How To Grow As A New Stylist

tips for new hairdressers

Comparing yourself to a stylist who’s made it big time can feel overwhelming. You might find yourself questioning if it’s even possible to get to that level! And if so… how long will it take?  Even wondering what they could have done to be so successful?

Being a hairdresser can be very rewarding—especially when you are equipped with everything there is to know.

Staying up-to-date and motivated to keep trying new techniques is my favorite tip for those questioning how to be successful. Plus, when you’re constantly challenged and trying new things, you might find that days simply fly by, even if you should be falling off your feet!

And don’t think for a second that current top stylists got out of doing their share of the grind.

For example, at the beginning of your career, you’ll likely be faced with some difficult situations and lack the experience to deal with them—sometimes making situations feel even worse.

Like, maybe you made a mistake on someone's hair and now it’s taking you hours to fix it. Or maybe someone came in with messed up hair to start with and you find yourself staying up all night to make it right.

But take a deep breath! All that difficult, challenging stuff fades more and more into distant memories as you gain experience and education.

Yes, correcting someone's color will still take you many hours, no matter how experienced you are. But, you won’t be as stressed doing it. Why?

Because, with experience, you’ll be able to accurately predict the results of your efforts instead of playing the what-do-I-do-next guessing game.

If a client comes in with messed up hair? Experience will leave you knowing just how to properly educate them—and give them realistic expectations—of what steps need to be taken to achieve their ultimate hair goals.

Sound familiar? Those are just two common situations that less-experienced stylists can make more difficult on themselves.

But “common” doesn’t mean they couldn’t be avoided! To help make your early years easier, here are my tips and observations about five mistakes new stylists make:

4 Mistakes New Stylists Make

1. You think permanent hair color is permanent hair color and it won’t fade and it’s for everybody.

Trust me, I used to think my teachers were telling me to use demi-permanent color on clients so their color would wash out faster, making them come back for more frequent appointments.

Little did I understand that permanent hair color is made for people who have gray hair or if you’re trying to lighten someone's virgin hair with hair color.

Permanent color fades at approximately the same rate as demi-permanent. And just like demi-permanent color, it needs to be refreshed with every visit. Only the roots should be colored with permanent if there is gray and the rest refreshed with a demi-permanent. That way if the client ever wants to go lighter, you won’t have to color through all that permanent color build up. This will save you so much headache and time! Plus, the results will be much prettier.

2. Not educating each client about the process you are going to start and telling them what to expect realistically.

Check out my article “What Every Stylist Wished You Understood” for more on this topic. Even better, I recommend printing it out and letting clients read it! It will help them understand the process of hair and build a trusting relationship with you.

3. Getting too comfortable with clients you’ve had for a long time.

Just because you told them something once, doesn’t mean they will remember! For example, if you are lightening someone's hair, remind your clients every time that it’s a process to go lighter, and explain to them your scheduling system.

Personally, I book a three-hour appointment to get hair as light as possible, putting in as much work as the three hours will allow. If my client wants to be even lighter or even wants more light pieces, we’ll schedule an additional appointment.

Most salons will charge a lot more if someone is booking a big makeover appointment. Some will even charge $100 an hour! It’s your responsibility to make sure that your client has clear expectations for time and cost each and every time—saving everyone the frustrations and misunderstandings that could ruin your relationship.

Again, even if you always color someone's hair, remind them of the process every time! At the very least, print out a form for them to sign, that acknowledges how you schedule your appointments and what they should expect.

You might say, “Well nice salons don’t do it that way!” Well, I know lots of clients who go to a “nice salon” only once, and they never go back because nobody explained anything to them and they didn’t get what they wanted.

Even if you work in a salon, you can still explain all this shortly before you start. If a client trusts you, they will stay with you!

4. Don’t forget to keep a detailed client record.

Don’t forget to write down color formulations! I’ve made the mistake a couple times, forgotten what a client got, and regretted it the second they called in and asked for the exact color as last time.

Nothing’s worse than trying to match what a client already knows you can do—and letting them down. They notice, and lose their trust in you.

If you’ve made that mistake, don’t try to play it off like you remember. It’s always better to be honest. Tell your client that you forgot to record their color and at least they’ll be ready for a slight change in shade. Who knows, they might even help to jog your memory!

The Benefits of Social Media

As stylists, we’re so lucky to be working in the era of social media. Just take a great picture of hair you just did and the clients will come rolling in. And don’t be shy to post pics of your work. After all, that’s what the internet is for!

I feel like I was the last to start posting pics of my work. But from the moment I did, I got lots of new clients. Take before and after pictures, too. People LOVE to see, not just the final results, but some of the drastic improvements you’ve made.

I try to be consistent so that people don’t forget about me. Also, be recognizable! Just by looking at a picture, I know who did that hair from among the people I follow on social media.

ideas for fall hair color on dark hair

For example, we all love balayage. But, every stylist does it differently, with their own signature skills and signature look. And that uniqueness is exactly why people follow you. Because what you do is their style, and they probably like your personality.

So, remember, don’t be shy to be you. There are people who have been doing hair for only a couple years and they are so successful and have tons of followers and recognition.

Should you combine your personal account with your work account? Or, should you just have one account for everything?

I say keep it personal and use one account for all your updates.

Because Instagram is so instant, it’s really satisfying to get a peek into a stylist’s  everyday life and their work life. It gives me something to relate to—something your clients will likely look for, too.

Besides, I tried running two separate accounts and it was too much hassle! I know everyone does it differently, but I think it adds a lot of credibility to a stylist, and their work, when they’re open enough to allow others a more honest look at their media presence.

Plus, I think as long as you take good pictures then people will like it. Some stylists that I follow will post five or more pics of the same hair. And yeah, it can be a bit much! But it also lets me know that that’s a cut or color they’re particularly proud of.

Who Inspires You?

Find a hairdresser you admire. Look at what they are doing to be successful. Learn from them, ask them questions, and read comments on their social pages to see what other stylist have asked!

There is so much information out there if you want it. Go a step further and read other stylists formulations to see how they achieved those colors, then ask yourself how you would work to achieve the same results.

Classes and Education

What we learned in cosmetology school is, in my opinion, just the fundamentals of what’s required of us from the state. But in reality, you learn much more from experience and additional classes that focus on a specific area of interest.

The way I learned to balayage was from just envisioning how it was done. I haven’t even watched any videos on how to perfect my technique because every time I heard clients say that their previous stylist watched a video, it freaked me out. Could watching a video tutorial really lead to hair looking that bad?

Luckily, I slowly figured it out. By the time I started following other stylist or watching videos online, I could see I was on the right track. But, it would have been so much easier to just go and take classes instead. I would have been way less frustrated, myself. 

learn how to be a good stylist

It’s not enough to just go to trade shows and watch. You want some hands-on experience where you make mistakes and someone can help you fix them. 

You especially don’t want to practice something new to you on a client! Instead, I’d recommend getting an extra mannequin or perhaps if you have friends who like people to experiments on them for extra practice.

Finally, if you’re new to the industry, WELCOME!

Subscribe to my weekly newsletter for more articles you can pass on to your clients or learn from yourself.

If you are a hairdresser, what advice do you have for a new stylist? If you’re a client what do you wish new stylist knew or didn’t do?

Thank you for reading and please share!

Photo credit: eflon, bolcuxd, home_beauty_salon_evg

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