13 skills every hairdresser needs to thrive

The hair and beauty industry is estimated to be worth £2.5bn, and there’s no doubt that it’s a popular industry. Look at any high street or community in the UK and you’ll find a hairdresser showcasing their skills. It’s a competitive industry, so it makes sense to stand out to help you and your business thrive.

So what skills do you need to be a hairdresser that keeps up with the industry and stays booked and busy? Let’s take a closer look at the skills that can help you to elevate, boost and push your hairdressing career forward, wherever you choose to work.


What skills do you need to be a hairdresser?

There are some skills that you absolutely must have to be a hairdresser. The main one is an ability to work with hair, whether that’s offering colours, cuts, hair extensions, styling or something else completely. It’s important to have the right training and qualifications. But really, you shouldn’t stop there if you really want to thrive in your hairdressing career.

1. Creativity

Hairdressing is a seriously creative industry, and to thrive in the industry you’ll need to exhibit your own creativity and flair. Whether this comes through in your client work, your ideas or taking part in creative showcases and competitions, creativity can seriously help you to be seen and for your business to thrive.

There are no limits to creativity when it comes to hairdressing. You get to work with different techniques, materials, colours, textures and lengths with a full range of equipment to really show off your creative skills and what you can do. Showing off that creativity can take you places and help keep your passion for the industry alive.

2. Marketing and social media

In a competitive industry like hairdressing, marketing and social media matters. 4 out of 5 consumers use search engines to find local business information according to Google. More than half of the world’s population uses social media, so it’s important that you’re showcasing your hairdressing work so that potential clients can find you. Hairdressing is such a visual industry that it makes sense to share your work as well as share offers and availability.

It’s no longer enough to just hope word of mouth works for you. The hairdressers that thrive in their career and have a busy calendar are the ones who shout about what they’re doing and market themselves effectively. That often means you have to be a photographer, videographer, digital marketing and your own PR department too - but you can seriously reap the rewards.

3. People skills, listening and communication

Hairdressing is such a people-focused industry that having people skills and being able to listen and communicate are all seriously important. It can be the difference between clients rebooking with you vs them leaving with a bad impression. If you can’t listen, communicate and connect with people then your clients may end up being dissatisfied with the results of their service.

Take the time to really listen to what your clients want, and what they’re saying. It’s no use giving them a high maintenance cut and colour if they’ve told you that they’re a busy parent with no time for styling in the morning. Having the right people skills and the ability to communicate effectively is absolutely essential to thrive as a hairdresser, whether you’re self-employed or you work in a salon.

4. Customer service

Hand in hand with people and listening skills are customer service skills. This should start from the moment your client books an appointment and continue as they walk through the door, experience their service and get aftercare and advice for their new style. Good customer service can lead to loyalty, recommendations and customers spending more money. Customer service also works for your reputation too - take the cues from your clients about what they want from you.

Offering personalised consultations, keeping clear records of treatments, colours and hair condition, making sure your appointments run on time and working with your customers on your availability are all examples of customer service that can help you to stand out as a professional. Never underestimate the power of building strong relationships with your clients, especially through good customer service.

5. Passion for the industry

Whatever your reasons for starting out your career in the hairdressing industry, it’s important to keep that passion alive. Staying interested, innovative, bold and experimenting with the latest techniques is important for keeping your skills up to date. If you don’t really pay attention to the latest trends or you don’t really care what others are doing in the industry, you’ll lose clients and miss out on the ability to gain more.

Truly loving what you do, and the industry you do it in, can make a big difference to how you feel about your job. This impacts on everything from your creativity through to your customer service and the ability to connect with your clients. You want to be ahead of the game to thrive in your hairdressing career.

6. Professionalism

As a hairdresser you build professional relationships all the time. This could be with your colleagues and peers, suppliers, clients and other people associated with your business. Being professional doesn’t need to mean behaving like a robot. You can still showcase your unique personality and the warmth you bring to your hairdressing space while remaining professional.

Professionalism covers everything from looking presentable and polished through to the way you speak to your clients and your knowledge of the latest techniques. It also relates to how you showcase your technical skills and how you carry out services too. Professional certifications and training can also help to build up your reputation as a pro, especially for in-demand services.

7. Technical hairdressing skills

As a hairdresser you need to have hairdressing skills and knowledge, and these need to be kept up to date. Your customer service and salon environment can be absolutely amazing, but if your technical hairdressing skills aren’t strong then it’s unlikely that your clients will leave happy and even less likely that they’ll come back or recommend you. Being the best at what you do is incredibly important for attracting clients and maximising your earning potential.

Pay attention to styling trends, social media and client demand to work out where your technical skills might need a top up. If there are areas you’re less confident in, then practice, practice, practice or look to take on some training to enhance your skills. Your technical skills as a hairdresser can be your biggest asset and biggest differentiator in the industry.

8. Drive and energy

Drive and energy, combined with passion and creativity, is the magic formula to going seriously far as a hairdresser. Don’t underestimate how much pushing your business and career forward can actually help you in the longer term. Just being able to juggle different tasks, skills and clients with enthusiasm and energy can make a huge difference.

Having the drive and determination to succeed can also be a massive factor in the way you move forward in your hairdressing career. It allows you to say yes to more opportunities as well as encouraging more opportunities to come your way, then means you have the energy to execute it and take advantage.

9. Product knowledge

Product knowledge is really important for a number of reasons. The first thing is that it helps you to carry out your services more effectively. It’s essential to understand what products work on your clients hair, and the results they give so that you can perform your services to the best of your ability.

Having an in-depth understanding of the products you work with and how to use them also means that you can give your clients effective aftercare advice. This means that they can replicate your styling at home and keep their hair looking good between appointments. Understanding the products your clients can use makes it easier to recommend and upsell products to your clients, increasing your income and helping you to hit your targets.

10. Sales

Selling is one of the core functions of any business and that’s no different when it comes to hairdressing. Whether you’re selling your services to clients, upselling extra treatments or making product recommendations, sales skills matter as a hairdresser. It can be the difference between just getting by and seriously succeeding. Being good at sales can help you to make way more money in your hairdressing career.

Some people are natural salespeople whereas others need a little extra training or a push to feel comfortable with it. It’s a skill that you can learn and build on, so even if you don’t necessarily feel like you’re the best at sales, you can get better and reap the rewards of your new-found sales skills.

11. Organisation

Keeping organised is key to your success as a hairdresser. Whether you are working from your own home, visiting clients on the go or renting a chair in a salon, it is important to keep track of your comings and goings. This means knowing how long your services take, having the right products available, being on time for client appointments, staying on top of your training, making sure you have hairdresser insurance plus keeping track of your finances.

How you get organised (and stay organised) is completely up to you. You might want to work from a digital system or go old-school and keep it paper based. Organisation is something to master to elevate your hairdressing career and keep your salon time running smoothly and efficiently—if you’re not naturally too organised then it’s something that you can learn.

12. Willingness to learn

Willingness to learn is a key behaviour that helps us get on in life, whether personally or professionally. Simply put, it's being open to – or seeking out—new experiences, skills and information that improve our abilities and enjoyment. That’s the same in hairdressing too. You have to have that creativity, passion and curiosity to learn new skills.

The industry moves so quickly and new trends pop up all the time, so you need to be interested, engaged and ready to learn new skills to keep up and progress. A willingness to learn can stand you in really good stead for your hairdressing career, and could be a factor that leads to you getting promoted or growing your business.

13. Teamwork

“Teamwork makes the dream work” as the saying goes. There’s more to building a successful salon than just taking care of each client’s hair, skin and nails. Taking your hairdressing career to the next level means finding ways to encourage everyone to become real team players who contribute to growing your salon and making it successful.

Stylists need to work side by side each day so encouraging teamwork and being a good team player means finding positive ways to interact, resulting in happy customers and low staff turnover. Teamwork can also lead to more job satisfaction and positivity in your day to day at work.


What you need to know about hairdresser skills

When it comes to hairdresser skills, there’s no one career or skill set that’ll look exactly the same. Every salon and hairdresser is different. They work in different areas, with different clients  and have different goals, knowledge and starting points.

As a result, you get out of the industry what you put in. It might not be an overnight success story but will make a significant difference to your career in the industry if you focus on building up skills. Take the time to brush up on your skills like communication, customer service and sales to seriously boost what you offer.

Many of the skills that will help you to thrive as a hairdresser will also help you to prosper in any industry that you’re in, and even in day to day life too. Constantly developing and growing as a professional can keep you feeling happier and more motivated in the workplace too.


Specialist hairdresser insurance through Ripe

Working towards mastering your skills as a hairdresser takes time and hard work. However, no matter how skilled you are, there are always risks involved with hairdressing—both when it comes to your equipment and working on clients.

Specialist hairdresser insurance can help give you peace of mind by providing you with financial protection should the worst happen. Through Ripe you can be covered for third-party claims, teaching, legal and more.

You can learn more about specialist hairdresser insurance here, or get a quick quote online today.


Please note the information provided on this page should not be taken as advice and has been written as a matter of opinion. For more on insurance cover and policy wording, see our homepage.

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