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What Is a Shampoo Bowl?

By Jeremy Laukkonen
Updated May 16, 2024
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A shampoo bowl is a specialized type of sink typically found in hair salons and barber shops. These sinks have curved cutouts designed to accommodate the back of a person's neck while his or her hair is washed. There are many different types of shampoo bowls, from standalone pedestals, to units that are built into chairs. Shampoo bowls are typically plumbed into the water supply and sewer or septic system, just like other sinks, though some units are mobile. The mobile shampoo bowl is most useful to hair stylists who work out of their homes or operate mobile salons.

There are many different types of equipment and supplies required to operate a salon or barber shop, from scissors and razors, to dyes and other hair products. One common piece of salon equipment is typically referred to as the shampoo bowl. The purpose of this equipment is to allow the hair stylist or barber to easily wet a customer's hair in preparation for treatments, or to provide a full shampoo and wash service.

Essentially, shampoo bowls are sinks, with a water supply, faucet, drain, and often some type of sprayer. They are usually designed with comfort in mind, so the physical appearance can differ somewhat from traditional sinks. Instead of having a uniform rim, shampoo bowls have curved cutouts in the front for a person's neck to rest in. This can allow someone to lean back comfortably while his or hair is washed. That can allow the stylist to work without bending over, while the person whose hair is being washed sits in a comfortable reclined, or semi-reclined, position.

There are many different types of shampoo bowls, each of which can be well suited to a different salon environment. Many shampoo bowls are built into chairs that are capable of reclining. These combination units are often referred to as backwash units, or shampoo stations. Another design is typically referred to as a shampoo bowl pedestal. These units are essentially shampoo bowl sinks that are built into free standing pedestals, so that any chair can be used.

A variety of materials can be used to make a shampoo bowl. Some units are constructed from porcelain or marble, and they tend to be fairly durable. Plastic is another material that shampoo bowls are commonly made out of, though acrylics and a number of composites can be used as well. Portable shampoo bowls are more likely to be made from plastics or composite materials due to weight issues.

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Discussion Comments
By Heavanet — On Sep 09, 2014

@talentryto- The article is correct about the fact that porcelain shampoo bowls can be heavy. This feature makes them awkward to work with in a salon, which could lead to chips, cracks, and breakage.

This is just another reason why acrylic shampoo bowls are the better choice when planning a salon.

By Ocelot60 — On Sep 09, 2014

@talentryto- Porcelain shampoo bowls are nice, but they can be costly. They are also likely to chip if you drop something in them, which is likely when working in a salon.

Acrylic shampoo bowls are also attractive, and have the added benefits of being durable and more cost effective. It is also often hard to tell the difference between porcelain and acrylic, so they look nice with any type of salon decor.

By Talentryto — On Sep 08, 2014

My sister is planning to open her own salon, and is trying to decide if shampoo bowls made of acrylic or porcelain would be best for her. She wants bowls that look nice in her salon, but that are also durable and affordable.

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