Anthony Diaz gave his first haircut while serving in the Coast Guard. Stationed on Martha’s Vineyard, across the country from his hometown of Long Beach, California, one of Diaz’s fellow officers asked him to cut his hair because Diaz is “Latin” and “All you people know how to cut hair.” Diaz said yes, even though he had no prior experience, and began surfing YouTube, looking up directions on how to give a military-grade haircut. His fellow officer, after receiving the cut, passed his inspection thanks to Diaz’s ability to wield a pair of clippers.

After leaving the Coast Guard in 2010, Diaz went to barber school and started cutting hair full-time. Now he’s one of the barbers at Baxter Finley in West Hollywood, which is dedicated to grooming men and giving them a total experience in an old-school barbershop — straight-razors, warm towels and vintage chairs included. When I passed through, I asked Diaz for a few tips on how to make your next, or first, barbershop visit better. He obliged, and also threw in a few personal grooming tips.

Advice for Hair

1
Stalk on Instagram. Look to see what kind of cuts a barber posts online before going to see them, so you have an idea of how they cut hair and if they’re someone you want shaping you up. This is easily done by doing some geotag stalking.

2
Verbally assess. According to Diaz, the most important thing on your first visit is a thorough consultation. Not everyone’s hair is created equally and you want someone who will walk you through your hair, and how and why it should be cut a certain way. A lot of barbers make their bones on cutting a few hairstyles on every client, either the traditional cuts or what’s fashionable at that time, and those don’t work for everyone. Make sure your man or woman is up to the task.

3
Know what you want. Have an idea of what kind of haircut you want. Pictures are good, but know that your hair might not be the same as David Beckham’s. That doesn’t mean you can’t take elements of your idols’ haircuts, but be open to a change of plan.

4
Assess maintenance needs. Know how much time you’re willing to spend on your hair each morning. If you’re not willing to blow dry and add product every day, pick a low-maintenance cut that only needs a towel dry.

Advice for Grooming

1
Keep your best face forward. Your face is exposed all the time, so why not take care of it? Wash and moisturize every day; a vibrant complexion helps your haircut look even better.

2
Rejuvenate through shaving. If you’re shaving, take time to work through the steps for a better shave in a way that the process helps rejuvenate your face. Start with a hot shower, exfoliate and then wash. Dry your face and add pre-shave oils to facial hair, apply shaving cream and shave with the grain to take the hair down. If you want a tight shave, go slowly against the grain after. Apply toner, followed by aftershave and moisturizer to finish. Shave the night before and touch-up in the morning if you need to. This will cut down on irritation.

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