As an aspiring barber you probably already enjoy cutting hair and trimming beards with a preferred set of tools. Even if you’ve never held a detailer, the first real commitment you make to becoming a barber happens when you grasp your very own set of clippers or shears for the first time. Like a paintbrush for Picasso or violin for Paganini, you won’t be able to delve into your studies until you have the proper barbering instruments.
Student Barber Kit Considerations
Barbers express their craft through their tools. While creative ideas and an imagination are important, a hair cut or beard trim can only be as good as the tools in a barber’s arsenal. When considering what tools to purchase, it’s important to first consider your commitment. Is barbering something you are passionate about, and do you want to excel in this field over your lifetime? Then you could consider investing in the best clippers, shears, and other accessories on the market. Quality tools can last years and ensure that your creative intuition is equally matched to tools that can properly express it.
On the other hand, teachers may advise that you start with more generic tools as you learn your trade. In school you will inevitably be dropping your wares and inadvertently dulling your clippers.
If you haven’t noticed already, brands are a big deal in this field – from classics like Whal and Andi’s that were probably used to cut your grandpa’s hair, to new names in quality like Xynergy, Yamako, and Ninja Swordsman.
Every barber has their own recommendations, and as you progress in school and eventually in your own barbershop or salon you will have plenty of opportunities to discuss opinions about the best brands out there and find your favorites. This is another factor to think about when weighing whether or not to invest in high-end gear when going into school, or to wait for that later.
If you want to set an upper benchmark for how much to spend on your kit, consider that one of the most preeminent barbering schools in the US charges around $3,000 for a student kit equipped with equipment and supplies, plus a few textbooks.
Getting Specific about Tools
To provide you with a broad view of what tools to include in your kit, we’ll compare the minimum tools required on a typical state barbering licensure examination with the supplies and material found in one of the nation’s leading private barbering schools.
Let’s start with the necessary tools you’ll need for a general state licensing exam for barbering:
- Hair clippers and guard
- Haircutting shears
- Hair brush
- Shaving razor
- Straight razor
Along with the tools on this list you’ll need these necessary supplies:
- Shaving cream
- Wet steam towels
- Chemical wave rods and end papers
- Perm lotion
- Tint brushes
- Gel or colored cholesterol
- Hair clips
You’ll also need these general supplies:
- Mannequin head with table clamp
- Disinfectant that is certified to eliminate bacteria, viruses, and fungi
- Hand sanitizer
- Cloth and paper towels
- Neck strips
- Protective drape
- Water spray bottle
- Protective cotton
- Protective cream
- Protective gloves
- Masking tape
- First aid kit
While every state license exam can have its own nuances, you can confidently place a bet that these are the basic supplies you will need.
Going beyond the basics, there are literally hundreds of different variations and brands for a tool like hair cutting shears, which can sell for between ten dollars … and thousands of dollars. You will probably want to add at least a few more supplies to your kit than those listed above: a hand-held mirror, for example.
In addition to those already listed, the following represents many of the supplies included in one of the nation’s leading barber school supply kits that retails for $3,000:
- 10 different brushes, including those for the neck and scalp
- 15 different combs, including a clipper comb, cutting combs, and combs with metal tails
- 22 clips butterfly and skinny clips
- Blow dryer
- Hand-held mirror
Getting to Know Your Student Barber Kit
You will naturally gravitate towards the most obvious and exciting tools in your kit – hair cutting shears, hair clippers, straight razor, etc. That’s normal, and it’s good practice for you to handle and test the essential everyday tools of your trade. However, we recommend stopping short of sleeping with your shears under your pillow.
Once you’ve spent time getting to know your basic tools, absolutely do not neglect your hygiene and safety products. Not using these correctly can easily be cause for failure on your practical exam, and you should get in the habit of incorporating the sanitation and safety practices from the beginning. This holds especially true for aspiring barbers who have already started forming their habits by cutting the hair and trimming the beards of friends and family members.
Make using hand sanitizer, neck strips, and protective strips feel as natural as possible. Just as you wouldn’t want your practical examiner to think you had never held a pair of hair shears, you should be equally elegant in your use of hand sanitizer.
One final tip – when you are accumulating supplies for your kit, remember to keep a product’s original label intact. State barbering examination boards can be very picky about original labels being on items used during the practical test.