What is the Difference Between a Hairdresser and a Barber?

What is the Difference Between a Hairdresser and a Barber?

Barbers are often confused with hairdressers, but what are the real differences between the two? The roles have some overlap, but there are distinct differences. If you’re wondering whether you should go to the barbershop or the salon, or wondering who should cut your hair, we’re here to clear up the definitions of each.


Barbers, like hairdressers, are trained and licensed to cut, color, style, perm, bleach, and shape hair. However, barbers are also trained and licensed to shave and cut facial hair, like beards and mustaches, and neck hair. Barbers can also use a straight razor and hairdressers cannot. For this reason, barbers usually serve men and focus more on men’s hairstyles and shorter hair.

Women are welcome at barbershops, but generally men go to barbershops, and salons are for both men and women. Because barbers get lots of experience cutting men’s hair and trimming beards and mustaches, they generally focus on men’s hair. If you are looking for a simple short haircut like a fade, flattop, or regular haircut, or if you need a shave along with the haircut, go to a barber.


Hairdressers also cut, style, bleach, highlight, and color hair. The biggest difference between a hairdresser and barber is hairdressers spend more time creating eye-catching styles, and work with women’s hair more often. A hairdresser may attend training seminars often to keep up with the latest styles and techniques in the hairstyling industry.

One major difference with hairdressers is an inherent divergence between women’s and men’s hairstyles. Barbers’ appointments are generally ten to thirty minutes long; women’s hairdresser appointments may be half and hour to four hours long. The process of coloring, highlighting, cutting, and chemically treating long hair, which women’s hair generally is, takes longer, and women’s hair appointments can be more complex.

Because the client base and their expectations are different, hairdressers generally must stay updated on trending styles and fashions a bit more often than barbers. If you have long hair, and need detailed coloring, a hairdresser is probably the better choice. A cosmetologist or hairdresser is also the obvious choice for special occasions, such as a bride getting her hair done for a wedding.

Get World-Class Cosmetology and Barber Training from Paul Mitchell the School at Campus, in Sacramento

Attending barber school can be a great career choice, and a way to start a professional career that’s fun and fulfilling. If you want to become a professional barber, or work as a licensed cosmetologist and hairdresser, Campus can help you reach that goal. We have world-class barber training and cosmetology training programs offered at our Sacramento campus. To learn more about the Paul Mitchell the School at Campus training programs, or ask questions about financial aid, contact our Admissions team today to schedule a virtual tour.