Queer Hair Salon Barb

Welcome to the Barb Shop

Freshly launched Barb creates community and style for short-haired folks.

When Sheena Lister was prepping for her wedding five years ago, she made trips to a high-end salon every 8 to 12 weeks and paid $200 per haircut to maintain her short hairstyle. Like any soonlywed, she wanted to make sure her look was perfect for the big day.

Of course, a barbershop would have been cheaper, but Sheena has never felt comfortable being the only woman getting her hair cut in a room full of men. She remembers talking to her stylist at the time and asking, “Why isn’t there a space for women with short hair?”

During those months before her wedding, Sheena began to envision a more inclusive beauty industry, where women and trans folks could get affordable haircare that wasn’t marketed exclusively to cisgender men. With that vision came the idea for Barb, her and co-founder Megan Andrews’ product line and community for women and trans/nonbinary people with short hair. “Barb” is the term they use to refer to their community members, as well as the overall style and vibe of someone with short hair.

Neither of the two friends had ever worked in hair, but they shared the same frustration with their haircare. Megan has always felt more comfortable in a barbershop than in a salon, but they still “stuck out like a sore thumb” in shops frequented by big, bearded men. “I was uncomfortable, but that was what I had to do to get the cut I wanted.”

Queer Wedding Hair

Like many queer individuals, Sheena and Megan’s hair journeys were intertwined with their coming out processes. Megan recalls wanting short hair as young as four years old but didn’t get to fully embrace the look they wanted until college. Sheena recounted the time she went for a short haircut at an Aveda salon while in college and left “looking like Krusty the Clown.” Her hair experiences have been better since then, but that nightmarish cut is still the most memorable.

Year-round, Barb sponsors transitional haircuts, called GoBarb cuts, in salons and barbershops across the country that carry Barb products. When a stylist has a client who is interested in taking the plunge, Barb will cover the cost of the haircut and invite them to share their new look with the Instagram community. These partner shops and stylists are called Barbtenders and are often queer-friendly, gender-affirming, or gender-free salons and barbershops, including the Bishops chain.

Thanks to these partnerships and the online shop, Barbs are everywhere. They reside in all 50 states and range in age from 18 to 70-plus. And Barbs aren’t just queer folks. Sheena and Megan’s brothers use Barb, and Megan’s cousin, Scott, ordered Barb’s pomade for all of the groomsmen at his wedding last year.

Every week, Sheena and Megan receive testimonials from happy Barbs that remind them why their work is so important. One customer even sent their wedding photos via Instagram DM. “It’s so cool to get pictures of these intimate moments in people’s lives,” Sheena said.

Megan is currently planning their own wedding and navigating the heavily gendered industry.

“Some of the venues have a ‘henhouse’ for the ‘bridal' party and an Airstream for the groomsmen,” they shared. “What if the bride wants the Airstream?”

Sheena and Megan are proud to be a part of others’ wedding days, making folks with short hair feel confident, beautiful, and celebrated in a way that the rest of the beauty industry often fails to do. “It would be amazing if brides and grooms and everyone in between used Barb on their wedding day, because the point is, you want to feel your best.”

Queer Wedding Hair Product Barb

Barbs' Short-Hair Styling Secrets

1. Envision the Outcome: Megan recommends first thinking about the finished look you want and working backward to determine which products you'll need.

2. Less Is More: Go lighter on product and add until you get the look you're going for. “It's way harder to get product out of your hair than to put it in,” notes Megan. 

3. Get Social: When using a new product, check out a company’s website or social channels. “See if they have any styling-specific videos you can follow to help you figure out the best-use case for your hair,” says Sheena. “Most importantly, get inspiration from companies that show people who look like YOU.”

Written by Kristen Pizzo | Originally featured in Love Inc. V8

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Brittny Drye
As a lover of all things wedding and a fierce cheerleader for marriage equality, I decided to marry my two passions and create a resource where all couples—gay, straight and lesbian—can be equally represented. Armed with seven years in both print and online lifestyle journalism, I dove headfirst into this passion project in 2013 and Love Inc. was born. I’m inspired every day by the couples that grace our pages, from the can’t-live-without-you grasps to the gentle sweeping away of a happy tear, the love that they so clearly have for each other is intoxicating, and drives me to create the best product possible … while enjoying every second of it.