Why Do Barbers Put Alcohol on Your Head (An Old Tradition with Modern Benefits)

So, you just got a cut and still feel that stinging sensation from the alcohol and ask yourself…Why do barbers use alcohol after a haircut?

well, you’re in the right place for the answer. 

In this article, we’ll go through the 3 main reasons why you barber gives you a douce of alcohol, you’ll learn about the best kind to use…

And, we’ll touch on what you should be aware of before trying to replicate this important practice yourself.

With that said, let’s look at the table of contents and get into it. 

Alcohol After Haircut

Barbers use alcohol after a haircut to disinfect skin to stop the chance of infection. 

This is primarily done if your barber has used a straight razor on your skin or another sharp tool

Why do barbers spray alcohol?

The alcohol thins helps to kill batteries on the skin which helps to prevent things like:

  • Acne
  • Ingrown hairs
  • Razor bumps

Now it’s all great knowing what the true purpose of alcohol is, but how exactly does it work to kill bacteria? 

What is the safest way it should be done with little damage? 

I take more on this next. 

Alcohol on shaved head

To better understand this, you need to know what shaving does to your skin. 

When shaving or cutting hair, you’re affecting the lipid layer of the epidermis (your skin).

That part of the skin is responsible for keeping moisture in the skin’s tissues. 

If that outside later is ‘affected’ i.e. cut, bruised, or irritated, you are more prone to infections.

Not good.

The alcohol, tightens the pores on the skin, closing them up to protect you from germs and bacteria entering.

These minor little cuts are no joke.

Depending on how vulnerable your skin is or how clean your barber’s clippers are, the friction onto the skin from clippers can lead to bacterial or fungal infections such as:

  • Folliculitis
  • Tinea capitis
  • barber rash

Now, I’m not saying after every haircut you’ll need to have your hair doused in alcohol to stay safe from this possible bacterium. 

It’s quite rare, most good barbers, keep their clippers very clean and you are unlikely to catch anything from your trusted barber, especially if you’ve been going to them for a long time.

In fact, If your barber uses alcohol on your head it just shows the really care about your well-being… Even though it may sting a little. 

Now, we know the benefits alcohol has on the skin, what are the cons or what should you keep a closer eye on when your next applied with Alcohol? 

What does barber alcohol do?

Now rubbing alcohol is great and it almost will certainly help to keep you safe and germ-free. 

However, rubbing alcohol isn’t the only solution you can use to use to keep your skin clean after a cut. 

Also, barbers tend to go for alcohol as it’s the most cost-effective solution for multiple clients, but it isn’t exactly the best. 

If you’re trying to avoid stinging, dry skin, and possible rash, opt for a post-shave balm. 

Shave/cutting balms are far more moisturizing to the skin while still protecting you from bacteria… 

Below I suggest to you some of the most in-demand shaving balms at their current best price. 

Most forms of aftershave are packed with alcohol hence the sting but these post-shave balms are highly effective and can moisturize your skin whenever you like. 

Simply takes one with you to the barber and apply it right after a cut. 

Aim for the corner of your hair or anywhere that has been touched with a sharp trimmer and is exposed to air. 

Simply rub it in and let it sit.

You don’t have to shower or worry about the aftereffects, unlike alcohol.

What kind of alcohol is used after a haircut

If your barber uses alcohol, make sure it’s rubbing alcohol.  

It’s a specific type of denatured alcohol that is used as a disinfectant.

 It typically contains 70% isopropyl alcohol, and the remaining 30% is composed of water and other ingredients that make it the safest option for the skin.

Anything else and you should be asking questions. 

What Kind of Alcohol Do Barbers Use?

Pinaud Clubman is a classic post-shave option, loved by barbers.

When using rubbing alcohol, you may have noticed that after the alcohol is applied to your skin, your skin instantly feels dry. 

Why is this?

Well, this is because rubbing alcohol, or any other alcohol for that matter, strips the skin of its natural oil. 

This is all for good reason. 

That stripping is what closes pores and gets rid of bacteria but if you have sensitive or already dry skin, it can leave your skin sore and very dry. 

Also, If you leave large amounts of alcohol on your skin, it can make you wrinkle over time. 

For this reason, it’s better you have a higher concentration of alcohol think 70-90%. 

This is because…

  • 70% is the best percentage to kill bacteria
  • The alcohol is more in contact with oxygen so it evaporates more quickly. 
Also, I advise you to wash your face and take a shower after you’ve had a cut, this is to get rid of extra hairs on your face and to remove the alcohol.

The stinging 

Yes, it’s not fun but it’s all part of the process for cleaner skin.

It’s no different from when you run your finger under alcohol to help close a wound. 

All that happens is certain nerves get triggered and your body reacts accordingly. 

It’s the same effect closing the foundation and keeping out the bacteria. 

How long does the sting last?

Well, it all depends on how sensitive your skin is, the type of alcohol, as I have just mentioned, and your pain tolerance. 

But all in all, it should hit you hard for a few seconds then the pain should pass in under a minute.


Now if you are allergic, it goes without saying but stays away from using alcohol. 

This is especially if you have the skin condition: dermatitis.

If not, you’re okay.

Dermatitis isn’t life threatening but you certainly shouldn’t aggravate it. 

These are the possible signs of dermatitis:

  • Red rash 
  • Itching 
  • Cracked skin
  • Swelling and tenderness

Now, you must make sure that this doesn’t get worse after alcohol has been applied.

If this is the case, check in with your doctor for your safety.

Alcohol on the head after a haircut

If we stick with your barber, what is the correct process they should be talking to to make sure they are using the alcohol right?

The two ways your barber should be applying alcohol to your head are either

  • Patting on a paper towel before applying 
  • Use a spray bottle with a fair mix of water (You do not want it to sting too much on your client)

These are the best application methods as they stop the spread of germs 

They should aim for:

  • Hairline 
  • Sideburns 
  • Back of the neck 
  • Any areas that have been cut with a sharp trimmer

Now in most cases, your hair itself shouldn’t get the alcohol treatment as it blocks it from reaching the skin.

You better off heading home and giving it a good wash.  

If using a napkin, it should be gently patted. It shouldn’t be done forcefully. 

Now and this is critical… If your barber uses a cloth and napkin to apply alcohol to you, It must be clean!

Never accept a dirty napkin or paper towel to be used on you with possible contamination, which defeats the whole point of alcohol.

Also, make sure they only apply a few squirts to a clean towel/on your head. 

If they are doing too much, just tell them to stop.

Keeping an eye on these processes should keep you safe. 


In this article, we asked the question, why do barbers use alcohol?

Its simple barbers use alcohol to:

  • Tighten the pores of the skin 
  • Decrease the chance of infection by killing bacteria

Now, you don’t always have to use alcohol, if you have sensitive skin, get a shaving balm and apply that to your skin by itself. 

If you have found this article helpful, please check out other articles on this topic. 


what does alcohol do after a haircut

Alcohol is often used after a haircut to disinfect the skin of bacteria from tools that were used during the hair-cutting process. After a haircut, alcohol can be used to clean and sanitize the skin to prevent the spread of bacteria, fungi, and other pathogens.

Is alcohol used after a haircut just to disinfect the tools or the hair as well?

Alcohol is mainly used to disinfect the tools used during a haircut, but it can also help to remove excess hair products and oils from the hair and scalp.

Can alcohol be harmful to the hair or scalp?

If used in excess or too frequently, alcohol can be drying and irritating to the hair and scalp. but, the small amount used by barbers is not harmful.



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