What Skills Do You Need to be a Cosmetologist?


The work of a cosmetologist can be filled with excitement and creativity. Style and fashion are thrilling aspects of the industry that can ignite passion and inspire trends and innovation. However, there is more to this career field than you may initially think. All areas of cosmetology require a lot of skill, but they also require certain social skills in order to truly succeed. You will come out of your vocational training with all the basic skills of cosmetology, but you will be the one to decide how to apply those skills to make a customer look and feel good. Since all areas of cosmetology are generally focused on curating a client’s appearance, it is of the utmost importance that you understand how the client hopes to look. This requires you to converse on a wide range of topics with a wide variety of people.

Skill #1: Communication

The most important component of balancing the demands of such an aesthetic field is good communication. This crucial skill will allow you to understand what it is that your client wants more completely. This will help you give them a satisfying look that compliments their favorite features. Solid communication will also help you when offering suggestions to clients that may be picky or indecisive. Even if you don’t consider yourself a particularly good communicator there is no need to panic. There are skills you can develop and techniques you can implement that will help boost your social and conversational confidence.

Skill #2: Active Listening

Active listening is a skill that can apply to many areas of your life. It can help strengthen relationships and enhance social interactions both inside and outside the salon. However, it is particularly useful for someone who works as a cosmetologist. If you are not someone who is familiar with this communication technique, don’t worry. There are a few things you can immediately begin practicing that will strengthen your active listening skills.

Don’t Think About What You’re Going to Say.

Sometimes it can be easy to get caught up in what you want to tell your client that you forget to tune into what their goals and concerns are. This urge to think about and prepare what you are going to say might make you feel more socially comfortable, but it forces you to sacrifice an authentic interaction with your client. Not actively listening can make the client feel devalued and unheard. Rather than focusing on choosing the exact words you may want to say, try turning your attention toward hearing what your client is telling you. This will help them feel more relaxed, which will likely make you feel more relaxed.

Be Patient with Communication Barriers.

Not everyone communicates in the same way, and English isn’t everyone’s first language. There may be an accent or regional dialect that you have particular difficulty with, or perhaps a client requests a style or says a term you are unfamiliar with. Instead of getting defensive or combative about miscommunications and misunderstandings, try to be patient.

Ask Relevant, Informed, Engaged Questions.

When you need your client to clarify something about their style ambitions make sure that you ask good questions. The right questions will lead to a clear understanding of what your client wants. If you are unsure what the “right” questions are in a particular situation, you can start by asking a client about their preferences and what about their appearance they want to highlight. This starts the conversation on a positive note.

Skill #3: Compassion and Empathy

You will be fortunate enough to have clients that are excited and enthusiastic about their style maintenance or visual changes. There will also be times that you are confronted with clients who are frustrated with their appearance or may be self-conscious about their current look. When dealing with these clients you will want to be compassionate and empathetic.

Be Sensitive to Your Client’s Vulnerable Spots.

Everyone has things that they aesthetically like about themselves and things that they find more challenging to appreciate. These more sensitive areas of a person’s appearance need to be handled with care. For example, as a cosmetologist you may encounter a client who has thinning hair or bald spots that they find embarrassing or upsetting. When you are discussing these issues with a client, be careful to be discrete and supportive. These conversations can make or break a client’s trust. So, it is important that you are kind and non-judgmental.

Be Confident in Your Suggestions.

Your confidence and high spirits can have a positive effect on your client’s style outlook. If there is a challenge your client needs help confronting, be ready with options that will help them overcome these obstacles and achieve their aesthetic goals. Building on the previous example, if a client with balding or thinning hair comes to you, you should be ready to help them with a stylized cut that adds coverage. You can also offer suggestions about products or treatments that will help solve the problem. Applying your skills as a cosmetologist and utilizing your professional training will allow you to give solutions and suggestions that inspire optimism and confidence in even your most challenging clients.

Skill #4: Supportiveness

Every client is unique. There may be similarities, but they all have a particular way that they want to look and feel. It is important that they feel in control of their style decisions. Changes can be difficult, and more intense when they are made to feel like their input and requests aren’t considered or taken seriously. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind that will help you keep your clients as your number one priority.

Let Them Look How They Want to Look.

There will be many clients that you will be happy to work with. However, there will also be clients that do not align with your style sensibilities. Misconceptions and misunderstandings are much more likely in these situations. So, when you are dealing difficult clients, it is important that you take an extra moment to really understand what they are looking for and what their goals are. Resist the urge to override their preferences with your own.

Know When and How to Give your Opinions and Suggestions.

You may come across clients who have an abstract or vague idea of what they want, but don’t exactly know how to get it. For example, a cosmetologist might have a client who wants to add more “edge” to their look, but they aren’t sure how to do that. This is a situation where suggestion and opinion become absolutely necessary. Providing a client with options will help them feel involved and in control, even when they aren’t completely sure of what they want. Likewise, you may have a great suggestion you want to bring up to a client, but you aren’t sure how. A good tip for this is to avoid any suggestions that are in opposition to your client’s expressed wishes. If they want an extremely short haircut don’t suggest a long-layered look, even if it will look better. All suggestions need to be offered gently and you need to be ready to hear and understand a “no” when a client gives you one.

Skill #5: Honesty

You can be the most skilled cosmetologist, and all of you finely tuned skill won’t make the impossible become possible. There are times that a client will come to you with an impossible request, and it will be your responsibility to tell them that you cannot make that happen. This might seem like an immediate confrontation situation, but it doesn’t have to be. Part of being honest with a client means being informative. Tell them why their request isn’t possible. When people are given a logical, practical reason for not having their desires fulfilled it makes it easier to continue the conversation productively toward a compromise or alternative. Keep in mind, however, that every now and again you will have a client who is purposefully difficult and impossible to please. Know the difference between someone who needs your skill and your energy, and someone who is wasting it.

Skill #6: Conversate Neutrally

During most processes and treatments there is an opportunity for casual, friendly conversation. You might not be naturally gifted at chit chat, but there are tips you can remember that will help you navigate lulls and awkward silences with more ease and less anxiety.

Avoid Topics That are Generally Touchy.

The quickest way to turn an appointment tense is by offending your client, even if it is entirely accidental. Stay away from heavy current events issues, politics, and religion. These are topics that generally create a lot of division and argument. Instead, try pushing the conversation toward fashion, style, and basic wellness. Sticking to positive subjects related to cosmetology is typically safe conversational territory. Also allow for silence if your client is hinting that they prefer it.

Do Your Best to Customize Your Casual Conversations with Your Clients.

You will come to know some of your clients fairly well, simply because you will see them on a regular basis. In this case you may be able to come up with conversation topics that are specific to a regular customer. Feel free to indulge in these discussions and conversations, but always remember to maintain your professionalism.

Final Thoughts

There are many skills that will help you succeed as a cosmetologist. Many skills will come naturally, and others will be learned. Take the time to learn new skills while attending a cosmetology program and while on the job. The more cosmetology skills you have, the more you can satisfy your client’s beauty needs.

Did learning about what skills you need to be a cosmetologist interest you? Ready to earn your diploma in Cosmetology? Meridian College offers a Cosmetology training program in Florida that prepares you to deliver high–quality beauty and hair services to both men and women. Their hands–on Cosmetology training program gives you the skills you need to start an exciting career and become a leader in the beauty industry.

Contact Meridian College today to learn more about becoming a cosmetologist.