Talking to your barber takes a surprising amount of thought. Sure, chatting about sports, holidays and the state of the world will see you through the appointment itself, but there’s also a whole range of topics that you need to cover in relation to your hair, both that on your face and that no your scalp. Skip over those topics and you could end up with a haircut you don’t like, facial hair that doesn’t suit you and products that aren’t well suited to you.

Don’t worry though. We’ll walk you through how to talk to your barber to ensure you achieve the look you want and the products you desire. We’ll also cover some barbershop terminology, inspired by the team over at All Things Hair, to make sure you have the confidence to express yourself the right way.

Getting started


Before you let your barber anywhere near your head with the clippers, it’s time to talk about what you’re trying to achieve. Are you looking to keep the same style of hair, beard and moustache, so that all you need is a quick trim and tidy up? Or are you looking for a radical restyle? And if you are, what’s motivating you to do so and what are you seeking to achieve with it?

All of these questions and more will help your barber to understand what it is that you want to get out of your appointment – and then to deliver that for you. Remember that your barber will have plenty of knowledge and ideas to contribute to the discussion too. From the latest facial hair fashions to how to deliver a low-maintenance haircut, there’s a wealth of expertise there for you to tap in to. Your barber can also provide advice on what would suit the shape of your face and your general build, so be sure to ask about that too.

This initial discussion is also the time to talk about the condition of your hair. Do you have any concerns about it? Is there any gray you would like to cover? Are you struggling to keep your moustache or beard neat and orderly? The more information you can share with your barber, the more empowered he will be to help you achieve your hair-related goals.

Barbershop terms you need to know


As part of your barbershop discussion, you’re going to have to use the right lingo. This does take a bit of research, so make sure you know the difference between a buzz cut, a taper and a fade before your appointment.

You’ll need to give the barber an indication of how short you want your hair to be as well, so it’s worth knowing how long the different clipper guards will leave your locks. Most clippers range from 0 (1/16 of an inch, so pretty much skinhead) to 8 (which will leave you hair about an inch long).

Your barber may ask about your notch and nape preferences too. The notch is the area between your ears and your hair, while the nape is the back of your neck. A blocked neckline (with a straight line across your hair at the nape) can make your neck appear wider, while a rounded neckline can make it appear less bulky. Tapered necklines, meanwhile, are easier to care for, so are ideal if you’re looking for a minimal maintenance cut.

There’s just as much (if not more!) to talk about when it comes to beards. Using the right terminology is really important. After all, do you want to come out of the barbershop looking like a hipster or a biker? Do you want a soul patch or a full goatee? If you can’t explain to your barber what you need, chances are you won’t achieve the look you desire.

Beard terminology to get you started:


Goatee – a small beard that comes in various styles, but that covers only the chin and lower or upper lip area, rather than the cheeks.
Hipster beard – a versatile style helps you to express your unique personality and sense of taste.
Biker beard – a full beard that is either round or pointed at the bottom. Biker beards can range from broad and well maintained to distinctly busy. Plaits are optional.
Lumberjack beard – the halfway house between a hipster beard and a biker beard.
Stubble – a short style that’s easy to maintain.

If you’re not sure of a term that your barber uses, don’t be afraid to ask. After all, it’s your facial hair!

A quick word on products


Finally, it’s well worth having a chat with your barber about products. Men’s hair and facial hair grooming products have come a long way in recent years, so you’ll have plenty of choice.

First off, talk to your barber about any issues you have with scalp or facial skin sensitivity. He’ll need to factor this into the product selection he makes for you.

Next, discuss any relevant stressors. If you swim regularly in a chlorinated pool or in saltwater, for example, your hair will feel the impact and will need some extra TLC to counter the damage.

Then there’s your routine to consider. Do you want to care for your hair/beard/moustache in the minimum time possible or do you prefer a long, luxurious grooming routine? Knowing details like this can help your barber to select the right combination of products to suit your lifestyle as well as your hair type.

Throughout all of your conversations with your barber, be open and honest about your motivations and what you’re looking for. The more information your barber has, the more enabled he is to provide you with the look that you want and a grooming routine that works for you. Your barber is an expert in hair (both scalp and facial), so tap into his knowledge as well as his barbering skills and you should find that you walk out of the barbershop looking fantastic and feeling confident.