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What hairdressers can learn from barbers

Most Wanted’s 2016 Male Grooming Specialist, Chris Foster, knows a thing or two about what it takes to succeed as a barber; but what can hairstylists learn from the men’s hairdressing industry? Here, he shares his thoughts…

Attention to detail is everything

“In barbering, it’s all about attention to detail. That’s because is everything is much more exposed – and there’s nowhere to hide! Detail and finish are crucial to a good men’s haircut – in fact, the difference between a good barber and a great one is just that; the finish. Men’s hairdressers look for detail in every aspect of the cut – in fact, when I was training we called it detail-itis. We’re obsessed. That level of attention to detail can – and should – be applied to every kind of haircutting.”

Consider your angles

Geometry, shape and angles are massive in barbering; much more so than hairdressing, as you often don’t directly see the shape in long hair. It’s a key focus in men’s hairdressing and something which can totally change the look and feel of a cut. Putting that kind of structure into a cut is something that’s integral to men’s hairdressing and which can make a real difference when introduced into women’s cuts.” 

Define your features

Because everything is so much more exposed with men’s hair, we tend to have a great understanding of body shape and anatomy – and how to cut the hair to hide or enhance those features. Suitability is key and we spend a lot of time considering how to make features more flattering through technique. Keeping hair longer, higher, rounder – all of that changes how features look. Looking long and hard at a client’s features to understand what we can do to flatter them is definitely key.” 

Find your tribe

Men’s grooming is definitely more tribal than hairdressing. There are hipster barbers, retro barbers, skater guys – there’s space for everyone within the barbering industry and those tribes are definitely strongly defined in a way that I don’t think they are in women’s hairstyling. It means there’s a ready-made support network out there – somewhere that you fit and where you can get inspired and talk to likeminded people. Find your tribe, embrace it and get to know your peers.”

 Embrace social media

Barbering has seen an enormous growth through social media. Most of the people that follow the big barbers on social media are young guys that want to get into the industry themselves – they’re following those accounts because they think the job looks cool and they want to know more about it. There’s been a real growth in the energy of barbering and a new market has been captured – you just have to look at all the new sites and publications catering to it. I don’t think that hardcore following and buzz is necessarily happening with hairstyling but there’s no reason it can’t if you really focus on making your social media exciting, buzzy and interactive.” 

And what can barbers learn from hairstylists? Products!

I think a lot of barbers could learn a lot from hairstylists about using and promoting products. Men don’t tend to like shopping – we just want to buy a product that does what it’s supposed to, in the most convenient way possible. A barber recommending and retailing a product could make money in their sleep; it really is that simple but we sometimes get so caught up in the craft of what we’re doing and the detail of that fade that we don’t even focus on the business.”