The trick to getting a good haircut isn't just finding a talented barber. Even the most experienced follicular virtuoso will have a hard time making you happy if you don't know what you want. Here's what you want: a look that makes the most of your hair and compliments your face. According to Vaughn Acord, who counts President Bill Clinton, Richard Gere, and Tom Brady among his clients and coiffed Damian Lewis for the October 2013 issue of Men's Journal, the perfect trim is often more of an adjustment than a substantial change.
Vaughn puts it this way: "You don't need to make an entire meal out of just a sandwich." The metaphor may be slightly unpleasant in the context of hair, but the point is sound. There is no sense in blowing up a simple touch into a big ordeal. Vaughn prefers to start small and communicate as he goes with his clients, who are probably more used to looking at their own faces than most men. Vaughn stresses that this strategy involves teamwork and recommends that men not allow themselves to zone out in the chair.
"Don't be afraid of offending anyone or to ask questions, especially if it's your first time with this barber or stylist," he says. "They should have simple answers at the ready and if they get defensive, it's probably because they work on auto pilot and aren't sure."
Here's what Vaughn thinks you should be asking for – based on hair type, face shape, and style sense – the next time you head in for a cut. Plus, we suggest products to handle a passel of hairy issues.
Cut away at thick hair.
Thick hair needs to be thinned, right? Yes, but it's not that simple. The hard rule is that your hair person should never take thinning shears (those scissors that look like hybrid combs) anywhere near the top of your crown.
"That's a sure way to make it look like you have cat hair," says Vaughn.
The thinning shears are fine (in moderation) for the sides, but you should ask the barber to rely more heavily on a tool that can be used with a little bit more precision: a razor. According to Vaughn, "this allows for more shaping and will give the hair motion."
In order to keep the cut looking good, reach for a strong wax that gives your hair a soft but malleable finish. And run your hair through it a few times a day so it doesn't become a helmet. [Uppercut Deluxe Featherweight, $18 for 2.5 oz; westcoastshaving.com]
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