Finding a new barber is a daunting task.
Every man has experienced some sort of frustration when the time comes to search for a barber. The man that you’ll hand over the control of your precious golden ponytail hair and nicely groomed whiskers.
And it’s really scary.
After all, you trust your appearance to this person. This isn’t a decision you take lightly.
Don’t forget that your hair and beard is now on his hand to make it look -hopefully, as you want it.
I’ve been in this situation more times than I like due to either unforgettable -in the bad sense, experiences or moving to a different area/city/country.
Unlike other things, you’re not supposed to like changes here. You want only one great barber to give you the haircut you like and groom your beard with no deviation to style and technique. And you just want to stick with him for as long as you can.
Now, let’s see what we’ll be discussing in this post.
- Why it’s important to find a good barber
- How to find a great barber
- What qualities should your (new) barber have
Let’s get to the specifics then.
Why is important to find a good barber
Knows exactly what you want before you even ask
If you happened to have a barber already that you visit regularly, it’s definitely a huge relief.
Besides giving you a good haircut or beard grooming, he knows exactly the shape of your head and the style that you want.
The more a barber gets to understand your style, the better your haircut looks every time you pay a visit.
Think of a barber like a bartender that knows you for years.
By the time you sit on the chair, you only have to nod once and get ‘’the usual’’.
No need to experiment every time
Trying new barbers is killing me every single time.
Even if you’ve done your homework right, this doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to get a proper haircut. Or at least the one that you asked for.
And it’s not only the barber’s fault.
Even good barbers may not give you exactly what you want the first time. Especially if you didn’t give him the right instructions on what you like and don’t.
How many times have you found challenging translating the images that you have in your head into actionable advice. And ask yourself how many times you weren’t able to explain to your barber what you had in mind.
See what I’m talking about?
Experimenting is good in life but experimenting with your hair, isn’t one of those that you’ll enjoy.
You can stick to him for life
What did we say about stop experimenting?
Having a long lasting relationship with your barber isn’t just a matter of convenience.
Besides getting all you need in terms of style, getting acquainted with one barber will save you tons of time and never have to deal again with the akward silence of the first visit to a new barber.
And what did we say before?
A berber is like a good bartender. He listens to you (while pretending that he cares) and can also trick you some drinks if you’re start making no sense. He can also become your friend one day, who knows?
How to find a great barber
1. Friends and family
This is the safest way to find a new barber and potentially a good one.
It happens for me that all of my friends getting haircut from different barbers. So, when and if I want to try a new one, I know that I will contact them first before I do any research.
But even if you ask your friends and they’re happy with their barbers, there’s one simple way to understand whether he’s good at his work or not.
Look at your friend’s haircut. If he doesn’t get a military style cut, it’s fairly easy to understand if the barber has any talent at what he does.
2. Ask around
If your friends aren’t the most reliable source for the search a good barber, next thing you can do is to ask around.
Go to stores nearby and ask for recommendations of a good barbershop that they might have in mind. Rest assured that everybody is using someone.
You only need 10 different recommendations and shortlist according to your taste.
Not happy with this approach?
You can also ask complete strangers.
You might see some guys that have a nice haircut. There’s no shame in asking them where they got it from.
I know that it might seem a bit intimidating to ask strangers for their haircuts or beards but I find it a very successful tactic. And you also get to challenge your confidence by talking to strangers. Maybe this technique will also help you meet new women. Why not?
This tactic is particularly useful if you moved recently to a new place and you know noone. And when you move to a new place, everything is new to you, including your barber. And as we already discussed, you don’t want to experiment with a new barber without getting a second opinion.
3. Read online reviews
Next on the list, is to browse through different online sources and see whether there’s a barber nearby that has high review rating.
Even so, it’s not the most reliable way to find your next barber, but it doesn’t hurt comparing them online before you get out of your house wondering around.
Google places is good way to find local businesses as well as yelp.com.
All you want is a few places to get started with the shortlisting and take it from there.
4. Social media
My "Pop up" Barbershop at the Launch of the New Mini Clubman .. Lots of fun was had by all .. Bit of a "Mini Adventure" .. #StaySharp Drivers … ?.. #barbertown #barber #barberlife #barberlove #barbershopconnect #barbersinctv #traditional #dapper #classic #vintage #retro #hairbond #schorem #scumbagboogie #pomp #pomade #pinup #tattoo #ink #1 #jon
Social media have become a big part of our lives, shaping our opinion and helping us take (better?) decisions.
Same thing with finding a good barber.
Many barbers are present on instagram now and they take pictures of the haircuts and beard grooming that they give to their clients.
I guess that this is the best way to understand the quality that you’ll get. You’re getting first class evidence from the comfort of your home.
It’s really not that hard to even find one. Since instagram is a social media that is based mainly on visuals, many barbers are engaged and share with their followers their “latest creations”.
Follow a few of them and see who you think that can make you happy.
What’s even better?
Find on the barbershop instagram profile the haircut that you like and ask him to get the same. Problem solved!
5. Mobile apps
If social media isn’t something that you’re fond of, you can also try installing a mobile app that finds barbers close to your area.
I haven’t tried any of them yet, but you won’t lose anything by installing them and check them out.
6. Trial and error
Worse comes to worst, you need to take the matter in your own hands.
If you’re not satisfied with all the other alternatives, the only thing that’s left is to start trying the barbershops one by one.
If you’re not happy with the first you find, you go to the second one and so on.
One thing that I would advise is to ask your new barber something simple in order to see how he’s going to tackle the matter. Something like trimming your hair or beard. This way you can get warning signs and judge if you’ll continue your search or stick to this one.
What qualities and skills should a good barber have
Barbershop should be busy
I understand that a busy barbershop isn’t a sign of high quality haircuts but it certainly means something.
What I found out is that usually barbershops that work without appointments means that they aren’t that busy and it’s something that concerns me. And in such case you need to ask yourself. What’s the reason why not many people go there? There’s always a good reason why a barbershop isn’t busy and the reason is not good most of the times.
A busy barbershop shows at least that many people trust it. And in order to trust a barbershop, you need to get at least a decent haircut, don’t you think?
So, before you get committed and stay in the chair of (psychological) pain, have a look inside and see if there are people waiting. If not, see if the barber wants to book an appointment with you. If he doesn’t work with appointments and wants to give you a haircut right here right now, run as fast as you can and never look back.
By experience it doesn’t mean that you have to go only to a 75 year-old barber. There’s another factor affecting your decision and it’s called talent.
Nevertheless, you wouldn’t trust your precious hair and beard to a newbie.
Of course, this can feel a bit awkward to ask your barber right away but you can get an idea from the looks if he’s in his early 20’s or even younger. Again, age doesn’t say anything about someone’s talent but you better ask yourself how many talented barbers exist that are hardly 20?
There’s another way to find out whether he’s experienced or not.
You can first double check with what we discussed already and how to find a good barber. If this doesn’t work, you can always engage into a casual conversation with the barber that you visited and ask how many years he’s been doing his job.
There’s no harm in asking after all.
Good barbers have all the necessary tools to make you look great.
By right tools I mean that his toolbox doesn’t contain only a pair of scissors and a comb. There are other things that a barber should have that make his job better. With this in mind, check what kind of hair or beard trimmers he’s got along with different scissors, shaving tools and products as well as styling products. While you do that, quickly check their condition. If they all look as if they’re not maintained properly, it says a lot about the barber and his respect towards his job. If he doesn’t treat his tools properly, don’t expect to be treated like a prince.
I’m not referring to his beauty but more like to the appearance of his hair and beard style.
If a barber isn’t willing to promote his business by making himself look presentable, don’t expect any special treatment for your haircut.
Even though a barber won’t cut his own hair, if he doesn’t want to have a proper haircut and a nicely groomed beard (or clean shaved), this should be a warning sign.
A badly groomed face and hair may tell a lot of things about your barber. Not always the case but this kind of appearance may mean bad psychological condition, lack of confidence or he just can’t be bothered looking good.
No matter what’s the reason behind a barber’s poor looks, this should give you an idea of what to expect.
How clean the shop is
And I’m not talking about the cut hair on the floor.
This is something you can’t understand unless you experience the barber’s work.
If for example the seat, the mirror and the tools that he’s using don’t look as if they’re cleaned or sanitized properly, you’ll understand it right away.
Did you know that barbers aren’t supposed to use the comb on a different client without properly cleaning it first? This is something that doesn’t happen in the majority of the barber shops. Not to mention the razor blades of the straight razor that can’t be used second time. You must be thinking that this is crazy but unfortunately I’ve seen it with my eyes that a razor blade was used for more than one person.
Now, you found out, and you know what you’ll pay attention to next time.
His approach to grooming you
Unless you’ve used the same barber before and you trust him, there are certain thing that you should expect from a barber.
Since you’re a new customer, he’s going to ask you what kind of service you want, haircut, wet shaving or beard grooming. Even if you give the most comprehensive answer possible, a good barber will provide you with feedback and tell you his opinion on what looks best for you and the shape of your head as well as your style. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you should listen and accept whatever he suggests, but this shows that he’s interested in giving you his best to make you look good and have a positive experience.
However, if you don’t give a very detailed description on what you want, you would expect a good barber to ask you questions to better determine what you need from him. If the barber starts right away after you gave a vague description, there are two possible outcomes.
- He’ll give you a haircut that he believes is good for you. Which is mainly your fault by the way.
- He’s going to give you the haircut that he gives to everybody because that’s the best he can do. And this best, won’t be good enough.
In any case, you should expect the barber to ask questions and ask for your feedback while he’s performing and from your side, you need to give him feedback from beginning till the end.
Takes you seriously
From the beginning till the end.
A good sign that you’re dealing with a good barber is the way he responds to what you ask him to do. He should let you finish telling him exactly what you need from him without assuming at any stage that he knows what he’s doing. And of course, don’t let him assume anything.
We mentioned the continuous request for feedback before. While he’s giving you a haircut or beard grooming, don’t hesitate to interrupt him if there’s something that you don’t like. Give him your feedback right away and he is supposed to ask for it, especially if the change in your style is radical.
With that said, you should expect him to respond in a positive manner and do exactly what you asked for without assuming that he knows what he’s doing.
You shouldn’t feel as if he’s rushed to finish
This is closely connected to the barbers that accept people without appointment.
Barbers that see unexpected cue in their shop, they’ll feel the need to finish as quickly as possible to make sure that they serve all the cuing customers.
You can imagine that if the barber is making everything possible to finish quickly, don’t expect him to do a good job on your hair.
A good barber needs to deliver great results in close relation to what you expect from him.
Work on the feedback you give him and make sure that he doesn’t leave parts of your hair uncut or poorly groomed beard. You shouldn’t feel at any moment that the barber is rushing to finish and go to the next customer.
This isn’t the most important criteria to select a barber but it should add some weight to your decision. You can’t just travel 15 miles every time you want get a haircut.
Best way to determine the ideal location to your barber is to figure out if it’s best to be close to your home, job or entertainment.
For me, it’s best to be close to my job so I can get my haircut done during lunch breaks or right after I finish from work.
What’s my strategy in finding a good barber
- Ask friends and family.
- If this won’t help, I ask around within a radius of 3 miles from where I work.
- If I can’t find anything around that satisfies me, I make online search on google maps and see what’s out there.
- Once I find some that I like, I try to find them on facebook and instagram to see their work.
- When I find somewhere around 5-10 barbers, I pay them a visit and see whether I like it as explained previously on the qualities and skills I’m looking for.
- Narrow it down to three barbers and check how busy they are. I ask whether they accept appointments and judge accordingly.
- Since I’m already engaging in a small talk about setting up an appointment, I ask few casual questions about how long he’s around and how many years he’s been a barber while a take quick looks at his tools.
- Arrange an appointment and get a haircut.
- Rinse and repeat until I find the ONE!
Any other tips on how to find a barber are welcome. What’s your story?
Image Courtesy: flickr.com/matthewpaulson