Barbering: Tools of the Trade

Barbers use a wide range of tools to do their job correctly. What might just look like a pair of scissors and a trimmer are much more than that. Do you ever wonder what all those different barber tools are, and why they need them? Next time you’re getting your hair cut, be sure to take a closer look and see whether your barber is using any of these pro tools.

Tools Every Barber Should Master

Scissors

Scissors are a barber’s life line. Snipping and trimming their way through the day, these aren’t just any scissors, though, and depending on the hairstyle and preference, the barber has two main options.
Straight scissors are what most people think of when they get a haircut—although they come in many different styles and lengths depending on the barber’s preference, experience, and budget. Barbers can choose between scissors with either convex or beveled edges on the cutting side of the blade. Beveled edges have micro serrations that will keep the hair from sliding on the blade, which is great for cutting dry hair, especially for beginners. Convex blades are the sharpest, best for slicing, and usually more expensive.

Thinning and texturizing scissors help texturize hair and remove bulk. One or both blades have multiple cutting teeth that cut some hair without chopping it off entirely, like straight scissors do. These scissors are not used on every haircut, but are very valuable to have around when needed.

Scissors also come with different style handles: level, offset and crane. Find which one suits your style and is most comfortable for you. All quality barber scissors should have an adjustable screw to set the perfect scissor tension.

Razors

Although many may believe that safety razors are the only modern option, straight razors still have a place in many barbers’ tool kits. Whether it’s to cut in a clean neckline, cut your hair, trim your side burns, or give a proper straight razor shave, you won’t find many barbers without this in their kit.

To keep the straight razor sharp, barbers use a long strip of leather to align the edge of the razor before each use. This is called a strop and many people can associate the repetitive stropping motion to old-time barbershops. When the razor is dull, the barber will use a honing stone, similar to a knife sharpener, to restore the razor’s edge. These days, some barbers prefer a disposable straight razor, which offers the convenience of a safety razor along with the shave quality of a straight razor.

The shave lathering brush is never far from the straight razor. While many simply use their hand to apply shave cream, the hand will never come close to creating the rich, thick creamy lather that a shave brush produces. The circular motion the barber uses to apply the lather thoroughly lifts and coats each hair follicle for a great shave. A quality traditional shave lathering brush is made of badger’s hair, which retains water to build a thick lather from traditional shave soaps.

Trimmers (clippers)

A barber must know how to use his trimmers. Many different hairstyles benefit from trimmers (also known as clippers), and they can also save the barber a lot of time while tidying up the final details of a good cut. They’re great for the finishing cuts around the neck, ears and neckline if you’re trimming a beard—and the best tool for a classic buzz cut. Beyond that, clippers can also give shape and style to a cut. Barbers can use them to do intricate designs and detail work, or even remove bulk before the finer scissor work.

Barbers keep several guards that attach to the head of the trimmer for different lengths. They also might have a few trimmers to avoid constantly changing guards, or keeping different-size trimmers for different jobs. A large Oster with a #4 blade, for example, isn’t necessary for a quick sideburn trim. Trimmers come in cordless and plug-in versions; it’s recommended that the trimmers used for heavy cutting have cords, but for smaller, more delicate work, a rechargeable trimmer works great.

Odds & Ends

Barbers don’t get very far without their combs. Necessary to style the hair, the comb also helps the barber manage hair while he trims.

A barber’s cape is necessary to keep trimmed hair off clients.

A neck strip is a small disposable strip of paper to keeps things sanitary and clean for the customers.

A neck duster removes small hair particles before the cape is removed.

Finally, a hand mirror allows the barber to show the client a rearview look of their cut.

Barbers, Don’t Leave Home Without These Tools

A barber can’t get very far without the necessary tools. Investing in quality tools helps ensure years of reliable service–and happy clients. If you’re interested in becoming a barber, use this list to make sure you have it all:

  • Scissors
  • Razor
  • Shave brush
  • Clipper
  • Comb
  • Cape
  • Neck duster
  • Hand mirror

Would you like to have your own set of barber tools? Why not put them to use in the Master Barber program at Genesis Career College offered at our main campus in Nashville. Get started today!