Barber Vs Hair Stylist: What Are The Differences?

Maybe you’re looking for a new place to get your hair cut. If so, you may have asked yourself the question, “barber vs hair stylist?” What are the differences between the two?

Barber Vs Hair Stylist

Both barbers and hair stylists are trained to cut hair, but the technique and training are slightly different. With barbers, the focus is on cutting men’s hair, usually into shorter, more traditional styles with clippers. Salon stylists are trained to cut longer hairstyles with scissors, and also tend to offer other services like hair coloring.

What Does A Barber Do?

What Does A Barber Do

Barbers are hair professionals that are tailored specifically towards men’s haircuts, and other services such a beard trim, scalp massage, mustache trim, and the classic hot lather shave with a straight razor.

A barber is your best bet if you’re looking for a short, traditional haircut such as a buzzcut, fade, flattop, or military-style cut.

What Does A Hair Stylist Do?

What Does A Hair Stylist Do

Hair stylists do not focus as much on specific haircuts but rather craft a new look for their clients’ hair, depending on features, face shape, and hair type and texture.

If you want a longer style, a chemical treatment or to have color added, a stylist is your best bet.

Hair stylists can also offer extra cosmetic services such as makeup and manicures. Hair stylists do not provide shaving services.

If you’re looking for a more fashionable cut, a hair stylist is more likely to be aware of current trends than a traditional barber and can make suggestions if you’re looking for a new style.

There will also be an array of hair products in a hair salon that you won’t find in a barbershop. Your stylist can help you choose the right products and show you how to use them.

That being said, the line between barbers and hair stylists is becoming blurred, as barbershops are becoming more upscale and offering more services.

Barber Vs Hair Stylist – What Is The Difference?

Although current trends are blurring the lines between traditional barbershops and hair salons, there are three key differences that usually separate the two.

Different Cuts

As mentioned, a barber tends to specialize in shorter, more traditional cuts for men, such as a buzzcut, flattop, or military-style cut. These are simple cuts that look naturally good without the need for products.

A hair stylist specializes in longer, more fashionable cuts, and they also do color treatments.

Barber shops do not generally provide color services. Salons also offer a range of products which they can advise you on.


Because they specialize in simpler men’s hairstyles, barbers tend to be cheaper than hair stylists. So, if money is a factor for you, this is something to bear in mind.

Different Services

Only barber shops offer shaving services. While salons offer other services such as manicures, pedicures, facials, and make-up.

Are Hairdressers Only for Women and Barbers Only for Men?

Some men prefer to go to barber shops as they have a more masculine environment. The décor is simple and it’s a place where men can escape from the world for a bit.

That being said, women are welcome at barber shops, provided they want a simple cut.

Barbers are not usually trained in cutting longer men’s styles or coloring hair. Men that want a fashionable haircut tend to go to hair stylists.

How To Pick A Good Barber vs Hair Stylist

How To Pick A Good Barber vs Hair Stylist

Do Your Research

Ask around and ask people you know for recommendations, especially from people who have great haircuts.

Chances are they have a great barber or hair stylist they’d be happy to recommend to you.

You can also do research online. Google barbershops or hair stylists in your local area and check out their reviews and pictures.

Judge On Appearances

It might sound simple, and maybe a bit harsh, but it’s important. Good personal grooming shows attention to detail.

If the barber has a bad haircut and shave, chances are that’s what you’ll be getting. The same principle applies to hair stylists, and also to their salon or shop.

A clean and tidy salon shows good attention to detail and points to a professional who knows the importance of image.

Do They Offer Advice?

A good barber or hair stylist can make suggestions for your hair cut depending on your requirements and your face shape and structure.

They will also work with the texture of your hair.

Do They Give Feedback?

A good barber or stylist will ask for feedback during the cut. They will ask you if your hair is still too long or if the shape at the neckline is right.

This can mitigate any potential hair disasters. They won’t wait until the end where you swivel around in the chair to look in the mirror.

Ask How Busy They Are

If you generally need an appointment to see your barber or hair stylist, this is probably a good sign.

If you ask them how busy they are and they tell you they’re on their feet all day, this is also a good sign. Whereas if you can walk in anytime, there’s probably a reason for that.

Keep It Simple At First

When you start out with a new barber or hair stylist, opt for a simple trim for your first appointment.

Now is not the time to make any dramatic transformations. You’re just testing the water at this point and building a relationship with your new barber or hair stylist.

Find An Expert

Look for someone who specializes in your particular hair type and concern. Many salon websites have staff pages that list stylists’ expertise.

 For example, you may be looking for a stylist with particular expertise in cutting curly hair or creative coloring. Or you can also call the salon and ask.

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Nicola Sloan

Nicola is a freelance writer and researcher whose specialisms lie in health and wellness, beauty, and psychology. She has fine, wavy hair and is a big fan of co-washing every alternate day between shampoos (as dry shampoo makes her sneeze!)