A trip to the barbers is a serious undertaking. You are, in essence, passing your ability to make a good first impression into the hands of someone you might see for an hour once every couple of months.
Well, we've had enough of the dodgy 'lids' that come from such vapid relationships. We want to avoid the hit-or-miss gamble so many men go through on entering a hairdressers, and instead form a relationship of trust and security. Basically, we want hair that looks brilliant.
In order to bring you the best barnet advice, we paid a visit to one of the most skilled scissor practitioners in the land: Matt Stark, head stylist of Stark Salon (pictured above) in the marbled halls of The Refinery at Harrods. An Essex boy done good, Matt's passion for hair and styling is infectious. We asked him what requests he hears most often from his chair, and what questions we should really be asking.
I want a haircut similar to a celebrity/David Beckham...
"So many haircuts are celebrity led and I'm always inundated with requests for the latest looks," says Matt. "However styles have to be suitable to type of hair, shape of head and face, and lifestyle. If a style is not suitable I will always gently advise something as close as possible."
My hair is fine and really limp, what should I do?
"Fine hair is a styling nightmare. I always advise a shorter layered cut to create more volume. There are some great products out there now – shampoos and conditioners which will support the cut and give added volume and texture."
My hair line is receding/balding, can you do something about it?
"Nothing is more upsetting for a guy than balding, especially when he's younger," offers Matt - a man blessed with a health stock of hair that borders on boastful. "I wouldn't advise so called 'miracle cures', but try to encourage my customer to accept what nature intended for them! (Unless he's got a spare £20,000 for a Wayne Rooney type hair transplant.)
"I always recommend a great, short haircut that minimizes the appearance of thinning and balding hair. Then encourage healthy living, good skin care and an on-trend wardrobe – just crafting great look."
How do I look after curly hair?
"I always try working with the curl, as nothing looks better than a head of curls," Matt says, having just demonstrated his belief by taming our own wavy locks. "Keep the curl separated with a great cut and reduce the frizz with the many amazing curl defining creams that are around at the moment."
My hair is dry and flaky which can be really embarrassing, any advice on controlling it?
"My advice is to avoid alcohol based products, blow drying, too much sun or extreme heat – all of which can cause dry hair and scalp. Use good quality alcohol free scalp treatments."
What should you be asking?
"The most important request to make of your barber is for a detailed consultation," says Matt. A little under an hour with Matt saw us become more confident in knowing how to look after our hair, and most importantly, saw us leave with a vastly improved cut. "A consultation will ensure you are completely happy with your haircut, and should cover hair type, face and head shape and lifestyle. Make sure you're completely satisfied with everything before going ahead with the cut. Don't be afraid to re-invent yourself: asking for a complete change will really get the stylist really motivated."
These are the essential questions Matt says you should be asking your barber:
I want a style that I can easily re-create at home?
Can you give me advice on hair care products that would suit my hairstyle and hair type?
What style will suit me and my hair type, head shape and face?
I want something sharp and modern to suit my age?
If your hairdresser can't offer you advice on the above, chances are they're not worth your time or trust.