How to Get the Perfect Haircut

Ever left the barbershop with a disappointing haircut? We've all been there. Here, a master barber shares his tips on how to explain exactly what you want, so that next time, you can leave happy and satisfied.

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If you find yourself getting one bad haircut after another, it might be time to ditch your current stylist—but you have to make sure you're holding up your end of the deal, too. Don't just assume that a barber magically knows what you want, especially if you don't have any visuals to back you up.

Rob McMillen, the head barber at New York City's Blind Barber, has a few crucial tips on how to properly describe the haircut you want.

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There Are Three Cardinal Rules for Every Appointment

McMillen says there are three things you have to think about before you even arrive at the barbershop: "Your desired look, the time that normally passes in between haircuts, and any problem areas you've had with your hair or previous barber in the past."

Rob McMillen cutting hair at Blind Barber. Photograph courtesy of Blind Barber
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Don't Get Caught Up in Terminology

You want to be well-informed, but you do not need to rely on fancy words to describe the type of style you want. Instead of trying to impress your barber with talk of "fades with angular fringes," just have a conversation with them. There's no such thing as a dumb question—especially at the barbershop.

"Terminology should be explained by your barber. Part of the job of a well-trained barber is to communicate how the haircut will be performed, and to educate the customer on the various options they have," McMillen says. "Understanding what length you're shooting for may be helpful, but terminology is for the pros."

A view of Blind Barber in New York City from the outside. Photograph courtesy of Blind Barber
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Schedule a Visit, Even if You're Growing Out Your Hair

So, you want hair down to your shoulders by next year? Well, get a haircut. Growing hair can be frustrating, but McMillen notes that a successful grow-out requires a lot of patience and maintenance.

"It's best to visit your barber every six to eight weeks to address any problem areas when you are attempting to grow your hair out," he says. "Also be sure to shampoo and condition frequently to keep the scalp clean and ready for growth." 

The setup of a barber's crucial tools. Photograph courtesy of Mike Harrington/Getty Images

Always Do Your Research

This might be a no-brainer to some, but it's standard practice to prepare some visuals for your upcoming appointment—whether that comes in the form of a page torn from a magazine, or a hair-simulator app on your phone, is up to you.

"Numerous resources now exist regarding what hairstyles work with different face shapes and beyond. Do some research and bring along some inspiration for your barber," he says. "Our goal is to make sure the client is confident and comfortable with their look, regardless of the style."

If You Want Low Maintenance, Don't Go Short

"Most traditional hairstyles for men can be low maintenance with the right product and guidance," McMillen says. But before you opt for a buzz cut or fade, know that short isn't always the easiest length to manage. "Some shorter looks require more visits to the barbershop," he says. For an easier style to handle, McMillen recommends trying a layered, textured look that requires little styling on a day-to-day basis. 

Make sure your barber cuts a meticulous, clean neckline, like this one! Photograph courtesy of Getty Images

If You're At a Loss, Fall Back on a Classic Style

Although McMillen cuts a variety of styles on his clients, there are a couple of basic haircuts that suit a broad range of men. "Most guys are still focused on some fading and tapering, so we do a great deal of that," he says. "We have seen the evolution of the traditional gentlemen's cut [tapered on the sides, longer on top] adjusted to suit the client, so versions of that are our most popular."

A variation of the gentlemen's cut hairstyle, with a longer length on top. Photograph courtesy of Getty Images

Check out Blind Barber's services, products, and locations in New York and Los Angeles, on

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