Advice for young hairdressers

September 25, 2007

As I sent off the interns last week, I gave them my best advice on how to be successful in this industry.

1. Find a salon where you can stay. It is better to spend a little time job hunting than to jump into a place that isn’t a good fit. Every time you move salons you will lose about half of your clients. Yes, really.

2. Show up on time (and on time means early!) every day. You can’t build a client base if people can’t count on you.

3. Keep detailed records of every client visit. What did you do to them? What chemicals did you use? What product did they purchase? How did it turn out? Use a notebook, or my personal favorite: a PDA.

4. Be honest with the IRS and every other governing body. Declare (and pay taxes on) all your income including tips.

5. Continue learning. There is more to learn after you leave beauty school than what you learned there.

6. Watch successful hairdressers. See what they do. Emulate them. When they are away from the clients, ask them questions about their techniques and philosophy.

7. If you are at all interested in being a good haircolorist, order the American Board of Certified Haircolorist’s study portfolio. Reading it will make you a better colorist, even if you never want to take the exam.

8. Know when to say “no.” “No” is not a dirty word. If a client wants something that shouldn’t be done or is outside your abilities, don’t say you can do it! Nothing sucks worse than getting in over your head and having to fix something you have screwed up. (Example: Client has been using black home haircolor for 10 years and now wants to be blonde. There is no color you can do that will make her blonde. Solution: Cut off as much hair as she will allow, then keep it short until the previous color has grown out. Then she can be whatever color she wants!)

9. Subscribe to all the trade magazines and web sites. There is no shortage of cheap and free education and inspiration available to you. If you can’t find them, leave me a comment and I will help you out.

10. Keep the drama out of the salon. Your clients care more about what you know and how you are going to use that knowledge to help them than they do about what club you went to last night and how hung-over you are. Don’t party on a school night. If you like to go out, please so do us all the favor of saving it for days when you are not on the schedule for the next day! It’s tacky to have a self-inflicted illness on someone else’s time.

11. Do the housework. It takes a lot of back-stage work to keep the floor of the salon running smoothly. Do the dishes, clean the color bowls, sort out the old magazines and tear the foils. Make yourself useful. Trust me, the day goes by faster when you stay busy.

12. Offer to help a stylist who is running behind schedule. People appreciate the help, and it helps you to become part of the team.

13. Ask for help if you need it, but don’t be needy. Do what you can on your own, but if you really need help, it’s better to ask for assistance than to screw up!


14 Responses to “Advice for young hairdressers”

  1. Tami Says:

    This is great advice.
    Thank you for passing it on to me and always sharing all your knowledge.
    Have a great day

  2. potongrambut Says:

    the number 8 advice is easy to say but hard to to.

  3. I venture to say that #8 is the most important to learn quickly. On the ABCH website ( you can read an article from their newsletter and see a picture of what happened when a hairdresser didn’t say”no”. Lawsuits cost so much more than you would have made doing the hair. I like to keep that photo around to show clients who try to bully me into doing something my professional judgment advises me to decline.
    Every hairdresser I know who’s been at it for more than a couple of years has a story of a time when they told a client “no” and the client went elsewhere to have it done. They know this, because the client came back and asked the original hairdresser to fix the mess that the second hairdresser created. If the second hairdresser would have said “no”, the client wouldn’t have the disaster. If a client comes to you because their regular hairdresser told them “no”, that should be a big flashing red light warning you to be extra cautious. It is possible that you are more skilled or better educated than the first hairdresser, but it is more probable that the client wants something unreasonable.
    When in doubt, do a test strand. Then you have hard physical evidence of what is and is not possible (and have covered your ass!)

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  5. Tammie Says:

    Just graduated beauty school. Right place right time have an interveiw with an amazing company. Looking for anything helpful to studt from and keep up on changes. Thank you for your time

  6. Nelly Says:

    Hey, i would really love and appreciate some help on finding that free ectra education you speak of. ive spent many many hours on youtube, and google, trying to find tips on how to be a better hair stylist, but have found very little to be of help. I left the industry because i just didnt feel like i learned enough in beauty school, and struggled to find any help in bettering my skills. I have the desire to cut hair again, but this time i want to go back for good, and i want to know and feel like im at my best, which is why id really greatly appreciate it if youd help πŸ™‚

  7. This is a topic which is near to my heart… Take care!

    Where are your contact details though?

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  10. Natalie Says:

    I’d like some links to keep me updated and grow more into my field of cosmetology. Also need a job that hire a beginning stylist

  11. Marissa Says:

    Hi there! Thank you for all the advice. What are some of the best, credible, & transferrble cosmetology schools To go to in Southern California? I’m ready to start this journey ; school & get my my lisence.

    • Aura Mae Says:

      I am very much out of the loop of California schools, but I do know that the state has a great apprenticeship program that you should investigate that will allow you to learn in a salon rather than a traditional school. If a traditional school is more your bag, I would start with the big names and check them out. Vidal Sassoon, Aveda, Paul Mitchel, etc.

      Food: – @auramaefood – #theauramaeway Hair: – – #auramae 253-353-2872 (cell) 253-752-1519 (salon)

      On Sun, Mar 12, 2017 at 10:47 PM, Get Some Hairapy! wrote:


  12. Abidogun esther odunayo Says:

    Thanks for the advise

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