6 Skills Every Hairdresser Needs Beyond Good Cutting and Colouring

ICI AUS - Cutting and Colouring

What do people look for in a hairdresser? The answer is not as obvious as you may think.

Of course, being a good hairdresser means being able to cut and colour well. But this isn’t always enough to win clients – it takes a lot more than just scissors skills to compete in the market.

For some, choosing a hairdresser is about recommendations. Word-of-mouth is probably a hairdresser’s most valuable tool after their scissors. To get new clients you need to be talked about, and that means giving them something they haven’t experienced anywhere else. This could be an incredible cut or colour, but there are other ways to exceed their expectations.

Salon environment

The way a salon looks and feels is an important part of the customer’s haircut. A salon that’s functional, well-laid out, clean, tidy and organised can assist you in every way, from the cut or colour to the overall experience.

This may not require our Interior Design & Decoration diploma or advanced diploma course, but some knowledge of the principles of design will be help. This is especially true of lighting, which will make a huge difference to the way you cut, style and colour hair.


When someone goes to a salon for a haircut, they want to be spoiled from the moment they walk in. This means acknowledging them on arrival, offering a tea, coffee or water, making them comfortable, running on time, and listening to them – not just about what they want from a cut, but also about what’s happening in their life.

Being a professional means paying attention to your appearance, demeanor, phone etiquette, and organisational skills. It means being hungry for more education, enrolling in new courses, attending conferences, keeping up with trends, and attaining new techniques. It calls on you to be reliable, accountable, and able to maintain your poise at all times.


As much as clients would love you to turn them into Gigi Hadid, Kim Kardashian, or the latest Instagram model, they want you to be honest about what’s realistic. If a client shows you a photo of a celebrity haircut on a phone that you know will look terrible on them, they want to know if it’s not going to work. Not everyone suits all colours and styles, and as a professional you need to manage their expectations. Use your skills and knowledge to help them find a variation of their desired look, one that will flatter their own unique profile.

Listening ability

A good hairdresser will always listen closely to their client, giving their undivided attention. This is what makes clients feel valued. Always clarify what they want from you (even the clients you’ve been seeing for years) and run through what you’re about to do. Once you start, do your best to engage them in genuine conversation. Let them take the lead in your chatter, giving them the opportunity to talk about themselves. This will not only boost their experience, but it’s less draining on you at the end of the day.

A step up from listening to your clients is learning how to build real trust.

Decision making

From ordering stock to fixing an updo, clients appreciate the decisions you make. Being able to think quickly while considering all factors is a must in hairdressing. Try reading this book to think quicker on your feet. Go with your gut, weigh up consequences without fearing them, and beware of pressure. Believe in yourself and go forth with confidence!

Drive and energy

People want to know that you love what you do. You show this through your energy and will to succeed. Customers have high expectations, and, more than ever, to keep them loyal you have to cater to them. Your customers are informed and do their research, so show them you have a plan to actively retain your client base.

One way to do this would be to enrol yourself in our ICI Diploma Level Marketing course. The average completion time is 24 weeks, which is not a lot of time when you consider it could lead to a lifelong career you love.

Once you’ve completed your ICI Diploma Level or ICI Advanced Diploma in Hairdressing, add on a marketing diploma and discover the secrets of selling yourself in months, not years. Learn to research the market, identify marketing opportunities, analyse consumer behaviour, implement and monitor marketing strategies, design direct response offers, learn pricing structures, and drive buying within your salon. Take charge of your reputation and image by learning the secrets of marketing.

More than a cut

Possessing technical skill and dexterity is the foundation of every great hairdresser, but practicing basic technique until your perfect it simply isn’t enough these days. To be an excellent hairdresser you must be committed to continuous learning. You are Michelangelo and your clients are the Sistine Chapel. Create masterpieces and people will talk about you for years!

Online, career focused education that suits your lifestyle.

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Gladys Mae


Gladys Mae serves as the General Manager and Head of Student Services at the International Career Institute. Gladys holds a degree in Mass Communication - Broadcast Media from the University of San Jose-Recoletos. She joined ICI in 2010 and has over the past 12 years been instrumental in providing leadership and guidance to staff and students alike. Prior to joining ICI Gladys led a multifaceted career with key roles in the banking and business process outsourcing industries.