Why do barbers use alcohol after a haircut?

Alcohol after a haircut

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I am sure there was one point in time when you sat in a barber’s chair and wondered why does your barber use rubbing alcohol on your head after a cut? I know that I did, especially whenever I felt the burning sensation of alcohol after a haircut as a kid. So, why do barbers use alcohol after a haircut?

The reason barbers use alcohol after a haircut is to disinfect the head where cuts occur and it also avoids spreading germs between clients. When you get a haircut with clippers, liner, and straight razors you suffer small cuts from the blades.

Clippers and liners are made up of two outward plates that have small blades moving back and forth. During the cutting process, the client will suffer little abrasions that can get infected with germs if not disinfected properly.

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In this article, I will explain why your barber uses alcohol after your haircuts and what alternatives are available to you if you have allergic reactions to rubbing alcohol.

Why do barbers us rubbing alcohol after a line up or haircut?

Like I mentioned earlier in the article, when black men get haircuts they suffer minor abrasions from the clippers and liners. When the sites of the cuts are not cleaned properly, they develop sores and or nasty bumps. Bumps and sores on the head are the first indication sign that an infection is present.

The worst thing as a black man is to walk around with a fresh haircut and have bumps on the back of your neck. Just nasty!

In order to prevent these sorts of infections, a good barber will clean your head after a shape up (line up) or haircut. Most of the time your barber will either spray their client’s head with alcohol or spray alcohol on a paper towel then pat your head with it.

If your barber does not use alcohol after he or she cuts your hair, you should:

  1. Ask your barber to use alcohol or an alternative disinfect after a haircut as a sanitary precaution. This cleaning process should not be skipped for any reason.
  2. Consider changing your barber… If your barber skips this sanitary step, I would also question what other sanitary steps that they skip. I could only imagine that cleaning their tools after haircuts isn’t a priority either.


It should be noted that unsanitary stations and tools are one of the quickest ways to spread germs within the barbershop. SO BE CAUTIOUS!

What are the cons of using alcohol after a haircut?

In my opinion, if you are not allergic to Isopropyl Alcohol (rubbing alcohol) then the pros defiantly outweigh the cons. Because I am a kickass blogger and I know some of you may be allergic to rubbing Alcohol I will also cover the cons of using after a haircut as well.

Cons of using rubbing alcohol after a haircut

Dry your skin –

I am sure most of you already know rubbing alcohol dries out your skin… but you may be wondering, “why does your skin dry after using alcohol”.  Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) does what is called “defats” your skin, this means that the rubbing alcohol strips the skin of its natural oil.

This is crucial because Sebum (natural skin oils) removes a defensive bacterial barrier, but it also removes the moisture in the skin that helps keep us looking youthful.

Temporary stinging –

For example, whenever you cut your finger then apply rubbing alcohol to your cut, you will feel a burning sensation. The reason you feel this burning sensation is because Isopropyl alcohol activates the nerve receiver in your body that lets you know that a lite cigarette or flat iron is too hot to touch.

The signals travel to your brain then triggers your sense of feeling, those signals are imperative to your survival. Without the communication between your nerves ending in your skin and brain, you wouldn’t have any indication something is hurting you.

Allergic reaction –

Dermatitis reactionAn allergic reaction occurs when the chemicals from rubbing alcohol interact with the skin and cause a reaction such as “dermatitis”. Though Dermatitis is not life-threatening, it is extremely uncomfortable for the person suffering from it.

Signs and symptoms of contact dermatitis include:

  • A red rash
  • Itching, which may be severe
  • Dry, cracked, scaly skin
  • Bumps and blisters, sometimes with oozing and crusting
  • Swelling, burning, or tenderness


An allergic reaction to rubbing alcohol usually clears up after two to four weeks. During the recovery period, you can comfort the irritated skin with a cold wet towel over affected areas. Another great option I found is using anti-itch creams, even the generic brand work wonders.


What happens if you don’t use alcohol after a hair cut?

As I mentioned, it is imperative that you use something to clean your head. Whether you use alcohol or alcohol alternative to sanitize after a haircut, but what happens if you don’t use alcohol? What will happen to your head?

When you do not use alcohol after a haircut you risk getting infections, sores, or develop bumps. Using rubbing alcohol or an alcohol alternative sanitize, clean, and minimize the risk of germs infecting the little cuts that occur during a haircut.

How much alcohol should a barber use on a client after a haircut?

I am always asked by my friends; how much rubbing alcohol is too much. Well, of course, a barber doesn’t want to pour a whole bottle of alcohol on anybody’s head… obviously, that’s excessive and way too much.

You do not need very much rubbing alcohol to get the job done. A few sprays or a clean damped paper towel of alcohol is enough to kill the germs.

Seriously, a few squirts of alcohol is more than adequate to disinfect the client’s head.

When should a barber use alcohol on a client’s head?

Most people assume the person cutting your hair knows when to put rubbing alcohol on their head. Typically, that’s true, even the most novice barber knows to do this… It’s literally in the barber rule book!  Over the years I’ve learned that you shouldn’t make that assumption.

I’ve had barbers cut my hair and “completely forgot” to use alcohol on my head. As much as I hate the feeling of rubbing alcohol after a haircut, I know it’s important and had to remind him to use it.

Normally, your barber should wait until after your haircut to apply alcohol on your head. If your barber starts pouring alcohol on your head during a haircut, this is a red flag and you should get out of the barber chair. Believe me, your haircut will look bonkers if you don’t!

How long will the stinging from alcohol last?

Let’s be honest, when your barber sprays alcohol on your head after a haircut it feels like your head is on fire. This is because the chemicals in alcohol activate nerves in the skins that cause the feeling of a burning sensation.

How long does the burning sensation last? The stinging from alcohol depends on your pain tolerances, but typically the stinging lasts just a few seconds.

Check these reactions to alcohol after a haircut… Some of the facial reactions are freaking hilarious! Shout out to Wave Glyder for posting this video.

What should barbers use to apply alcohol on a client’s head?

Normally, when a barber finishes cutting hair, they will either spray your head with alcohol or they’ll use a paper towel dipped in alcohol then pat the head.

The reason your barber sprays or pat with a paper towel that damped with alcohol is to stop the spread of germs. A good and experienced barber will always make sure that they clean the head after a haircut.

Your barber should spray along your hairline, sideburns, back of the neck, top, and back of the head to ensure the elimination of germs lingering.

The process when using a paper towel is a little different. The napkin should be sprayed with alcohol then gently patted across the hairline, beard line, behind the ears, and the back of the neck. Usually with the process barbers will not spray your head with alcohol. I suggest washing your hair when you get home.

Under no circumstances should you allow your barber to reuse a handkerchief or cloth towel to clean your head after a haircut. Allowing your barber to reuse a dirty cloth will cause you to have bumps or sores.

What is some alternative of alcohol after a haircut?

This section is specifically for people who are allergic or just don’t like rubbing alcohol altogether. Luckily, there are alternatives to alcohol out there, some of them could even be found in your home right now!

Whatever your reasons are for looking for rubbing alcohol alternatives you can rest assure the listed products below will get the job done and eliminate the risks of infection after a haircut.

List of alternative Isopropyl Alcohol
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Vinegar
  • Witch Hazel
  • Distilled Spirits
  • Lemon or lime juice

The benefit of using alternatives instead of using rubbing alcohol is the minimized risks of an allergic reaction to the chemical found in the solution. This alone is a good reason to consider using the alternative.

Another reason to consider is the alternative options don’t strip your skin of essential oils needed to protect against foreign bacteria.

Are the alternatives as effective as regular rubbing alcohol?

Yes, they are! The alternative such as lemon juice and vinegar are as affective as rubbing alcohol. They aren’t as harsh on the skin as rubbing alcohol. The alternatives to alcohol do not strip the skin of essential oils.

Though they may not be as harsh as alcohol they will sting when applied after a haircut. For example; if you cut your finger and put lemon juice it’ll kill foreign germs, but it’ll burn like heck! So, keep that in mind when you apply the alternative to alcohol.


Whether your barber decides to use alcohol after a haircut or decide to use an alternative of rubbing alcohol, it is important not to skip sanitizing your head after a haircut. By sanitizing your head after a haircut, you minimize the risk of infection or developing a bumpy outbreak.

If you are a new barber or aspire to become one, it is your duty to not only provide great service but also protect your client from nasty germ while they are in your barber chair. Making sure you clean your client’s head after a haircut is your responsibility.

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