A Guide to Barbershop Etiquette

Whether you’re a long-term client or it’s your first time stepping foot into a barbershop, etiquette is just as important as getting a proper haircut. Along with being courteous, barbershop rules entail communication so that you can walk out the door feeling satisfied with your hair and your relationship with the barber of your choice. To help you out, we compiled a list of Do’s and Don’ts to check out before your next appointment.  


Be On Time

Everyone runs a bit late once in a while, but if you anticipate being more than 15-20 minutes behind, reschedule your appointment. Many barbers work in 15-minute intervals, so your tardiness can throw off their schedule. Not only are you doing a disservice to your barber, but you’re being disrespectful to all the other clients after you. Think of it this way: If the situation was reversed, would you want to be taken late because someone else was running behind? Probably not. 

Wash Your Hair in Advance

It’s one thing to have next-day hair and another to come into the barbershop having not washed your mane for nearly a week — especially if you use a lot of product. It’s easier for your barber (and the equipment used) if your hair is clean, so make an effort to suds up before coming in for your appointment. 

Be Clear on What You Want

Are you wondering how to talk to your barber? Well, communication is a two-way street. Your role is to bring inspirational photos or ideas, and theirs is to tell you whether or not your ideal style will fit your hair type, face shape, and styling commitment. Be open-minded because, more likely than not, a pro can meet you halfway and guide you in a direction you have yet to consider. 

Speak Up and Early

If you see the cut is not going as anticipated, speak up immediately so you’re not disappointed with the result. Don’t be rude —  but don’t be shy either. Once the hair is cut, you can’t go backward. It’s easier for a barber to make a detour in the beginning, but remember that you’re paying for one cut, not several. 

Relax and Chat

There’s a delicate balance that comes between relaxing and communicating with your barber. While this is a moment to relax, you also want to create a repertoire with your barber so that future visits are seamless in terms of communication and comfort! It’s also an excellent opportunity to get advice about styling or shaving

Tip Accordingly

Do you tip barbers? Tipping is a sign of respect and is a monetary “thank you” for your barber. Don’t underestimate the talent that goes into your tresses. Also, put yourself in their shoes and think about those long hours, nights, and weekends they dedicate to you and the rest of their clientele to ensure you look and feel your best. Tipping in cash is always preferable if you can do it — the standard is 15 to 20% of the total cost of your services — but adjust as needed. Don’t feel obligated to tip more than you can afford or beyond your satisfaction level. Sincerity is key. 


Don't Nod

While some level of nodding is expected during a conversation, express yourself with your hands instead of your head during a hair service. If a barber places a hand on your head, it’s likely because he’s hinting that you need to stop moving. A nodding head can lead to an inaccurate cut or potential nick. 

Don't Freak Out About Hair Clippings

That’s what the cape is for. If you’re overly concerned, change your shirt before getting a cut for added assurance.

Don't Be Rude

Remember, your barber is the expert, so let them choose the tools, whether that’s clippers or scissors. Trust your barber. Don't demand a different cut because you think it finishes better.

Don't Talk or Text on the Phone

Chatting or texting is distracting to the barber and the other clients. You also might miss an opportunity to communicate effectively. Silence your phone and put it away during your service.

Don't Be Impatient

A busy barber is a successful barber who will take time with everyone who sits in their chair. While they try to stick to their schedule, sometimes that doesn’t pan out. Perhaps a client was late or incredibly picky, and the service took longer than average. Be patient and try to schedule your appointments on a day when you’re not pressed for time so you're not stressed if your barber is backed up. 

Barbershop etiquette is pretty much common sense, but it’s never a bad idea to refresh yourself on the Do’s and Don’ts. Once you’ve nailed how to carry yourself and what to ask for at a barber shop, check out our Ultimate Barbershop Term Guide to take your in-chair conversations to the next level!

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