Whether you’re a regular, you’ve never been for a professional haircut before, or you’re somewhere in between, the way you behave at your local NYC barbershop matters. Your barber is a trained professional, but if you don’t follow standard barbershop etiquette, there’s a good chance it’ll lead to a worse haircut and overall experience.
There are certain unspoken rules that govern a barbershop appointment in New York, just like in most other spheres of life. Knowing what the expectations are makes life easier and smoother for everybody. Let’s run through the basics of a barbershop visit.
Once you’ve made the appointment at your favorite barbershop in NYC, put it into your calendar and set a reminder if necessary. You don’t want to be late – in fact, it’s usually a good idea to arrive ten minutes before the start of your appointment time. Take a book or something else to do; while most barbershops have some magazines or a TV to watch, there’s no guarantee that it’ll be to your tastes. A good barber is a busy barber, so you may need to wait a little while, even if you are perfectly punctual.
If you’re going to be late, let your barber know as soon as possible. They may be able to offer you a later time slot so you don’t have to rush, and their schedule can run on time. If something causes you to be a no-show, the best thing to do is call them, apologize, and offer to pay for their time. By missing your appointment without warning, you have stolen the opportunity for the barber to earn money in that time.
Unless a wash is included in your haircut – and you’re allowed to ask when you make the appointment if it isn’t clear – arrive at the barbershop with clean hair. You wouldn’t want to run your fingers through someone else’s dirty hair, so give your barber the same courtesy. Don’t add any product to your hair, either. Not only could it be unpleasant to handle, but it changes the way your hair lies and moves, affecting the quality of your haircut, regardless of how good the barber is.
Congratulations! You’ve made it to your appointment on time. Let your barber know you’ve arrived (some upscale NYC barbershops have a receptionist who’ll let them know for you), and take a seat. Even if you can see their previous client leaving, don’t assume they’re ready for you. Give them time to clean and reset their station and grab a sip of water so they can provide you with the best, most efficient appointment experience.
Once you’re in the chair, discuss your goals with them. If you’re trying a new barber, talk them through any concerns you may have about your hair – don’t expect them to be able to read your mind. This is also the time to listen to your barber. They have the knowledge and experience to advise on whether your desired look will work with your face shape and hair type and offer alternative suggestions. Let them know if you’re there for a haircut, a shave, or both. This is also your opportunity to set a boundary if you prefer a quiet appointment. There’s no need to be rude; simply ask politely if a “silent appointment” is possible or let them know you aren’t in the mood for chatting.
Unless you have a real objection to some friendly chitchat, though, it’s best to engage in conversation to build rapport and a good long-term relationship. Feel free to give them feedback as they work if you think they’re taking too much off or you don’t think the look is coming out like you pictured. It’s better to give them a chance to course correct during the cut or talk you through their process than to say nothing and have to come back for another appointment to fix it.