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What does a hair stylist do?

Learn about the possible work environments and typical responsibilities of a hair stylist.
Whether your hair is long or short, straight or curly, there is a good chance that you’ve been to a hair stylist at some point in your life. Before the stylist picked up their scissors, they probably had a conversation with you about what you wanted. The key to being a good hair stylist is not only technical training, but strong communication and customer service skills - they have to understand what the client wants and then deliver.
Hair stylists work in a variety of settings, including salons, spas, fashion shoots, and production sets for film, television, and theater. Within salons, hair stylists may rent their own station and manage their clients independently or work for a salon on commission. Typical responsibilities include washing, cutting, and styling hair, as well providing advice about hair products. In most salons, stylists are responsible for cleaning up their workstations and sterilizing their equipment. In between appointments, they may also greet clients, help with scheduling, and process payments.
In a performing arts setting, hair stylists work closely with make up artists and costume designers to complete the look of actors and actresses in the production. Some actors and actresses may have a personal hair stylist who will manage their hair and hair pieces throughout the production.
The compensation for hair stylists varies based on geographic location and work environment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for hair stylists in 2015 was $23,710. In addition, many stylists also receive tips that add to this base pay. Some salons also provide bonuses to stylists who bring in new business. The salary of stylists in the entertainment industry tends to be higher with a range of $30,000-$100,000 a year.
As a hair stylist grows in their profession, they might choose to specialize in a technique such as hair color, perm, or Brazilian blow out. Some hair stylists advance by opening or managing a salon, or becoming a cosmetology instructor. In each of these positions, they may still continue to work with clients directly and style hair.


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Ten Outside-the-box Jobs You Can Pursue with a Cosmetology License.” Douglas J Aveda Institute. Accessed December 10, 2021.
What does a Hair Stylist Do?” Learn.org. Accessed March 18, 2017.

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