The Main Differences Between a Barber and a Men’s Hairdresser

Published 16th Mar 2020 by hjiadmin

There are often misconceptions about the differences between a barber and a men’s hairdresser and, while both trades are similar, there are some key distinctions between the two. 

One thing to note – neither trade is superior to the other. The last thing we want to do at HJ is to create a divide between hairdressers and barbers. Whether you call yourself a barber or a men's hairdresser is often to do with your training, where you work, your clientele and how you identify your profession. It's personal choice. 

In fact, in 2024 increasingly the term 'men's hairdresser' is one that hair professionals no longer relate to as they cut the hair of people of all genders.

Hairdressers vs Barbers: Tools and Services 

Both barbers and men's hairdressers are trained to cut hair, yet the tools of their trade are slightly different. Barbers tend to favour clippers and razors, while men’s hairdressers primarily use scissors, as they style longer hair and also offer salon services like hair colouring and specific hair care treatments. Tom Baxter, owner of Tom Baxter Hair, says: “With a barber, the client will usually receive a haircut like a skin fade and will be in and out of the chair within 10 minutes. Yet, a men’s hairstylist will spending more time with the client and ensure the haircut is completely bespoke to them.” 

Men's Hairdressing Education 

Dexter Johnson, TONI&GUY International Artistic Director and Head of Men’s Education says: “Typically, men’s hairstylists are primarily taught to work with a scissor and a comb, working on longer classic shapes. They are naturally more comfortable working with scissors-over-comb, rather than clippers and utilise a variety of layering techniques. Barbers are taught to apply a clipper-over-comb technique, working with fades and tapers to achieve their clients desired style.” He continues: “There is no right or wrong way when it comes to attending male clients and there are pros and cons to both applications. To be successful and achieve a variety of looks for you clientele, you have to be proficient in both skill sets, making you a men’s grooming expert and not just a hairdresser or barber.”

The Environment of a Barbershop vs Hairdressing Salon

The interior of a barbershop traditionally has a more masculine vibe and a ‘laid-back’ environment. However, in contrast, a salon interior is generally more spacious to make room for backwash and styling hairs. Ian Tucker, former American Crew National Education Manager says: “Now barbershops have created a one-stop shop environment, where men can order a tea or coffee from a barista, shop for clothes and get their hair cut all under one roof. Most barbershops take walk-ins, but by creating this one-stop shop makes the service more enjoyable if it's a long wait."

Jonathan Andrew, Fudge Professional Global Brand Ambassador, says: “Some men feel more comfortable in a barbershop, which is generally more suited for men, whereas salons tend to be unisex. However, there is an influx of men’s grooming and hair trends which is blurring the lines between the two trades, making the differences less and less.”

So, Should Men go to a Barber or a Hairdresser?

It's very much up to personal preference, just like whether you choose to call yourself a barber or a men's hairdresser.

Here at HJ, we support both trades. We have our brother magazine Modern Barber, and you can see their annual winners of the Modern Barber Awards here.

At HJ we have a specialist category for Men's Hairdresser of the Year at the British Hairdressing Awards, sponsored by Schwarzkopf Professional. Check out the winning collection at last year's awards in the gallery below.



Published 16th Mar 2020

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