Your Bar­ber­shop Bi­ble


Men's Health (Singapore) - - GROOMING ESSENTIALS -

SAY YOU’RE new to town. Or your reg­u­lar guy has re­tired. Or you’re trav­el­ing and in des­per­ate need of a cut. Or you’re suf­fer­ing from the kind of malaise that only a straight ra­zor to the back of your neck and the hum of clip­pers can fix. What­ever the rea­son, you’re in the mar­ket for a new bar­ber. A scary prospect, I know. Find­ing a place, let alone a guy, that un­der­stands ex­actly what you want and can de­liver it is an en­deav­our fraught with mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion and dif­fer­ing ex­pec­ta­tions.

As a bar­ber, I’m right there with you. It can be just as nerve-wrack­ing for us when a new client sits in our chair. We’ve never cut this guy be­fore; we don’t know what he likes, or what he en­vi­sions, or the weird things that his hair does when it’s clipped a mil­lime­tre of an inch too short. To be a bet­ter cus­tomer—so we can do a bet­ter job, so you can leave with the best hair­cut—you only need to com­mu­ni­cate a few sim­ple things. Walk in ready to talk about your hair, and talk about it

ef­fec­tively. For bar­bers, an overly fussy client is bet­ter than an un­cer­tain one, for a sim­ple rea­son: de­ci­sive­ness. So please talk to your bar­ber when he asks, “What are we do­ing for you to­day?” I un­der­stand how it can feel weird de­scrib­ing your­self and your hair and how, aes­thet­i­cally, you’d like that all to turn out. Most of us get a lit­tle un­easy think­ing, let alone speak­ing, about the na­ture of our looks and our hopes and dreams for them. Rec­og­nize that bar­bers are like fin­ger­prints. Or snowflakes. Or pen­guin mat­ing calls. The point is:

We’re unique. You can walk into a spot and, be­cause it seems cool on­line, think you’re go­ing to come out look­ing like Clooney. But even in that shop, there might be one bar­ber who’s a rel­a­tive novice, just get­ting started in the busi­ness, while an­other is a long-serv­ing

stylist who cut his teeth in the sa­lon world and may own it with a pair of shears but isn’t nec­es­sar­ily as trust­wor­thy with the clip­pers. Or you get a guy who came up in the old-school shops and chops your let­tuce like you’ve just been drafted, or he’s a wizard with the clip­pers but might start sweat­ing when your hair is longer than four inches. And there is al­ways a bar­ber who can do it all but never de­vel­oped the peo­ple skills and so comes off as dis­af­fected or un­in­ter­ested. Re­ally, show up with a photo. If you’ve got a long face and pull up a pic of Gatsby-era Leo DiCaprio, we’re go­ing to be spend­ing 15 min­utes po­litely danc­ing around the fact that your head and face and hair can’t do the things you want them to. A fruit­ful source of ref­er­ence pho­tos is a Google search of pro soc­cer play­ers. You saw the World Cup. There are a ton of those guys with all kinds of hair­cuts. You can find one who’s got a head shape and hair type sim­i­lar to yours. But the smartest move is to take a selfie when you feel like your own hair is look­ing its best. We can get you back to that mo­ment. Com­mu­ni­cate your cowlicks. If you’ve got a gi­ant whorl hid­ing un­der a bunch of heavy hair and we cut it too short, no one is go­ing to be happy. Warn us, and un­der­stand there’s only so much we can do. Like the grain in wood, your hair tends to grow and fall in a nat­u­ral di­rec­tion. As much as you may want to swoop things to the left, if your hair in­sists on go­ing right, em­brace it. Come see us more of­ten. De­pend­ing on the length of your hair­cut, you can usu­ally make it three weeks (for shorter styles) to six weeks (longer styles) be­fore you need to visit a bar­ber again. The gen­eral rule (and a sales tac­tic on the bar­ber’s part) says that as soon as you’re not feel­ing as good as when you left the shop af­ter your last cut, you’re due.

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