How men do really chose a haircut. I got one last week and I tried to pay attention to the real struggle it represent for us to know: where? When? How should I get my hair cut?
I know women have a lot more complicated problems that are really painful and hard to control or get over with like menstruation or more likely irritable bowel syndrome. You can add the fact that females carry a baby in their body for nine months and they have to feed them for a year (?) after having the most painful experience of their lives. Well, men have real problems too, choosing a haircut is one of those.
Ok, maybe is a real struggle for women too, but at least you have some knowledge of what you want, we don’t. We can actually divide this difficulty into three fundamental questions a man can be asking about haircut: when? Where? How?
The first answer is very diverse in different stages of life. When you’re in school probably you would cut your hair when your teachers tell you to or when your mom takes you straight away into a barber shop (who am I kidding here? She takes you to a hairdresser), maybe even before that is themselves who cut your hair (my grandmother did cut mine secretly). When you graduate you want to “let it grow” but you actually realize is a lot of work (or your long hair sucks) so at some point you just cut it off. When you’re aging you have two options: you go bald (which makes this struggle a lot easier) or you cut your hair when you remember to AND have the time.
My decision making is based on two fundamentals: how messy my long hair looks and how much work it is taking me to wash it. If these two reasons align then is damn time to cut that crappy hair down. If it is taking half a hand of shampoo and two steps to get a soft and straight hair then it is way too much work. If my hair is starting to look like a star-nose mole, then it is damn time to cut it off. If it mutates from hair to straw 8 hours after I washed it, then it is damn time to reduce it.
Now that I’ve decided that it is DAMN time. Then where should I go? This question is sometimes so easy yet so hard than some men convert themselves into their own barber (that’s like the manly way of saying hairdresser). They use that beard machine they got for their 18th birthday to shave their heads in an attempt of looking like Sinead O’Connor. Maybe their lucky enough that they can still go to the same place they went during their time at school, that is the best feeling because you have no other possible answer and it answers the three questions at once: when do I cut my hair? When I visit my hometown again. Where do I go? Same place as usual. How do I cut my hair? As usual. It is just perfect to have that kind of a relationship with your barber.
But let’s not talk about perfection, but a guy who just left his parent’s home and went to another city to build his life. Forget money, work, transportation, social life and missing your family; one of the worst problems will be where to get a nice haircut. All he has is recommendations from some people and the internet, but that is not enough, to criticize a barber shop you need to go in there and try it out it’s the only way to know. My dad for example has gone to the same barber his whole life and I mean all of his 55 years, this barber is old enough to die at any time which means at some point my dad will have to: stop cutting his hair, do it himself (again) or find a new place. That must be one of the toughest quests I’ve heard and I have played a lot of RPG games.
After I move in with my dad I went to the same barber for a couple years and then decided I needed to take the same decision. I chose the third option and took a whole day to just watch some hair salons, from some huge organizations with multiple offices to the little neighborhood friendly shops. As usual, I took some place in the middle and went for a random medium sized hair salon. The first three times, it was the same guy who cut my hair and he didn’t recognized me (which I liked because I could always change who I am) but did a good job, after him it’s been always a different hairdresser that attends me with mixed results.
I had the same barber for 12 years in a tiny town, after that I went 2 years to my dad’s old barber and I never needed to answer a question. But now it was the time and as I’ve been cut by some different hairdressers I know it’s hard to answer “How would you like your haircut?”
The first time I went on this new green medium sized hair salon I had some ideas and references, but it wasn’t enough. You need either the perfect picture or the perfect wording to get what you want. If you extend yourself too much on the answer, then you lost your hairdresser’s attention in the middle of it and if you go too short on your explanation then he will not know what you want. My way of approaching this after five different new hairdressers is to ask for options, which is still hard but you can let your imagination answer for you. For example, they ask me “how short” and after I ask for options they’ve told me a lot of options “1,2,3 with machine or you can get some regular scissor work and see if you want it straight or in evolution”, they also ask me about my sideburns “How would you like your sideburns?” if it wasn’t for the options I would be fucked, so they show me some heights or shapes to at least make a false expectative of what I will get.
“How would you like your haircut” is a very hard question to answer properly when you’re a man because you don’t know/understand the technical language and you actually can’t explain and never had thought how would you LIKE your haircut, my first answer was “Short, but not that kind of vulgar short looking and brush-able” which its absolutely not even close to what the hairdresser expected or requires to cut my hair the way I ‘want’. He did a nice job out of nothing, that’s why I came back really.
Even though I got a couple of bad haircuts (not the worst ones, but I didn’t like them), I don’t have problems with changing hairdressers because (at least for now) my hair grows back and that means I will get a new haircut again and that one can be the best one. For all of the men who struggles with when or where or how to get a haircut, I tell you you’re not alone and don’t be afraid hair always grows back (except if you are bald, then you got nothing to worry about).