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.
Define your hairline.
"Thinning hair is a bitch," says Vaughn. "Everyone knows that."
Fortunately, the master cutter has a few strategies for handling less-than-full manes. He starts by bringing up the sides to "de-emphasize the weaker spots, especially the receding hairline." From there, he tries to shape the remaining hair into a U rather than a V. No one, after all, wants to look like a walking widow's peak.
He also strongly encourages men with receding hairlines to reign it in. Not only will longer hair look lifeless, it will add stress and speed the retreat. Shorter hair makes sense, but you don't have to start razing the whole thing until you hit Phil Collins levels. Instead, picture Daniel Day Lewis, who is "losing hair, but has enough length to still play around with some motion." Vaughn says this strategy "takes your eyes away from the baldness." Clippers do not need to be involved.
Beards are also a good idea, because they balance out the lack of hair on your head. As a side note, if you're completely bald, beards also do you the favor of giving some texture to your otherwise smooth-all-over head.
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