Working in the Beauty Industry

On the Job: Salon Assistant

by Vendela Berg

If you’re hoping to work at a beauty salon, you will most likely start as an assistant to hair stylists. A salon assistant role is your stepping stone to the salon industry. Many beauty salons have a hiring policy where they only promote internal employees. This policy means all the stylists start out as an assistant.

Hard Work Pays Off

Being a salon assistant is not an easy job. Apart from the long hours always on your feet, there’s endless sweeping and cleaning, rinsing out bowls used for hair coloring treatments, keeping the salon clean, and other tasks. There are also the added struggle of having bleach splotches and color stains on your clothes. However, with all the hard work comes the chance to learn on the job. Working as a salon assistant is a lays an excellent foundation for your own career in the beauty industry; and in this industry, being successful stems from rigorous training and extensive continuing education. Also, many great hair stylists have spend a significant amount of time assisting early in their career. Rather than having a less than positive outlook, remember that hard work pays off, and the success of your career in the salon industry counts on it.

Make the Most out of Time as an Assistant

To make sure that you are making the most of the learning opportunity you have working as a salon assistant, here are some tips:

The Right Salon For You

When you’re fresh out of beauty school and a newbie to the industry, it’s essential to find a salon with a good reputation and an even better salon assistant training program. It will also be beneficial for you if this salon has provisions for continuing education as part of your employment benefits. Not all salons will offer training; however, it’s a vital part of your profession that gives you more opportunity for success, so take the time to look for the right salon for you.

Know Where You Stand

Even if you are at the top of your class at beauty school, when you enter the industry as a salon assistant, your standing in school will not hold much importance. Although it’s hard to accept, it will no longer be about you once you step into the threshold of working at a real salon under real hair stylists. You are hired to do a job; and that job is to help make the client look and feel good. As you work, remember that one primary objective.

A salon assistant helping shampoo the client.

Be Punctual

Punctuality is very critical in any profession. When it comes to working at a salon, make it second nature to always arrive early; that way you can ensure that you are lining things up correctly for the stylist you are assisting. Also, if you are asked to work overtime or take extra shifts, don’t turn down the opportunity. Treat it as an added chance for you to learn more.

Dress for Success

As a salon assistant, you’re not expected to be dressed to the nines – especially since you’ll most likely get color and bleach stains on your clothes as you work. However, it will say a lot about you if you make an effort to look neat and presentable. Follow your workplace’s dress code while still being stylish. Also, don’t overdress that you’re uncomfortable to move. Personal hygiene is important; make sure that your hair, makeup, and nails are done, but not too overdone.

Be Friendly

As a salon assistant, you are working in customer service. Thus, it’s important to always have a positive attitude towards clients, vendors, as well as your fellow employees. Showing good manners, respect, and having an overall positive mindset will go a long way.

When you are interacting with clients, be helpful and friendly. However, never show up the hair stylists in any way. Also, don’t bring up any personal issues unless the client steers the topic of conversation that way. The stylist you are assisting, who also serves as your mentor, needs to know that he or she can trust you and know that you won’t step over the line.

Work like a You’re a Stylist

Although you’re an assistant, you have to work like you’re the stylist. This means ensuring you do everything you need to in order to keep the stylist on schedule. Do the tasks you would want your own assistant to do for you. Have the tools and materials needed ready to dispense.


Vendela Berg

Full-time, professional hair stylist. I was born and raised in Phoenix, AZ. Hiking on the weekends will always be my cup of tea. When I was domain searching, this one caught my eye. I found commonality in it. Can you guess what it is? Sales! I'm all about finding a deal when I go shopping. The cheap part is even better! Inexpensive is what I go for as long as the find is good quality. The word 'fake' caught my eye only because knock-off designer bags are also items I look for when shopping. Knock-off designer bags hide from me as soon as I step foot in stores.

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