What Does a Hairstylist Do?

A hair stylist, or salon hairstylist, shampoos, cuts, colors, and styles hair. He or she may educate clients about hair and scalp care, remove unwanted hair, or dress a wig. Some hair stylists even do nails and skin care. Read on to learn more.

Hair Stylist Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Hairstylist, or Salon Hair Stylist, cuts and styles customers’ hair. Their main duties include washing, coloring and cleaning hair, recommending and selling salon products and staying updated on ongoing hair styling trends.

Hair Stylist Duties and Responsibilities

Hair Stylists work with customers to help them achieve the look they want. This involves much more than cleaning and cutting hair. Stylists must communicate with customers to understand their exact needs, and they need to be knowledgeable enough to recommend the best styles for clients. For some businesses, a Hair Stylist may also provide nail and skin care. Other Hair Stylist duties and responsibilities include:

  • Give clients advice on how to maintain a hairstyle or look
  • Explain the best ways to maintain hair health and why it’s important
  • Maintain supplies needed for hair styling

Important Facts About Being a Hairstylist

Entry-level EducationPostsecondary non-degree award
Work EnvironmentSalons, spas, resorts
Key SkillsAttention to detail, physical stamina, customer service, creativity, time management
LicensureAll states require hair stylists to be licensed
Continuing EducationPeriodic license renewals vary by state

What Does a Hair Stylist do?

Hair Stylists are beauty care professionals who work in a salon or spa styling and cutting customers’ hair. They’ll often talk with the customer to understand their style preferences, recommend an option that works best for the client and perform a hair cut, highlight or style accordingly. Hair Stylists work to inform their customers on the best hair care products to try and may sell the salon’s products to customers.

They’re responsible for building and maintaining a strong relationship with customers to ensure they continue revisiting the salon and making more appointments. Hair Stylists must also adhere to the cleanliness and salon safety standards to ensure all customers are safe in their care. They also stay updated on new hairstyles and trends to provide informed and resourceful recommendations to clients.

Hair Stylist Skills and Qualifications

A successful Hair Stylist needs lots of training and practice. So, their biggest qualification is prior experience, either through other jobs or through a certification or diploma. Hair Stylists also need a wide range of skills unique to the trade, such as:

  • Experience using different types of scissors, trimmers and other tools to create hairstyles
  • An understanding of the different types of hairstyles a person can request and how to achieve those looks
  • A willingness to learn about new styles and techniques
  • The ability to communicate with customers and understand a look they want, even if they don’t know the technical terms for a certain style

Hairstylists Work Environment

A few hair designers work in the glamorous world of movies and runway models. Some hairdressers style dead people’s hair for their funerals. Most hairstylists work in beauty shops and hair salons. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), nearly half of all hairstylists, hairdressers, and cosmetologists – who held about 656,100 positions in 2019 – were self-employed at the time. Self-employed hair stylists may own their own businesses, work out of their homes, or rent workspace from a salon or spa.

Hair Styling Services

Clients new to a stylist will often be asked to provide a picture of the look they desire. Once a plan of action has been agreed upon between stylist and client, the service time will begin. Depending on what choices have been made, the hair may be shampooed, trimmed or cut, colored, blow-dried, highlighted, and/or styled. Stylists may make recommendations for hair care products to their client; typically, the products recommended are stocked in the salon and available for purchase.

Hairstylist Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the BLS, the projected job decline for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists was 2% from 2019-2029. The BLS reported the mean annual wage for hairstylists, hairdressers, and cosmetologists in May 2019 was $31,530. Those employed by performing arts companies made the most money in 2019, averaging almost $84,540 a year.

FAQs About Hair Stylists

Good Hair Stylists must have strong interpersonal and verbal communication abilities to listen to client’s needs and provide them with a hairstyle that’s best suited to the client’s personality and preferences. They must also be able to maintain a consistent conversation with the client while coloring or cutting their hair, so multitasking skills are also a plus. Hair Stylists should also have a creative mindset and strong attention to detail to make sure the style they give their customers is free of any errors.

This typically depends on where they’re working. Larger salons may have a Salon Manager or Senior Stylist who oversees the Hair Stylist team and creates their shifts. Hair Stylists typically go to these Managers for any advice or guidance on how to complete complex cuts or colors.

They may also go to the Salon Manager if they’re having any issues with customers. Hair Stylists who work in smaller salons report directly to the salon owner who may be in charge of and oversee the entire salon team.

There are many settings Hair Stylists may work in. Most of them work in salons, seeing several clients each day and providing them with different types of cuts and colors. Others may work in a spa styling the hair of various customers and offering scalp treatments.

Some Hair Stylists may act as Cosmetologists, providing manicures, pedicures and facials to clients in spas or salons. There are also Hair Stylists who own their own personal salons and rent out a space for clients to come visit. They’re in charge of finding their own clients and creating the prices for their hair styling services.

Though they share similar responsibilities, there are key differences between Hair Stylists and Cosmetologists. Hair Stylists’ specialties are primarily in styling, cutting, shampooing and highlighting hair. Cosmetologists have a more general skill set, as they can style clients’ hair, while also offering manicures, pedicures and facial treatments.

Hair Stylists usually attend cosmetology school to learn how to provide beauty treatments to clients’ hair, skin and nails, and typically choose to work only on styling and cutting hair. Cosmetologists are more versatile and may offer a wide variety of beauty treatments throughout their role each day.

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