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.
Layer straight hair.
Guys with these kinds of weak, floppy follicles do best with either very short or very long hair; anything in between is almost guaranteed to look like a bowl cut. That's fine if you're six, but it's less than ideal if you're trying to hold down – or get – a job.
To avoid resembling your middle school yearbook photo, ask your barber to layer your hair. Layering is the practice of cutting hair so that it falls at various lengths and doesn't create hard lines. For the genetically floppy, this means looking more wind-blown and less tousled.
Vaughn also recommends talking product if you're combating lifeless locks. To give a jolt of life to the style, consider a molding paste with microfibers. It's light enough to keep your hair from falling flat but allows you to do a bit of sculpting. [Vaughn Molding Paste, $26 for 1.7 oz; v76.com]
Credit: Gregg DeGuire / Getty Images