Tagging of barbers (barbershops)

Hi all,

I wonder how the community feels about formalising the hairdresser=barber tag for barbers?

Traditionally, barbers focussed on men’s hair and grooming. In OSM, the documented way to distinguish them from other hairdressers is simply to use male=yes.

However, this is problematic:

  • male=* (and its counterpart female=*) are documented as access restrictions, rather than intended customers or style/service provided.
  • Saying that barbershops are for men only relies on out-dated gender stereotypes. Whilst traditionally focussed on “male-styled” services, many barbershops will happily provide services to women. Indeed, in many (most? some?) countries, it would be illegal for them not to.
  • Nearly half of all shop=hairdresser (~12,000 out of 25,000) are tagged with both male=yes and female=yes. Are these more traditional hairdresser salons that also cater for men, or barbers that cater for women? It isn’t clear without further investigation.

I see the benefits of using shop=hairdresser + hairdresser=barber as:

  • Explicit tagging for this type of shop
  • No reliance on out-dated stereotypes
  • Tagging scheme does not break current data consumers/users. If a data consumer doesn’t understand hairdresser=barber, it will still understand shop=hairdresser which is better than nothing.
  • Enabling actual access restrictions to be appropriately mapped, for example, if it is truly not allowed for women to visit a barbershop in certain jurisdictions (shop=hairdresser + hairdresser=barber + female=no).
  • Potential to extend the scheme to tag barbershop styles, e.g., Turkish barbers, through barber=* (or similar).

Current usage of hairdresser=barber is ~250. This compares to ~9,300 instances of shop=hairdresser + male=yes + (female!=yes or female!=*).

Other options could include shop=barber (30 uses) or shop=barbershop (8 uses) however, as new values of shop, they may not be well supported.


A Kurdish barber has opened at the bottom of my street, so this is an immediate tagging issue.

There are both technical & cultural reasons why some kind of sub-tagging is needed for shop=hairdresser. For instance, this profile of black-owned barber shops in the UK. I have used hairdresser=polski_friseur where this was a major part of the signage, but I don’t know if this reflects Polish hairstyling or a stylist who can speak Polish (certainly when I had a good haircut in Hong Kong I was grateful for the member of staff who translated my wishes into Cantonese). A friend used to patronise a Japanese barber in London too.

I agree that sub-tagging for barbers is needed. A new shop=* tag would less practical IMO, although I’m not entirely opposed to that idea.

This topic has been discussed ad nauseum, and whatever your opinion on inclusion of this information in OSM may be, it wouldn’t be practical to have a special tag for this that applies only to barbers.

Out of interest, can you point to a few links? What topic exactly has been discussed ad nauseum?

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Mapping minority-owned and women-owned businesses has thread with (at this moment) 231 posts (with counter reaching 234, probably 3 posts were deleted)

Note that “black-owned” is not an exact match with “specializing in some specific style of hair styling”

(and maybe “specializing in some specific style of hair styling” would be better thing to tag)


I would be surprised if that is actually a distinct hair styling, though I am far from expert on this topic.

I see benefit here though documenting what it means would be nice (is self description as “barber” defining feature? Having this rotating white-blue-red thingy? )

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Yes, good point. I’d happily create the Wiki page.

I think in terms of definition it would be something like:

A type of hairdresser that traditionally specialises in cutting men’s hair and providing other male grooming services (e.g., beard trimming). Although service is not usually restricted to men, only “masculine-style” cutting options tend to be provided.

Other characteristics could also be mentioned. Things like the spinning barber poles, lack of those stand-alone hair dryers for perms, more “masculine” things like beer, pool tables, TVs with sports on etc.

Thanks :popcorn:

how you would tag theoretical POI that has both barber and female section? With ; delimiter?

So happens, there’s a ‘barbershop’ chain here, one case a ladies hairdresser with in-shop barbershop section, 2 nodes, both their own name, a gotcha for StreetComplete as one really needs to look twice to see the entrance door tells about the barber and the window about the hairdresser.

BTW thought to have seen JOSM made a change for the ‘unisex’ moniker on hairdressers and sure enough, moved one around and now get


Wouldn’t that just a be a regular shop=hairdresser? We aren’t saying hairdressers are feminine styles only.

Though I suppose it might be nice to indicate if the hairdressers does have a barber in-shop. I think something like barber=yes would be confusing (is it a barbers or does it have a barber in shop?). Delimiters could work but what would the other options be?

not really? typical one has no barber-type design/styling.

Hmm. Maybe we’re thinking of different things.

I was thinking of a place that cut hair (for men and women). There may be several members of staff, each with their own chair or area. Some may specialise in men’s (or women’s) hair but they will all cut all styles and be part of the same shop. This seems like shop=hairdresser to me.

Perhaps you’re thinking of something different? i.e., almost like two different shops inside one?

I am thinking about “how you would tag theoretical POI that has both barber and female section? With ; delimiter?”

So hairdresser where single POI has both barber-style section with spinning barber pole etc and separate section offering rather hair colouring/elaborate styling of long hair etc.

yes, something like that

A similar type of shop is shop=beauty. With that shop, the services on offer are described using the beauty=* key.

So we could have something like:

shop=hairdresser +

  • hairdresser=barber for barbershops as described here.
  • hairdresser=salon (any better values?) for “typical” hairdresser salons.
  • hairdresser=salon;barber for places with distinct separate barbers inside a hairdressers shop (i.e. more than just a specific hairdresser who does men’s cuts).


shop=hairdresser +

  • barber = only for barbershops as described here.
  • barber = yes for places which offer barber services (inside a more generic hairdressers shop).
  • barber = no for hairdressers that do not offer barber services at all.

I like this idea.

barber = only sounds like only barbers are allowed in as customers. A tag like this would be unintuitive for users who haven’t read all the documentation and community discussions, and is therefore not ideal IMO.


Just asked Mrs F :rofl: & she suggested possibly =stylist / hairstylist for mainly women.

Also agreed with shop=hairdresser + hairdresser=barber for primarily male customers

  • male=* (and its counterpart female=*) are documented as access restrictions, rather than intended customers or style/service provided.

IMHO the documentation classifying „male“ and „female“ as legal access restrictions, does not fit with the common usage of the tag

  • Saying that barbershops are for men only relies on out-dated gender stereotypes. Whilst traditionally focussed on “male-styled” services, many barbershops will happily provide services to women. Indeed, in many (most? some?) countries, it would be illegal for them not to.

I question that it is common that a barber refusing to provide service to a person that doesn’t identify as male would be illegal. The usual situation is that you are free to deny service and entry to your shop for anyone without reason.

In some countries with strict laws it might be a legal access restriction. It’s a bit confusing. That’s why I’m happy with this barber proposal.


In the EU and UK at least, that would be a form of direct discrimination based on a protected characteristic (sex) and therefore illegal.

EU directive 2004/113/EC:

(4) Equality between men and women is a fundamental principle of the European Union. Articles 21 and 23 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union prohibit any discrimination on grounds of sex and require equality between men and women to be ensured in all areas.

(14) All individuals enjoy the freedom to contract, including the freedom to choose a contractual partner for a transaction. An individual who provides goods or services may have a number of subjective reasons for his or her choice of contractual partner. As long as the choice of partner is not based on that person’s sex, this Directive should not prejudice the individual’s freedom to choose a contractual partner.

I believe this is similar in the US. Generally businesses have a right to refuse service, except for reasons of a protected characteristic, including a customer’s sex (e.g., The Civil Rights Act of 1964).

I believe it would also be unlawful in Australia based on the Sex Discrimination Act 1984.

I’m sure it’s the same in many places across the globe.

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I notice I failed to add the link, now corrected.

No, this is entirely different from the previous discussions about black-owned businesses: this is about specific services & skills (I used black-owned because that is what the link uses, and it’s simpler than using African & Afro-Caribbean). Not only are regional styles of coiffure quite distinctive, but different hair types require different skills and people will choose accordingly. There is a huge disparity in how much is spent on hair care products and hair styling between different groups: for instance black women are reported to spend 6 times as much on products as the average female customer (numerous other links, such as this one).

Any UK mapper is likely to be familiar with Desmond’s, a long-lasting sitcom set in an Afro-Caribbean barber shop. So these also may also act as community hubs, additionally making their identification useful.

Additionally, people may choose a barber or hairdresser who understands their mother tongue (in the case of Polish hairdressers in the UK I don’t know what preferences customers have, and this is difficult to ascertain).

Conclusion: at a bare minimum shop=hairdressers with the skills to style black peoples’ hair should be identified.

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