Moving to a big city (and especially when moving to the US) there are some things that you’re aware of, read about, and plan obsessively. On the other hand, there are also elements of your move that will completely blindside you. One of those things, in my opinion, is getting a haircut.

There’s tipping, there can be multiple people involved, and it’s all just a bit more hectic than you might be used to.

Depending on whether you identify as a guy or a girl, your experience with getting a haircut is going to be vastly different, so I’ve teamed up with Hannah Collins of by Hannah Collins and we’re going to break this into two parts.

My “For the Guys” section, you will notice contains pretty simple instructions and a recommendation, whereas Hannah’s section “For the Girls” has a few more steps (most importantly, how to tip, who to tip, when to tip and what’s appropriate).

For the Guys

I’ll be honest, this whole thing isn’t going to be dramatically different from what you’re used to in any other country, except the fact that the place will probably be busier and due to the low cost of staff, there may be significantly more staff in the room at the same time.

Finding a hairdresser (or a barber)

Besides my recommendation below, this is a tough one. You’re in New York City so you can find a hairdresser who will give you a trim from anything between $20 and $2,000 and it’s going to come down to putting in some leg work (or commenting below) to find one you like.

Don’t despair though, because the cost doesn’t necessarily imply the quality (and same goes for the inverse). You can find a great cut for a reasonable price, especially if you’re out of the mainstream areas like Midtown, West Village, and SoHo. East Village, the Lower East Side and everything in between will provide you with fantastic deals.

The costs of a barber will generally be printed on a sign on a wall inside which is viewable from outside and you don’t have to be sneaky about looking. You can even pop your head in and say that you’re checking out the prices (sometimes you’ll get a better deal if you’re asking).

Do I need to book?

As a general rule, no, unless you’re going for a really high-end do. Simply walk in, have a brief “Hello!” with the person who greets you (normally the closest barber to the entrance) and then take a seat. They’ll call on you when they’re ready.

Paying (and tipping)

Ok, this is the one bit of advice that I really wish I knew before I moved here. A tip for a barber is generally in the realm of 18% (or 15-20%). This isn’t optional, just like every other tip in the city, and you really always should be tipping appropriately.

My #1 Tip: Work out how much your haircut is going to cost first, put how much you think you’ll need, in cash, including a tip (many barbers only take cash) in your pocket, and then walk proudly in and sit down. Pre-plan!

What you don’t want to do is get to the end and then realize that you’ve only got $20’s, causing an awkward moment when discussing how much you want back. You’re completely entitled to do that, and you should, but when you first get to America, it can be stressful and all that sweat is going to ruin your lovely new haircut!

My recommendation for a men’s haircut

So I’ve been here (almost) a year now, and that’s almost 10 haircuts in hair years. I’ve tried out 4 barbers and 2 hairdressers and I’m now confident in saying that I’ve found my spiritual hair home. A quick note though, this place doesn’t give you a complimentary coffee, there is no whiskey or scotch, and there’s very limited discussion; but it’s $20 and fantastic quality.

My recommendation: East 6 Street Barber Shop.

It’s no fuss, if you leave a $3-5 tip for a regular haircut you’ll be well appreciated, and the three different barbers I’ve had there have been great.

I don’t have much hair, and therefore I have to make sure that the hair I have left is treated well.

East 6 Street Barber Shop

For the Girls

Head on over to Hannah’s website to keep reading. She’s broken her article down into Find a hairdresser, Book that appointment, Pay and tip, Rinse and Repeat, and a special: And then don’t do this!