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19 Jul

What Makes a Great Hair Stylist?

This is just about the most loaded question you can ask in a salon or cosmetology school. Mostly because what constitutes a good hair stylist is highly subjective. Knowing the tricks of the trade and being able to master textbook techniques is a must, but greatness in styling requires more than the basics.

No matter what they specialize in, all great stylists have these seven traits in common.


hair stylist photo

hair stylist photo by ikeofspain

The Academy of Hair Design in Austin, TX is one of many cosmetology schools, but they take a unique approach. Their program includes teaching business skills alongside styling. The curriculum highlights one important characteristic of a great stylist – professionalism.

Good hair stylists take their careers seriously. They want to put out the best product possible (i.e. hair colors and cuts). They understand the importance of continuous education and never stop learning. Eventually, they become the innovators and teachers of their craft.

If you have hopes of ever running your own salon, professionalism is a must. You’ll need to know how to market, manage properties, balance books and more in addition to being a great stylist.

Love What They Do

hair stylist photo

hair stylist photo by Kieran Clarke

Like any profession, a stylist who loves what they do will have drive and passion that leads to excellence in the field. They’ll come to work every day happy to be there and eager to help their clients. Great stylists that love what they do fully immerse themselves in their work, and the dedication shows. Even when times get tough they keep with it because it’s what they love to do.

These are the types of stylists that go above and beyond to make sure clients’ always look their best. They share tips on how to keep hair healthy and provide styling advice. Great hair stylists take the time to educate clients so they continue to love how they look long after the appointment.

People Person

hair stylistr photo

Hair stylist photo by goMainstream

Let’s face it. The best hair stylists are great at reading people and making others feel at ease. They have dozens of different clients each week and they can make conversation with each one of them. Or minimalize the conversation if their client isn’t a talker. And they always know not to trash talk about other stylists and clients.

Either way, a good stylist knows how to deal with other personalities. They tend to be charismatic individuals who are able to win just about anyone over. Giving people an amazing haircut or color doesn’t hurt either.

Good Listening Skills

hairdresser photo

The old saying stylists make great therapists is fairly accurate. Listening skills aren’t just a matter of being a good conversationalist. Stylists must listen to their clients to understand not only what kind of cut or color a person wants but how they want to feel.

Unfortunately, there are stylists that pay more attention to their phone than their client, but that just makes the listening skills of great stylists stand out even more.

During the initial consultation, a stylist’s listening skills will be put to the test. You’ll need to clarify that you understand exactly what they want before picking up the shears. Just as important, a great stylist doesn’t force their own style on others.

Raw, Creative Talent

hair styling photo

Hair styling photo by bobbi vie

Some people just have a natural talent for cutting and/or coloring hair. If you’re the type that was snipping your own fringe bangs and highlighting your own hair in high school, you might fall into this category.

Stylists that are creative and able to come up with unique concepts are the ones that help develop hair trends. They know how to tweak certain styles and techniques to fit a client’s requests.

Honesty is the Best Policy

aveda hair photo

Hair stylist tools photo by goMainstream

You want to give a client what they want, but a great stylist will provide their professional opinion. Stylists are trained to know what cut looks best on certain types of hair texture and how a person’s face shape can be accentuated. In other words, you know how to make people look their best.

Clients usually have no training in hair styling. They see a picture in a magazine or on Pinterest that they fall in love with the look. The style may look great on the model, but for the client it just doesn’t work. Other times the cut or color will require a lot of maintenance, and some people just don’t have the time or inclination to style their hair every day.

The ultimate goal is to make clients feel more confident, even if that means modifying what they originally wanted.

Hair stylist photo by goMainstream

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