It’s the bangs of every girl’s existence. All dolled up for a night out—having spent a fortune in time, money and products on those lovely tresses—to find your man with a haircut courtesy of the U.S. Army recruiting office. What is it with men and their barbershops? Too intimidated by a salon set-up? Or too cheap too pay the stylish price? Well ladies, turns out there’s hope thanks to some insider tips from Takamichi Saeki, who gives what New York Magazine has named The Best Men’s Haircut. No wonder he’s a favorite of bankers, lawyers, architects, movie producers and writers alike—he’s the kind of guy that’ll offer you a topnotch whiskey to sip while you wait. Lucky me, he’s been my go-to guy for nearly seven years, so at his newly opened salon on The Bowery he agreed to spill the beans on what makes a good men’s ‘do, what happens when it all goes wrong and what he does to make men feel at home.
How should guys judge if they’re getting a really good haircut? When it grows out, the shape should remain for at least 4 to 6 weeks. If it’s short, men should look good for at least that long. You shouldn’t have to go and get it cut every couple of weeks.
Can you help out a guy who’s maybe gotten a bad cut at a barbershop? First thing I do is take a look at the shape. If it’s short short, there’s not much I can do at that moment. But I make a plan for the next two to three months to grow it out and get it back in shape.
Do men come to you with a specific idea about what they want or do you council them? About 50% of the men come to me with a specific idea. It used to be they would come in with ideas they’d seen in magazines—like wanting a ‘60s straight Mad Men haircut or a Mohawk. But in the past year, I’m seeing men more comfortable with their own style, having their own ideas.
Mohawk? That one I told him I wouldn’t do. Instead, I did a modified style where he could make it spiky at night, but during the day more subdued.
The customer’s not always right? I spend time really understanding their lifestyle, and then give guys two alternatives. One that’s more clean and appropriate for say Wall St. And that can then be messier on weekends.
What’s the deal with product? My man rarely wants to touch the stuff. Use some, not a lot, just to style. I prefer matte wax so it doesn’t look artificial, but gives the hair a more natural texture.
Guideline on washing and conditioning? Men need to wash their hair and clean the scalp everyday—if not the product builds up in the follicles and then they’ll lose their hair. But condition short hair just two times per week.
You do women’s styling as well. Should couples see the same stylist? Better to keep it separated. We’re like therapists.
Truth to tell, post-financial meltdown in 2009, I thought I was doing my bank account a favor by visiting a barber instead of Takamichi. After six months, I realized the mistake. More frequent visits to the barber wasn’t saving any money, and I wasn’t smiling at the results. Soon enough, I was back sipping whiskey with my man Takamichi, who didn’t say a word when he glanced knowingly at my shaggy scalp.
Details: Takamichi Hair Takamichihair.com 263 Bowery St, 2nd floor (between Houston & Stanton) 212.420.7979 Men’s haircut $90
Note: can’t get your man to New York to see Takamichi. Check out Men’s Health guide to top salons in America.