How To Talk To Your Barber


If a barber says they’re checking out your ‘angles’, don’t be offended. This means they’re assessing your face shape and bone structure in order to see which hair and facial hairstyle would suit you best.

Blunt Cutting

Also known as club cutting, blunt cutting is when the scissors are held horizontally and hair is cut to a uniform length. This is a good way to ensure an even length throughout the hair, but doesn’t give as textured a cut as point cutting.


A style that involves shaving your head all over, usually to a uniform length. Choose your grade (anything from a 0.5 to a 2) and buzz it all off – you can even do it yourself. If the induction cut’s too extreme for you, try a 0.5 on the back and sides, and a grade 1 on top. It’s also worth growing some stubble or a short beard to draw attention to your face.

(Related: The complete guide to buzzcuts)



A classic men’s haircut, where the length is kept short and tight but textured on the top. The back and sides are generally cut to the same length, but can be clippered shorter for a more contemporary finish.

Crew Cut

A crew cut is a short haircut, with the top section resembling that of a crop but with the back and sides short and clippered, like a buzzcut. It’s often seen as a relatively modern military cut, but its origins date back to the 18th century.


This is a stark disconnect between the top section of a haircut and the back and sides. Styles like crew cuts and crops tend not to have disconnections, whereas you’re more likely to see them in fade styles and, of course, undercuts.


Dandruff is made up of dead skin cells that collect in the hair if the skin on the scalp is too dry and flaky, which itself is caused by a yeast infection that affects the sebum (natural oils) your hair should be producing. Don’t worry though – as disgusting as it sounds, it can be effectively treated with anti-dandruff shampoos, or a zinc-based tonic.



A product that removes dead skin cells, and especially useful for keeping your beard looking its best. Choose a daily exfoliator, and use daily to twice-daily after cleansing to remove dead skin cells and debris. Always follow exfoliation by rinsing your face with warm water and applying moisturizer.


The haircut of the decade. Skin fades start with razor-shorn hair on the back and sides, gradually moving up the grades of electric clippers from the bottom of the head to the top.

(Related: The complete guide to fades)


Sold under the brand names Propecia or Procar, this is medication that’s taken orally and can help prevent male pattern hair loss.


Or bangs as they’re known across the pond – the bit of hair that grows out and down over your forehead. There are many types of fringe: the side fringe (Justin Bieber of yesteryear), the blunt fringe, the choppy fringe, the emo fringe etc.

Fringe hairstyles are best suited to mild weather conditions: too hot and your forehead gets overly sweaty; too windy and it blows it out of place. Overall though, a great look to frame a face and make it youthful.



This is the length to which hair is cut using electric clippers and guards. Clipper guards are detachable and remove different lengths of hair depending on their grade; the lower the grade, the shorter the hair is clippered. A grade 1 is 1/8 inch; roughly 3mm. A grade 2 is 2/8 inch (or 1/4), which is a bit over 6mm – and so on.


A term used to describe the strength of hair styling products. The stronger the product, the less you should use (particularly strong products may leave behind residue). Weaker-hold products often have other attributes, like a high-shine finish, or being water-based (and easier to wash out).

Haircuts vs. Hairstyles

Let’s get this one tidied up once and for all. Haircuts form the basis for hairstyles, and there actually aren’t very many of them. Examples include: short back and sides, crop, buzzcut or crew cut, each of which can be used to let a barber know what shape and length the hair should be cut to.

A hairstyle, however, is what you do afterwards – for example, a choppy fringe, a pompadour, a textured quiff, a slick back etc. Know the difference.

Image Aid

As hackneyed a phrase as it is, a picture speaks a thousand words. So if words fail you, use imagery to help you articulate your hair goals by showing your barber an image of someone whose hair you like. The barber can then do their best to replicate it, but also take into account your hair type and face shape in the process.

Image Aid


Time to get technical. Keratin is the protein which makes up stuff like your hair, nails, hooves, feathers… most things which aren’t flesh (or teeth). Why are we telling you this? Because your hair might benefit from a keratin treatment – a pain-free process that puts keratin back into the hair, allegedly making it stronger, more vibrant and less frizzy.

Long Locks

A style that’s become especially popular in recent years, longer locks have been sported by the likes of Kit Harington, Henry Cavill and Chris Hemsworth. If you’ve got the right hair type (that’s straight to lightly wavy for this particular style) and you’d like to grow it out, you ought to go to a barber who has a history in hairdressing, as they’ll know how to handle long hair expertly.

Man Bun

Reportedly popularised by stylish Nordic and Scandinavian men, the man bun had a brief flirt with fame before quickly becoming the subject of ridicule. If you like the look, but don’t want to run the risk of getting flak, opt for a looser bun, which hangs down the neck, rather than on top like a weird hair nipple.


This is the pigment in hair that gives it its color. If you’re going grey, it’s due to a deficiency in melanin, which means hair grows without color.

Minoxidil (Regaine)

Minoxidil – often sold as Regaine – is a treatment for hair loss. Unlike Finasteride, it’s applied topically onto balding areas rather than taken orally as a pill.



Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Most of the time your barber will make an executive decision on your neckline, but if asked to state your preference, then there are a few things you should know – namely that ‘squared’ means a clean, strong-lined neckline, ‘rounded’ means a softer line and ‘tapered’ means the subtler, more natural-looking option.


Sebum is the waxy, oily substance that lubricates, nourishes and protects your hair. If your hair looks dry, it’s probably because the oils aren’t reaching the tip of your hair (particularly if you’ve got longer hair). Using a beard oil, moisturizing shampoo or hair oil can help the hair retain its natural moisture.

Parabens & Sulfates

Parabens are low-cost, chemically produced preservatives which were alleged to be carcinogenic (though this has recently been debunked). Sulfates however, have been shown to cause irritation in those with sensitive skin and can strip your hair of its natural oils. Mainly though, these chemicals are produced en masse so their environmental and ethical impact is pretty negative.


First sported by French courtier Madame de Pompadour in the 1700s, the pompadour has since won over the likes of Elvis, Marlon Brando and James Dean. The modern version for men isn’t quite as dramatic and is worn swept up high above the forehead, adding height and impact.


Point Cutting

An alternative to blunt cutting, point cutting is preferable for adding extra texture to a choppy haircut. For point cutting, the scissors are held vertically (perpendicular to the scalp) to make small downward cuts so that the hair appears textured and not uniform. It’s also an effective way of removing some weight from particularly thick hair.


Not dissimilar to the pompadour, the quiff is a hairstyle that involves pushing the fringe high off the forehead, but which also takes inspiration from styles like flat tops and mohawks to create a distinct 1950s look, à la Elvis Presley and Danny Zuko.


The best way to achieve the closest shave is to use a cut-throat or straight-edge razor. This is a single blade, which glides over the skin at a 30-degree angle. It takes some practice to perfect, and please (please) don’t try your hand at it until you’ve had a few lessons.

A barber may also use one of these to provide the finishing touches to a haircut, cutting the finer hair around the temples, ears and neckline – so if you see them coming at you with a sharp blade, rest assured it’s for your own good.


A cutting technique which involves using the comb as a marker of how much hair to cut off. Holding a comb in one hand, the barber pulls through the hair stopping at the point at which they want to cut, then, using a scissor in the other hand, they cut horizontally along the line of the comb.



Using the same principles as a fade – where the length gradually gets longer from the bottom of the haircut to the top – a taper can be achieved using clippers (starting at a higher grade than a skin fade) and scissors, or can also be cut entirely using a scissor-over-comb technique by experienced barbers.


A haircut particularly popular during the late noughties, made fashionable once again in 2014 with TV shows like Boardwalk Empire and Peaky Blinders. It features a disconnection between the back and sides and the top section – with the top left considerably longer than the back and sides. Looks like a toupee if executed badly; looks clean-lined and masculine if done well.


This year’s men’s hairdressing buzzword. Volume in hair means that it’s larger, there are more air pockets within it, and that there is a more natural finish to it. You can use products like sea salt spray, texturizing dust and hair spray to boost volume. Additionally, using a pre-styler (a product applied after washing, but before drying) like a paste can also add extra volume once dried.

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