Barber Hacks: Will Barbering DIE?

Barberhacks is here to help you grow as a barber and think about the barbering industry as a whole.


When I sit down to think about where our industry is going I see progress and growth, but I have a few reservations. Having been in the hair industry for 16 years, I have lived through at least one major economic downfall without feeling pinched (but also without feeling exceptionally wealthy), I have switched to men’s barbering despite the fact that it was looked poorly upon by the industry as a whole (I have been barbering for 8 years), and I have seen barbering rise from the ashes as men begin to take value in their appearance again.


Seeing barbering come to the fore I find it interesting to look back on some of the steps that took it there.

  • I imagine a marketing company came up with the term ‘metrosexual’ sometime in the mid-90s to sell the idea of modern man that takes care of themselves, although I definitely remember the term popularizing when it was used in South Park in the early 2000s.
  • The television show Mad Men went on the glamorize and sexualize the idea of the well-dressed and well-groomed gentleman of the 60s, in such sharp contrast to the t-shirt and skinny jeans wearing urbanite that we had devolved into.
  • Add to this the hipster-izing of the moustache by the Movember movement, followed by the re-introduction of the beard, the canonizing of the ‘lumbersexual’.
  • With this firmly in mind forward-thinking individuals around the world began opening barber shops that re-embraced the idea of a rugged and manly man, built on the memory of our grandfathers shaving themselves clean every morning and striding out into a new modern era. Encapsulated in this movement was a fascination with the unprotected razor blade, the pompadour, the slickback, the side-part, the college cut, and so many more classic styles.
  • Include a bevy of smart retailers and barbers bringing water-based pomades and grease pomades targeted specifically towards men that spiraled into a stratospheric sales in the men’s beauty industry.
  • Let’s not forget that the beauty industry soon discovered that the male market had been underserved for years and started targeting products towards men, buying small upstart pomade companies and building them into worldwide brands and hiring trending barbers to market these products to other barbers.
  • Black and Hispanic culture included their flair into the mix, having never left the barber shops at all, often cornerstones of neighbourhoods. These shops introduced blurry fades, sharp lineups, high top fades, blowouts, taper fades, twist sponges and so much more into the mix.
  • Add to this, added interest in hip-hop, r and b, the dawn of sneaker culture, and the introduction of the hypebeast.
  • Take all of the information, plus add in a mixture of hairdressing practices such as blow-drying and product application and you have modern barbering.
  • Introduce Instagram, and the visual-savvy early adopters that started taking pictures of their haircuts and flooding the eyes and minds of the world with their ‘new’ and visionary ideas for hair. Instagram followers take notice and build these ‘influencers’ up into the status of niche celebrities.
  • Introduce YouTube, another digital visual medium, and the cheapening of wi-fi and data packages for your phone, and the proliferation of video tutorials. Once again, early adopters to a medium bring barbering and its culture to the eyes of many.

  • Mix this in with media and marketing dollars beginning to flood into these spaces and you have the dawn of a new era of barbering, one that is reaching new heights.


What is happening now and where do we go from here?

If you look at predictions for the industry in the US, which currently is estimated at around 14 billion dollars, the analyst say that by 2020 growth in the industry should top 20.7 billion dollars in the US alone. That doesn’t include the global market at all, where barber shops are being introduced worldwide, just hit Instagram to see what anyone from the Japanese to to the Portuguese, to the Russians, to the Brazilians are adding to the industry.

In the US, barbering is one of the fastest growing trades, as barber hopefuls flood into schools at neck-breaking speed.

In some regards, I worry about the quality of barbering, but I trust in the craft. I always remember that there are barber shops and barbers that target different different demographics with different styles, across class and race. Most everyone wants to look good at some time or other, and I’ve seen quality take a huge leap as people share tips and tricks across different mediums, and in different spaces throughout or industry.

I also fret about the upper limit of barbering across the world. When do we reach maximal growth in the industry before we start to see failures in the industry based solely on their inability to attract a proper clientele. Will such a thing happen?

There is one insurance in the barbering world, people will always have hair that needs to be cut. Even in the depths of a depression there will always be gents looking to look good in order to get the jobs that they need.

As long as barbers continue to educate themselves in different styles, and push themselves to be the best barbers that they can be the industry will continue to thrive. The moment that we stop adapting and look backwards is the moment that the barbering industry will screech to a halt.

As far as trends, look to the most active and popular barbers on Instagram and YouTube, they are the tastemakers, they are the barbers with the audiences that will flow through your shop asking for a cut that they’ve seen on a men’s fashion channel, or google search, or on the top of their favorite musician, or athlete.

Barbering will start to include, in higher numbers, hair colouring (including hairline and hair fiber services), barber facials, and thorough grooming services that make the customer service experience fuller for the guests walking through the door, effectively raising ticket prices with each service.

Technology will continue to make it easier to book and pay for barbering, and will make it easier for people to understand how to maintain a fresh appearance. This will continue to make male grooming desirable.

There is going to be a global blend of taste and tastemakers, influence coming from all corners of the Earth, with the most unique looks distilled down to something palatable for the masses.


Needless to say, barbering is here to stay, it is growing, and the practitioners are becoming more skilled and educated with every year that passes. It is an exciting time to be a barber, with a lot of time and resources being spent to further the industry. Take care in how you care for your customers and you will see your business and financial situation grow.

I’m excited for the future of our industry,

Thanks for reading, STAY SHARP,


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