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How to stay in your barber's good books


Man Scape

A journalist for 20 years and a man for longer, Richard Hughes would never, ever use canned shaving foam.

View more entries from Man Scape

Are you going to risk annoying someone who holds a straight razor to your throat?

Are you going to risk annoying someone who holds a straight razor to your throat? Photo: Danielle Smith

If you want to get the best haircut possible, it's wise to keep your stylist on side, your hairdresser happy or your barber buoyant.

They have your image in their hands – so why wouldn't you want to help them do the best job possible?

With this in mind, Man Scape had a quick word with some top professionals to discover what gets their goat and what, more importantly, has them purring like contented kittens.

Don't be late

Turning up when you've said you would is a good rule in life generally. Not doing so is, of course, rude, and an especial bugbear of hair cutters. If you're going to turn up after your appointed time – or not show at all – best to let them know in advance.

"We respect customers' time commitments and we expect customers to do the same in return," says Nathan Armagnac, who has just opened a branch of OscarOscar in St Kilda in Melbourne.

"An hour or two's notice is great if you can manage it," Nathan says. Even being five minutes out can throw a busy salon schedule off all day.

Gen Y are the worst offenders, the experts say. They have more ways to stay in touch than any generation before, but sometimes seem to ignore all of them.

Listen to what they tell you

If the person who cuts your hair gives you some advice on how to keep it looking good for longer, it's not a bad idea to pay attention.

There are some unscrupulous operators out there with targets to meet, Nathan says.

"But those of us who are genuine will make genuine recommendations.

"If we suggest a product for the client to take home, they're to help keep their hair as it is when they leave us," Nathan says. "We're not trying to flog products."

Whatever it is the professionals suggest, they're wanting to prolong the cut, which is good news for you.

Be realistic

It helps if you know what it is you're after. If you're thinking of a dramatically different style, especially if you want to copy a particular star you've seen on TV or in a magazine, it helps to be reasonable. Remember, celebrities have whole teams of stylists working for them. And (as often as not) Photoshop.

Keep your cool

If it all goes wrong and the end result is not quite what you were hoping for – or worse – it's probably not the end of the world.

"I can usually tell by the body language if they're not happy," says Melbourne curls expert Kristianna Michaelides. "It can be difficult for some clients to speak up - they're not always in their comfort zone. But there's always a solution."

Nathan agrees. "If you don't like something, don't lose the plot," he says. "There's always a solution."

Don't let the kids run wild

Children aren't an issue if they're well-behaved but, Nathan says, they're not good if they kick off.

You keep it nice, too

"To be honest, my only expectation of a client is that they are civil," says Malvern-based Michaelides. "Just as they would expect me to be courteous."

Clean hair

Professionals can deal with hair that hasn't been washed for a day or two - in fact, they sometimes prefer you not to turn up with just-washed hair. Colouring works better, and is less itchy, with three-day-old hair. And when you arrive with "bed head", the hairdresser can see how the style sits naturally and assess if it's working for you. But normal standards of personal hygiene are important; don't, for instance, go straight from workout to salon. "There's showers at the gym," Nathan says. "Please use them."

Like and share

Word of mouth is key. If you like what someone's done to your hair, tell your friends. That's far more Australian than tipping.

How do you keep your barber beaming? Or are you guilty of taking them for granted?


  • So....this whole article has no single mention of a shave yet the photo is of a hipster looking dude getting a shave?

    Secondly, claiming that 'some' hair dressers genuinely making product suggestions and not just making a sale is not going to work. How do I know which ones are genuine?

    My hairdresser in Melbourne for four years was the best... why? Coz he cut my hair exactly as I wanted, and would make style suggestions when required. Moreover, he did recommend hair products BUT none of them he actually stocked. He suggested the brand and the product and told me which outlets I could get them from at a good price...

    THAT is genuine recommendation, not the guys at a salon making suggestion when they have a razor down your throat... literally.

    Not Really
    Date and time
    April 29, 2014, 2:44PM
    • I agree with Not Really, it's odd that most of the advice in this article seems gender neutral or aimed at women, and yet the main picture is a guy getting a shave. Very odd.

      Anyway, my salon is brilliant - Zedi on Moor Street. I will often take in baked goods to share with the guys if my appointment is late on a Thursday night, when everyone is getting tired and hungry a choc chip cookie is a great treat! I love the whole feeling at the salon, and don't mind that there are probably cheaper places out there. The atmosphere and the relationship I have with the team at Zedi is worth every penny.

      Date and time
      April 29, 2014, 3:33PM
      • "Don't be late" - Goes both ways. Fortunately I have found an awesome barber who cuts my hair exactly as I want with a neck shave for only $18.00 and I never have to wait more than one person to finish before I'm attended too.

        Been there four times and she already remembers my preference and how I like it. What more do you want?

        Date and time
        April 29, 2014, 3:51PM
        • At the Hunter Arcade in Sydney... there is a Salon with Asian hair dressers..

          for 15 bucks you get a pretty damn good hair cut, a bottle of water on arrival, AND a hot towel face head and neck massage upon completion of the haircut.

          Damn I miss working in the city now.

          Yes Really
          Date and time
          April 29, 2014, 4:26PM
      • I just need to shave my hair, i guess i am at the wrong place!

        Date and time
        April 29, 2014, 4:32PM
        • ...go to a Real Hairdresser, forget about the Barber.

          J B
          Date and time
          April 29, 2014, 4:45PM
          • My firstborn has the most beautiful ringlets which were tamed and delightfully styled by Neel who presides at "Neel loves curls" in Brunswick St Fitzroy. Whatever makes him happy makes me happy so look after your styler.

            Edward Scissorhands
            Date and time
            April 29, 2014, 5:16PM
            • very unrealistic article. the way i have my hairstyle or i attend a barber's shop is i vote with my feet. a normal stay is about a year or two providing they're still around and good. they hardly last long or that long for them to have a good book or a bad book. I've seen and heard for myself that they struggle to please their customers.

              Author, what gives?

              Date and time
              April 29, 2014, 9:11PM
              • What, so as well as paying someone to provide a service, we're expected to keep them happy as well?

                I agree about being punctual but that's just common courtesy.

                Date and time
                April 30, 2014, 6:04AM
                • "OscarOscar"???
                  I'm sorry, but it would go against the grain to take style advice from somebody who (a) has to repeat the name, and (b) fails to insert a space after the 1st use of the name, and (c) inserts an unnecessary capital letter in the middle of the name,

                  Seymour Knutts
                  Date and time
                  April 30, 2014, 8:11AM
                  Comments are now closed
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