12 Men’s Hair Tips From Your Fave Barber Bros
Want to up your barbering game? You’re in luck—these tips from men’s grooming bros Matty Conrad and Mark Bustos will get men in your chair and keep them there!
With more than 2,500 hairdressers in the audience, their segment—Men’s Grooming—showed how to work with REAL men’s hair in REAL salons and how to confront tricky obstacles, like working with fine or curly hair. They shared their best barbering tips, tricks and techniques on the BTC stage, so of course we grabbed a few for you! Check them out!
1. Secure a Rebook Before You Even Cut Their Hair
Mark has a pro tip for impressing a client before you even pick up your shears: “I teach them how to style their hair before I even start,” he said. “Teach them how to style their hair at its worst. You want your client to look good at all times—they’re your walking advertisement.”
2. Keep the Cut Square
Matty and Mark both strongly agree: Men’s cuts should be square-shaped, because that works best with men’s face shapes. But keeping that square shape can be tough. Here’s a tip from Matty when you’re working with clippers. “Keep your elbow nice and low,” he told the crowd. “When you’re working upward, you’ll have a natural tendency to pull slightly away from the top of your section, and that is going to preserve that corner. As soon as you pick your elbow up, you’re going to have a tendency to round that shape in.”
3. Get Some Perspective
It can be hard to see what you’re doing when you’re working with really tight haircuts. Mark’s tip? “Gain some distance,” he said. “Stepping away from your work helps you see the imperfections a lot more clearly than if you’re right over it.”
4. Don’t Say the T-word
“We don’t call them thinning shears!” Matty said. “For real. Does any man want anything with the word ‘thinning’ going next to his head?” Good point. Call them “texturizing scissors,” and use them to soften the last millimeter to millimeter-and-a-half of hair.
5. Flip Your Comb
Game-changing tip from Mark: when you scissor-over-comb, you CAN find a guideline. Hold the comb with the teeth facing toward the head. When you start combing up, any hair going over the spine of the comb is what you cut, and the comb acts as a guideline. Genius!
6. Size DOES Matter
Here’s Matty’s tip to perfect the scissor-over-comb technique: Use the biggest shears you can. “They help you blend so much better,” he said. And don’t “Pac Man” with your scissors, or the hair will fly around. Instead, practice moving JUST your thumb and keep the other blade totally still. Matty recommends practicing this motion with your shears while watching TV so it becomes muscle memory. This way, he said, “will give you the most technically perfect work.”
7. Don’t Fear the Dryer
Show your male clients that the blow dryer is not something to be afraid of! Mark tries to educate his clients about the science behind how blow-drying works. He said he explains that a few seconds with a dryer will help them hold their salon-perfect style all day, and many guys are now dryer diehards.
8. Snap Some Pics!
Matty shared some advice he received from a mentor, Raymond McLaren: “It doesn’t matter what tool I’m using to cut the hair—my eye has to be the sharpest. Your perception as an artist, your ability to adapt and react to those situations is what makes you exceptional,” he shared. “So take pictures of your work. The camera is more objective than we are. We are too emotionally invested, but the camera isn’t. Learn to see imperfections in your work, and when you see those, you’re going to learn how to erase them before they happen next time.”
9. Stop Getting Nicked
Though Mark revealed that even he still nicks himself when he’s cutting, he’s found a way to minimize the bloodshed when point-cutting and removing weight. “After you blow-dry the hair, it wants to sit in one direction,” he said. “If I were to pull it straight up, it would fall to the side. But if I pull it the other way (the opposite way it’s falling), it will stand straight up. And I’m only closing the scissors as I’m pulling out, not as I’m going in.”
10. Don’t Short-Change Your Outline
“Your outline is not your last 10 percent,” Matty said. “It’s 50 percent of your haircut. It’s what most people see.” So spend some time on it! He recommends standing far back enough so that you have a good level of perspective with the floor, and line your shoulders up with your client. Have the client tilt his head forward slightly, and use your clippers to punch a nice clean line at the neckline. And be careful with those clippers! As Matty pointed out, the clippers are like a hot rake—and it’s unlikely that the client will complain, but he’s probably in pain! Turn the clippers to the proper cutting side and roll it up smoothly along the neck line to clean it up.
11. Take Care of Other Facial Hair
When cutting a man’s hair, take note of things like their ear and nose hair or eyebrows. “They don’t want to talk about it,” Mark told the crowd. “If you see it, just say, ‘Hold on one second, let me take care of that.’ Without asking, just do it.”
12. Remember: Every Client is Important
A wonderful tip from Mark, and something to remember for ANY client, female or male, is this: “We all grow hair exactly the same way, and we eventually lose it the same way,” he said. “There’s no difference at all. The feeling that people get after their haircut is the exact same feeling, whether you’re in the salon paying a lot of money or on the street.” As the founder of the #BeAwesomeToSomebody project, Mark lives by this motto and cuts hair for the homeless on the streets of NYC. At the same time, he ALSO cuts hair for celebs, CEOs and some of the most powerful people in New York. So keep his lesson in mind!
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