort to have a friendly relationship with them. You’re going to spend a lot of time in that chair, and let’s be honest – it’s a pretty intimate situation. Be kind, be open, and be willing to engage a bit more deeply with your barber than you would, say, a cashier you’ll only see once.
You might also make friends with other barbers around the shop, or other clients. Barber shops have historically, in some communities, been a sanctuary for people to talk about the things that are happening in their lives. With an open ear and an open heart, you can learn a lot.
20. You need to read the room
That all being said, there are times to gab, and times to keep quiet. When your barber is clearly very busy, it might not be the best time to strike up idle conversation. Try meditating or using your imagination a bit if you get bored easily – don’t ignore social cues.
21. Don’t use your phone while in the chair
I get it – when your barber is working hard and there’s not a lot of conversation to be had, it can be tempting to start scrolling through TikTok.
First off, loud noises coming from memes that only you can see are distracting. Second, people who are using their phones tend to move their heads – laughing randomly, craning their necks, or – worst of all – answering a phone call and putting their phones to their ears.
Hopefully, I don’t have to tell you why that’s a bad idea when there’s someone using sharp scissors right next to your ear. Just don’t do it.
22. Don’t like something? Speak up!
Even if you go to a metaphysical barber with a third eye for a logo, they’re probably not psychic (and, hopefully, they’re not just giving you a spiritual haircut). When something isn’t working for you, tell them! When they show you your haircut and say “How does it look”, they’re not looking for dishonest praise – they’re looking for feedback.
23. A little trust goes a long way
Please don’t micromanage your barber. It’s not, as they say, a cute look – and you probably won’t get too many cute looks out of it, either. Your barber is a pro – and if you’ve kept the conversation as open and honest as we’ve discussed here, they’ll be able to give you the best cut of your life without you telling them which pair of scissors they can use.
Those of you who are anxious about haircuts – take a deep breath or two. You’re in good hands.
24. Your stillness is appreciated
A barber holding your head in place is the universal sign for “PLEASE STOP TILTING YOUR HEAD IN RANDOM DIRECTIONS AT THE WORST POSSIBLE TIME”.
You see, they want to create a pleasant experience for you, so they can’t yell at you. Fortunately, I can, albeit only through text.
So please, keep your head as still as possible.
25. Rushing your barber is not okay
Do you want to hurt your relationship with your barber all while ensuring you get a worse-than-it-could-be haircut? Tell your barber to hurry it up! You’ll look as bad as you acted!
Those of you who would rather not experience a terrible haircut and a peeved off barber should let them take their time. Think about the time you’ve booked in the chair as “you time” – don’t book if you know you’re going to be in a rush. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the haircut.
26. They shouldn’t have to tell you to behave yourself
This is so obvious that I wish I didn’t have to write it, but here goes – don’t be rude to your barber. You shouldn’t be rude to anyone, but it’s a particularly bad idea around someone with very sharp implements.
Jokes aside, if you want a great haircut and a good relationship, put the negative talk on hold. Even if you can’t hold a good conversation (I get it, life is stressful), just let your barber know. Say “Hey, I’m pretty stressed right now, so I’m not going to talk too much”. They’ll appreciate that much more than dismissive comments or insults.
27. The price is right
Your barber is running a business. The money you give them doesn’t just go into their pockets – it goes to pay staff, upkeep, and other costs. What’s more, great art takes time and skill – your barber went to school and practised for years. That experience is worth the cost of a cut.
Plus, you want your barber to live a good life – a happy barber will probably give you a better cut!
28. Every tip is appreciated
When you give your barber a tip, you’re telling them that you appreciate their work, and that you want to help them grow their business and improve their life. That says a lot.
Tips are customary in the world of barber shops, so you should leave one every time. It’s okay if you leave less of a tip sometimes than others – money can get tight – but if you got a haircut you really love, consider leaving more than your standard tip amount.
29. They love it when you spread the love
Businesses are always looking for advocates – those customers that love them so much, they tell all of their friends. Whether it’s by word of mouth or through social media, if you tell people about your barber (and show off your great new hairstyle), they’ll appreciate it more than you could know.
30. You have to work for good hair days
Love feeling fresh and clean – who doesn’t? There might be nothing that leaves you feeling as fresh and clean as a brand new cut – to maintain that look, though, takes some effort.
Talk to your barber about how to style your hair. Consider buying salon-quality products. Put in the effort, and the cut your barber gave you will stay fresh – for awhile.
You’ll also need to visit your barber regularly to keep your good looks up. When they recommend coming in every 2-3 weeks, it’s because that’s how often you’ll need a cut to keep up appearances.
When things get hairy, you know where to turn
At this point, you should feel more than confident that you’ll get a great haircut at your next barber shop appointment. Your barber will be pleased as punch, too. Have any questions or barber related advice? Let us know in the comments. And, barbers, if you think this was helpful to your clients, just wait ‘til you see our barber shop appointment software.