Hair stylist

A hair stylist


Hair stylists wash, dry, cut and style the hair of singers and presenters and various types of actors, including stage, movie, tv and music video actors. They work together with the art director to design the look of every person. Hair stylists also dress wigs and hairpieces. They standby during these artistic activities to touch up the actors’ hair or wigs.

Excludes hairdressers.

The duties of a hair stylist include, but are not limited to:

  • Cleaning hairbrushes and combs to remove buildup from hair products and product residue
  • Performing shampooing, conditioning, and styling services on clients
  • Applying chemical treatments to hair to lighten or darken it, or to remove unwanted color
  • Cutting and styling hair to meet client requests and specifications
  • Determining what type of hairstyle would best suit a client’s face shape, hair texture, and lifestyle 
  • Cleaning hairbrushes and combs to remove buildup from hair products and product residue
  • Maintaining customer records in order to provide ongoing service to clients
  • Maintaining an inventory of shampoo, conditioner, and other products used in hair care services
  • Preparing the work space by setting up chairs, shampoo bowls, drying stations, and other equipment

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to hair stylist:

hair artist
hair & wig artist
hair and wig artist
hair & wig stylist
hair and wig stylist
hair stylist & make up artist

Working conditions

Hair stylists work in a variety of settings, including salons, barbershops, day spas, and cosmetology schools. They may also work in department stores, hotels, and resorts. Most work full time.

Many hair stylists work evenings and weekends to accommodate their clients’ schedules. Some stylists may rent space in a salon, rather than working as an employee. This arrangement gives them more freedom to set their own hours, but they also have greater expenses and may have to provide their own equipment.

Minimum qualifications

Hair stylists need at least a high school diploma to get a job in this field. Many hair stylists choose to pursue a cosmetology program to learn the skills they need to work in this profession. During the cosmetology program, students learn about the different aspects of cosmetology, including hair cutting, coloring, styling, nail care and skin care.

Hair stylists typically receive on-the-job training from their employers after being hired. This training helps them learn the specific techniques and products the salon uses. It also helps them learn the salon’s policies and procedures.

Hair stylists can also receive training through internships. During an internship, a hair stylist can learn the basics of the industry while working closely with a licensed stylist. They can also learn about the different techniques and products the salon uses.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Hair stylist is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Hair stylist career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to hair stylist.

performance hairdresser
wig and hairpiece maker
make-up artist
costume maker

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of hair stylist. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of hair stylist with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

costume attendant
location manager
miniature set designer
set builder
prop maker

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of hair stylist.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of hair stylist.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of hair stylist. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Photography: Art and practice of creating aesthetically appealing images by recording light or electromagnetic radiation.
  • History of hair styles: The various styles and techniques of doing hair throughout history.
  • Lighting techniques: The characteristics of techniques used to create atmospheres and effects on camera or on stage; the equipment required and appropriate setup to use.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of hair stylist. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Manage consumables stock: Manage and monitor consumables stock to ensure that the production demands and deadlines can be met at all times.
  • Manage technical resources stock: Manage and monitor technical resources stock to ensure that production demands and deadlines can be met at all times.
  • Order supplies: Command products from relevant suppliers to get convenient and profitable products to purchase.
  • Repair wigs: Maintain and repair damaged wigs for use in stage performances.
  • Dye wigs: Apply dyes to wigs to obtain the desired colour.
  • Maintain wigs: Organise, maintain and repair wigs and hairpieces.
  • Attend rehearsals: Attend rehearsals in order to adapt sets, costumes, make-up, lighting, camera set up, etc.
  • Work with the director of photography: Work with the director of photography on the artistic and creative vision that needs to be followed during production of a movie or theatre production.
  • Create wigs: Design and maintain wigs and hairpieces.
  • Decide on wig making process: Decide on what materials and techniques to use for performance wigs, and document the decision.
  • Design hair style: Design the styles of hair based on the preference of the customer or on the creative vision of the director.
  • Draft styling schedule: Draft the schedule to indicate where, when, and how the actors should be styled.

ISCO group and title

5141 – Hairdressers

  1. Hair stylist – ESCO
  2. Barbers, Hair Stylists, and Cosmetologists : Occupational Outlook Handbook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  3. Hair Stylist Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder
  4. Featured image: Photo by Adam Winger on Unsplash
Last updated on November 12, 2022

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