a gentleman's barber vs a ladies hairdresser

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Senior Member

Could you explain if a gentleman's barber and a ladies hairdresser common expressions in the UK now? I thought a gentleman's barber is used mainly in the USA. But I came across these expressions in an e-mail from the UK I received the other day:

Within ten minutes walk from my house there are some very nice local businesses. There is an excellent butcher, a fantastic baker, a gentleman's barber, a pre-school nursery, a replacement windows company, a Harley-Davidson showroom, a website designer, a bicycle store, a florist, a tools merchant, a ladies hairdresser and nail salon, a spray tan business, a tile store and bathroom showroom. There are probably a dozen more that I can't recall off the top of my head.

Thank you for your help.

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  • JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I would think that the "gentlemen's" would be more frequently omitted than "ladies'" when the words are used alone . The threads HG referred to make it clear that barbers rarely do anything to ladies' hair :D


    Senior Member
    USA, English
    In New York, a barber works in a barber shop and has a barbering license which allows him to use a razor.

    A hair stylist works in a hair cutting salon and has a hair cutting license and may not use a razor.

    This may vary by locality.

    It seems to me that this was the subject of an earlier thread.


    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    As has been pointed out, "gentlemen's barber" is not a term used in the US. Neither is "ladies' hairdresser" (or even plain "hairdresser"). Indeed, while there are plenty of barbers left (many of whom also cut women's hair), many salons are "unisex" (serving both men and women) and those who do the hair are all hairstylists.
    I hate to disagree with Parla, but I think "hairdresser" is definitely possibly in AE. It sounds a bit old-fashioned these days, but it was once a common word. In the 1950s and 60s, there was a famous ad slogan for Clairol (a brand of hair color):

    Does she ... or doesn't she [dye her hair]? Only her hairdresser knows for sure.

    What is the alternative? There are hair salons, but who works in them? The words "stylist" or "hair stylist" are often used, but they have always sounded a bit pretentious to me.
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