Barbershop vs. Salon: What’s the Difference?

Barbershop vs. Salon: What’s the Difference?

A person’s hair reflects their style. Since it’s an extension of who people are and how they present themselves, it is important to many. With so much on the line, who people turn to in order to meet their hair needs matters. Hair care affects people’s confidence, health, and looks.

When people look for hair services, they turn to two specific businesses: salons and barbershops. In many people’s eyes, the two are the same. However, when starting and running hair care services, knowing the distinction between barbershops vs. salons affects your business in many ways. What’s the difference? Let’s explore some of the variations between barbershops and salons and discover why they matter.

Service Specialties

Barbershops and salons hold many similarities in the services they provide. Both tend to hair needs and offer individual care to each of their clients. However, the type of needs they target differs.

Barbershop Services

A barber’s specialty lies in short hairstyles and facial grooming. This includes beard, mustache, and sideburn maintenance and styling.

Salon Services

Salons offer a more diverse range of services. Generally, they provide:

  • Color dyeing
  • Hair extensions
  • Perms and relaxers
  • Haircuts and styling
  • Special occasion styling

Sometimes salons extend their services to include additional beauty care opportunities like:

  • Brow shaping and tinting
  • Eyelash lifts and extensions
  • Waxing and threading

Salons come in variations that provide different services. Some studios focus on just hair. Others include additional beauty care and treatments. Recently, more salons have been adding deep scalp treatments to their list of services.

Stylist Tools and Equipment

Whether you’re washing hair or trimming beards, any form of hair care service requires essential tools of the trade. A lot of the basic necessities of barbershops and salons are similar. Both use:

  • Hair cutting capes
  • Shampooing stations
  • Shears and scissors
  • Styling chairs
  • Vanities
  • Hair dryers
  • An assortment of hair products

Along with the basics, both barbershops and salons use some distinct tools to carry out their services.

Barber Tools and Equipment

The earliest recorded barbers simply used oyster shells and sharpened flint to get clean, close shaves. Over time, barber tools developed into sharp straight razors, lathering brushes, and combs. Now, barbers use a collection of different tools and equipment to perform their roles. Along with the traditional barbering set of straight razors, lathering brushes, and combs, barbers also use buzzers, shears, and clippers.

Each of the electronic cutters comes with multiple attachments, enabling new styling techniques and trims and expanding the barber’s scope of expertise. Different buzzer and clipper attachments vary the lengths and thicknesses barbers can cut and allow for more specific shave designs.

Another key barbering tool is the classic barber chair. It helps with precision and customer comfort. Compared with other styling chairs, barber chairs can recline to allow clients to lie back comfortably and let the barber easily navigate and access their faces.

Salon Tools and Equipment

Salon stylists use a mix of tools and equipment to carry out the wide range of services they provide. They use:

  • Hair dyes and mixing bowls
  • Styling tools (curling wands, straighteners, and crimpers)
  • Hair accessories for special event requests
  • Curlers and rollers
  • Treatment mixes
  • Diffusers and different hairdryers

If they offer other beauty services besides hair care, salons also use the specialized beauty tools their added services require.

Stylist Training

Since barbers specialize in shorter hairstyles and beard maintenance, a majority of their training focuses on techniques for achieving short, clean cuts and shaves. They learn how to create close cuts and shaves without hurting their clients. Modern barbers also learn how to do hair engravings to create unique short-style hairdos. Their training involves becoming familiar with the various buzzer attachments, adapting to different head shapes, and making quality designs with shaved hair.

A key feature of barber training is to work around different scalp features because they’re cutting hair so close to the scalp. Cutting short hair with a client who has psoriasis or dermatitis requires more care and sensitivity monitoring. They have to avoid irritating the skin and colliding with acne, moles, and infections on the head. Different scalps and scalp conditions change how the barber treats the client, making it an important topic to cover in training.

Salon specialists undergo various levels of training. The most standard and first level of training involves basic cutting, coloring, styling, and shampooing. If stylists want to advance their skills, they’ll dive more in-depth into different types of cuts, coloring techniques, and perms. Some hairstylists choose to train in a specific specialty. They could focus on coloring, certain haircuts and styles, or special occasion hairstyling. This affects what they cover in training. Like their equipment and tool selection, salon training involves a lot more variations than barbershop training. However, like barbers, they too cover working with different scalps and hair types to ensure they provide the best service and care to their clients.

Traditional Purposes

For some time, people viewed barbershops as men-only services and salons as a space just for women. Depending on societal hair expectations, men often kept their hair short in the past, making their needs better suited to the services of a barbershop.

Meanwhile, many women kept their hair long and chose to wear it in many styles and color variations, making salon services more suitable for them. In today’s modern society, barbershops and salons offer unisex services unless the business chooses to specialize their care.

Aesthetic Experience

One of the biggest differences between salons and barbershops is their aesthetic. Barbershops are typically smaller spaces with minimal décor. On the other hand, salons tend to operate in much larger spaces and come in many aesthetic variations, providing lots of different experiences. Most barbershops exude a more casual and informal atmosphere. Meanwhile, salons tend to be fancier and strive to mimic a spa-like aesthetic and ambiance.

Appointment Scheduling

Both salons and barbershops offer walk-ins and appointments. However, barbershops tend to offer more walk-in flexibility. Salons often prefer their clients to schedule consultations and appointments. Many salon services also come with follow-up appointments. A lot of hair coloring requests and treatments require longer sessions or rest periods between steps.

If you’re planning to open a hair care business or trying to figure out the best place to achieve your hair goals, keep this list of differences on hand. Knowing the difference between barbershops vs. salons affects the type of hair care you provide. It influences the type of business you offer and how you run it.

Whether you plan to start a barbershop or salon, Keller has all you need to get your business up and running. Our selection of equipment and furnishing includes barber and salon chairs, dryers, and shampoo stations—the basics of a successful hair service. Check us out for your barbershop or salon.

Barbershop vs. Salon: What’s the Difference?


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