How to Know if Your Barber is a Real Professional

There is a Difference

 

I’ll be honest.

When I first became a barber, I didn’t know what the heck I was doing.

I spent 1500 hours at the Moler Barber College of Sacramento and graduated without knowing much about cutting hair.

Luckily, after graduation I landed a job with a barber that was a “real professional,” he was willing to teach me the art of barbering  (to date, he is still the best barber I’ve ever encountered).

What made him such a top-notch barber wasn’t just his knowledge of cutting hair—the man had class, was educated and he respected his profession.

Below are a few important factors that made him a real professional; your barber should exhibit some of the same qualities.

 

Four Signs You Should Look For

 

Tool Selection

A professional barber will always use professional tools.

If it’s something that can be purchased at Wal-Mart, it’s pretty safe to say that your barber isn’t using a professional tool.

I once filled in at a very successful barbershop (whose name I will not reveal) that was located in an affluent area; I was completely shocked when I looked over and noticed the barber next to me cutting hair with a pair of animal clippers.  Unprofessional.

 

 

Sanitation

Is your barber being sanitary?

You may think its standard procedure for a barber to use clean tools, but you’d be surprised at how many barbers don’t disinfect their tools on a regular basis.

The germs and bacteria that can be passed on from one customer to the next are scary, but don’t take my word for it read this article that discusses in detail some of the hidden dangers.

A professional barber will disinfect all of the tools before every use on a customer.  They should also wash their hands frequently and change their linens regularly.

You should also notice containers that are labeled with the words “soiled” and/or “clean”—by law, these containers must be displayed for the public to see.  If you look around the barbershop you should be able to use my tips to determine whether or not your barber is practicing sanitary habits.

 

 

Knowledge

A professional barber should be knowledgeable about cutting hair and anything related to their profession.  It’s ironic how experience doesn’t always translate to professionalism.

Knowledgeable barbers should be able to use their professional judgment combined with your input to deliver a haircut that you deserve.

If your barber is using plastic attachments on their clippers, or asking you, “What number do you want?” it’s a n indicator that the barber’s skill level is less than adequate.

Anyone can buy a set of clippers at Wal-Mart and within a few weeks learn how to use the plastic attachments, but that doesn’t necessarily make them a professional.  See Tool Selection.

Also, there is a fine line between giving the customer a haircut that he/she wants versus giving the customer a haircut that he/she should have.

If a customer asks for a “bad” haircut, a professional barber should opt out of performing the work.  But when doing so, the barber should also explain the reasons why they are opposed to doing the work and suggest a haircut that is better suited for you.

If you hired a contractor to build a fence and then you asked that contractor to build the fence in a way that was mechanicly unsound, a professional contractor would refuse to do the work the “wrong” way, while an amateur would probably listen to your requests.

 

 

Respects the Profession

As with any profession, someone who takes pride in their career choice usually follows a set of ethics (such as those discussed in this blog) pertaining to that line of work.

The same pertains to barbering.

For example, a professional barber doesn’t barter their services; they know that doing so lessens the value of their trade.

Just as you wouldn’t see a surgeon doing side jobs at home, a barber that respects their profession will only perform their work inside of a barbershop.  Always.

 

 

Is Your Barber a Professional?

A whole book could be written about all of the signs that denote a professional barber; I just touched on a few.

I’ve come to realize that the standards held by the general public towards barbers, is different than the standards held towards other respectable professions.  Part of the reason this happens is because barbers aren’t holding themselves to higher standards.

Instead of working towards strengthening the barbering industry, the majority of barbers are weakening it by using unprofessional tools, not practicing sanitary habits, not educating the public, trading their services and most importantly, not respecting their profession.

Again I ask you: Is your barber a professional?

Top Five Tricks to Improve Your Next Haircut

Nobody Wants a Bad Haircut

 

That feeling you get when you leave the barbershop and your haircut isn’t exactly what you expected.  Ugh.

You’re not alone; 95% of Great Clips’ customers that left reviews on Consumer Affairs, expressed dissatisfaction with their haircuts.

But before you go blaming the barber, let’s make sure you aren’t contributing to the demise of your haircut.

Assuming your barber is skilled and proficient at cutting hair, the following list will ensure your haircut is out of this world.

 

Top Five Tricks

 

Lose the Hat

I know, you just rolled out of bed and the last thing you want to do is walk into the barbershop with your hair looking like a horror film version of Donald Trump, so you throw a hat on.

The reality is that wearing a hat compresses your hair, which makes it hard to get the movement needed to blend the hair appropriately.

 

Sit-Up Straight

Sitting up straight may not be as comfortable as slouching down in the chair, but mastering this tip will give you a supreme advantage when it comes to getting a good haircut.

For the barber, having your head in the correct position is crucial. Often times the barber is working off of angles and symmetry, so if your body is slouched down or slightly tilted, it will throw off the whole haircut.

The best thing to do is push your rear-end all the way back into the chair until it can’t go any further and be sure to uncross your legs, this will ensure that your head is in the proper position.

Here are a few additional tips from Hair Romance about the importance of sitting up straight while getting a haircut.

 

Ditch the Chewing Gum

I see it often, just before a guy hops into the barber’s chair, he pops a stick of gum in his mouth.  While the gesture is appreciated (assuming it’s to minimize bad breath), it’s a sure way to lessen the chance of receiving a good haircut.

Right now, place both hands on your head directly above your ears and pretend that you are chewing gum.

Feel the movement?

No further explanation needed.

 

Shampoo Your Hair

Aside from it being unpleasant to work on unwashed hair, having clean hair is probably the number one factor that will ensure your barber is able to give you a good haircut.

Anything that is in the hair causing it to bind together will restrict the ability to cut the hairs individually, which is needed to blend appropriately. This applies to the natural oil produced by your scalp and/or any product that is added to your hair prior to your haircut.

Katie Chang offers great advice about the importance of shampooing daily, in her article: If You’re Not Shampooing Your Hair Everyday, You’re Doing It Wrong

Believe me when I tell you this—your barber knows when your hair hasn’t been shampooed.  Don’t be that guy.

 

Avoid Magazines/Newspapers/Cell-Phones

It may seem like a good time to catch up on emails, read an article or simply scroll through an Instagram feed, but when you’re in the barber’s chair, preoccupying yourself with one of these mediums is a sure way to increase the odds of a bad haircut.

Remember head position?

When you’re looking down at a magazine your head is going to be in a position that will compromise the quality of your haircut.  Not to mention, every time you turn a page or check a text message it creates head movement.

Use your time in the barber’s chair as a chance to take a break. Turn off your phone, close your eyes, and enjoy the moment.

 

Turn Your Next Haircut Into a Winner

Consider your head as a canvas and the barber an artist.  Having a clean and stationary target for an artist to work on will in a better painting (assuming the artist knows how to paint).

With cutting hair, it’s the same.

Barbers don’t expect you to be a mummy when you sit in the chair, but following the suggestions listed above will definitely increase the odds of you getting a better haircut.

It’s true; you do have control over the outcome of your haircut.

The next time you’re in the barber’s chair do a quick inventory check: Am I sitting up straight?  Is my hair freshly shampooed?

Am I holding my head still?  If the answer is yes to all of those questions, then you are doing your part and now it’s time for the barber to do theirs!

How To Choose a Barbershop That is Right For You

Where Do You Start?

 

I’ve often said that one of the least important factors when getting a haircut is the haircut itself.  And while there is a bit of playful irony in that statement, there is also a bit of truth.

With the recent surge in barbershop popularity, there has also been an increase in the amount of barbers.  Last year, California’s barber industry saw a 9% employment rise, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.   That translates to more choices of places for men and boys to get their haircut.  But how do you know which barbershop is right for you?

Hopefully, some of the tips I share will help point you in the right direction.

 

Five Factors You Should Consider

 

Convenience

Time is crucial, so finding a barbershop that can get you in and out in a timely manner is important.  A well-functioning barbershop should be capable of getting you into the barber’s chair in less than 30-minutes.

Most traditional barbershops operate on a walk-in basis, which tends to work well for most men.  However, there are some shops that opt for the salon approach and book appointments.  But if you’re like me and live a busy life, planning a haircut around someone else’s schedule can become a bit of an inconvenience.

 

Atmosphere

Each barbershop has its own personality, and it’s generally a reflection of the ownership and its customers.

Luckily, there is an abundance of choices.

Finding one that fits your personality is crucial.

If you’re a working professional, a mom looking for a place to bring your kids or a local police officer, visiting a shop that is filled with guys drinking beer and using profanity may not be the place for you.

A good way to gauge the environment is to decide whether or not you would feel comfortable in that particular barbershop based on the music and/or TV, the customers that are inside and the conversations that are being had.

There is no right or wrong choice here; it’s just a matter of preference.

 

Price

For the most part you should expect to pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 for a haircut (give or take a few bucks).  If price is a main factor when choosing a barbershop, you may have to compromise in the other areas listed in this blog.

I’d argue that if a barbershop’s prices are higher than others, they are probably more confident in their services.

To learn more about how barbershop pricing works, I’d encourage you to read fellow barber Tim Hite’s blog.



Experience

I’ve been in the business for roughly 15 years and I can count on one hand the number of barbers that have impressed me.  The sad truth is that schools just aren’t teaching barber students how to cut hair.

A good barbershop should be staffed with barbers that are equally knowledgeable.  Nobody wants to wait through four other customer’s haircuts because only one barber knows how to do a specific haircut.

Can you imagine going to a restaurant and depending on the chef working, you may or may not have your dinner cooked properly?

The same should apply to getting a haircut.

Staff

I’ll be honest.

I haven’t gotten along with all of the customers that I’ve worked on.  Sometimes personalities clash and when finding a barbershop that fits your needs, this may be one of the more important factors.

You don’t have to have identical views in order to get along with the barbershop’s staff—like any other relationship, if you generally feel comfortable around the person then it may be someone you would want to return to for future haircuts.

And There You Have It

Long-standing relationships can be built between barbers and their customers that are equally beneficial for both parties.  All of the suggestions listed above are only meant to give you some things to consider.  There is no single right answer but rather a collection of factors that should help persuade you into choosing a barbershop that is right for you.

Now get out there and find your barbershop!