There is definitely an unfair stigma attached to being a hairdresser… assumptions that they’re vain, superficial or poorly educated mean that stylists get a bad rap! But here at Mary Ann Weeks Aveda Guildford and Walton, we want to set the record straight once and for all! In this blog, we dive deep into the hard work it takes to be one, and what a typical day in the life might look like. We think you’ll be surprised!
To train to be a hairdresser takes around 2 years as an in house apprentice. Often already possessing a college qualification, candidates are almost always required to retrain specifically for the salons own brand, styling, colour and products. Being an apprentice means concentrated, on-the-job learning just to learn the basic standard. You are expected to absorb a LOT of information in a fast paced environment. You must physically work hard, sweeping chairs and floors, cleaning thoroughly and effectively and giving a nourishing massage to a head whilst shampooing! Booking software, clients and stylists names and preferences alike must be learnt by heart and often under pressure… and always have a cup of tea at the ready! You’ll need to memorise and understand the purpose of hundreds of different products, as well as study the formulas and science behind hair colour. And that’s all before you’ve cut a single strand of hair!
Apprentice life is gruelling, low paid, stand up work, tirelessly serving all the guests, stylists, front of house and management at the same time. The grotty jobs that nobody wants to do, like changing the loo roll, emptying bins, making tea and washing up cups are all your domain. Between the physical running of the shop floor, comes snippets of learning, watching, absorbing and practising on models that you must organise yourself.
Shifts can last up to 12 hours and you must do it all with a good attitude and a smile on your face! In down time, apprentices are expected to practice all they’ve learnt, pour over magazines, know all the latest trends and study admired artists for inspiration.
Once you’re through the apprenticeship, then you may begin as a junior stylist. With time and effort you can then begin to climb up the hairdressing mountain to higher status and better pay!
Artistry is key, with the most successful hairdressers being the ones brave enough to step outside of the box, changing an angle here and a millimetre there to give the guest the picture in their head, or better. The way you cut each strand affects the way the hair will sit and then style for weeks to come and if you get it right, you’re a hero!
Trust must be won and then kept with clients. Hairdresser are there for all the key moments; weddings, funerals, christenings, proms and special birthdays. It’s a hairdressers job to make sure their guest looks their very best and we’re the first to see the delight as they realise how lovely we made them look! Giving people confidence, connection, escape and sometimes therapy (!) is a true privilege.
Did you know that a qualified hairdresser uses scissors that are so sharp they could cut your fingertip off in a blink! Experienced stylists show true craftsmanship, with the speed of their scissors working so quickly the eyes can barely keep up!
A stylists time keeping skills are second to none as in hair every minute counts! Punctuality and precision apply to literally everything with a talent for juggling and multi-tasking to boot.
Life in hairdressing never get boring; There are always new cutting and colouring methods to learn, new products, new accessories, new styles and new appliances to study or practice with . On mastering hair, there’s potential for salon ownership or management. You can travel, go into fashion and even obtain fame if you have the talent and drive! Hairdressers are never be short of work and will always be in demand, because you’ll never be able to replace us with an online order!
Standing, hunched over and bending at awkward angles is standard when working with hair. Stylists must be able to examine hair at close proximity as well as zoom out and check the overall balance. This attention to detail is what separates the average from the expert, but endurance is a must if you’re working your 12 hour shift! Backache and shoulder and neck issues are rife among hairdressers, but we’re lucky to see enough spare time to work on our own physical health, because frankly we’re exhausted!
What works for one client doesn’t work for another, so it’s a finely tuned balance to get the result exactly right. It takes an element of bravery to execute our conviction sometimes! We’re often trying to achieve a look from a photo that a guest has brought, which in reality was on someone with completely different hair type, took double the time, and involved 3 additional stylists!
Did you know that every different salon uses different brands of hair colour? That means colourists are required to relearn a whole new set of equations, maths and chemistry for each place they work. Colour timing must be exact, because hair can so easily be damaged with over-development. Underdeveloped colour can have catastrophic results and might mean you might have to begin all over again!
Super sharp professional scissors don’t come cheap, with prices running up to £2,000 per pair – and that’s excluding maintenance and sharpening! This is payable by the stylist, but there’s no way around it – decent, maintained scissors are a must to give the best cut possible.
Looking your best is important when you’re representing your salon (as well as having fabulous hair of course)! That’s no problem most days, but if you don’t feel great one day, then getting dressed up and smiling can feel pretty weary.
A willingness to connect to people, listening empathetically to life stories, problems and complaints are all a part of the job, regardless of what might be going on in our own lives. Sometimes hairdressers have to dig pretty deep to find enthusiasm when they feel down, but every client must matter more than personal circumstance.
We’re very lucky at Aveda that all our products are natural but there are still some fumes that breathe in every day at work. It’s not unusual to be covered in small burns from curling tongs and flattening irons as well as hair splinters inside our clothes. The battlefield of hair!
Our clients don’t always understand that the person before them may have turned up late, or the ‘simple’ colour before their appointment ended up being a correction nightmare that had to take longer. If we end up behind time, we need to be prepared for complaints or worse, a bad review.
Get someones hair wrong – you’ll be to blame for ever more! Clients can be unforgiving and furious if they feel the cut or colour isn’t perfect and trying your best is sometimes futile.
Hairdressers expect to work late, work nights and work weekends. Full timers often wont enjoy two days off together, so work life seems to take over completely! Lunch can often reduce to 5 minutes (or not at all!) and holidays have to be scheduled around colleagues and the business. Stylists are busiest when everyone else is celebrating, because we’re there to help our guests feel beautiful for their Christmas parties or summer holidays!
The Truth is…
…Our life revolves around hair – and all that it entails, but we’re still here because we are passionate about our craft! Every element of us invests, from physical to emotional to mental and rest is scattered and unpredictable.
Thanks for being willing to learn more about a day in the life of a humble hairdresser and we hope this blog has given insight to our readers! We are so proud to serve our guests and thank each and every one that sits in the chair and is a pleasure to serve. We look forward to seeing you again at the Guildford or Walton Salon soon!