If you asked Master Barber Tim Hite what he considers to be his most important barber tool, you might be as surprised as I was! After guessing— “Clippers?” “Shears?” “A Razor?” “The Comb?”—he walked me over to….. The Mirror!

At first I was puzzled, until he explained that the best way to see if there are any flaws in the haircut you are giving is to put some distance between yourself and the person whose hair you’re working on. He demonstrated how you could step 3-4 feet back from the chair, walk around the person and see the whole effect clearly, OR you could just look at the person in the mirror, while turning the chair. Duh!! And here I thought the mirror was just for the person getting his or her hair cut!

The cliché “Can’t see the forest for the trees” comes to mind. When you’re standing close to your clients and even looking down on their heads, all you can see is what’s right in front of your eyes. You might be focusing on the crown, the sideburns, the neckline or even the length of the hair on the forehead and trying to get each part just perfect. But until you get the “long view,” you won’t know whether or not your careful cutting all blends together into a perfect whole—the “look” your client asked you for.

The way to do that frequently, quickly and efficiently is to Look in the Mirror!

A quick look up at the mirror and you can see that one sideburn is longer than another. A quick turn of the chair and another glance at the mirror will tell you if the hair is tapered evenly all around the head. A profile view might show you some hair sticking out where you left it a little too long. All of these little flaws can be corrected once you can see where they are!

Using the mirror is a skill that takes practice. When you were learning to drive a car, you probably had to be reminded to look in the rearview or side mirrors frequently. You had to get used to the fact that things appear backward in a mirror compared to what the eye alone sees. Things often do not appear to be quite their normal size. Excellent barbers practice using the mirror right along with the clippers, comb and shears!

Just as the Wicked Queen in the movie “Snow White” looked in the mirror to find more than her own reflection, you too can ensure that “the fairest one of all” is the client sitting in your barber chair!

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