The terms “barber” and “hairdresser” are often used interchangeably, but there are a few subtle differences that make both professions distinct. Unfortunately, multiple misconceptions about barbers and hairdressers prevent people from getting the haircut or career of their dreams.

What Everyone Should Know About Barbers and Hairstylists

When it comes down to it, barbers and hairstylists cut, style, and dye hair. However, the type of service you’ll receive depends on your hair length, texture, goals, and desired outcome. 

Misconception 1: Barbers and Hairstylists Go to the Same Schools

To become a barber or a hairstylist, you have to have a high school diploma or GED. From there, barbers and hairstylists go their separate ways. Hairstylists go through a hairstyling and beauty school for a little over a year to learn basic techniques of styling and cutting hair.

On the other hand, barbers will enroll in a specialized beauty or barbering school for 10-12 months and learn how to style and cut shorter hairstyles. While a barber is a specialist, a hairstylist is a generalist, but they can stay in school longer to learn specialty techniques.

Misconception 2: Barbers are for Men, Salons are for Women

This misconception does have a basis in fact, but it’s getting less true over time. Barbershops are marketed toward men and do specialize in traditional short haircuts, such as the buzzcut, flattop, or fade. Salons are primarily marketed toward women and cater to fashionable styles.

According to data, 25% of all barbers are women, and 75% are men, showing that interest in the career is going up for women. 47% of men surveyed have had a salon treatment in 2017. All genders can visit a salon or barbershop and receive the exact same customer service.

Misconception 3: Barbers and Hair Stylists Use the Same Tools

Yes and no. Hairstylists and barbers know how to use clippers, razors, and scissors, but the level of expertise for each tool depends on how often they use them. As a rule, barbers favor electric or straight razors, while hairstyles are better at using scissors and styling tools.

That’s because men, who frequent barber shops more often, prefer shorter styles and fades, whereas women are more likely to see a hairstylist for a cut, dye, or thinning. Barbers and hairstylists can dye hair, but you’ll get better results from a salon, even for shorter beards.

Misconception 4: Consultations Are Only for Hair Stylists

At a salon, there’s an assumption you’re going to stay for 2-3 hours, maybe longer. To make sure your hair is prepped for the appointment, a hair stylist will schedule a consultation and look at the state of your mane. This way, they can schedule you in for an appropriate time slot.

Consultations can and do happen at a barber, especially if you have specific hair goals or needs. Typically, the client will ask for the consultation, not the other way around. Either way, it’s a good idea to meet your barber beforehand to ask about their experience and techniques. 

Misconception 5: Only Barbers Are Trained in Services Besides Hair

For men, a barber is like a hairstylist and a spa all in one. If you want a haircut, shave, and face lather, you can be in and out in under an hour. While barbers specialize in beard cutting techniques, many hairstylists can also trim and shave beards, usually without a straight razor.

A hairstylist may also have an esthetician or nail tech certification that allows them to offer facials, waxing, manicures, pedicures, and more. Barbers may start offering spa services at their shops in the near future, as demand for these treatments is increasing in the United States.

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