A Brief Timeline of Barber History

"Being a barber is about taking care of the people." - Anthony Hamilton

Chances are that you have been to the barbershop countless times in your life thus far, and hopefully your experiences have been nothing short of positive.

Barbering is a fine and noble tradition worldwide, forming an essential part of the fabric of our everyday society. But have you ever thought about barber history? You know, fellas, where it started and how it progressed over the years.

Barbering is one of the world's oldest professions. In fact, tomb paintings from ancient Egypt have been discovered showing a barber cutting hair, along with relics of razors almost 6,000 years old.

Interesting, no? We think so. And to walk you through the wonderful life and times of a trade that has looked after men, and their manes, for centuries, here is a brief timeline of barber history for your reading pleasure.

5000 B.C

Right back when, 6,000 years ago, barbering was performed exclusively by Egyptian nobility. The crude instruments used to cut hair in 5000 B.C were crafted from sharpened flint or oyster shells.


In the brutish middle ages, Barbers expanded their skill set, practising shaving, hair-cutting, trimming and hair-dressing; these barbing legends also dressed wounds and conducted surgical operations. They were referred to as barber-surgeons. You couldn't imagine an amalgamation of medic and hair-cutter today, could you?


Moving on swiftly to fourteenth century England, barbers consisted of two definitive classes: those who cut hair and those that performed surgery - finally, the two disciplines were separated.


Our barber history journey now takes us to 1770. During the colonial age, clean-shaven men with outlandish wigs were the order of the day - for the rich folk at least. Here, barbering was seen as the trade of slaves and servants as opposed to the fine and noble trade it was, it currently is and always has been. Difficult time indeed, but like all things worthwhile, a renaissance was waiting around the corner.


Between the late 1780s and 1865, the barbering began to flourish again and on this particular year, right after the end of the Civil War, an influx of Dutch, Germans, Italians, and Swedish immigrants elevated the barber trade to new, prosperous heights.


Next stop on our barber history tour: the early 1900s. Irene Castle, a celebrated dancer, popularized the bob cut to American women. Barbers had to learn how to perform the bob cut fast to keep up with rising demand which peaked in the 1920s. Yes, barbering extended to both genders - a wonderful turn of events that punctuated a new age of barbering.


The throes of WWII commanded rafts upon rafts of short back and sides haircuts as droves of young men were drafted to fight the good fight. The flat top, butch, crew cut and the Princeton cut became incredibly popular, and across the globe, barbers had their work cut out to meet the ever-growing demand.


In the early In the early 1960s, a little mop-topped quartet by the name of The Beatles set the stage for long hair. Many barbers who refused to learn the methods of cutting longer more androgynous hairstyles swiftly went out of business. This new wealth of male hair trends made the barbering industry all the more creative, and many of the cuts crafted during this era are now incredibly popular retro men's styles today.


During this year, the Journeymen Barber International Union (UFCU) became part of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, improving rights, diversity and conditions for those working in the trade.


Just a quick but very notable and poignant point: during 1985, more than half of barbers across the world were female.


Again, another quick, notable and poignant point: since this, over 50 per cent of barber students is African-American.

2000s to present

New technology, initiatives and techniques, as well as the rise of digital media, continues to shape the future of the barbering trade. Each year, more young men and women choose to become barbers, helping people of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds achieve their hair dreams. And this period also marks the birth of CON MOTO Pomade - you explore our range of products and find out more about our mission right here. 

There you have it, the history of barbering in a nutshell. This long and enduring profession is a beautiful thing indeed  - and barbers everywhere - we salute you.

Want to know how to keep your hair nice and healthy? Here are the hair health foods that you should be eating.

Jason Speziale