Since barbershops and hair salons both cut hair, many people think that we’re essentially the same thing. Not the case! We have unique styles, certifications, and tools.
To be fair, it's not clear up front.
There's so much that even I don't know—and I'm in the profession. For example, when we moved into our new Virtue Salon location, we brought our amazing, vintage spinning barbershop pole with us to hang, even though Vice Barber, our licensed barber, wasn't moving with us. Our neighbors and friends at Longview Barbershop very eloquently let us know that only shops with licensed barbers on staff were allowed to hang those striped barber poles you see everywhere. Oops!
Realizing I could learn more about barbering, I talked with Dave, Longview Barbershop’s owner, and Chelsea, a dual-licensed barber and cosmetologist there, to understand the differences between what Virtue Salon does, hairdressing, and what Longview Barbershop does, barbering.
From Dave's perspective, barbering has stayed traditional and true since the beginning. Even as trends change, the dynamics of barbering remain original and authentic to how it all began. There's one big shift, however--historically speaking, you wouldn’t see many women working in a barbershop. Of course we all know this has changed, and Chelsea is the perfect example of this. In fact, Longview Barbershop has more than one woman barber on staff now. Most barbers are independent contractors at their barbershops as well.
Dave said he understood how a consumer could be confused about the differences between the professions (which is definitely one of the reasons that a barber pole should not be displayed at a location in which is not, in fact, a licensed barbershop).
Tools of the Trades
The biggest difference between barbering and hairdressing are the tools. Barbers use clippers, hairdressers use scissors. Chelsea spoke of her education in both professions; both require different skill sets and certifications—cosmetology school does not cover much clipper work, and barber school does not focus on scissor cutting. Many barbershops will have customers come from a salon after a haircut who need a better blend or fade on the sides with clippers. Likewise, many people seek out a hairdresser after going to the barber to get a better cut with scissors.
Barbers are your classic, no frills type of hair professionals. Targeting men’s style cuts, barbers expertly blend, fade, and shave. In fact, only barbers can provide a straight-razor shave. Salons, on the other hand, are generally excellent with scissors and longer hair, and not quite as strong in clipper work. Salons also focus much more on product recommendations, hair color, chemical services, up styling, blow-dry styling and additional hair treatments.
Barbershops are also known for their “gathering place” sort of feel. They tend to be very warm and laid back, and traditionally do not require appointments; they are sort of, “in and out” type of service. Because of the casual atmosphere and unity that is found within the doors, barbershops have always seemed to be the backbone of any community. Generally speaking, salon appointments involve more time, so usually require a reservation; “walk-ins” are not as common in salon as they are in barbershops.
Longview Barbershop does not have sinks to wash or rinse hair in order to keep the service quick and convenient for their customers. A strong contrast from most barbershops, hairdressers focus on a quality shampoo; at Virtue we like to put our guest’s feet up during a shampoo service. And very much unlike hairdressers, barbers cut hair with the chair turned away from the mirror so they can use it as a tool in the cutting process.
With all of this being said, many hairdressers are great at barbering and many barbers are great at long-hair cutting; these contrasts are to help draw out the traditional differences to help consumer know which service best fits their needs and desires.
To the professionals:
No matter what your formal training is, there is always more to learn and there is always room to grow. Cosmetologists can become incredible barbers while barbers can become incredible colorists or long-hair cutters. On April 24th, 2017, Carlos Ramos @sugarskulls will be leading an amazing educational experience at Virtue Salon from 11am-5pm. Carlos is a dual licensed barber/cosmetologist and is a highly sought-after educator who currently resides and conquers the barbering world in Los Angeles. More information here! (Insert Link for more information:
History of the Barber Pole:
Barbers historically did tooth pulling and bloodletting which was a type of surgery. Barbers were even referred to as “barber-surgeons.” During these processes, white bandages were used and were hung outside on a pole to dry and would twist around the pole in the wind. The white on the barber pole represents the bandages (some say it represents a pole used to grip during the bloodletting), the red represents the arterial blood and the blue represents the venous blood.
Post by Melanie!