Considering that barbers and hair stylists dedicate their lives to making you a better-looking person, their good side is a fruitful place to be. And when you think about the fact that they’re regularly coming at you with sharp objects, having your hair person like you can even make for good preemptive self-defense.
So we asked an array of folks in the business to tell all—confess what, exactly, annoys them about the person sitting in their hydraulic chairs. Before we get to the juicy stuff, the fine barbers and hair stylists we asked to confess their client’s bad habits wanted us to let you know that there is no crisis of manners happening in salons across the nation. Actually, they say 99% of you are really good at sitting there and getting your haircut (though it’s not that hard so don’t congratulate yourselves quite yet).
1 – Leave Yoko at home
“It’s really uncomfortable when their significant other is standing over your shoulder directing the cut,” says just about every barber from almost every city. Fair enough, nobody likes being micromanaged, so if your lady friend insists on controlling your hair, either go to her person or take notes so you can explain what she wants yourself.
Don’t think you can get away with a video chat either. “I find it insulting,” says a barber in a New York City men’s salon.
And, on a side note: if your trusty stylist is a woman and she’s even remotely attractive, once your girlfriend meets her, there’s a good chance you’ll never be allowed to go back. “It’s happened,” says a bombshell stylist out of NYC.
2 – Stop staring
You keep your eyes open during a shampoo and/or shave. Totally understandable that it can be uncomfortable to be making eye contact with the stranger whose hair you’re lathering up, but shaving? Since there’s a razor being pressed so close to things like jugular veins, it’s a little more difficult to fight the impulse to keep your eyes open.
3 – Don’t moan (yes, really)
You moan in ecstasy from a really good shampoo. “That just makes me rush the job,” says one regular shampoo-giver in Indianapolis. And if you moan and keep your eyes open at the same time? “Ewwwwwww,” she squeals.
4 – Don’t cut your own hair
Since you’re not five years old, it should go without saying that you shouldn’t cut your own hair, but even cleaning up your own neckline can be really frustrating. “I’ve seen crooked lines, chunks taken out and borders that have been taken up way too high, and they can be difficult to fix,” says a barber from San Francisco. A problem easily avoided since many barbershops will clean up your borders for less than a cost of a full cut. Just ask.
5 – Manage your expectations
By all means bring in celebrity photos, but understand that, “We give haircuts, we don’t rearrange faces,” says a hair stylist based in Chicago. So basically, if you want Justin Timberlake’s hair, depending on what’s physically possible, you can pretty much have it, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll bring your sexy back.
6 – Keep the conversation light
“I’m not saying that, as a rule, you shouldn’t talk to your stylist about the intricate details of your love life. If you have a very close and long relationship with that person, it’s fine. But if that’s the case the stylist usually knows your wife and likes her as well. Ninety-nine percent of the time the stylist will never say anything to her, but 99% will tell someone in the salon and it’s a small world,” says one NYC-based hair stylist. Consider yourself warned. Keep your personal life to yourself.
7 – Don’t wear earphones
Remove them. Or, put another way, don’t be an asshole to your stylist. One DC-based men’s stylist tells us of a customer who insists on getting cut with his oversized Beats by Dre firmly planted on his ears and then gets frustrated when the stylist accidentally knocks them during the cut. Don’t be that guy.
8 – Brush your teeth and put on some deodorant
Unleashing a torrent of malodorous breath or body odor on any person in close proximity who is also holding scissors is not a good idea. It’s even worse when you’re depending on them to take their time to make you look good. “Do what you can to make your breath not stink, just don’t chew gum,” says a barber out of Austin Texas.
9 – Stay still, goddammit
There’s a sharp object near your face and you squirming only distracts the person holding it. This annoys your barber and could turn out poorly for your ear.
10 – Hair length doesn’t determine price
Short hair isn’t always less work than long hair. If getting a simple one-length-all-over buzz, don’t go to an expensive barbershop.
11 – Don’t touch things that aren’t yours
Under no circumstances should you touch your barber’s scissors or clippers, especially to pick them up to fix something. “Back off…” says one Arizona-based barber.
12 – Remember: they’re barbers—not mind readers
This is a problem most easily solved by bringing in photos of what you like, having a conversation about what is truly possible and then being open to settle for reality. “Most stylists won’t give their opinion unless you ask,” says one Boston-based stylist. They see and know a lot, so you should probably ask. And when they do give their opinion, it’s in your best interest to listen.
13 – Pretend you’re at the movies
So please don’t text or talk on the phone while someone is cutting your hair. “Nothing is ruder than a client waving you off so they can answer a call while you’re in the middle of cutting their hair. If it’s an emergency, you can say, ‘Excuse me, but I have to take this,’” says a stylist based out of Los Angeles.
14 – You can’t change your mind mid-cut
File this under the obvious but, a haircut isn’t like a car, a shirt, or even dinner. Once the cut is underway, it’s damn near impossible to modify the proceedings.
15 – It’s a barbershop, not a bar
Serving bourbon or beer at barbershops is a recent trend, but as it turns out, when all that imbibing leads to you snoring and drooling over everything, it’s a bitch to the entire barbershop. Everything in moderation.