How to Choose a Barber vs. Salon

Choice Depends on Style You Want

Barber cutting mans hair
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Men often ask whether they should go to a barber or a salon. The answer to that question depends on a number of factors. Just as you wouldn't go to a cardiologist for brain surgery, you won't want to go to a salon for a flattop. Likewise, a barber isn't likely to give you a long shag with chunky highlights. Deciding how to chose a barber vs. salon and find a good place to get a men's haircut near you can be tricky.

The main difference between the two types of haircutters is that barbers are typically trained to cut shorter, traditional haircuts for men while salon stylists are trained to cut longer, fuller men's styles. A barber's primary focus is cutting men's hair, and they are adept at using clippers. Conversely, a salon stylist receives more training in the art of styling hair for women with scissors.

With the industry trend moving toward more upscale barbershops and salons for men, the line between barbers and stylists is becoming blurred. And stylists are getting proficient at classic men's haircuts, while barbers are becoming skilled in longer and more trendy styles. 

When to Go to a Barber 

The best choice is a barber if you're looking for a short, traditional style haircut such as a buzzcut, flattop, fade, or military-style cut. Barbers will ask you how you want your hair cut and do what you ask, normally without much feedback.

Most barbers are cheaper than stylists, so you can save a bit of money going to a good barber if that's a priority for you. A haircut you get from a barber will be simple and easy to maintain and won't require a lot of styling product. If that's you, a barber is the right fit. If you want a shave, you can only get that at a barbershop.

Many upscale barbershops offer hot lather face shaves, which are a real treat. 

Last but not least: You're looking to escape. Barbershops can be a great source of camaraderie between guys. Typically no-frills places, barbershops are a uniquely male gathering spot.

When to Go to a Salon Stylist

If you're going longer, you will likely be happier with a salon cut. Stylists generally have more experience cutting and styling longer hair. Ditto for if you want color: Most barbers do not do a lot of color services, so you'll likely get better results from a stylist who is more knowledgeable. If you want a more trendy, fashion-forward cut, a stylist is usually more aware of current trends than a barber. If you want a new style, a stylist can make suggestions for a style that will flatter your features better.

You'll also find an array of products in a salon that you won't find in a barbershop, and your stylist can suggest the right one for you and how to use it.  

Finding the Right Place to Go

To choose the appropriate profession, one strategy is finding a guy with a style similar to what you're looking for and asking him where he got it cut; that's the best way to find a place to get a great men's haircut near you.

If you live in a larger area, you may also be able to find a modern barbershop or men's salon, which blend traditional barbering with modern style.