What is a Hairdresser?

A Hairdresser is someone who specializes in cutting, colouring and styling hair in order to enhance or maintain a person's appearance. Hairdressers are also referred to as hairstylists.

Hairdressing is a reputable and well established career that is attractive to many because of its high demand and flexibility of operations. Hairdressers can work as employees of salons or as independent contractors. Hairdressers can be male or female and are not gender stereotyped, although barbers are still considered to be mostly male. Most hairdressers have a broad range of skills, but some specialize in processes and techniques such as:

  • Hair Colouring and Dyes
  • Artificial Hair Extensions and Weaves
  • Chemical Relaxing and Straightening
  • Perms
  • Hair Plugs
  • Wig Styling
  • Braiding

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What does a Hairdresser do?

A hairdresser will typically address all things related to the appearance, styling, and grooming of hair on the head. A hairdresser will listen to the client first, and make sure they have a clear understanding and expectation of the desired results. Hairdressers will often refer to photographs and pictures in beauty & style magazines to visualize the look desired by the client. Hairdressers often must seek continuous training and education in order to be able to offer clients the latest style or cut.

Many hairdressers take part in hair competitions in order to keep up to date with the latest styles and cuts. These competitions showcase colouring, styling and cutting techniques. Salons encourage hairdressers to partake in competitions, as an award winning hairdresser will be great publicity for a salon, and the hairdresser will often end up gaining a large client base.

The largest task often performed by hairdressers is the actual cutting of hair. Clients seeking a new look or just requiring a trim will seek out the services of a hairdresser on a regular basis. Hair dressing is also referred to as hair styling, and is the process of styling the hair in a desired way to enhance the appearance of the individual. There are many styles that hairdressers must know in their profession including:

  • Curly styles, and knowing the most flattering way to cut curly hair
  • Straight styles, and knowing how to cut poker straight hair
  • Short styles
  • Long styles
  • Complicated up-do styles for weddings and formal events

Chemical treatments to hair can change the way hair looks and feels. Hairdressers administer a chemical relaxant to curly hair making it smooth and straight. Chemical perms cause a semi-permanent style such as curls or waves in otherwise straight hair. Colouring and highlighting hair often requires patience and knowledge of chemicals to create the perfect colour. Colouring for multiple shades can be quite complicated and tedious for the hairdresser.

Hairdressers also serve as an expert in the area of hair care and often will sell products that they are commissioned to sell or would like to recommend to clients. Some hairdressers go on to develop their own line of professional hair care products. Hairdressers may serve as consultants or editors for beauty and style guides.

A less common area of hairdressing exists in the realm of hair restoration services and products. Hairdressers can be licensed to handle hair plugs and skilled in the art of styling toupees and artificial hair. Wig styling can require special training as well.

What does it take to be a Hairdresser?

Hairdressers spend most of their day on their feet and an individual considering this career should be able to stand for long periods of time. Additionally, steady hands and good hand to eye coordination are necessary for accurate cuts and trims. Hairdressers must interact with clients in close proximity making good hygiene and social skills a must. Hairdressers that can make the client feel at ease are most likely to generate regular customers and steady income.

Becoming a hairdresser requires a small amount of schooling followed by extensive hands-on experience. Most states and provinces require hairdressers to be licensed before performing hair services. Typical license requirements will include:

  • Completion of a post secondary program in Cosmetology from an accredited school
  • A minimum number of supervised training experience hours must be completed
  • Payment of the license fee
  • Passing an administered exam

What is the workplace of a Hairdresser like?

Typical salons and hair cutting establishments are where most hairdressers are found. These establishments are located in many areas from shopping malls to upscale spas. Hairdressers may work as employees of the salon or rent the chair space as an independent contractor. Hairdressers may also operate out of their home, vehicle, or even travel to and perform services in the home of the client. Traveling hairdressers may visit hospitals and assisted living facilities generating a steady base of clients.

The entertainment industry is the second largest market for hairdressing. Movies and theatrical performances employ hairdressers on staff to style and transform actors into characters. Other entertainers such as music artists and dancers will also employ hairdressers behind the scenes. Some hairdressers are employed by just one individual and travel with them exclusively to meet their hair related needs.

The fashion industry also employs hairdressers to style model's hair for photography shoots and fashion shows. Photography shoots can take the hairdresser to various onset locations including exotic countries and challenging climates. Hairdressers in the fashion industry are oftentimes faced with time crunches and stressful situations. The hairdresser may have to work in small and less than desirable spaces as the need arises.

How much does a Hairdresser earn?

Hairdressers are typically paid per service they provide and receive tips from their clients as part of their compensation.

According the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, hairdressers in the United States earn a mean annual wage of $27,070. The annual wage typically increases for hairdressers that are well known and respected in the entertainment and fashion industry with some seeing annual wages of $60,000 - $200,000.

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