What is the Difference Between a Barber and a Hairstylist?

Barbers and hairstylists both receive training that allows them to cut hair, but they have distinct skills and approaches to hair cutting that distinguish them as distinct professions. People should definitely consider the distinction between barbers and hairstylists when choosing a professional who provides haircutting services so that they can choose the one who will provide the services they require.

Both of these professions have a long history. Barbers, or barber-surgeons as they were once known, used to cut men’s hair and perform basic medical procedures like bloodletting. Hairstylists, also known as hairdressers, provided women with a variety of hair services, including the creation of elaborate hairstyles such as those popular during the Elizabethan era, as well as cutting and trimming. Many hairstylists have worked with wigs in the past, and in some cultures, women shaved their heads and wore elaborate wigs.

Barbers primarily work with men’s hair, specializing in traditional short styles. Barbers are also trained to work with facial hair, allowing them to shave and style it. Because most hairstylists do not deal with facial hair, this is a key distinction between a barber and a hairstylist. Barbers also prefer to make simple cuts. Depending on where they went to school, some may also provide facials and skincare services.

Hairstylists are more accustomed to working with women’s hair or men’s hair that is longer. They are more up to date on current trends and fashions, and they can apply color and other treatments to hair. Hairstylists attend continuing education classes on a regular basis to learn about new hair processes and to keep up with changing fashion trends. A hairstylist will feel more at ease making recommendations for a client and accommodating special requests, whereas a barber will have a smaller range of styles to choose from.

Some hairstylists also receive cosmetology certification, allowing them to perform waxing, manicures, pedicures, and skin care in addition to hair. Clients who want to take care of multiple beauty needs in one location may find this broader range of services appealing.

Barbers and hairstylists typically develop very comfortable working relationships with their clients, and they work hard to build a loyal clientele who will return for future hair services. A barber who works primarily with people of African descent or a hairstylist who has received special training in working with Asian hair are examples of those who specialize in specific types of hair. People with special hair needs should shop around to find the best service provider; a typical barber in a white neighborhood, for example, might struggle with black clients’ hair because he or she is unfamiliar with their specific needs.