Barbers shampoo, cut or trim, and style hair - mostly for men. Also, they shave customers, fit hairpieces and offer scalp treatments and facial massages. Some barbers also colour, bleach or highlight hair and offer permanent-wave services. A few barbers also provide skin care and nail treatments.
They may advise clients on how to care for their hair, straighten hair, give it a permanent wave or lighten or darken the hair colour.
In addition to their work with clients, barbers are expected to maintain clean work areas and sanitise all work implements. They may make appointments and keep records of hair colour and permanent wave formulas used by their regular clients.
A growing number actively sell hair products and other cosmetic supplies. Barbers who operate their own salons have managerial duties that include hiring, supervising and firing workers, as well as keeping business and inventory records, ordering supplies and arranging for advertising.
Experienced barbers may take advanced courses in hairstyling, colouring, and the sale and service of hairpieces. For many barbers, formal training and a license are only the first steps in a career that requires years of continuing education. Because hairstyles change, new products are developed, and services expand to meet clients’ needs, barber need to keep abreast of the latest fashions and techniques.
Barbers usually work in clean, pleasant surroundings with good lighting and ventilation. Good health and stamina are important, because they are on their feet for most of their working day. Because prolonged exposure to some hair and nail chemicals may cause irritation, special care is taken to use protective clothing, such as plastic gloves or aprons when working with these substances.
Most full-time barbers work a 40-hour week, but longer hours are common in this occupation, especially amongst self-employed workers. Work schedules may include evenings and weekends, the times when barbershops can be busiest. Many barbers are self-employed, having their own barbershops, although many now lease booth space or a chair from a big salon or barbershop owner.