Everything You Need to Know About Barbershop Etiquette

Rules aren’t something anyone ever thinks about when visiting a barbershop. Still, there are certain unwritten rules every civilized person should observe when receiving services from a barber.

Thankfully, the rules aren’t complicated; you probably have been practicing them for years. This post aims to remind you of those rules to make sure you’re not missing anything.

Why Does Observing Barbershop Etiquette Matter?

Seriously, who wants to follow barbershop rules if there are any? Aren’t people grappling with too many rules already?

Well, they’re not exactly rules. They’re simple things to pay attention to and become a client your barber values.

These simple rules will ensure that you and your barber have a smooth session every time. Both of you will win each time you visit the place. The barber will have a great client, and you’ll get treated like royalty. And don’t worry — the rules aren’t entirely about being the biggest tipper your barber knows.

12 Simple Barbershop Rules You Should Observe

You’re sitting at the barbershop waiting for your turn. The barber expects every decent client to behave in a certain manner. Unfortunately, they don’t have any specific rules pinned up somewhere in the shop. But that doesn’t mean you should behave like a completely clueless client.

Here are a few straightforward rules to make sure your session happens smoothly and everyone’s happy in the end.

1. Call Ahead

It’s possible to just walk into a barbershop and get a haircut. If they’re idle at a particular time, you won’t have to wait. But what if it’s a busy Sunday afternoon and the barber is busy as heck? Do you want to spend the whole afternoon pretending to read silly magazines and ignoring the punk sitting next to you?

If that’s not something you desire, make sure to call in advance and say you’ll come. Doing that shows the barber you’re organized. It also demonstrates you’re a serious person who deserves to be treated right. Besides, you won’t need to sink into some butt dent all afternoon waiting for your turn.
But scheduling an appointment isn’t enough. You should always call in advance so you can be sure not to waste your precious time.

2. Always be on Time

Are you the sort of person who always shows up late? Do something about it. You’re not the only client the barber has. Many others have scheduled appointments with them, and they expect you to understand that.

It’s ok to arrive at the shop a little earlier than you should. But it’s never cool to show up even one minute later than when you should. Now is that too difficult to manage? It isn’t. And you know it.

3. Be a Little More Patient

Being a barber isn’t the easiest job in the world. Every head you handle is expected to be a masterpiece. Add to that the fact that some clients are overly demanding and impatient. What do you get? You get an exhausted barber who isn’t feeling exactly excited about shaving one more difficult client.

Here’s something to consider. When your turn finally comes, will like it if the barber won’t give you maximum attention? Of course not. Barbers are some of the most patient service providers on the planet. Allow them enough time to assist the person ahead of you. Your turn is coming, dude.

4. Decide on what you Want from the Get-go

Before you heave yourself onto your barber’s chair, decide on how you want to look. Most likely, you prefer a specific style. Describe that look to the barber clearly right off the bat. It saves everyone time and ensures you get the appearance you seek or something close.

Shoppers without a shopping list often waste tons of time in the mall, don’t they? Similarly, barbershop clients who are clueless about what they want to waste everyone’s time. They’re also a little annoying. Want to be that clueless client?

5. Your Barber’s Powers are Finite

Your barber has been doing this for quite a few years. As a result, they’ve stacked up quite a bit of experience. They can turn an average looking head into one that rivals Denzel Washington’s, right?

Let’s face it: your barber has no special powers. Frankly, with certain shapes of heads, there’s nothing much anyone can do. In other words, be realistic regarding how you’ll look. Don’t expect too much.

6. Know this: the Barber Knows their Job

It’s not polite to keep telling the barber how to do this or that. There’s a reason you’re a banker, a salesperson, or a nurse and not a barber. And there’s a reason they’re a barber. So once you tell your barber what to do, let them do it.

It’s a question of trust here.

You trust your doctor and are confident they know what they’re doing, right? Learn to trust your barber as well — they’ll handle the job right.

7. Point Out Issues Early

Well, a barber sometimes may not fully understand what their client has requested them to do. Luckily, there’s always a mirror in front of you. You’ll want to notice problems (if any) as early as possible.

If you feel they’re not cutting your hair as per your instructions, let them know early enough. Waiting until the very last minute to pinpoint mistakes just isn’t proper barbershop behavior. In most cases, good barbers (most are) are willing to do whatever it takes to please their clients. But you need to be reasonable enough and speak up the earliest possible.

8. Barbers Love Clean Heads

When it comes to visiting a barbershop, the issue of cleanliness can’t be overemphasized. Showing up with a dirty, uncombed, clump of messy hair certainly isn’t a good idea.

Cleanliness is second to godliness is a tired cliché, but there might be some truth to it. Well, you’re probably not interested in godliness and stuff like that. But wouldn’t you want to earn your barber’s respect? Do you think it’s easy to respect dirty people? Respect yourself and your barber — wash and comb your hair before visiting the barbershop.

9. Hair Clippings are a Normal Thing

Regardless of how great a barber might be, you’ll always get hair clippings. You’ll have hair clippings on your clothes, hands, neck, and face. And that doesn’t feel particularly nice. But it doesn’t warrant a hissy fit either.

Greasy Mess on Your Car; Hair Clippings on Your Clothes

Relax. After all, the barber will take care of the problem. It’s no big deal. Look, your car rarely looks sparkling clean after your mechanic has been working on it for some time. There’s always going to be a bit of grime on your car. Similarly, there’ll always be hair clippings on you.

10. Stop Moving Your Head all the Freaking Time

Your barber needs your head to stay steady for the better part of the session. So stop making life difficult for them by nodding or moving your head all the time.

You’re probably addicted to your smartphone. And you’re staring at it and following tweets and posts from your friends on social media. Unfortunately, doing that keeps shifting your head to positions that are a little problematic for the barber. But you surely won’t die if you take your eyes off the damn phone for a couple of minutes.

11. It’s Ok to Initiate a Conversation

Sure, not every barber wants to engage in small talk. Some just want to focus on the business at hand and that’s that. But if they’re the friendly and conversational type, it’s perfectly fine to start a conversation.

You know, there’s always something you can discuss. Talk about the weather, wildfires in your state, the incoming prime minister, spring, or selfish politicians. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn about your neck of the woods.

But if they’re not the chatty type, it’s best to keep your mouth shut. It’s not that hard, is it?

12. Thank the Right Person

Finally, remember to pay for your tip. Sometimes, clients who aren’t familiar with barbershop etiquette do one of two things. One: they leave the shop without even saying “thank you” to the person who served them. Two: they tip, but their appreciation ends up in the wrong pair of hands — the receptionists.

Look, it’s the barber who made you look that good, not the receptionist. So why tip the receptionist? Proper barbershop etiquette demands that you tip the barbershop. Tip right, and you’ll always receive royalty-like treatment every time you walk in there. Typically, you’re looking at 15–20% of the total cost.

Putting it All Together

People today no longer want to follow rules. Everyone wants to be a free person in a free world. And that’s ok. But that doesn’t mean you should behave in a barbaric manner.

Certain things like observing proper barbershop etiquette will always get noticed and appreciated.

If your barber knows you want to behave and treat them right always, you’ll earn tons of respect. Plus, your session at the barbershop will become something both of you will start looking forward to.

Matthew Ryan

I'm Matthew Ryan, one of the guys behind MannersAdvisor.com I am passionate about the world of good manners, etiquette and proper behavior to have on any special occasion. Here I decided to share my passion with you!

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