Our guide to hairdressing
Jade O'Donoghue

Our guide to hairdressing

First published date June 24 2014 Amended date January 15 2016

There are only a few people in life who are blessed with get-out-of-bed-looking-great hair – Jennifer Aniston is probably one and maybe Kristen Stewart – for everyone else, there are hairdressers. With a pair of scissors and a few clever products, hairdressers transform unruly manes and troublesome tresses into styles that make clients look and feel great.


How to get qualified as a hairdresser

The first thing to consider when choosing your hairdressing course is whether you want to pursue it as a career or learn just so you can give your friends and family the odd trim. Some hairdressing courses don’t come with recognised qualifications and some come with qualifications that you’d need to top up before working in a salon, so this is something definitely worth paying attention to.

Many go down the apprenticeship route which means you will get real life experience working with customers and getting to know day to day life as a hairdresser before you’re fully qualified. If you don’t want to train this way there are plenty of courses you can do at local colleges or hair schools, and you will need at least an NVQ 2 to start working as a hairdresser in most salons.

Our interview with renown hairdresser Charles Worthington is worth a read if you're considering this as a lifelong career.


Can you cut it?

Hairdressing courses will usually cover all the steps involved in treating hair – from washing and cutting, to colouring, styling and blow drying. You’ll learn about different services you can offer as a hairdresser and how to provide good customer service to your clients by being knowledgeable on fashionable styles and what cuts suit different face shapes.

You’ll need to have a creative mind and a steady hand to succeed on a hairdressing course because it’s a trade that combines artistic flair and style with technical precision and attention to detail.


Mastering your trade

Extensions, up-dos, chemical treatments, bridal hairbarbering – there are loads of areas within hairdressing that you could specialise in and plenty of courses to train you up so that you can offer these services to your clients.

On completing your hairdressing course there are several avenues you could go down in pursuing a career – you might want to work in a salon, or provide freelance hair services to clients in their own homes, or even be hired as a session stylist – perhaps on a TV programme or on a magazine shoot.


Tips from a hairdressing pro

Marijke Cantillon is a working hairdresser who has made her mark on the industry in both salons and as a session stylist. She now trains future hairdressers and works freelance. We asked her if she had any pearls of wisdom to pass on…

On satisfied clients – ‘It makes clients happy to have a fresh look created for them; it can be liberating.  When you have known your client over time it is easier to tap into their alter ego and reinvent their look.  If they like it the reward is great and a happy client will send 10 new ones to you. It helps spending a few minutes just getting to know a new client so as to discover their personality type, wardrobe, lifestyle, hair routine and more as this will give you ample opportunity to then recommend some fresh, trendy and perhaps even liberating ideas.’

On getting ahead in the industry – ‘The industry is constantly producing new talent, products and techniques.  If you want to make shockwaves you need to stay on top of your research.’

On creativity in hairdressing – ‘Make sure that you learn all the basic hairdressing rules first before you break the rules as then they are much easier to skilfully and successfully break.  If you want to lead where others can’t follow you need to follow first to get onto the right path which has already been tried and tested for you.’

On the impact hair can have – ‘A good hair style can say a lot about a person and a lot about you as a hairdresser.  When you work with a film script for example hair and makeup play a key part in making the characters on paper come alive.’



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