Hairdressing Terminology Guide For Men

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Going to the barbers is the best opportunity a man can have to get the ultimate haircut. It’s the one time when a professional stylist can help sculpt your hair. Therefore, it’s important to know what to ask for at the barber. Here’s our extensive guide on hairdressing terminology to help you out. 

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How To Ask For A Haircut

When going to the barbers there can often be many questions that come to mind. In particular, what haircut should I get and how to ask for a haircut properly. When asking for a haircut it’s important to take the style of hair you want into account. In order to get the best types of haircuts for men, it’s important that you know the correct terminology.

barber cutting hair for men
How to Cut Men’s Hair with Scissors
PHOTO CREDIT: Business Insider

How to Choose The Right Barber or Men’s Hairdressers

Before you think about how to talk to your barber, you need to make sure you’re going to the best one. There are lots of different factors to take into account when choosing a hairdresser. First and foremost, make sure you go to barbers with a good reputation. Check online reviews or ask others to make sure.

Be sure to keep your budget in mind. Barbers can range in price from under a tenner to well over forty pounds. When it comes to haircuts, you get what you pay for. Nevertheless, you don’t need to spend ridiculous amounts of money to get a good trim.

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Good Haircuts for Men
PHOTO CREDIT: Barber Premium Coding

Common Hairdressing Terms

  • Taper vs Fade: There isn’t much difference between these terms. A fade is when the hair becomes shorter until it reaches your skin. A taper involves longer hair and doesn’t necessarily have to be cut as short as a fade.
  • Undercut Fade: Usually this involves having longer hair on the top of your head, whilst the back and sides are cut extremely short.
  • Haircut Grades: Grades are the different lengths that you can get your hair cut too. For instance, a number 3 haircut is shorter than a number 4 haircut.
  • Neckline: The neckline is important, make sure the barber shows you how high they’re cutting it and whether it’s flat or in a V.
  • Texture/Layers: Texture is the look that your hair has depending on thickness, the amount of curl and how it’s cut. A layered texture generally involves cutting certain areas of your hair shorter so longer hair rests on top.
  • Thinning: Thinning is useful if you have particularly thick hair. Usually done with a pair of thinning scissors, it is the process of removing weight from your hair to make it more manageable.

Common Types of Haircuts for Men

Short Men’s Haircuts

Buzz Cut

Out of all the short haircuts for men, the buzz cut is probably the most low-maintenance. To get this simple and stylish look simply get your barber to evenly cut your hair to a grade. For instance, if you want an extremely short buzz cut, then ask for a number 1 haircut.


Crew Cut Hairstyle

The crew cut is a classic of men’s hairstyles. This short look is easy to achieve and looks good one pretty much anyone. Simply ask your barber to give you a short back and sides fade whilst giving you a scissor cut on top. This leaves some length on top for you to style whilst the sides gradually become shorter.


French Crop

Despite being a unique haircut, the French crop isn’t as tricky as you might think. Although most barbers will know what you mean if you ask for this style, be sure that they cut a short but defined fringe into the front of your hair. This can also take on elements of a tapered haircut whereby the fade from the sides is slightly tapered.



The classic pompadour is perhaps one of the most traditional haircuts a man can have. Grow your hair to a medium length and slick it back with some wax or pomade, using a hairdryer to create volume. Ask you barber for a tapered fade on the sides if you want to modernise this look.


Side Part

Another classic hairstyle, which can be known as a comb over taper, the side part is perfect for any occasion. Separate your hair with a comb and pull the bulk of your hair to one side. Get a high taper fade to create some definition in the parting.


Spiky Hair

A popular hairstyle in the 90s, the spiked look is definitely having a comeback. To achieve this messy look simply apply some wax to your hair and use your hands and fingers to create spikes.


Taper Fade Haircut

Most shorter haircuts for men can be accompanied by different types of fade haircuts. The classic tapered haircut is one of the most effective ways of achieving this. Simply get your hairdresser to use different clipper lengths on the back and sides of your head.


High Taper Fade

Similar to other fade haircuts, the high taper fade simply starts further up your head. This style works if you want to create a larger contrast between the lengths in your style.


Undercut Fade

This is one of the more dramatic fade styles – hair is kept relatively long on top to the point where the fade literally undercuts it and there is less of a fade from the top section of hair compared to the sides.


Curly Hair

If your hair is naturally curly it’s better to embrace it rather than trying to control the waves. Keep things relatively short to avoid having to maintain them too much.


Skin Fade Haircut

This men’s fade haircut is the shortest you can get. It can look great with longer hair on top if you want to create some definition, or if you have facial hair and wish to form a break in the middle. A short back and sides fade is where the hair is kept longer on top (as seen below) and the fade is as before on the sides. Also known as a long A line haircut, you can ask your barber to define the side parting in your hair with a pair of clippers or cut throat razor.


Scissor cut

A scissor cut uses absolutely no use of a shaver. Instead you can decide whether you want a blunt cut or a point cut.  blunt cut is where the blades are kept horizontal, whereas a point cut is when the scissors are held at a point and a saw tooth effect is created. With a point cu (often the more popular of the two cuts) shorter hairs support longer ones adding texture and a more dishevelled look.


Long Men’s Haircuts

Man Bun

The man bun is a bit like Marmite, you either love it or hate it. But, whatever you opinion, you can’t deny the power of this unique haircut. Simply grow your hair out and tie it into a bun.


Center Parting

This classic 90s look has become increasingly popular over the last few seasons and is now well and truly back. Seperate your hair down the middle to create some curtains and apply some product to hold them in place.


Slick Back Hair

Want to look formal with long hair? Then the slick back style is for you. Use a wet product like pomade and a comb to pull your hair back, keeping it neat and tidy for any fancy occasion.


Side Part Pompadour

Although the pompadour can work with slightly shorter hair, it also looks great when grown out. Get your barber to give you an undercut fade to add a modern twist to this classic style.


Mop Top

This iconic style was popular with bands like The Beatles and Oasis. Simply grow your hair out and ask your barber to trim it to an equal length all around. You may also want to invest in some straighteners for this look.


Long Curly Hairstyle

Growing your hair is a great way to fully embrace your curls. Although growing your hair may seem like the lazy option, it actually requires more maintenance. Invest in some good quality shampoo and conditioner to keep your curls looking healthy.



Similar to the man bun, the ponytail involves tying your hair up at the back. Get yourself an undercut if you want to add another dimension to your look. Otherwise, just let it do its own thing.


Shoulder Length Hair

When you have shoulder length hair be sure to keep the texture in mind. If you let it get too frizzy then it will become difficult to style and won’t look nice. Don’t wash it too often and get some good conditioner.


Extra Long Hair

If you want something a bit different you can simply keep growing your hair out for as long as you want. However, be aware that this will take a considerable amount of time and may require a lot of maintenance.


High Top Fade

The high top fade works best with afro style hair. Made popular by actors such as Will Smith, this classic 90s look is making a triumphant comeback.


Haircut Numbers

As we’ve already seen, haircut numbers refer to the different lengths you can have your hair cut too. Although this sounds pretty simple, it’s important to know what you’re talking about. Especially when you’re asking for a men’s fade haircut. To get a classic taper haircut, ask for a taper that decreases from about a 5 down to a 1.

Number Haircut Chart

Haircut grades go from 1-8 and which one you ask your barber for depends on what length you are after.

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

How To Ask For A Haircut

  • Have a style in mind when visiting the barber.
  • If you want a fade, know which grade you want.
  • Taper and fade are similar, but a fade goes down to the skin.
  • Grades refer to the length your hair is cut too.
  • Take budget and reputation into account when choosing a hairdresser.
mens barber combing hair
A Blokes Eye View

On That Note

When you next visit your barber, be confident in asking for what you want. Whether you’re looking for a classic taper haircut or something completely different, it’s important to know how to ask for it. With the huge variety of styles around it can be confusing trying to know the differences between them. As long as you do a bit of research, you’ll know exactly what you want in no time.


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Going to the barbers is the best opportunity a man can have to get the ultimate haircut. It’s the one time when a professional...
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