Communication is key. The number of disputes between barbers and their long-haired clients is pretty sad. Let’s fix that. You’re about to learn exactly what to ask and tell your barber when growing your hair out.
It can be tough.
Months and months of growth destroyed with a few short snips – all down to poor communication.
Knowing exactly what you want and more importantly – how to express what you want – is the key to preventing this from happening.
Of course, having a great barber is also going to help. So definitely find one of those.
Once you do, it’s all down to communication.
Let’s get to it.
8 Things To Ask And Tell A Barber When Growing Your Hair Out
There’s a good chance that all of these points will be relevant to you. However, you may feel that some points aren’t as important or simply aren’t in line with the style you’re looking to achieve.
That’s fine. Consider this a guide. Pick and choose the ones you like and be sure to use them during your next visit.
1. Make It Crystal Clear
This may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many men growing their hair out simply don’t make this fact clear from the outset.
It might be shyness. Perhaps it’s a weird sort of embarrassment.
Either way, it’s a disaster waiting to happen.
The barber needs to know exactly what you have planned for your hair.
They’ll understandably feel a little more on edge when a client tells them they’re growing their hair out.
For one, they’ll probably be more cautious and intentional with every snip.
Barbers can also sometimes feel as though they’re cheating when they do so little to a man’s hair and still take their money.
A good barber will always want to make sure the client feels as though they got their money’s worth. Less experienced ones will feel the need to do more and cut more, even when this is exactly what the client doesn’t want.
Of course, this isn’t true – but you hopefully get my point.
Because of this, it’s very important to let your barber know that you’re perfectly happy with very little being done that day.
They need to know that you’re growing it all out from the beginning.
No riddles or mumbling. Say the words out loud – make it crystal clear.
2. Show Them A Photograph
A picture is worth a thousand words.
Or something like that.
Showing the barber a photograph of what you eventually want your hair to be is so helpful. Usually, it’s of a celebrity. Perhaps it’s a friend.
It doesn’t matter. It’s just a great visual cue for the barber to use.
Sure, it’ll make it even clearer that you’re growing your hair out.
But it’ll also give the barber some great ideas for what they can do for you now to save yourself some heartache later on.
For example, let’s say that the photograph you show them is of a guy with long hair on top but pretty tight and tapered sides.
They can then use thinning shears to remove more weight off of the sides than they otherwise would.
This will make it more likely that what you end up with 6 weeks down the line looks a lot more like the photograph you showed them and less like a lion’s mane.
The point here is that you’d be amazed by how much a barber can reshape your hair without removing much length at all.
But letting them know how you want your hair to end up is the key. It gives them the information they need to shape that hair in a way you’ll be happy with one or two months down the line.
A photograph is such a simple and visual way to do this.
3. Just Skim Off The Ends
This is the part that gets people nervous.
The thought of going all the way to a barbershop and simply asking for a tiny amount snipped off the ends.
Although it may sound strange, it’s a perfectly reasonable thing to ask a barber to do.
It just makes sense.
When growing your hair out, you’ll inevitably get some breakage and split ends. It’ll make the hair look less full, less neat, and more frizzy overall.
Skimming off these ends will make it look a lot fuller and tidier as you grow it out.
Going to a professional to get this done is completely normal.
It’s usually the top where you’ll definitely want this done. You may want the sides taken down a bit shorter or at the very least thinned down with shears or a razor.
However, if you want the back and sides to grow out in much the same way, skimming off the ends here would be fine too. It’ll still look better than not doing this.
It’s one reason why it’s so important to get regular haircuts as you grow your hair out. It may sound nerve-wracking and even counterproductive.
But not getting regular haircuts will lead to a lot more problems down the road. In fact, it’s a key reason why a lot of men give up on their long hair, deciding it’s not worth the effort.
But when you do visit the barber, just know that it’s perfectly acceptable (and heavily encouraged) to ask them to just skim off the ends.
Actually using your hands and fingers to physically show them how much you want snipped off is also helpful.
At the end of the day, just saying “the ends” isn’t as helpful as physically showing them the few millimeters you actually want snipped off.
Finally, don’t be afraid to stop them if you feel as though they’re cutting too much. Do so before it’s too late for them to correct the overall look.
Be polite about it – if you do it properly it won’t be awkward.
4. Remove Bulk And Weight
Thinning shears are such a great tool.
They’re different from regular scissors in that they won’t cut all of the hair with a single snip – only some of them.
They can even be used on just the ends.
What they do is leave the hair looking less bulky and thick wherever you use them.
When growing your hair out, this can be especially useful. You may not want as much bulk on the sides and back as you do on top. In fact, most men don’t.
Using thinning shears in these areas to remove weight will actually often lead to the hair growing out in a much neater, tighter, and more natural-looking manner.
But once again, it can be overdone.
That’s why it’s so helpful to show the barber a photograph of how you want your hair to eventually end up.
That way they’ll know where to remove bulk and weight in order to shape your hair in the right way for the future.
There are other ways of thinning out the hair – some barbers use a razor. Either way, a good barber will know what you mean by “removing weight”.
It’s just important to tell the barber how much weight you want removing and where exactly you want it removed.
If you aren’t quite sure, the photograph should give them the information they need.
5. Clean Up Around The Ears
The ears are a key area to keep tidy when growing your hair out.
It can make the difference between impressive long hair and untidy long hair.
You’ll eventually notice hair creeping over the tops of the ears. While this may have been acceptable a few decades ago it really isn’t anymore.
You want to keep the hair over and around the ears in check when growing your hair out. This may just mean snipping the ends to keep the ears clear of hair.
Or, it may mean sharpening up the hairline behind the ears with a clipper. It really depends on how neat you want it.
But until your hair is long enough to completely hide the ears, this area will definitely be visible.
In fact, even once you are able to hide it, it’s just good practice to keep this area tidy. Little things like this do make a difference to the overall aesthetic.
6. Sharpen Up The Neckline
In this case, what I mean by the “neckline” is the shape of the hair at the back of the neck (nape).
When growing your hair out, this area will eventually start to crawl toward your upper back.
It’ll also look increasingly bulky and make the back of your head look increasingly bush-like as a result.
Sharpening up the neckline means shaping it so that it grows out in a more aesthetically pleasing manner.
It often also means removing some weight from the area so that the back of your head looks lighter and more balanced with the rest of your head.
It may not sound like that big of a deal. After all, the nape is probably the best-hidden part of your hair. You’ll rarely see it yourself.
But achieving a balanced overall look with regards to bulk and weight when growing your hair out is so important.
Keeping the nape area in check is a core component of that.
7. Ask For Style Ideas
Another reason for visiting a good barber when growing your hair out is that you can ask them for ideas.
You’ve got an opportunity to speak to a professional – someone that knows what they’re doing – about a goal that you’re trying to achieve.
They’d probably be able to give you some excellent advice and tips to see things through. This is especially important if this is the first time trying out long hair.
It may not even be about the haircut. They could even tell you how to wash it, how to dry it, etc.
They can also give you style ideas.
This is great if you don’t have a concrete plan about what you actually want to do with your hair once you’ve grown it out.
Why not get some ideas from them?
A great barber might even show you a couple of photographs for inspiration. You may end up with a whole heap of ideas you never would have had before.
Doing this before you get your haircut is better because you may actually ask them to do something a little different on the basis of the ideas they’ve just given you.
Not all barbers are going to be as accommodating as this. Some of them are going to be in more of a rush. When you’re not paying very much, you can’t really blame them for this.
They’re running a business at the end of the day.
But if you’re paying a reasonable/good amount for a haircut from a good barber, it’s perfectly reasonable to ask them for a few ideas and for some inspiration.
They’ll probably be happy to do it.
8. Ask For Product Advice
As you’re growing your hair out, you’ll find that the products you used with short hair simply aren’t working anymore.
This is to be expected and is perfectly normal.
That matte clay that produced an awesome texture when your hair was shorter is probably going to be too gritty as your hair gets longer.
Ask them for some advice with regards to what product would best suit the texture of your hair as you grow it out.
They’ll probably ask you what sort of finish and hold you want. For example, high shine vs natural finish.
Heavy vs medium vs light hold.
And so on.
Creams and water-based pomades are often helpful for longer hair because they spread through quickly and easily.
The finish they produce, however, is very different.
Once they’ve got a good understanding of what you’re looking for, they’ll probably be able to recommend something better than what you’re currently using.
In fact, they’ll probably have something on the shelf you can try out there and then.
If you love it and it isn’t extortionately expensive, you should probably buy it.
Even if you don’t, you’ve now got a good idea of what products would work well for your hair as you grow it out, as well as what products you should probably avoid.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a couple of commonly asked questions on getting haircuts when growing your hair out. It’s a pretty poorly understood topic, so hopefully, this should help round things up nicely.
What Should You Do With The Sides When Growing Hair Out?
The sides can either be left to grow naturally when growing the hair out or made less bulky and tapered down. The area above and around the ears should usually be kept neat and tidy regardless of the style.
As you grow your hair out, you may notice that it starts to look more bush-like than the photographs of long-locked men you’ve been envious of.
This is especially true for men who have thicker hair types.
The reason for this is often the sides not being tamed.
Removing bulk and weight from the sides as you grow the hair out is a great way to prevent this bush-like appearance.
Tapering them down, even just a little, can have a nice slimming effect on the face and jawline.
Thinning shears can be used to achieve this – it’s just important to inform your barber of exactly what you want to do.
Showing them a photograph will be as helpful as always with this.
But dealing with the sides with regular haircuts is a great way to allow the hair to grow out in a more natural and aesthetically pleasing manner.
When Should You Get Trimmed When Growing Your Hair Out?
It is important to get trimmed when the hair starts to look more untidy and disheveled. This is usually due to split-ends, as well as excessive bulk and weight at the sides and back.
This rule-of-thumb is more helpful than having an exact timeline.
Every man’s rate of growth is different, although ¾ to 1 inch per month is a pretty good average you can use.
But it’s more important to get a feel for when you should get a haircut than it is to have an exact date on when you’re going to do it.
You may even not notice it yourself. When growing your hair out, it can be tough to know what looks good and what doesn’t when you see yourself every day, day-in and day-out.
But a friend or loved one who is big on constructive criticism may eventually tell you that the hair is looking more and more like a bird’s nest.
This is a pretty good indication that it’s time for that first haircut.
How Often Should You Get Trimmed When Growing Hair Out?
Every 8 to 10 weeks is a reasonable average to use. The man’s rate of growth, hair thickness, as well how much stress the hair is put under will all help to determine how frequently the hair should be trimmed as it is grown out.
Using excessive heat or hairspray while styling will lead to more breakages/split-ends and will require more frequent haircuts.
It really doesn’t depend on length. In fact, length is one of the least important factors when it comes to deciding how often you should get your haircut when growing it out.
Sounds strange, but it’s true.
It’s more important to look at the shape and overall texture of the hair.
If your hair is just more prone to breakage and split-ends, you’ll need more frequent haircuts to get it sorted out as you grow it out.
Those ends should be skimmed – it’ll look a lot tidier and fuller once you do.
If your hair is especially thick, you’ll probably need to get it cut more often than most men. The sides and back will start to look pretty bulky and the hair will look more bush-like with every day that passes.
Getting more frequent haircuts is the key to taming them in the right way – thinning them out and removing weight.
Use the tips given earlier in this article to prevent too much from being done.
How Do You Avoid A Mullet When Growing Your Hair Out?
To avoid a mullet when growing the hair out, it’s important to avoid removing too much length at the front and to keep the back of the head and nape trimmed and well maintained.
A mullet is a style where the hair is short at the front and long at the back.
“Party at the back, business in the front” – as they say.
It grew pretty popular in the ‘80s but is pretty rare these days, although it could be argued that it’s making a minor comeback.
Most men, however, look to avoid the style at all costs as they grow their hair out. It’s simply not the look they’re going for.
This is pretty easy to do.
All that’s necessary is to allow the hair at the front and top to grow out, simply skimming the ends to keep things looking neat.
The back shouldn’t be allowed to get too bulky and the nape shouldn’t be allowed to get too long.
Thinning shears can be used by the barber to remove weight at the back to prevent it from getting too bush-like.
The nape (neckline) should be shaped and kept in check without letting the hair crawl toward the upper back.
To sum that up – it isn’t hard. Regular haircuts will be necessary, but it’s all about knowing what to ask for and what you don’t want so that you can properly express all of this to your barber.
There you have it. A complete guide to communicating with your barber when growing your hair out.
Hopefully, it’ll lead to fewer disagreements with barbers and their clients worldwide.
It’s an ambitious goal, but I’m optimistic.
Ready Sleek founder. Obsessed with casual style and the minimalist approach to building a highly functional wardrobe. Also a fan of classic, vintage hairstyles.