Cleve McMillan, stylist and DSC’s resident hair expert, weighs in on your burning questions about the mysterious adventure that is getting a haircut.
What should I say or do if I hate my haircut?
Before you say anything, you need to decide whether or not your barber can fix it. If it’s the first time you’ve given this particular barber a shot, it’s probably not worth the hassle—just walk out of there and never come back. Otherwise, you run the risk of receiving an even worse fixer haircut. On the flip side, if it’s your trusted regular barber, let him down gently. Just say, “Do you think we could get a little shorter on the sides?” or “Would you mind taking another inch off the top?”
The best way to avoid this situation altogether is by paying attention and asking a ton of questions during the haircut. Speak up when you notice the cut not working for you rather than waiting for it to be finished. Barbers need feedback on the fly because (1) they work super quickly and (2) their cuts rely on a series of steps. If the part you don’t like was step three out of twenty, your barber has to go back and basically do everything all over again if you don’t mention anything until the cut is over.
How can I tell if a barbershop or salon I’ve never been to before is any good?
Go in and ask if you can take a look at a few of their style books, which is code for “I want to hang out and watch you work.” While you’re there, check to see that good haircuts are walking out the door—but also look for good communication. How are the barbers talking to their customers? What kind of conversations are going down? Are they paying attention to what their clients want, or are they just spewing their own opinions? Most of all, pay attention to your intuition. If you don’t feel comfortable hanging out in the shop, move on to the next one.
Why do some barbers have you face a mirror, and others don’t?
First off, the mirror is king. IT. DOES. NOT. LIE. If I’m doing a haircut and it’s not looking good in the mirror, it’s because it’s not a good haircut. So when your barber or stylist is cutting your hair, the relationship is really between them and the mirror, not them and you. That’s why you’ll notice that a lot of hairdressers talk to you through the mirror.
That said, some places have you face away from the mirror because that’s where their shop lighting reflects best off of your hair. The barber is just trying to get the best view of your hair, so he can give you a great cut.