How To Choose Between a Barber and a Hair Stylist: What’s The Difference?

For many men, finding a barber is a challenge, but this question has puzzled me for a while – what is the true difference between a barber and a hair stylist?  If you want the dictionary definition, a barber is someone who is trained in shorter haircuts, and their training is geared almost exclusively towards men whereas a stylist is better for trends, is more knowledgeable about longer haircuts and styles, and the services of a stylist a often more collaborative.

Here’s a quick list of what a barber offers versus a hair stylist:


  • Great at shorter hair styles like the buzz cut, flattop, or military cut.
  • The simple, classic cuts you would receive at a barber shop take little to maintain, no expensive styling products, and the look is timeless and flattering.
  • Save some money.  Most barber shops cost significantly less than a salon or a hair stylist.
  • Comraderie – men go to barber shops for the atmosphere as much as women go to a day spa for the pampering – it’s a comfortable, laidback atmosphere.
  • Barber shops even do a hot lather face shave – something new stylists are trained to do.  A wonderful experience – well worth having done.
  • Maintaining facial hair – you can get your beard or mustache trimmed by a barber where a stylist is not well versed in this particular field.


  • Better with longer hair styles.  A stylist is concerned with maintaining a style and will be able to give you ideas on how to maintain your hair style.
  • If you are looking to follow a trend, a stylist is the better fit for you – they are up-to-date on all the latest trends and can help you find the right fit for your face, a barber caters to classic, traditional hair cuts that men have favored for decades.
  • If you want to buy product.  Barber shops do not usually sell a range of higher end products like most stylists and salons do.  And any stylist can explain which product will work best to maintain the integrity of the style you’ve chosen.
  • Color – if you are looking to have your hair colored, a barbershop is generally not going to be able to help you, but a hair stylist is very well schooled in the art of hair coloring.

Finding the right fit for you is not always easy, but look for a place that makes you feel relaxed and a stylist or barber that has the right chemistry.  There is a reason why both barbers and stylists, the good ones, at least, have a loyal following – it’s all about finding someone you are comfortable with to handle your hair.

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1 Comment

  • Reply October 23, 2012


    Another difference is that A Barber can give you a fresh looking Line up due to the fact that they use a shaving knife to do the line up while at a salon they just use machines and scissors they are not trained to use razors.

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