Hairdresser, Hairstylist & Barber, What’s the difference?

As a client, when you require the services of a hair professional, you instinctively know what type of place you should go to, and have a set expectation out of the service it should provide. You can visualise what you want out of the appointment including range of services, prices, time taken, and overall atmoshphere of the experience.
However it can be equally useful as an asprinng hair professional, to understand the difference between a haridresser, hair stylist and barber. As it will help you evaluate which of the options suits your style and personality, and customer expectations.
There is a lot of crossover between each style, however there are some clear differences.

The word “barber” comes from the latin word “beard” and is someone who cuts hair, gives shaves, and trims beards. Barbers are men and their clients are men. They work in what is called a barber shop, which typically features the traditional white, red and blue barber pole on the outside.
Barbers focus on giving customers simple, low maintenance traditional cuts that usually shorter in style. They also are trained at maintaining facial hair. Men will regularly visit barber shops to have their beard or moustache expertly trimmed or to get a clean hot lather face shave. Some barbers also work with artificial hair replacement products eg. toupees or providing basic colouring services.
For clients, the main appeal of seeing a barber, is that you can can expect a good hair cut at a reasonable price usually without the need for an appointment, or the time commitment going to a salon requires. It also provides a unique atmosphere and conversation that is very appealing to men.

As hair professionals, hairdressers have a very diverse skillset and are usually more suited to longer and more complex hair styles. They are familiar with the newest trends and can help find the best style choice for their clients. A hairdresser is someone who cut or styles hair in order to change or maintain a person’s image. The main task performed by hairdressers is the cutting of hair, which is done using using scissors, clippers or razors.
Hair dressers will work with their clients, to make sure they have a clear understanding and expectation of the desired look. This consultation may even begin by looking through magazines or style books to work out what the customer truly wants. The hairdresser will advise on what is practical and immediately achievable. If a style goes beyond the scope of a single visit, they hairdresser will help work out the best approach to achieving the desired look and how long it may take to finally get there.
Once this is decided, the hairdresser will first shampoo, condition and rinse their clients hair, then use a combination of hair cutting, hair colouring, and hair texture techniques to get the desired look.
They may also use bleaching, conditioning, permanent waving, straightening and tinting techniques if the style calls for it.
Once the cutting and colouring is complete, hairdressers will also dry and style hair using brushes, combs, straightening irons and other equipment. Hairdressers area also trained on recommending styling products and hair care routines to clients.
Some hairdressers may even shave and trim beards and moustaches but this is not typical of most salons.
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Hair Stylist
Sometimes the terms hairdresser and hairstylist are used to generally describe hair proffessionals. While there is definetly some overlap in what both do and offer, there are also some key differences.
Higher end hair salons will have both hairdressers and hair stylists. A hair stylist is someone who actually designs and arranges hairstyles. Stylists typically are involved most heavily in the initial stages of a hair appointment and are the ones who will complete the look by blow drying, arranging and applying products.
Through consultation with the client a hair stylist will come up with an overall vision for the hair style . They will work collaboratively with the hairdresser and colour specialist to oversee each aspect of the processes to ensure that the are able to achieve the final look.
Hair stylists can also work independently. For example some top hair stylists actually prefer to be in control of the entire processes themselves, to ensure that everything is executed exactly as the envisioned. The approach is determined by the stylist’s or salon’s preference.
Being a hair stylist requires a great deal of technical proficiency, attention to detail and creativity. Hair stylists, will have typically started out as a hairdresser and apply their knowledge of technique, colour theory, trends and even personal style to create amazing looks.

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  1. Excellent read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing some research on this. And he just bought me lunch since I found it for him. So let me rephrase that: Thank you for lunch!

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