It is interesting that nowadays barbers and hairdressers are considered to be one and the same, but both of these professions have long and separate history, as well as responsibilities. The main tasks of barbers are to cut, dress, groom, style and shave men’s and boys hair, but the main tasks of hairdressers are to cut, style, color and texture clients hair in order to change or maintain their image.
The word “barber” comes from Latin word “barba” which means “beard”, because historically barbers were specialized in cutting of men’s facial hair. The barber’s trade has a long history – first razors have been found among artifacts from Bronze Age in Egypt. In ancient Greece there was cureus who was trimming and styling men’s hair, beards and nails. In ancient Rome there were tonsores who were performing tonsuras or the first shaves of young man. In the Middle Ages barbers not only cut the hair, but also served as surgeons and dentists, so sometimes they were called “barber surgeons”. Also among priests were barbers, and in some ancient tribes barbers were performing religious ceremonies such as baptisms and marriages as well. It is important to know that historically barbers have always been highly respected persons, despite the era. Later, after several centuries, when safety razors appeared and beards become less popular, barbers started to cut men’s scalp hair. The first school for barbers was established in the year 1893 by A. B. Moler.
Barbers workplace is called “barber shop”, as well as “barber’s”. It is interesting that historically places for public disclosures, social interactions and shaping of male identity were called “barber shops” as well.
Talking about hair cutting, today we use both of these terms – barbers and hairdressers. Difference in usage of these conceptions depends only on regulations in given place, for example, Australians use word “barber” only in those cases, when they are talking about men’s hairdressers. Workplaces of barbers are also called differently – barbershops, barber shops, hair salons or hairdressing salons.