What is Barbering?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

Barbering is a profession of grooming that, historically, also included dentistry and minor surgery. In modern times, a barber is a person who cuts hair and trims or shaves the beards of men. In most cases, a barber is male and all of his clients are male although there may be a few female barbers and there are some women who go to barbers. In the current lexicon, a barber is differentiated from a hairdresser in terms of the aesthetic of the place where he works and types of services that he offers.

In addition to haircuts, a barber offers services such as a shave.
In addition to haircuts, a barber offers services such as a shave.

While hairdressers working in salons may offer a number of hair treatments including perms, and color treatments such as highlights, a barber will generally not offer such services. Another major difference between barbering and hairdressing is services for men's facial hair. Most hair dressers will not shave or trim men's beards although this is a key part of barbering. It is quite common, in barbering, for men to have a shave and a haircut in each visit to the barber shop.

Some barbershops cater to female clients as well as men.
Some barbershops cater to female clients as well as men.

In recent years, barbering has come back into vogue. For a while barbering was perceived by fashionable people to be an outdated practice that was eclipsed by hairdressing and at-home shaving practices. Recently, the art of barbering has become popular once again and some chic neighborhoods and shopping malls include barber shops. It is also becoming common for high-end hotels to have barber shops on the premises.

Barbers may be asked to trim beards.
Barbers may be asked to trim beards.

Just as there are schools that train hairdressers and schools that train nail technicians, there are schools for barbering. In order to be a barber, a person should take the necessary courses and complete any necessary certification. In most cases, a barber cannot be hired without the proper certification. Not only are barbering students taught how to cut hair and trim facial hair, but they are also taught about sterilizing tools and other issues related to hygiene and safety.

Barbers are typically skilled in using razors to shave the beards and necks of customers.
Barbers are typically skilled in using razors to shave the beards and necks of customers.

There are a number of kinds of hairstyles and facial hair styles that barbers are trained to handle. There are some very modern styles that include intricate patterns being shaved into the hair with electric shavers and electric trimmers. There are also some more traditional beard and mustache styles that are coming back into fashion, so it is common for barbers to get training in how to create traditional styles of facial hair.

A barber may groom the eyebrows of a client.
A barber may groom the eyebrows of a client.
Shopping centers may include a barber shop.
Shopping centers may include a barber shop.
Barber equipment includes combs and scissors.
Barber equipment includes combs and scissors.
Barbers cut, wash, and style hair.
Barbers cut, wash, and style hair.
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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Discussion Comments

anon1002420

What are the principles in barbering?

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