Ask A Bro About Your Fro: How To Better Communicate With Your Barber

Better tresses for less stress.

BY EUGENE LIM | Jul 26, 2016 | Grooming

Here is my pop's grooming advice:

Dad: "Son, there are two men that even a king is afraid of."

Me: "Must you really tell me this now Dad? We are in the middle of Finding Dory."

Dad: "That's not the point."

Me: "I don't know who the men are, Dad."

Dad: "They are his doctor and his barber! One saves him from death, and the other is in charge of making him look good."

I get where he's coming from, although a movie is not the best time to dispense the advice that what a great haircut can do for men is akin to what makeup does for women.

There are many articles on different type of haircuts, but how do you determine what is the right haircut for you? Is there a good haircut that suits most men? More importantly, how best to communicate what you want to your barber?

We spoke to Joel Phua from Jermyn Street and picked his brains about everything you need to know, from working with his clients on how to find the best cut for them, to tips on improving communication with your barber.

ESQ: Could you walk us through your process when a new client comes into your store for a haircut?

JP: I start by asking them what they’re looking for. Once I get a sense of that, I start looking at their head shape, what can or cannot be done. After analysing that, I would ask what they’re comfortable with and decide what would be the haircut that would bring out their confidence. Some clients might want to have long hair, but their hair texture might not work for them.

ESQ: What are some of the thing that guys can do to help improve the communication between barber and client?

JP: Knowing what they do not want, because sometimes, guys may not know what kind of haircut they are after, but they definitely know what they do not want. Everyone has different tastes and opinions, like for example, I might think that he looks great in this haircut, but he might not feel the same way. By doing that, I work with the information he provides and improve on it.

ESQ: Would bringing a picture of a particular haircut help the process?

JP: First of all, I would take a look at the texture of their hair, if they have a similar hair texture as the one in the picture, then I could give them the same haircut. If the picture shows a Caucasian guy, and an Asian man comes up to me asking for the same haircut, I'd tell him straight up that your hair texture is totally different, I might be able to do something similar but it won't be the same. Very seldom I would say no unless it's...

ESQ: …like an Asian guy with medium length hair asking for cornrows?

JP: Yeah (laughs).

ESQ: Besides knowing what they do not want in a haircut, is anything else that would help?

JP: Definitely knowing the different terms of what you want to get and being straightforward, not beating around the bush. I think that's the worst thing. Go in and tell your barber what you want, a three on sides, zero fade, mid-zero fades, an inch off the top, just keep it simple and straight to the point.

ESQ: Like knowing the difference between a fade and a slope?

JP: A lot of people like to call it the slope, but I think technically the slope just doesn't sound right at all! It's a graduated haircut. For example, for someone with a flat head, a graduated haircut helps give their head a better shape, and it's easier for us barbers to understand what they want.