In five years, the number of barber shops in the Netherlands quadrupled, cases specialized in men's hairstyles, beards and mustaches. How does the experience of a barber shop differ from that of a normal barber and why is a visit to the barbershop so popular?

"Barbershops are a kind of mancaves where women are not allowed to come and men are among each other", says Jeanimee Daal, spokesperson for the Barber Battle Netherlands, an annual competition between barbers. Last week the competition was organized for the seventh time. "In the barbershop, men feel more at home than among women in a barber shop."

"There is a cool men's atmosphere in the barbershop," says Conny Eussen, spokesperson for the General Dutch Hairdressers Organization (ANKO). That organization saw the number of barber cases rise in five years to 1,022 cases. This increase is apparent from figures from the Chamber of Commerce and Statistics Netherlands. Barbershops continue to be a small part of the total hairdressing industry, which consists of 27,000 items.

"Men feel more at home in a barbershop than in a barber shop," says Jeanimee Daal. (Photo: GettyImages)

Responding to the 'men's club feeling'

"Barbershops respond well to the 'men's club feeling'. They are decorated with lots of wood and leather. Men work with tattoos and sometimes there is a dog in the corner," says Eussen.

According to barber Brian van Dijk, who finished in third place at the Barber Battle, it is important that customers see a visit to the barbershop more as an outing than as a job that needs to be checked off. "We work with warm towels with aromatic oils that the customer gets on his face. That pores open and you can shave smoother, but it also works very relaxing. I often hear from customers that they come especially for that," he says .

"Spending two hours on the terrace means you spend as much as you would for a treatment at the barbershop and that includes drinks." Barbier Brian van Dijk

Treatments at a barbershop often also take longer than a haircut at the hairdresser's. Sometimes there is also a facial treatment with warm oils or a massage of the scalp, crown, neck and shoulders included. In a barbershop in Zutphen, customers can also sunbathe for twenty minutes under the sunbed. All while enjoying a cup of coffee, a beer or whiskey.

"You can sit on the terrace for two hours, but then you lose just as much as during a treatment of eighty minutes in the barbershop and that includes the drinks," says Van Dijk.

Hairdressing industry is becoming more diverse

The rise of the barbershop goes hand in hand with the growth of specialized training courses to become a hairdresser and barber. In the past, boys had to learn how to put curlers on in hairdressing, light up, paint and perm. As a result, many boys dropped out. Now more courses focus specifically on styling men's hairstyles and beards.

The hairdressing industry is becoming more diverse across the entire breadth, says Eussen. "Everyone wants something different. You now have hairdresser's at the station that blow-dry your hair or give you a quick haircut in two or three minutes and you have things where you will be pampered with a massage and beauty treatments."