There are very few things that can compare to the confidence boost of getting a fresh haircut. A clean fade can turn your day around and cause you to forget about whatever woes might have been troubling you. Honestly, you simply can’t tell me shit after I get a sharp line up. Your overall look and potential mood lie in your barber’s hands, so finding your go-to barber is critical in life.
There are several factors that come into play when finding the right barber — price, convenience, whether or not they avoid the mundane small talk, etc. But the most important is whether or not they can get the job done to your liking. Even if you find a nearby shop that also happens to charge the cheapest price in the city, if you leave with an obtuse angle as your hairline then what’s the point?
Some people are fortunate enough to slide by the search their whole life. Growing up, my older brother took me under his wing. His barber was nice with the clippers, so he became my guy as well. When my brother switched barbers in my teenage years, his search led me to recognize not only what makes a great cut but just exactly how a barbershop operated. Knowledge of the latter was integral in finding my barber when I moved to New York City nearly four years ago.
A barbershop is more than just a place you go to get a trim. It’s a place where you go to speak freely with no judgment and learn not only about yourself but about the world around you. It’s a community. And like any community, it’s filled with unique characters, especially the barbers themselves. It’s important to take note of these characters in the search for a new barber.
When you walk into a new shop for the first time there’s always a sense of excitement, but there’s also the fear that you can later walk out with an NBA 2K created player type of fade. So take your time and be attentive. If a barber hops out of his seat as soon as you step through the door and is adamant about getting you in his chair, do not, I repeat DO NOT get in that chair. That barber’s excitement represents not having a client in at least a few hours, and if you were to be the next one, there is a 97 percent chance you’ll walk out with that aforementioned 2K fade.
In every shop, there’s also always at least one barber above the age of 60, and while we respect our elders, I highly advise not sitting in their chair either. Experience is great and the more you practice something the better you can perfect that skill, but fades nowadays just hit a little different than the ones that barber was accustomed to lining up in their heyday. Now that we got those two types of barbers out the way, it’s time to keep your eyes peeled and hone in on a barber who’s cutting hair similar to yours.
Take note of how they blend their fades. Is the line up crisp and sharp? You may find yourself sitting for a while, but take your time and be patient. There will be barbers that come up to you while you sit and ask if you’re waiting on anyone specifically, but again, just take your time. Ultimately this is your head, and it will either be blessed by a barber or be forced into a hat wherever you go. My go-to tactic is to identify a barber who takes a little longer than usual with each cut.
This person is attentive to details. With each buzz and interchanging of the clippers that person is diligently taking their time to get you right. Bonus points if you can find a barber who stops cutting hair midway through to enjoy a quick meal. This typically means they’ve been booked and busy all day and just managed to sneak in a quick bite because they haven’t eaten yet. Once you do find your new barber, cherish them. That person will be responsible for your hairline going forward.
You don’t have to be best friends with your barber. Some of the greatest cuts I’ve ever gotten have been from barbers that I spoke maybe 20 words with, max. That includes detailing what type of cut I would like and asking how much I owe them when the job is finished. The key is the outcome of the haircut, and how it makes you feel afterward. My grandma always said, “if you look good, you feel good.” Those words have always stuck with me and can be applied to many things. But when it comes to getting a haircut specifically, after a fresh fade, when I’m looking good, I certainly always feel good. So while the hunt at times can have you waiting hours before you get in a chair, your hairline and the dopamine rush that comes with a pristine cut will be well worth the wait.