How to stay in your barber's good books

If you want to get the best haircut possible, it's wise to keep your stylist on side, your hairdresser happy or your barber buoyant.

They have your image in their hands – so why wouldn't you want to help them do the best job possible?

With this in mind, Man Scape had a quick word with some top professionals to discover what gets their goat and what, more importantly, has them purring like contented kittens.

Don't be late

Turning up when you've said you would is a good rule in life generally. Not doing so is, of course, rude, and an especial bugbear of hair cutters. If you're going to turn up after your appointed time – or not show at all – best to let them know in advance.

"We respect customers' time commitments and we expect customers to do the same in return," says Nathan Armagnac, who has just opened a branch of OscarOscar in St Kilda in Melbourne.

"An hour or two's notice is great if you can manage it," Nathan says. Even being five minutes out can throw a busy salon schedule off all day.

Gen Y are the worst offenders, the experts say. They have more ways to stay in touch than any generation before, but sometimes seem to ignore all of them.

Listen to what they tell you


If the person who cuts your hair gives you some advice on how to keep it looking good for longer, it's not a bad idea to pay attention.

There are some unscrupulous operators out there with targets to meet, Nathan says.

"But those of us who are genuine will make genuine recommendations.

"If we suggest a product for the client to take home, they're to help keep their hair as it is when they leave us," Nathan says. "We're not trying to flog products."

Whatever it is the professionals suggest, they're wanting to prolong the cut, which is good news for you.

Be realistic

It helps if you know what it is you're after. If you're thinking of a dramatically different style, especially if you want to copy a particular star you've seen on TV or in a magazine, it helps to be reasonable. Remember, celebrities have whole teams of stylists working for them. And (as often as not) Photoshop.

Keep your cool

If it all goes wrong and the end result is not quite what you were hoping for – or worse – it's probably not the end of the world.

"I can usually tell by the body language if they're not happy," says Melbourne curls expert Kristianna Michaelides. "It can be difficult for some clients to speak up - they're not always in their comfort zone. But there's always a solution."

Nathan agrees. "If you don't like something, don't lose the plot," he says. "There's always a solution."

Don't let the kids run wild

Children aren't an issue if they're well-behaved but, Nathan says, they're not good if they kick off.

You keep it nice, too

"To be honest, my only expectation of a client is that they are civil," says Malvern-based Michaelides. "Just as they would expect me to be courteous."

Clean hair

Professionals can deal with hair that hasn't been washed for a day or two - in fact, they sometimes prefer you not to turn up with just-washed hair. Colouring works better, and is less itchy, with three-day-old hair. And when you arrive with "bed head", the hairdresser can see how the style sits naturally and assess if it's working for you. But normal standards of personal hygiene are important; don't, for instance, go straight from workout to salon. "There's showers at the gym," Nathan says. "Please use them."

Like and share

Word of mouth is key. If you like what someone's done to your hair, tell your friends. That's far more Australian than tipping.

How do you keep your barber beaming? Or are you guilty of taking them for granted?