Does anyone speak hairdresser? I need help communicating.

M49, I tend to go a bit long between haircuts which is on me, but I seem to have a really hard time explaining that I want short hair, like 20mm / 3/4"

I usually ask for a #2 clipper on the back and sides, (which works fine), then take as much as they off the top so I can still brush it straight up, preferably too short to grab onto.

Basically a cigar butt with eyes, shut up it works for me.

Even indicating with thumb and finger, this somehow gets interpreted as just barely trimming the tips off and painstakingly shaping the surface, barely affecting the overall quantity of hair.

How’s that for length?

What no, get in there with fire and the sword, wreak devastation, I want all of this gone.

:carefully trims another quarter inch off:

It’s not just one guy, not just one place, so I am obviously using wrong and misleading words.

How do I ask for the thing I want?


I am both a former barber and a lady who goes 6 months between haircuts.

I basically tell my stylist, it’s been 6 months so can you take off 3 or 4 inches? (Hair grows about half an inch per month.)

You should probably tell them you want a fade, tapered from #1 to about an inch and a half on the top (or however long you want it) and also tell them how long it’s been, or if you have a picture of YOU with the hair you want show them that too. A picture helps a lot.


In the barber shop I frequent they have a sign that they don’t trim longer hair on men.

I asked why, and the answer was that they keep asking for a “little more”, then “You cut it too short!” and then they start arguing.

So you may be getting some negative feedback the barber/hairdresser is working against because of people that are jerks playing this game.

Take a picture of yourself and your fresh haircut after it’s done how you want and present that to whoever is doing the work so they know what you want and it’s you wearing it so they know you’re ok with it.


Get the same hairdresser every time, explain it once. The next time you can say “same thing as last time”. Maybe some small corrections here and there, but I never have to explain my wishes anymore.


Stop explaining shit. Show them a fucking picture. They’re artists more than engineers, they’re visual/spatial people. Find a picture online of what you want. Once you’ve gotten a really good, absolutely chefs’ kiss prefect cut, take a picture each of all four sides and the top, then start showing barbers those instead.


The only barber that was ever able to cut my insane hair passed away after an unsuccessful liver transplant and it was at that point I purchased my own professional clippers.

Having bad haircuts my whole life until I found her is literally a point of trauma that I’ve not recovered from and I’m 49 years old now.


So…you’re close to me. Here’s what you want to say - and it WILL vary from person to person regarding what you get so try to find someone you like and stay with them (or a few of them).

“Number two, sides and back. Blended in tight. Cut the top down so it just falls back - not spiked, just falling back.”

The “just falls back, close to spiked” is the key length thing for the top. Also, them thinning the side to blend in better is a good thing and will make it look better longer.


I find the “just falls back” on top to be #5 (5/8 inch) for me. It will obviously vary for each person but if you can figure out that number, you can be more specific and it might mean less trial and error for the hairdresser.


I usually clarify that it’s been a very long time and I want it all gone.


I never figured out the secret and just cut my own hair now.


Me too

dual_sport_dork, avatar

Correct answer. I just got an electric clipper and I mow the crop myself whenever it gets long enough to bother me. I don’t have to tip anyone, it only takes a few minutes, and I only have a few short years left where there’ll be anything growing up there anyway.


There is no true answer to the Tao of hair. I gave up and went around to hair dressers and said "Do whatever you like " until I found the one who made me look good. Now my hair looks amazing like 95% of the time and the remaining 5% is the occasional “just trying a thing” that becomes a temporary conversion piece.

I realized I do not actually know what I want. To believe such was mearly ego. I am going to people who have better trained aesthetic sensibilities, why should I, someone who has no sensibility direct them? I am but a canvas, a scruffy Tabula Rasa.

The DIY though is undoubtedly more cost effective…


Quicker to do it yourself, or find a friend or family member who will listen. I cut my own hair and my son’s.

Back when I liked my hair short, I would use a Wahl clipper with no attachment on the back and sides, and the largest attachment on top. Just adjust that per your needs.


Just keep going to the same guy, he’ll eventually remember you and what it takes to make you happy


Even better, find a picture of what you want, keep it on your phone, and show it to your barber


Or take a photo of your own haircut when it’s done the way you want. Or even if it’s not the way you want, so you can show the barber and tell them that you don’t want that, and how you want it to be different.

netvor, avatar

maybe I’m too much of an engineering brain, but I just want to cry when they put fingers in my hair and ask “about this long”?

Like, I know it’s not a rocket science but come on, that’s like 800% error bar.

Once, a lady had enough emotional intelligence to explain herself whether she meant “cut above the finger” or “leave below the finger”. I will never go to any other hairdresser (luckily she’s much younger than me so we could actually pull it off). I ain’t got time for these axe throwers.


Of all the things you could want your haircut to be, it’s precise?

netvor, avatar

forget the hair, but the questions must be precise and well-formed :D

seriously (ish), if the hairdresser holds my hair 2cm away from the skin and asks if this length is ok, and their finger is like 2cm thick, i don’t know if they mean 2 or 4.


Ah okay, I follow now!

erev, avatar

π=5 for most hairdressers

netvor, avatar

Basically a cigar butt with eyes, shut up it works for me.

I was not planning to comment (i am no better) but even if I was, this line pretty much disabled me for straight 5 minutes.

I’m a ROFLcopter now…


Highly recommend looking up a guide from a hair cutting chain. From the sounds of it you want a crewcut ~20mm 3/4", “blend the sides” so that it transitions well, they might ask what size to buzz the side, you can just say “shorter than the top”. Crew cut will give you the longest time between haircuts as well, take notes of the actual length or clip size so you can be more precise next time.

I’ll also drop this in case it helps:


This tracks, except which world does the author of this graphic live in where triangles are shaped that way?


Lol, right? That’s an egg, or better yet, one of the Oblongs.


Gives a new meaning to egghead, eh?

netvor, avatar

you can just say “shorter than the top”.

does this mean anything, though?

I mean, could someone even possibly say “longer than the top” and be taken seriously?

(And no, no no, stop right there----don’t even think of reminding me that mullets exist.)


You can also have a seamless transition, multiple varieties of the fade or a tapered cut. High end barbers also shave art into side of the head. Lots of different options, but generally people do fades.


Cool thanks, and I think I even have the correct column for my shape!

It is tough. Apparently some of my haircutters think I look best like ….

TragicNotCute, avatar

This is exactly how you fix it

pezhore, avatar

Are you going to a sports clip or a great clips type establishment? Where you get a new hairdresser every time? That can be part of the problem.

I would constantly get hit or miss cuts until I found a guy who rented a chair in an independent hair cut place. Always going to Joe for my haircuts means he’s more in tune to what I need/want done and the consistency has been well worth the slight uptick in cost.

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