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A barber (from the Latin barba, "beard") is someone, most often male, whose occupation is to cut any type of hair, and to shave or trim the beards of men. The place of work of a barber is generally called a barbershop, or simply the "barber's"

In previous times, barbers also performed surgery and dentistry. Today, with the development of safety razors and the decreasing prevalence of beards, in American and Commonwealth culture most barbers specialize in cutting men's hair. Many barbers may still deal with facial hair if requested.



A hairdresser is a universal term referring to someone whose occupation is to cut or style hair in order to change or maintain a person's image. This is achieved using a combination of hair colouring, haircutting and hair texture techniques.

Barbers differ with respect to where they work, to what type of services they are licensed to provide, and to what they refer to themselves as. Women usually do not refer to themselves as barbers unless they are licensed as barbers, or if they are cosmetologists in addition to being barbers. US states vary on their labor and licensing laws. For example, in Maryland, a cosmetologist cannot use a straight razor, strictly reserved for barbers. Both barbers and cosmetologists are required and responsible for keeping their instruments sterilized and in good condition. In New Jersey, the fields of Cosmetology and Barbering are regulated by the State Board of Cosmetology which is a division of Consumer Affairs of the Department of Law & Public Safety, and there is no longer a difference in barbers and cosmetologists there, as they are issued the same license and can practice both the art of straight razor shaving, colouring, other chemical work and haircutting if they choose.

Some barbers prefer to see themselves as hairdressers or hairstylists. A common misconception is that barbers do not perform any service other than hair cutting, and that cosmetologists perform no other services apart from coloring and styling. In fact, barbers can cut hair, trim beards, color, perm, provide facials, and shave. They are also licensed to work with artificial hair replacement products (toupées, etc.), and, conversely, many working stylists are legally barbers. There is some professional rivalry between barbers and cosmetologists, both of which are licensed and regulated. At one time, both groups were allowed to cut hair, but only barbers were allowed to shave or trim beards: this required mastering the technique of using a straight razor. Today in the US, barbers and stylists can be found working side by side in establishments known as male salons. Male salons have afforded the barber the opportunity to remain traditional in all aspects of the term, yet also to stay contemporary as fashion and trends evolve. In male salons, hairstylists and barbers seek to accommodate the modern male hairstyle trends by employing traditional hair styling and straight razor shaves with modern practices, such as texturizing techniques and colour.

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