scorecardWe asked barbers the unspoken rules they wish customers knew — here are their 8 musts for shop etiquette
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We asked barbers the unspoken rules they wish customers knew — here are their 8 musts for shop etiquette

Su-Jit Lin   

We asked barbers the unspoken rules they wish customers knew — here are their 8 musts for shop etiquette
Careers4 min read
  • Barber shops have long been a haven for not just style, but community.
  • Insider asked two barbers — Fabiano Nogueira in Georgia and Rey Tineo in New York — their best tips for clients.

Although you don't see them much these days, the iconic red, white, and blue pole of a barber shop is still easily recognizable. Barbering isn't just a historic haven for marginalized communities — it's also going through an upscale renaissance, the trade plied by men with sharply angled, elegant beards and butcher's aprons in stylish hipster shops with exposed brick.

To help ease your entry into this close-cropped community, Insider spoke with two master barbers to ask what you should know as a client.

Remember that the ambiance of a barber shop is different from a salon

"Barber shops are geared toward the male clientele," said master barber Fabiano Nogueira, who owns the Barbearia Barbershop in Marietta, Georgia. "However, the essence of a barber shop is the environment, the conversations that happen within it. We love to interact with our clients, hear their stories, and see their children grow."

Fellow master barber and shop owner Rey Tineo of Status Barber Studio in Bay Shore, New York, agrees.

"There's a lot of legacy in a barber shop," Tineo said. "It's a place men have gathered through global history to speak on community, sports, even politics."

The services offered are different, too

Because of this male-dominated customer base, the other main difference is the services offered.

"The work that goes into a complete look for a woman's style and cut is incredibly time consuming and labor-intensive," Tineo said. "But one of the things I love most about barber shop experiences that most salons don't offer are hot towel shaves.

"When done properly, it's a great experience on its own. The warmth of the towel opening your pores as you begin to relax in the chair, the lather of shaving cream being applied, closeness of the straight razor against your skin, the facial massage replenishing your freshly exfoliated skin, topped off with a chilled towel to close your pores and tighten the skin, and then a splash of a refreshing aftershave … this is a real treat."

Embrace the diversity of modern barbering

"When you first step into the world of barbering, one of the very first things you'll notice is the diversity," Tineo said. "For the most part, barbering is still a male-dominated profession. But throughout the years, women have been making their marks on the industry, and it's been great."

Be on time

"My biggest pet peeve of all is lateness," Tineo said. "You can expect to chat and hang out, but please show up on time. I'm in the shop all day, so personally, it's not a big deal, but I like to run as on time as possible. It's rude to the person with the appointment after yours, because I'm still going to give you the full service and precision you expect."

On the flip side, Nogueira also asks for some grace when the schedule does experience the butterfly effect.

"It's hard for us to always be on time, too," Nogueira said. "We're not machines, and not every client's hair is the same. Luckily, most of our clientele is lenient, as we also try to be with them."

The cost of the cut pays for more than just the cut

Inflation has affected everything, including services like barbering.

"The average price of a good cut can cost you anywhere from $30 to $50, with higher prices correlating with more detailed or better quality work," Tineo said.

Training, experience, equipment, and maintaining the shop also factor into the price, Nogueira said. Plus, tips are customary, appreciated, and integral to barbers' incomes. Much like a hairstylist, 15% to 20% is the usual.

Respect their experience

"The amount of training a barber has impacts how much they charge for a cut," Tineo said.

That's why, to Tineo, "the most unrealistic expectation that clients can have of their barber is that they know and provide all the same types of services as other barbers."

"There are so many variations and innovations in barbering," he said. "I continue to take online courses and attend barber conventions, the educational components of which allow me the opportunity to learn from those paving the road ahead of us."

Don't worry about not knowing what you want

Unlike hairstylists, who tend to prefer guidance and direction, barbers like to let their artistic vision guide your cut.

"While a picture is always helpful if it's something very specific, many also just trust us to do our thing," Nogueira said.

Tineo added: "If given a choice of a client coming in with a picture of a haircut or the ability to do my own thing, I would prefer to do my own thing. To me, barbering is a way of expressing yourself; it's an art form. Even if a client brings me a picture of what they want, they're still going to be leaving with my twist to the cut."

Open up to your barber; tell them about yourself

"We use the initial consultation to discuss what they would like to get and if it is adequate to their hair type, facial shape, daily routine, and line of work," Nogueira said.

This is more important than coming in with a clear idea of what you want, Tineo thinks.

"I do my best to do a full consult with a client before I even turn on the clippers," he said. "That lets me assess their wants, personality, and profession and gives me a chance to fully explain if the texture, thickness, or thinness of their hair prohibits them from a certain cut, and I can then recommend something that would work better. If there's one thing I wish clients knew and fully understood, it's that not every person can get the same style.

"The client's profession and personalities play huge parts in creating any look. What can be more artistic then being able to create pieces of art with each haircut?"




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