The term barbershop (or barbers) probably stirs up a few different images for the clients – and even the barbers – who hear it. Mens mustache grooming.
For some, the term barbershop conjures up a classic picture of a red and white barber pole where a classic-looking man (with a mustache to die for, surely) lathers up the necks of well-dressed, suited gentleman while they recline in an oiled, leather chair.
For others, a barbershop takes on a more modern meaning with images of a hipster-esque barber perfecting an ideal fade.
Surely, there are plenty of other images that arise somewhere in between these two – either way, though, it’s often noted that there’s a distinct difference between old-school barbering and men’s grooming services. But aside from an old-timey classic mindset and a heavy dose of nostalgia, what exactly is the difference between these two?
We’re here to set you straight.
Check out our dissected analysis of what’s different, similar, and totally unique to each of these practices.
What is Old-school Barbering?
Try not to let your brain do a total time warp when we start talking about old-school barbering.
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Before we dive into this, we want to note that we don’t mean to peg the style of “old-school barbering” as a hipster-comeback-of-the-barber. We don’t mean that old-school barbering has anything to do with the interior design trend of making a barbershop look old-school.
When we talk about old-school barbering, we specifically mean the style of barbering, the services offered, and what you can expect from a professional trained in the ways of old-school barbering.
Now that that’s settled, let’s dive right in.
An old-school barber is someone who is classically trained in the art of traditional barbering. Traditionally, old-school barbers will focus primarily (if not entirely) on men’s services, like cutting, grooming, and styling hair and facial hair. You can expect old-school straight razor shaves, neck massages, classic haircuts, (potentially) trendier hairstyles, hot lather facials, and beard or mustache trims.
Mind you, what we refer to as “old-school barbering” isn’t exactly based on all the services barbers used to perform.
Want to know a fun fact about barbers?
In the middle ages, barbers often performed surgeries and dental procedures (think leeching, bloodletting, teeth extraction, and more!) – nowadays, barbers are (quite obviously) not qualified for such tasks. Honestly? We’re not all that upset about it.
Typically, an old-school style barber (in this century) won’t offer color services (not even for gray hairs or beard services), likely won’t invest in continuing education for product-specific treatments (like deep conditioning, chemical relaxing, etc.).
So, to break it down, old-school barbering can be defined as a traditionally-trained barber who places an emphasis on men’s styles and services, and a professional who doesn’t typically get involved in the hip and trendy types of barbering (hair coloring, beard dyeing, eyebrow waxing, etc.).
What are Men’s Grooming Services?
Men’s grooming services are a whole different ballgame.
While they likely perform a lot of the same services as barbers (straight razor shaves, haircuts, beard care, mustache trims, and more), there’s typically a much longer list of services on a men’s grooming service set-list.
Typically, men’s grooming services – sometimes even called men’s grooming salons – will offer additional services you wouldn’t likely find at an old-school barbershop.
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For example, while a barbershop typically just covers basic hair and facial hair needs, a men’s grooming salon likely will offer services like waxing, plucking, facial peels, deep tissue massages, manicures, pedicures, cuts, styles, scalp treatments, corrective color, highlights, toners, and more!
To break it down and make it even more basic, barbers who have men’s grooming services training take an ambitious stab at providing their clientele with as many services as they can with their certification and licenses, unlike a classically-trained barber who’s focusing on perfecting a few, traditional services.
Think of a barber who specializes in men’s grooming services as a more modern, open-minded, and flexible professional who’s trying to expand their repertoire as much as possible!