Assisting in Style: How to Be or Choose the Right Hair Assistant

May 22, 2024

Are you looking for a new creative career but wondering how or where to start? Applying to be a hairdressing assistant could be your new dream role!

If you’ve recently hired a hair assistant or are considering becoming one, we’ve got the insider tips to ensure they’re an asset, not a hindrance, especially on those busy Saturdays.


There’s nothing quite like being right where the action is and learning on the job or, as we like to call it, on the shop floor. Some may disagree and prefer to go straight to a college or academy, but we strongly believe that a mixture of the two will help you (or your assistant) become the best hairdresser in the quickest time.

This is because assistants have direct access to talented hairdressers, which allows them to observe clients behavior and learn valuable tips and tricks directly from seasoned professionals with years of experience. These insights are like golden nuggets of wisdom in the industry.

Mastering the basics is crucial; they form the foundation of your business or career and nearly every new technique builds upon a solid understanding of the classics. So, before attempting any new skill or trick, make sure it aligns with your existing knowledge. Otherwise, you might find yourself point cutting or texturizing without understanding why or where it’s best to section that 4c curly hair.

Financial Stability

Another crucial consideration is time and financial stability. Do you have the capacity, both in terms of time and finances, to take on the role of an assistant, or to hire one for your salon?

These positions often come with a smaller wage, but don’t let that discourage you. Look for establishments that offer training or can enroll you in an NVQ equivalent school, guaranteeing you a recognized qualification upon completion. Consider apprenticeship programs where you can earn while you learn, committing to salon hours (typically 30 hours) while attending the academy one day a week. While it may require dedication, this setup can prove financially beneficial in the long run as you acquire a valuable qualification.

The top salons often provide in-salon training sessions or have affiliations with training schools to enhance your skills. The ultimate goal is to retain you once you’re established, and to have another trusted team member who works in a similar style as their mentor or other stylists.


For Aspiring Hair Assistants

If you are keen to be or find a hair assistant then take a look at our list of tips!

  • Education and Training: As an aspiring hair assistant, education and training are fundamental. Consider enrolling in a reputable cosmetology school or apprenticeship program to gain a solid foundation in hairdressing techniques and salon operations. Formal education provides invaluable knowledge and hands-on experience that will set you apart in the competitive job market.
  • Technical Skills: Mastery of technical skills is non-negotiable for a successful hair assistant. From shampooing and blow-drying to color mixing and basic styling techniques, proficiency in these tasks is essential. Dedicate time to practice and refine your skills and seek guidance from experienced stylists or mentors to continually improve.
  • Effective Communication: Clear and effective communication is at the heart of excellent client service. As a hair assistant, you’ll interact with clients daily and have to understand their needs, preferences, and concerns. Practice active listening and develop the ability to communicate professionally and empathetically, building rapport and trust with clients and colleagues alike.
  • Time Management: In a fast-paced salon environment, impeccable time management skills are key. Learn to prioritize tasks, delegate effectively, and multitask when necessary to ensure smooth salon operations. Being able to work efficiently and meet deadlines is essential for success as a hair assistant.
  • Adaptability: Flexibility is important in the ever-changing world of hairdressing. As a hair assistant, you’ll encounter unpredictable situations, from last-minute client requests to equipment malfunctions. Embrace change with a positive attitude, remain calm under pressure, and adapt quickly to new circumstances.
  • Professionalism: Maintaining a high level of professionalism is paramount in the salon industry. From your appearance to your demeanor, strive to present yourself in a polished and professional manner at all times. Respect client confidentiality, adhere to salon policies, and uphold ethical standards in your interactions with clients and colleagues.
  • Anticipate Needs: Pay attention to details, anticipate potential issues, and take initiative to address them before they arise. By anticipating needs and providing exceptional support, you’ll become an indispensable asset to the salon team.
  • Build Relationships: Cultivate positive connections with both clients and colleagues, demonstrating genuine care and respect for their individual needs and preferences. By fostering a supportive and collaborative environment, you’ll contribute to the overall success of the salon.

For Salon Owners or Stylists Choosing an Assistant

  • Be Open Minded: Selecting a hair assistant is about nurturing the next generation of hairdressers. Rather than focusing solely on technical proficiency, look for candidates who display a willingness to learn solid foundational hairdressing techniques and to grow in their role.
  • Communication Skills: Effective communication is essential for salon operations. Evaluate candidates based on their ability to communicate clearly and professionally with clients and colleagues. Look for assistants who demonstrate active listening skills, empathy, and the ability to convey information accurately and courteously.
  • Team Player: A cohesive team is the backbone of any successful salon. Choose an assistant who is a team player who is willing to collaborate and support their colleagues to achieve common goals. Assess candidates based on their ability to work harmoniously with others, contribute ideas, and resolve conflicts constructively.
  • Initiative and Proactivity: Seek candidates who show initiative and take proactive steps to improve salon operations and enhance the client experience. Look for evidence of self-motivation, problem-solving skills, and a willingness to go above and beyond their duties.
  • Time Management: Choose an assistant who can manage their time efficiently, prioritize tasks, and meet deadlines consistently. A well-organized assistant will contribute to the overall productivity of the salon and help ensure smooth daily operations.
  • Adaptability: In a dynamic salon environment, adaptability is key. Select an assistant who can thrive in a fast-paced setting and handle unexpected challenges with grace and composure. 
  • Professionalism: Professionalism is non-negotiable when choosing a hair assistant. Evaluate candidates based on their professionalism in both appearance and conduct, as they will be representing your salon to clients and visitors. 
  • References and Portfolio: Before making a final decision, thoroughly vet each candidate by checking their references, especially if they have been an apprentice before. Keep in mind that this may be their very first job, so consider offering a trial period. Reviewing their portfolio and any work they have showcased on social media is just as important. This will help you and your team gain insight into the candidate’s work ethic, reliability, and skills.
  • Keep Learning: Hairdressing is a celebration of creativity, innovation, and passion. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or just starting your journey in the world of hairdressing, take the time to attend events like our Revlon Professional Front Row 2024. Take your assistant and team and remind yourself (and them) of this amazing career choice that offers something for everyone.

Front Row Event

Looking to take your business to the next level? Explore our exclusive educational platform, #AlwaysOn (available exclusively for clients, simply click the link to become one today). It’s designed to empower salons and stylists like you. Ready to stock up on salon essentials? Head over to our Revlon ProShop, your one-stop destination for premium hair care products.

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