Tips for hair salon assistants

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For many people interested in working in the hair styling industry, a natural starting point is to become a hair salon assistant. In this role, you don’t typically have much training – you aren’t an apprentice and you can’t yet cut hair. However, you might do a fabulous shampoo and massage, or you have impeccable customer service and bookings management skills. There is huge demand for casual salon assistants in Australia, especially on the weekends and in the lead up to peak events and holidays. If you wish to get work as hair salon assistant, here are some tips from Antony Whitaker (growmysalonbusiness.com) along with Our Place Salon owners, Clive Allwright and Kelly Grant.

1. Phone the salon owner or coordinator prior to your start day and ask what is required of you, ask about the dress code of the salon and things like parking, nearest public transport etc. Take snacks to eat on the run and be prepared to take your own lunch, you may not have time to drive to the nearest food hall if the salon gets busy.

2. Respect the dress code of the salon – all salons are different. Ensure you are wearing the appropriate footwear for a salon. NO thongs or open toed shoes. Falling scissors or hot tongs will hurt. Look clean and sharp, but most of all look professional.

3. Your own hair and make up must be done prior to your arrival at the salon. Stylists will not do your hair before work! It’s a myth that hairdressers love doing each other hair, let alone that of a casual salon assistant. We don’t even like doing our own family’s hair!

4. Be aware of your surroundings and other staff members’ needs.. Be prepared to step up and assist at all times, be ready to clean anything (toilets included) Pass equipment to your colleagues when asked. Second-guess their next need or move. Be prepared to stop what you’re doing immediately for other priority tasks.

5. You must know how to wash dishes, glasses and cups by hand if the salon doesn’t have a dishwasher.

6. Know how to competently operate a washing machine and dryer. Fold towels and gowns neatly and correctly. Just like you make your own bed. You do make your bed, right?

7. Have a basic knowledge of washing, conditioning & rinsing hair at the basin. Being aware of the correct water pressure and temperature. Listen to instructions on what products to use and when. Be confident when conducting the massage technique. Ask if your hand pressure is ok? It’s often the client’s favourite part of their service.

8. Be confident in removing colour from the hair and scalp at the basin. Listen to instructions regarding conditioning using the correct products. If you aren’t sure, ask, don’t fake it.

9. Listen to instructions on how the salon and clients like their refreshments. Be attentive when learning how to prepare and present a tea & coffee. Know the small stuff – like a long black coffee doesn’t have milk.

10. Sweep to perfection. Learn to sweep the floor of the salon clean from loose hair. Look out for fingerprints on mirrors and know where the cleaning products are kept in the salon to be able to clean them off. Clean the floors and mirrors, chairs, bench tops. While on the move keep your eye open for hazards and dirty surfaces. Cleanliness in a salon is paramount!

11. Most of all please remember to smile and have fun & be polite. Salons are great places to work! Say please and thank you. Abide by the salons rules and code of conduct. Make perfection a habit. Do anything like you will do everything. Most off all remember to smile and be professional. Hairdressing is often listed as a profession where the people working in it are really happy. We love what we do and love making people feel great about the way they look.

Final tip: if you don’t know something, ask someone then listen hard when they stop what they are doing to help you.

Join Piloroo to pickup casual work in the hair industry.