Hairdressers cut, trim and style hair according to each customer's personal
taste. They use a variety of tools, including scissors, razors, curlers, hairdryers,
curling irons, hair dye, mousse, gel and hairspray to do their work.
Hairdressers also shampoo, color and perm customers' hair, massage scalps
and provide expert advice on the use of hair products.
"I see about 15 clients a day and they all seem to want something different,
so I have to be ready for anything," says hairdresser Andrea Folk.
People skills are extremely important for hairdressers, because they work
with many different types of people of various ages. Tact and good conversation
skills are important tools for hairdressers in putting their customers at
ease and building a strong customer base.
"If you have good communication skills with your client, that makes everything
easier," says David Kohl, who owns his own salon.
Hairdressers who own their own businesses are responsible for a variety
of tasks in addition to general hair care. They may have to book appointments,
order supplies and pay rent on their building.
The toughest thing about being a hairdresser comes when you're just starting
out, says stylist Debbie Boniface. That's when you're building your customer
"You've got to make a name for yourself, since a lot of your business will
come from word of mouth," says Boniface. "One of the best things I did was
walk up to people who had nice styles and tell them they had great hair, and
give them my business card. That got a lot of people in for me."
Even with good communication skills and lots of patience, experts say there
are always a few customers you'll never satisfy.
"People think you're God. They think you can fix anything," says Kohl.
"Sometimes I have to remind them that I'm David Kohl, not David Copperfield
[the magician]. I work with reality; I don't do magic."
You'd better have good shoes and a healthy back if you're going to be a
hairdresser, because you'll be standing and bending a lot. Being in good physical
condition is essential to the job.
"Standing is the part I like least," says Jesse Briggs, a hairdresser to
the stars in Florida. "It can be really hard on you over time."
People with back or leg problems would likely have a difficult time as
Be prepared to work hard. The workday for hairdressers can vary depending
on the number of clients one sees. For full-time hairdressers, it's a standard
eight-hour workday. Many hairdressers work fewer hours than that, since a
number of workers in beauty-related fields work part time.
Still, some hairdressers may find themselves working six days a week doing
hair as well as answering phones, cleaning and learning new techniques.
Some hairdressers work on a freelance basis, visiting their clients' homes
and cutting hair there. Often these clients are elderly or ill, and therefore
unable to get out to a hair salon.
Barbers generally work in clean, pleasant surroundings with good lighting
and ventilation. Good health and stamina are important because they're usually
on their feet for most of a shift.
Some hairdressers also do makeup, manicures and pedicures on the side.
Prolonged exposure to hair and nail chemicals may be hazardous and cause irritation.
Keeping up on new styles, products and techniques is also an important
part of the job.
"I just got back from Europe last week and I couldn't believe the changes,"
says Kohl. "Every three months there are new products and techniques."