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Hairdressing Design

Hairdressing Design


Hairdressing is design, whether you are cutting the hair, setting it, colouring it, or perming it. Hairdressers use their creative ability alongside their technical skill to offer a creative service to the client. Hairdressers may not be aware at the time of all the design decisions they are making. As with the artist at the canvas the decisions come intuitively, because they feel right, but before this stage can be achieved the hairdresser, like the artist, must be trained in the basic language of design. Only then can they draw upon this wealth of information and adapt it to an appropriate situation. The hairdresser should feel confident in being able to cope with whatever walks through the salon door (from my experience with only a few exceptions!), whether it is the older client who wants a tight perm or a set, or the younger client who wants the latest cut, colour or half-shaven head. This is why it is important that stylists have a good understanding of design so that they really know what they are doing and can project a real sense of confidence in their clients.

Hairdressing training is an important part of a stylist's career and is a formative part of professional development. This initial training should include a good basic design element and also provide lots of opportunity for the simultaneous development of creative ability and technical skill as well as offering every possible opportunity and encouragement to exhibit these combined skills.

In order to be adaptable, it is important that the hairdresser should be able to expand on technical skill to offer a complete service to the client and indeed work in tandem with the other fashion areas that are involved in creating the total image. This is the only way we will be able to gain full recognition and demonstrate that hairdressers are in fact creative designers. In order to compete in this ever-changing fashion world, hairdressers must, firstly, keep abreast of current fashion trends (whether they happen to like them or not) as hairdressing is a vital part of the fashion image. Secondly, hairdressers must be able not only to adapt to new ideag but also to be the innovators of new ideas and techniques themselves. It stands to reason that if they ignore the world around them then the world will undoubtedly ignore them too, and the possibilities of attracting new customers and expanding businesses will be minimal.

This section aims to identify and simplify the basic principles of design that are involved in hairdressing. It will assist hairdressers in identifying those principles, understanding them and indeed applying them to practical situations, in order to enhance the hairdressers' professional development and last but certainly not least their salon performance and credibility.

  • Basic Hairdressing Design

    Basic Design

    Basic design may not seem initially important or obviously relevant to the novice hairdresser, but as in any creative profession basic design is the essential background ingredient for a true awareness of line, shape, texture, proportion, balance and pattern creation. This extends into every creative task the hairdresser encounters, including hair analysis, cutting, blow-drying, setting, etc., so that once the hairdresser has acquired an understanding of these basics in design, they can be used as a springboard for many inspiring ideas and innovative creations.

    It is sometimes difficult for novice hairdressers when striving to gain an understanding of basic design not to become blinkered into only accepting things that seem directly relevant to hairdressing. They need to remind themselves that sometimes by treading further afield and accepting other information from disciplines outside hairdressing they can acquire a wider scope of knowledge which, if they allow it, will enhance their personal development and creative vocabulary.

  • Hair Colour


    It is extremely important that hairdressers should understand the fundamental principles of colour theory because this is the necessary background that will enable them to use colour confidently in the salon. It is easy enough to colour a client's hair using client record cards and carefully following mixing instructions supplied with colouring products, but that is purely technical work and does not allow for creative skill. In order to exhibit creative flair and find the perfect colour to suit the client, the hairdresser must first have a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of colour itself. Not only will this knowledge instil confidence in the client, but also it will make life much easier for the hairdresser. If you know what you are talking about you will be confident in helping your clients make their colour decisions and you will have assurance about the results.

    Colour choices are involved in many of the tasks the hairdresser undertakes including: choosing a warm or a cool colour appropriate to a client's skin tone; mixing colour tints; applying colours to the hair; neutralising colours; advising clients on colour choice; and even choosing salon lighting and using colour to decorate the salon.

  • Features Influencing Hair Design

    Features Influencing Hair Design

    The shape of the face is the most important feature to consider when choosing a suitable style. However, there are other factors that can also influence styling decisions, and it is best to study a client's facial and body features before making any final decisions.

  • History Of Fashion And Hairstyling

    History of Fashion and Hair Styling

    Hairdressing is a vital part of the fashion world. It has always been an ingredient that has helped create a new image or look. The best example of this was in the early 1960s when British fashion designer Mary Quant created the mini skirt. The success of Quant was helped by the fact that the prominent hairdresser Vidal Sassoon had designed a hair style specifically to go with the mini. Together they created a new 'androgynous' look on a model called 'Twiggy' that became universally popular. The potential of hairdressing in the fashion world should be taken seriously.

    Hairdressing students, like fashion students, should have a basic knowledge of what fashions have gone before. It is only with this knowledge that they can then create new adaptations of old ideas and enter into the innovative world of fashion. The Egyptians are a good starting point when looking at the history of fashion, for although we are aware of cultures that existed before, the ancient Egyptians were sophisticated, and particularly conscious of their appearance. They were also meticulous in recording every occasion and detail through paintings, hieroglyphics (their language of symbols), sculptures and artefacts, so that we have enough information to draw a reasonably clear picture of their fashions, lifestyle and culture. Also we will see that their fashions have exerted a strong influence in later periods.

  • Salon Design

    Salon Design

    Most hair stylists would like to run their own businesses eventually. This would give them the opportunity to combine their creative ideas, talent, business skills and ambition, so that their new salon becomes stamped with their individual mark. In order to achieve this ambition it is important to observe a few basic design points:

     Create a clear image which is targeted at the right section of the public.

     Ensure that this image is right for the particular location.

     Give the premises a professional 'look'.

     Make sure you deliver the same quality of service that you advertise.

    For our purpose we will deal with the two areas of salon design separately, i.e. exteriors and interiors.

  • Salon Advertising


    Advertising and promotion are powerful media, and good or bad advertising can determine the success of a product regardless of its quality. Certain advertising techniques are more effective than others, and it tends to be the novel and unusual methods that are eye-catching and get results.

    In the salon, advertising skills need to be employed in promoting products, services and skills. Attractive displays, eye-catching visual advertisements, such as photographs, as well as neat notices are all methods available, but the most effective method of selling a service or product is through the stylists themselves. Hairdressers should, because of the nature of their work, possess some salesmanship skills. They are the experts in their field and should be able to sell a product if they believe it is good. Clarity and honesty are the best attributes that should be employed when promoting, as they will instil respect and confidence in the prospective client.

    Displays in the salon should observe the rules of successful advertising as well as retaining a level of balance and proportion. If, for instance, a new perm is being promoted in the salon, a stacked pyramid of the product in a corner might look good against the decor, but it will give no information about the product and will give the salon the appearance of a supermarket. A combination of visual and written information concerning the product, along with an arrangement that is attractive to the eye would be more successful. In advertising the written information acts as the core, transmitting all the relevant points of sale, whilst the visual picture explains, simplifies and creates an image around the product. This combination is a forceful mix and consequently affects us all, one way or the other.

    An advertisement must be complete and consistent. If a theme is used it must flow throughout. If wording is used it must be clear. Whichever theme is employed, one thing is sure: it must relate to the product or service being advertised if it is to be effective.

    Large visual advertisements, particularly for products, are usually supplied by the manufacturers themselves, but how and where they are displayed is usually left up to the salon. This material can be presented in an exciting or imaginative way, or can be made to look very dull, and it does not need much imagination to work out which would be the most successful.

    Special offers are among the most common notices displayed on salon windows, alongside models required notices. Although these are available commercially, a basic understanding of lay-out and lettering will enable salons to produce good results themselves.


  • Hairdressing Photography


    A good artist or designer will always keep records for reference and a hairdresser should follow the same practice. New styles that are created in the salon by the stylist or in college by the hairdressing trainee should be recorded as evidence of their artistic and technical ability, and indeed be used to illustrate their creative vocabulary. Once a newly created style has left the salon there is no record of it, so unless it is photographed it has gone forever.

    Professional photographic sessions have to be tightly scheduled as time is money and delays can result in very expensive sessions. Professional photographers have to be pre-booked, which disallows any spontaneous creations that might evolve in the salon, or even good basic salon work. For these reasons it is important that hairdressers acquire basic photographic skills.

    The camera is an extremely useful tool for the hairdresser and should be utilised to the full. A basic knowledge and understanding of how the camera works and its settings, appropriate lighting and composition are all that is needed to produce good professional-looking results. There is no mystique in photography. The camera is merely a mechanical eye recording a situation that you have created. It is within everyone's capability to take an adequate photograph, but you must be prepared to spend some time on preparation. It is preparation that will determine the quality of your results.

    Having a personal portfolio of creative hair styles increases the confidence and credibility of the stylist and certainly instils a sense of confidence in the clientele. It also sets the right sort of creative atmosphere in the salon, encouraging good professional work.

    Particularly good photographs could also be enlarged and used for advertising in the salon, or sent off to be featured in hairdressing, trade and beauty magazines, advertising the stylists' work and the salon nationwide. Many of the trade magazines have quite strict photographic requirements for prints that are submitted for publication. For instance, some prefer certain sizes of good quality black and white prints, while others might consider larger colour prints. It is worth finding out these requirements by telephoning the magazine and inquiring first, certainly before you start any photographing.

    A currently successful use of photographs in promoting hair and make-up is the 'make-over', showing a photograph of the same model before and after styling, This could quite easily be adapted in the salon, and become an interesting advertising and promotions feature.

  • Creating The Total Look

    The Total Look

    Style is not a new word in fashion: different fashion styles have been with us for a very long time. Up until the 1960s and 1970s fashion designers created complete fashion styles including every detail so that one hair style or hat, for instance, was always worn with a particular dress to produce the style the fashion designer intended. Sometimes the personal styles of film stars or pop idols were emulated, but whatever the actual source, the inspiration nearly always came from above and was copied by ordinary people as closely as they could.

    A new force has emerged in the fashion world over the last fifteen to twenty years that has broken the hold of this hierarchical system. This is the emergence of 'street fashion', which has recognised the potential of innovative youth to choose whatever combinations of fashions they think appropriate to project their own images. This new trend blends together all the different fashion areas (hair, cosmetics, clothes, accessories) in countless ways to create exciting new images. The emphasis is on the image created rather than on the clothes alone, and this is why the new movement has been described as 'fashion styling' or sometimes 'image making'.

    This new attitude to fashion has forced the once various fashion industries closer together and compelled them to work in co-operation in order to survive in an ever changing and highly competitive field. Cosmetics and hair products are now promoted by marrying them to an image or look. Whether the image is soft, sultry or sophisticated, it is this that is sold not the actual product.

    There is now a new type of designer who recognises the potential of combining the three main areas of fashion (clothes, hair styles and make-up), and is aware of the variety of images that can be created. These new designers are known as 'stylists'. They are fully equipped with the skills to produce different 'total look' images for promotions, photographs, film or television. There are now some courses in fashion styling provided in further and higher education colleges.


    Hairdressers make an essential contribution to fashion styling and the creation of the total look because the styles they create help to determine the image the client projects. They should not only have the skills and enthusiasm to adapt readily to new ideas that evolve and become fashionable, but they should also be innovators themselves. They should be able to create new fashion ideas themselves and to develop the new techniques required to realise their ideas in practice.

    It is important then that hairdressers should firstly recognise that different images exist, that they should be able to identify them, and that they should have some idea of the hair styles and hair accessories that enhance them. Hairdressers should keep a close eye on different fashion magazines that represent different sections of the public, or certainly different age groups. Some examples of magazines to watch are: Vogue, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Harpers and Queen, Looks, Just 17, The Face, and Smash Hits. Fashion and media programmes on the television are also useful, and if you live in a big town or city you can watch the various images that exist on the streets. Acknowledgement of what is around you will help in the process of being able to identify different looks and it could also act as an inspirational springboard for creating new ideas.

    Categorising images can be a difficult task. Figs 8.1-8.10 show some examples of the images that are around:

    fashionable • sporty

    sophisticated • hard

    hippy • punk

    conservative • ethnic

    feminine • tomboy

    Can you match the image to each picture?

    Total looks or fashion images, of course, are not solely inspired by creating new ideas from within our own fashion world. Like every other creative field, fashion takes its inspiration from all different aspects of life, and particularly from different cultures and the world around us. Different ethnic looks have been incorporated successfully with Western fashions over the last twenty to thirty years. Designers take a particular feature and combine it with their own ideas to produce a new trend or style. This is an extremely fruitful move by designers because in this melting pot of ideas many new combinations of styles can emerge. Another new trend to emerge, not so deliberate and certainly not designed, is a sort of cultural street fashion. This happens when ethnic minorities in a country continue to wear their traditional dress, but adapt it to their new circumstances. For instance silk saris are worn here in Britain with woolly cardigans or thick anoraks to compensate for the cool climate.

    Let us take a look at some different ethnic looks that are around today and have avoided too much Western intervention. Looking at them in their purity, so to speak, clearly illustrates the individuality of each different country and culture.