Barber vs. Hairstylist: What You Need To Know

Picture this:

You've zeroed in on your dream hairstyle, but you're stuck at a crossroads:

Should you book an appointment with a barber or a hairstylist?

I've been there. As a seasoned professional in the haircare industry, I've heard this question more times than I can count. The answer isn't as straightforward as you might think, and that's precisely why I've put together this guide.

Join me as we delve into the unique attributes of both barbers and hairstylists and identify which professional will best cater to your hair aspirations.

Ready to solve this puzzle? Let's get started!

Barber vs. Hairstylist

Here's the thing:

Your needs take center stage when deciding between a barber and a hairstylist. Are you seeking a no-nonsense, clean-cut? A barber has got your back. On the other hand, if your hair is long and demands less clipper work but more intricate styling, a hairstylist will be your go-to.

Who Is A Barber?

I've spent a fair share of time in barbershops and hair salons. Barbers are the artists of the short hair realm.

Their main goal?

Ensuring customer satisfaction by expertly crafting haircuts that complement the client's facial features and hair type.

A skilled barber understands the 'when' and 'how' of cutting, trimming, shaping, styling, and shaving.

But let me tell you:

Top-notch barbering goes beyond clippers and a comfy chair. The defining traits of an exceptional barber include professionalism, a finger on the pulse of current trends, comprehensive knowledge, and a creative spark.

A barber's toolkit typically includes professional clippers, straight razors, scissors, combs, and a duster brush. And as my experience has shown, other tools might make an appearance depending on the desired style.

5 Trendy Hairstyles Done By Barbers

1. Burr Buzz Cut



This is a uniform cut around the head, with no fade or part. By so doing, there is a balance on all sides of the head.

Styling Tips:

  • Keep your hair as evenly proportioned as possible.
  • Moisturize with pomade to give it a shiny look.
  • You could add dye to give it a pop of color.

2. Fade Buzz Cut



The back and sides of the head are shaved and a little length is left on top. This gives a well-rounded look which is suitable for various occasions.

Styling Tips:

  • You could add a side part to this to spice things up.
  • If you are going for the traditional fade buzz cut, sporty waves would make a statement.
  • You could add mousse for more volume and hair pomade to make it sleek.

3. Slicked Back


For this look:

The hair is cut in uneven layers, with the front of the hair facing backward. Be careful when opting for this hairstyle though, as it requires a lot of maintenance.

Styling Tips:

  • Wash and condition your hair regularly.
  • Brush hair backward with a textured comb for a slick look.
  • Use a moderate amount of styling wax to keep hair intact.

4. Flat Top



This is a high, box-shaped haircut. It has volume at the front and is usually lightly faded or totally bald at the sides.

Styling Tips:

  • Ensure you moisturize with pomade when your hair is dry.
  • You could style your hair with wax or gel to maintain the hairstyle.
  • Keep regular barbing appointments to maintain a neat cut.

5. Pompadour


Know this: 

This is a style that requires volume and length. What’s more, it's a versatile haircut as it could be swept to the back or the side.

Styling Tips:

  • Use a texturizing hairspray as a pre-styler to add more volume to the hair.
  • Put the hair into position with a blow dryer on medium heat and a round comb.
  • You could pair this style with a fade for more glamour.

Who Is A Hairstylist?


Just like barbers, hairstylists are hair beautification experts. However, they bring a lot more to the table. Think of them as hair consultants who can offer a wide range of treatments, suggest the right products for your hair, and style using techniques beyond a barber's repertoire.

Remember this:

The role of a hairstylist requires a deep well of knowledge and creativity. Armed with shears, scissors, curling irons, combs, brushes, and sometimes clippers, they are equipped to bring your hair vision to life.

5 Trendy Hairstyles Done By Hairstylists

1. Cornrow Braids



This is a traditional style of braids that involves underhand, upward weaves to make a continuous row.

Styling Tips:

  • Moisturize hair properly before making the cornrows to give it a sleek look.
  • You should wash your cornrows every week to maintain your appearance.
  • You can pair it with a low or mid fade for an epic look.

2. Twists

@Mad max


This style is achieved by dividing the hair into sections and twisting strands of hair together.

Styling Tips:

  • You could use styling gel to keep the twists in place.
  • Keep hair covered when you shower so the twists do not loosen.
  • Pairing this style with a low fade at the back would be cool.

3. Dreadlocks

@Regina Richardson


The hair is divided into tight strips of twisted pieces, using the palm roll method or a crochet pin.

Styling Tips:

  • Use a twist and lock gel to lock the hair.
  • Keep your hair covered when you shower so that the dreadlocks will last.
  • Pack the hair in any style of your choice and use a styling gel to give it a neat look.

4. Man Bun



The hair is pulled back and tied into a bun at the top or back of the head. However, this style works best with long hair.

Styling Tips:

  • Brush and moisturize your hair to maintain it.
  • Use a fine-toothed comb to apply hair products evenly and keep hair in place.
  • You could pair this style with a fringe or low fade to spice it up.

5. Spiky Mohawk


For this look:

The sides of the head are shaved bare, leaving a long, wide strip of spiky hair in the center.

Styling Tips:

  • Ensure the hair on both sides is shaved to the scalp.
  • Apply sunscreen to protect your scalp.
  • Apply moisturizer on all sides of the head.

Training for Barbers vs. Hairstylists


The training pathways for barbers and hairdressers are distinctive. Barbers spend 10 to 12 months honing their skills at specialized beauty schools, culminating in a written exam and a practical demonstration.

Afterward, they apply for a license from their state's Barbering Board, which needs regular renewals. In some states, seasoned barbers can even become certified as master barbers.

Your Choice Matters


Your choice between a barber and a hairstylist depends on your individual needs.

Women seeking more than a simplistic cut will find a stylist a better fit, while men desiring a quick, efficient haircut might lean towards a barber.


If you're looking for services like coloring, highlights, or the latest trendy hairstyles, you're likely to find these at a hair salon rather than a barbershop.


All in all:

Though barbers and hairstylists have similarities, there are a couple of facts that set them apart;

  • Education: It takes about 10 months to become a skilled barber, but it could take two years to be a professional hairstylist.
  • Tools: A hairstylist does more work than a barber and would require more tools.
  • Skills: A barber’s work techniques revolve around professional clipper work, but a hairstylist must have broader knowledge.
  • Restrictions: A barber clips and trims the hair, mustache, and beard, but in most cases, a hairstylist works only on the hair.
  • Hairstyles: For anything that involves a lot of clipper work, you should see a barber, but for styles with more hair volume, you should see a hairstylist.

One more thing:

Did we miss out on anything you were anticipating? Do you have any recommendations? Tell us what you think in the comment section below!

Frequently Asked Questions

This depends on what haircut you are going for and how you want it styled. If you are going for a regular cut like a buzz cut or flat top, a barber will do a good job. However, if you are going for a haircut with braids or dreads, a hairstylist would be a better decision.
Not necessarily. They are both capable professionals. The style you desire would determine who you would visit. If your style involves a lot of clipper work, a barber would be better suited. On the other hand, if it involves longer hair, a hairstylist is better positioned to do it.
Yes, he can. These days, men are breaking the status quo by attempting daring hairstyles that require the expertise of hairstylists like dreadlocks, man buns, and different types of braids.
The difference between both is their work role. Barbers shave, cut, and trim hair and beards, while hairstylists do less clipper work and tend to work on long hair.

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