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You may also want to read our pages on ‘Completing Your Self Assessment Tax Return for Hairdressers’ and ‘How to Become a Freelance Hairdresser

A hair stylist will tend to a client’s hair, creating a new style by either changing the colour, shape, cut etc.

The typical responsibilities and tasks that a hair stylist may perform:

  • Greet clients and make appointments
  • Shampoo and condition hair
  • Cutting, styling and colouring
  • Perming or straightening
  • Styling wigs
  • Advise clients on hair care and scalp treatments

There are a variety of different places and environments that a hair stylist can work in; it doesn’t have to just be in a salon!  These include: Cruise ships, health farms and beauty spas, hospitals, prisons, armed forces bases, the fashion/entertainment world, colleges to train junior stylists and from home if self-employed.

As a hair stylist you will need to have certain skills and qualities, such as:

  • Be good listener and have a friendly manner – though you need to listen and take on board what your client’s requirements are, you must be able to tell them if you believe a certain style will not suit them, in a tactful way!
  • Creativity and a steady hand!
  • Good appearance – you will find that many hair stylists will have either a unique and quirky style themselves or at the very least have well-presented hair and an overall appearance. A client is unlikely to have much faith in a messy and unfashionable hair stylist!
  • Time management and being organised – as you will have a number of clients booked in, you will need to know how long the hair style will take to achieve and have all your necessary tools at hand.
  • Communication skills – you need to know exactly what is expected of you beforehand to avoid any confusion.  There is usually a consultation stage before you do anything, as then you can determine your clients’ needs and do an allergy test for any colouring etc.
  • Confidence and the ability to work well under pressure – there can be a lot of pressure put on you from the client with their expectations!  No one wants a bad haircut!
  • Able to work as a team.

Qualifications and Training

The most common way to train as a hair stylist is to go down the apprenticeship route.  You can choose to either attend college and then find a salon to get the practical experience, or you can go directly to a salon and have just on-hand training. Either way, training on the job will give you the essential practical experience needed in this industry.

If you decide to go to college, there are no formal entry requirements, though having GCSEs in English and Maths will be useful, as well as Art as it will show that you’re creative!

  • As a junior or trainee stylist you can expect to carry out tasks such as: booking appointments, shampooing/conditioning, applying hair colour, assisting and observing stylists, making tea/coffee, keeping the salon clean and tidy and cleaning/drying towels and gowns.

Benefits of freelancing as a Hair Stylist

There are many advantages to becoming a freelance hair stylist.  One of the main reasons why many people decide to freelance is due to the fact that you can often earn more than a full-time salary, simply by taking on more than one client at a time. By using our Freelancer Calculator you can work out exactly how much you could potentially take home.

Other benefits include:

  • Greater tax benefits
  • Control of your destiny – you are your own boss so you decide where your career will take you.
  • Job satisfaction
  • Flexibility – you choose when, where and how long you want to work

Finding work as a Hair Stylist

A strong client-base is absolutely vital for freelancers.  Word of mouth will help in securing further work, but to have a good reputation, you will need to market yourself well.  Many hair stylists choose to be self-employed, as it is so easy to do hair in a home – as long as you are willing to travel if needed.

Here are some helpful suggestions on how to find work:

  • Create an up-to-date portfolio.  If you want to get into the entertainment industry this will be your key tool in gaining work.  Even if this is not the direction you want to go, it’s still a good idea for potential clients to see what you’re capable of!
  • Set up a professional website. This is where your portfolio will be widely available for everyone to see.  Make sure you include a bit about yourself, where you’re based, prices etc. Take advantage of social-networking sites by setting up links to your business website.
  • Make business cards and give them out to friends and family who can recommend your services.
  • Set up an advertisement in your local newsagents/newspaper etc. or through free directory websites such as BT Tradespace or the Yellow Pages.

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