Essential skills for success as a hairstylist

Hairstylists use Essential Skills to complete trade-related tasks. Use this fact sheet to:

  • learn how Essential Skills are used on the job;
  • find out the skills you need to succeed in your trade; and
  • help prepare yourself for your career.


  • Read instructions and precautions on labels and products.
  • Read descriptions of new products in catalogues and brochures.
  • Read short memos, notices and bulletins to learn about upcoming events and changes to workplace practices.
  • Read manuals to learn about workplace policies and procedures, such as the dress code.
  • Read articles in trade magazines to stay informed about industry trends.
  • Read regulations, chair rental contracts and agreements that outline salaries and commissions.

Document use

  • Scan labels on product packaging for information on ingredients and proper handling and storage.
  • Read signs for information on product prices, promotional specials and the location of supplies.
  • Complete forms such as appointment schedules.
  • Follow procedures described in line art diagrams and photograph sequences to achieve particular hairstyles.
  • Read specifications on colour charts to find product names, identification numbers, processing times and mixing ratios.


  • Measure amounts of liquids, such as colouring solutions and peroxides, using graduated beakers and tubes.
  • Schedule appointments of varying lengths to accommodate customers and minimize downtime.
  • Estimate lengths of hair being cut.
  • Prepare bills and collect payments.
  • Estimate the amount of time it will take to complete appointments.


  • Write short reminder notes on customer history cards.
  • Write letters to suppliers and manufacturers expressing opinions about specific products and services.

Oral communication

  • Greet customers in person.
  • Listen to voicemail messages and respond to questions over the telephone.
  • Talk to customers about a wide variety of topics, such as lifestyle, hair style preferences, application techniques, new products and fashion trends.
  • Talk to assistants, suppliers and supervisors.
  • Provide reassurance and resolve conflicts with distressed customers.

Working with others

  • Work independently to carry out tasks.
  • Work with receptionists and helpers who provide support within established work routines.
  • Participate in formal discussions about work processes or product improvement.
  • Inform or demonstrate how tasks are performed to new employees.
  • Orient new employees.


  • Request help from co-workers when behind schedule.
  • Select tools and products to create specific hairstyles.
  • Assess the performance of hair care products, such as colouring agents, shampoos and conditioners.
  • Determine the suitability of customer hairstyle choices, considering elements such as bone structure, facial shape, hair growth patterns and skin tone.
  • Locate specifications such as application times, colour codes, grey coverage and ingredients by scanning product labels.
  • Find information about fashion trends by observing hairstyles worn by models and by talking to other hairstylists.

Computer use

  • Use databases such as salon management software to input customer and product data, to search inventory quantities, upcoming appointments, customers' names, phone numbers and hairstyle preferences.
  • Use bookkeeping, billing and accounting software.
  • Use communications software to send or receive emails confirming customers' appointments.
  • Use the Internet to locate information such as new products.

Continuous learning

  • Keep up-to-date with changing hairstyles and new products by reading articles and analyzing photographs in trade, general interest and fashion magazines.
  • Learn by talking with co-workers and by participating in scheduled in-house training or training offered by major product suppliers.
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