Hairstylists possess the knowledge and ability needed to shampoo, cut, style and chemically treat hair. They may also provide other services such as scalp treatments and hairpiece services. In some jurisdictions, hairstylists also provide basic facial, make-up, hair removal, manicure and pedicure services.
While hairstylist services are the core of this occupation, it also includes employability skills, workplace maintenance, cleaning duties and the ability to build client loyalty. Hairstylists may recommend styles that suit clients based on their physical features and trends. Critical thinking, questioning and listening skills are important to serve their clientele. Depending on the workplace, recommending and selling hair and skin products may be done by the hairstylist.
Hairstylists may work in hair salons, barber shops, schools, hair replacement clinics, health care establishments, hotels, spas, and in the cruise, fashion and entertainment industries. Some salons specialize in services to either men or women and others are unisex salons. In salons, hairstylists may be remunerated through salary, commission, a combination of salary and commission or chair rental agreements. Some hairstylists work out of their residences where by-laws allow.
Hairstylists work with various tools and equipment including brushes, combs, shears, clippers, razors, hair dryers and irons. They own most of their tools and must keep them sanitized, disinfected and maintained.
Some hairstylists specialize in areas such as cutting, hair extensions and chemical services. In addition, diversity across Canada requires specialization in ethnic specific services.
Hairstylists work in clean environments, though the chemicals that they use may irritate their skin and produce strong odours and fumes. Some physical considerations of this trade are long periods of standing, posture fatigue and repetitive motion. This may result in repetitive strain injury, back and feet pain. Key attributes for people entering this trade are: coordination and manual dexterity, stamina, communication skills, colour vision and depth perception. Respect, professionalism, teamwork, tact, discretion and creativity are important personal qualities. To keep current with trends and styles, hairstylists need to update their skills. They must also understand and implement personal and public hygiene procedures to maintain workplace health and safety.
This analysis recognizes similarities or overlaps with the work of estheticians. With experience, hairstylists may move into other positions such as salon managers, owners, fashion consultants, educators, platform artists and product sales representatives.
Continuous learning and upgrading on styles, techniques and products are important to this trade.
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