Using essential skills: On the job with a hairstylist

Are you starting an apprenticeship in hairstyling or are you thinking about a career in this trade? Pursuing a career as a hairstylist requires strong essential skills such as oral communication, document use, numeracy and critical thinking.

Use this booklet to:

  • learn how hairstylists use essential skills;
  • follow the daily routine of a hairstylist; and
  • find out how your essential skills compare to those of an experienced hairstylist.

How hairstylists use essential skills

Hairstylists use essential skills to perform a variety of job-related tasks, for example:

  • oral communication to discuss hair colour preferences and other services with clients;
  • critical thinking to judge whether a hairstyle will look good on a client; and
  • continuous learning to keep up to date with trends and products.

Hairstylists cut, shampoo, perm, colour and style hair and perform other services such as adding hair extensions. They work in hairstyling or hairdressing salons, barbershops and vocational schools, or in other specialized settings such as healthcare institutions or theatre, film and television establishments. They may also be self-employed.

A day in the life of a hairstylist: Lisa’s story

Reading an appointment schedule

Lisa is a hairstylist in a busy salon. When she arrives at work, she looks at her appointment schedule for the day. It shows her which clients are coming in, at what time and for which services (document use).

Section of an appointment schedule 

Talking to clients

When clients come in, Lisa greets them and talks about details she remembers about their lives (oral communication, thinking skills – use of memory).

If clients are new, she asks them their preferences, such as what kind of highlights they want or which styles they prefer. Asking clients questions helps Lisa decide how she will cut and style their hair (oral communication, thinking skills – critical thinking).

Reading client history cards

Client history cards give Lisa information such as when clients were last in, what services they had done, which colour formulas they were given and what prices were charged. Lisa fills in these cards after each client leaves and reviews them next time the clients return to the salon (document use).

Client history card including details of previous visits, services and hair treatments used 

Mixing hair colour

Lisa is asked to colour a client’s hair. She reads the colour formulas from the client’s last visit. To get a light colour, she measures one scoop of Brightener Powder and adds Conditioning Cream, according to the instructions on the label (reading). If she wants additional lift, she mixes one scoop of Brightener Powder with one part Brightener Cream and two parts Colour Developer (numeracy).

Lisa must work swiftly and efficiently with the colour because it oxidizes quickly and loses potency. She can only mix enough colour to work with for a half hour at a time. If more colour is needed, she mixes another batch.

After Lisa applies the colour, she leaves it on the client’s hair to develop for a certain amount of time. She sets a digital timer that will beep when the time is up. Once the colour has developed enough, Lisa can rinse and shampoo her client’s hair, and then go on to cut it.

Reading product labels

Lisa has a client who is new to the salon. The client explains that she is allergic to parabens—chemicals used as preservatives in many shampoos and conditioners. Any chemical with methyl, ethyl, propyl or butyl in the name is a paraben. Lisa checks the chemicals in all the products she is going to use on this client’s hair by reading the ingredients list on the back of the products (reading, thinking skills – finding information).

She sees that there are many parabens in the conditioner she was going to use, so she chooses another. When the client leaves, Lisa makes a note on the client’s history card about her allergy and which products to use (writing, document use).

Charging for services

The client settles the bill with the receptionist. Lisa charges according to how much experience she has and which training courses she has completed. She gets weekly training about new products; she also goes to out-of-town workshops and seminars to make sure her knowledge is up to date (continuous learning).

At the end of her shift, Lisa tidies up her station. The tools she uses every day are her own, but she also uses the salon’s products and equipment. The salon has agreed to pay Lisa a set amount for every service she performs. At the end of each day, Lisa can leave the salon knowing that her daily earnings and tips will be calculated and recorded by the salon.

Do you have the essential skills to be a hairstylist?

Complete the following questions to see how your skills compare to those of an experienced hairstylist.

1. Appointment schedule

Hairstylists look at their schedule at the beginning of the day. The schedule tells them what kind of service each client has booked and how long each appointment will take.

Look at the appointment schedule below. If the hairstylist’s last appointment is at 5:15 pm, what time will she finish work on this day?

Section of an appointment schedule 

2. Client history card

It is useful for hairstylists to know how long it has been since a client’s last highlights; this information can help them know how long a colour lasts, if it has faded or grown out, and what to use the next time.

Look at the following client history card. When did this client last have highlights?

Section of client history card details of previous visits, services and hair treatments used 

3. Product instructions

Hairstylists have to estimate how much colour to use on a client’s hair.

Look at the Brightener Powder product instructions. The hairstylist estimates that she will need to mix two batches of hair colour for a client. How much conditioning cream will she have to use in total?

Brightener powder

Brightener Powder ensures that your client’s hair remains shiny and healthy-looking despite frequent blow-drying. The unique blend of natural mineral oils, plant extracts and jojoba creates a lustrous, long-lasting shine. This hypo-allergenic formula also protects clients prone to allergic reactions and its soft mint fragrance creates a more enjoyable experience for both stylists and clients.

For off-the-scalp applications:

Mixing: Measure 1 level scoop of Brightener Powder into a plastic bowl. Add 4 fl oz/120 ml of a conditioning cream of your choice. Ensure thorough mixing to achieve a creamy consistency.

Application: Apply mixture to dry, unwashed hair using any off-the-scalp application technique.

Processing: Leave hair to process at room temperature until desired volume is achieved. Rinse hair completely and follow with light shampooing.

4. Ingredients list

Circle two of the parabens found in the ingredients list.

Reminder: Parabens are chemicals used as preservatives in many shampoos and conditioners. Any chemical with methyl, ethyl, propyl or butyl in the name is a paraben.

Ingredients: Alcohol, Caproate, ALOE LEAF, Cirtus Aurantifolia, Ferula Gabanifua, Water, Lauryl Sulfate, BenzyTriglycerid, Babassuamidiopropyl, Centaurea Cyanus Flower, Morpholine Lactate, Malva Sylvestris (Mallow) Leaf Powder, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) peel Oil, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, natural extract, emollient herb, Methylisothiazolinone, Avodcadamine D, Isobutyl, Jojoba Oil, Glycerin, Isostearamidopropyl, Acetylated Lanolin Alcohol, Lauramidopropyl, Cetearyl Alcohol, Acetate, Cocamide Dea, Wheat Protein, Panthenol, Peg-75 Lanolin Oil, Sodium Lactate, Sorbitol Cocamidopropyl, Ethyl Acetate.

Answers

  1. Appointment schedule (document use, numeracy)

    She will finish work at 6:00 pm.

  2. Client history card (document use)

    The client last had highlights on August 29.

  3. Product instructions (reading, numeracy)

    2 x 4 fl oz/120 ml = 8 fl oz/240 ml of conditioning cream.

  4. Ingredients list (reading)

    See the parabens in bold below.

    Ingredients: Alcohol, Caproate, ALOE LEAF, Cirtus Aurantifolia, Ferula Gabanifua, Water, Lauryl Sulfate, BenzyTriglycerid, Babassuamidiopropyl, Centaurea Cyanus Flower, Morpholine Lactate, Malva Sylvestris (Mallow) Leaf Powder, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) peel Oil, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, natural extract, emollient herb, Methylisothiazolinone, Avodcadamine D, Isobutyl, Jojoba Oil, Glycerin, Isostearamidopropyl, Acetylated Lanolin Alcohol, Lauramidopropyl, Cetearyl Alcohol, Acetate, Cocamide Dea, Wheat Protein, Panthenol, Peg-75 Lanolin Oil, Sodium Lactate, Sorbitol Cocamidopropyl, Ethyl Acetate.

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