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How To Ask For A Haircut – Hair Terminology For Men

Getting the haircut you want is crucial to feeling confident and stylish. Unfortunately, many guys don’t know how to talk to their barber, let alone how to ask for a haircut! While hair terminology and names can be complicated, it’s important for men to know what to tell a barber and how to describe the hairstyle they want to get!

Below, we’ll give you the low down on everything you need to know before visiting the barbershop. Whether you’re asking for a taper fade, comb over, quiff, pompadour, buzz cut or caesar haircut, here are the terms to use to get a good cut.

How To Ask For A Haircut - Hair Terminology For Men

How To Talk To Your Barber

If you’re going to the barbershop for the first time or trying a new haircut, you may be anxious about talking to your barber. In particular, you may be curious about what hairstyle to get and how to ask for that haircut properly. Here’s a basic guide to barber talk for long and short men’s hairstyles!

  1. Have a hairstyle in mind before visiting your barber. If possible, research the different types of haircuts and find a picture that matches the style you want.
  2. If you’re asking for a fade, know which type or number (e.g. guard size refers to length) you prefer.
  3. Decide how you want to style your hair on top. What hairstyle you pick will determine the length of your cut and what parts of your hair need to be layered, thinned, straightened or shortened.
  4. Finally, select how to trim your neckline. Your neckline can be cut in a few ways – blocked, rounded, or tapered.

How To Ask For A Taper Fade Haircut

As much as we wish it was simple, asking for a taper fade haircut actually requires a bit of detail. This is because there are many different kinds of tapered cuts – some vary in terms of where the faded sides start and others depend on how short or long you want your hair buzzed.

For example, there are high, mid, low, skin or bald, temp, burst, razor, and drop fades. For beginners, we recommend you choose between a high and low taper. Alternatively, guys can get an undercut.

How To Ask For A Fade Haircut

Common Haircut Terminology

Here is some barber and haircut terminology you’ll want to brush up on before feeling comfortable talking to your hairdresser.

  • Taper vs Fade – Generally, these terms are used interchangeably in most barbershops. But technically, a fade is cut using clippers and blends into the skin. A taper isn’t necessarily buzzed as short and usually involves more hair left on the sides.
  • Undercut Fade – This style on the sides combines two very popular cuts.
  • Haircut Numbers – Also known as guard sizes, the grade you ask for will determine the length of your fade, undercut, or buzz cut.
  • Textured – Textured hairstyles look natural and don’t involve styling with pomade, gel, wax, or putty.

Barbershop and Haircut Terminology

Haircut Numbers Chart

Haircut grades or numbers range between 1 and 8, with a #1 being the shortest.

  • Number 1: One-eighth of an inch
  • Number 2: One-quarter of an inch
  • Number 3: Three-eighths of an inch
  • Number 4: Half an inch
  • Number 5: Five-eighths of an inch
  • Number 6: Three-quarters of an inch
  • Number 7: Seven-eighths of an inch
  • Number 8: One inch

Types of Haircuts For Men

With so many different types of haircuts for men, it’s important to keep up with popular hair trends. Here are the best long, medium and short men’s hairstyles to choose from.


Instead of a fade haircut on the sides, men can ask their barber for an undercut. While still short, the undercut hairstyle doesn’t gradually taper and instead starts high and leaves one length. It’s a style that works well with many cool hairstyles, including the slick back.

Slicked Back Undercut + Beard

Buzz Cut

The buzz cut is probably the most low-maintenance and easy men’s haircut to get. In fact, some guys buzz their own hair at home using quality clippers.

Buzz Cut + Taper Fade

Crew Cut

The crew cut, also known as the Ivy League haircut, is similar to the buzz cut but slightly longer in length. This classic style looks good on almost any guy. When asking your barber for a crew cut, make sure to indicate the type of fade you want on the sides and just how much length needs to be left on top.

Crew Cut + Mid Fade

Caesar Cut

The Caesar haircut is similar to a crew cut but with a fringe. To style the Caesar, guys will pull their hair forward and allow their bangs to rest neatly on their forehead. Fortunately, getting the Caesar is simple. Because most stylists are familiar with this popular cut, asking your barber for a Caesar haircut is as easy as just mentioning the name.

Casesar Haircut + Low Skin Fade + Beard

French Crop

The French Crop, or any cropped haircut for that matter, requires a short but defined fringe. Unlike the Caesar, crop tops don’t hang over your forehead. With cropped hairstyles, the only thing left to tell your barber is how to taper the sides.

French Crop + High Bald Fade

Comb Over

The modern comb over hairstyle, or comb over fade haircut, is a cousin of the side part. With short sides and a longer top, men can style the look by simply combing over their hair to one side. Typically, the styling is textured and loose for an easy yet stylish finish. Ask for a comb over and show one of these pictures, and you’re barber will know exactly what you want!

Hard Part Comb Over + Fade

Side Part

The side part represents a classic hairstyle perfect for business or casual settings. Like the comb over, you will need to part your hair with a comb and pull it to one side. The difference between the combover and side part is that the latter offers a neat look, like more of a gentleman’s haircut.

Side Part + Short Sides + Full Beard


The pompadour comes in both classic and modern variations, and provides a lot of versatility. For example, this medium length hairstyle can be transformed into a quiff or comb over any time you get bored with the same look. Furthermore, we highly recommend a high skin fade or undercut on the sides for a high-contrast style you’ll love!

Pompadour + Mid Bald Fade + Facial Hair


Like the pomp, the modern quiff is brushed back, textured, and flowing. If you have straight, thick hair, the quiff haircut is certainly worth trying!

Modern Textured Quiff

Slicked Back Hair

The slick back is a retro style often paired with an undercut. Originally a greaser look, modern slicked back hair uses a styling product and comb to pull your hair back for a classy yet hipster appearance.

Slicked Back Hair + High Skin Fade + Full Beard

Spiky Hair

A popular hairstyle of the 90’s, textured spiky hair has been trending lately. Spiked hair can be styled in a variety of ways using pomade, wax or putty to create the spikes.

Spiky Hair + Bald Fade + Part

Curly Hair

Although some people find it hard to tame curls, the secret is finding good curly hairstyles that work for your hair. Rather than fighting to control your waves, we believe you should embrace the unique styles available to you. Further, keep your curly hair short and easy to maintain.

Short Curly Hair + Mid Bald Fade + Line Up

Skin and Bald Fade

The skin fade is a cool way to cut the hair on your sides and back. Bald fades require barbers to buzz gradually down to the skin for a very short look. Ultimately, the contrast of shaved sides and a full head of hair really stand out.

Skin Fade + Textured Hair on Top

Faux Hawk

The faux hawk, also known as a fohawk, is a version of the mohawk. As a less extreme cut, faux hawk styles have short sides and hair on top that pushes towards the middle to create the appearance of a mohawk.

Faux Hawk + Undercut Fade + Part

How To Ask For A Haircut

What to tell your barber and getting a good haircut should be the last things to cause you anxiety. With this simple guide, you should know exactly how to order any haircut at a barbershop with confidence. Again, asking for a haircut is all about these simple steps:

  • Know what haircut or style you want before you visit your barber. Research to find examples.
  • If you want a fade, know how short (hair clipper size) and where it should start (high, mid or low).
  • Think about the length of hair you want on top. If unsure, tell your hairdresser how you want to style your hair and ask for their feedback.
  • Make sure you’re happy with your neckline, sideburns, and hairline before leaving!