“What it takes to be…” A great men’s hairdresser

October 26, 2022

Award-winning men’s hairdresser, salon owner and Matrix Artist Ambassador, Christian Wiles offers his views on what it takes to be a great men’s hairdresser.


Men’s hair is often, although not always, short. Working with shorter hair requires a mastery of precision cutting, particularly the scissor-over-comb method. All hairdressing requires cutting skills, but with shorter hair, any errors made are immediately visible, with far less opportunity to ‘make right’ with clever styling.


While there is far more to working with men’s hair than fades, a great men’s hairdresser will need to be a maestro with clippers. Many male clients want that finish that can only be achieved using clippers, and with a fade, which is still a popular look, there really is no other way of achieving it. It’s definitely worth investing in a high-quality clipper and experimenting on all hair lengths, as clippers can be used on longer hair too.


Being au fait with the classic men’s cuts is essential, but a great men’s hairdresser will know how to take a classic and give it a contemporary twist and adapt it for the specific client. The mullet is a great example of this. The mullet was a look that received a lot of ridicule following its 80s heyday, but it has made a triumphant return in the past few years, with a completely modern edge and aesthetic — for both men and women. A great men’s hairdresser will be able to look beyond how a style was perceived in the past and adapt it so that it is cool and suited to a modern era.


I don’t think you can be a truly great men’s hairdresser if you can only cut short hair. Men’s hair is about more than short back and sides, fades and pompadours. Many male clients want to keep their hair long and embrace natural texture. A great men’s hairdresser will be able to work with all hair lengths and textures. 


Male clients are getting much better and more confident when it comes to talking about their hair, but a great men’s hairdresser will still have developed excellent communication skills to ensure they get a true picture of what a client wants from an appointment. Don’t ever begin an appointment by asking “what are we doing today”. Always ask questions like “How was that last cut for you?”  Build a profile of what each client loves and dislikes about their hair, what their dream cut would be — have images of male celebrities to show them to help stimulate communication.


As men become increasingly aware and influenced by fashion and celebrity trends, so must every men’s hairdresser. It’s no longer enough to be a master of the classics, a great men’s hairdresser will be able to adapt their skills to deliver on-trend looks and they need to be up to date with the latest trends in men’s hair.

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