Five Things Not to Say to a Barber

Five Things Not to Say to a Barber


Around 300 B.C., Rome immortalized the noble profession of barbering by building luxurious public baths and salons. The word "barber" is derived from the Latin word for beard, barba. Free Roman men were clean-shaven while slaves were forced to wear beards. So visiting the barber and bathhouses became a daily custom for shaves, news, and gossip.

Today, the barber’s chair is still a place for conversation and community. Your barber needs to know what you expect to see in the mirror when he’s finished with your cut. Here are five things not to say to your barber the next time you go in for a high and tight or a pompadour.

  1. "Short on the sides, long on top!" – This classic statement ranks at the top of barbershop pet peeves. It describes nearly ALL male haircuts, but doesn’t really give your barber much information. Instead, tell your barber exactly how short you want the sides to be and how much you’d like off the top. Be specific. Ask for two inches off the sides and a half inch off the top, for example. Even better, know the clipper size.
  1. Frustrated barber giving a haircut to a male client
    "Do whatever you want." – Your barber is not a mind-reader, nor does he know what your lifestyle is unless you have had a long-standing relationship with him. You may not be happy with the results, and your barber will not be happy with your dissatisfaction with his services. Know what haircut you’d like to have and be prepared to communicate your vision. Also, don’t change your plan halfway through the cut. Some cuts can’t be undone.
  1. "Make me look like Chris Hemsworth." – Unless you already look like Chris Hemsworth, a haircut isn’t going to do the trick. DO bring in a photograph of the hairstyle you have in mind. If your hair is thick and curly though, you’re not going to get the sleek long locks of Thor.
  1. "I’m going to be late. Can you squeeze me in later?" – There’s a long list of etiquette breeches and this one is considered the worst. Clients who have scheduled their appointments and kept them deserve your barber’s undivided attention and best work. Rushing through their cut to ‘squeeze’ you in or to accommodate your late arrival is not only rude to the client, but could have an impact on the barber’s reputation.
  1. "I caught my wife kissing the gardener!" – Barbers aren’t counselors, marriage therapists, or your mother. Unloading your life’s history and latest sob story may be therapeutic for you, but uncomfortable for your barber. Unless the two of you have been tight since third grade, keep the conversation light. Also, don’t disclose company secrets, insider stock tips, or your last dating experience. It’s not a good idea to tell all during a barber session since you never know who may be listening from the next chair over.

Are you a barber? Tell us the most atrocious thing a client has told you while sitting in your chair!