Legal Law

What is a master stylist? How the hair industry secretly defines Master

Are you getting your money’s worth for your hairdressing services?

The hair industry is alphabetized with names for hairdressers. Stylist, beautician, and barber are all terms used for the same profession, and that is simply hairdresser. There are definitely different skill sets with hairdressers, and most of the time, the ones with vast experience in the hair industry do a good job with hair. However, we are about to expose some truths about what a “Master Stylist” is. Think about it. If you’re planning to pay for a master stylist, you probably want a little information to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth, right?

Very common: The master stylist of “Sales”

In many mainstream salons, you may be surprised to learn that the different levels of achievement have nothing to do with skill, but salesmanship. As a stylist brings in more money to a salon week after week, then he can begin to move up the title. He is similar to a salesperson who meets and exceeds sales quotas. The train of thought is that if more and more clients come to see a particular stylist, then he/she must be doing a great job, so give them a promotion!

Promotions based on money brought into a salon do not equate to great service. It can mean that the stylist has a great personality, connects well with guests, or can just be a fantastic salesperson (people who speak softly can really do well to get promoted).

Do not fall into the trap of falling in love with the so-called “masters”. The good news is that you will eventually discover that there are constant mistakes in your cut and color. Unintentional uneven cuts, holes in the hairstyle, and green or orange coloring are all “tells” from a master who really shouldn’t have this title.

Common: The master stylist “Dinosaur”

The other teacher has “earned” the title of years of service in the industry (6+). Let me warn you, just because someone has done their hair for 30 years doesn’t mean they’ve done it right for 30 years. If someone doesn’t receive any formal education outside of beauty school, then they are probably in their ways and could be doing poorly for the past 30 years, hence the term. dinosaur. It’s like buying a PC from 20 years ago and never getting an upgrade.

The fact is that beauty schools only teach students how to pass the cosmetology exam. It is in line with what is wrong with our educational system in this country. We teach our children to take a test and they become excellent test takers, but they never really learn the material. The same is true for cosmetology schools and their graduate students. Once a cosmetology student graduates and passes the exam, she goes straight to cutting the client’s hair. Would you hire an attorney to handle your big case right after you pass the bar, or would you have a doctor perform surgery before your internship? Of course not! But that’s what happens with most stylists.

These recent graduates who continue their work improve over the years, even if it is by trial and error. They cover up their mistakes with extravagant movements and flowery language. Have you ever had a stylist aggressively cut your hair and expertly toss it?

Now, many stylists have taken up a new trend to cover up their inability to be precise and that is to use a razor to sculpt their hair. If you’ve had your hair styled with a razor, then you know better than anyone that it takes forever to get your hair done in the morning while you’re trying to look decent before you leave the house. Tons of gels, sprays, powders, bobby pins and clips are used to keep it in place. I’m sure if I had a choice I would use glue and tape if I could.

The fact is that if you learn to do something wrong and you never know it’s wrong, you will do it wrong for the rest of your life until someone shows you otherwise. The solution to this is education outside of beauty school. Learning to cut hair correctly is only taught in the most famous salons. But there is a catch. These advanced education classes are only 1, 3 or 5 day seminars. Have you heard of the 80/20 rule? Well, this means that of those who can actually afford to take the classes or take the time to travel to Chicago, New York, or California for these seminars, only 20% will notice and the other 80% won’t (but will). will do). still put your training on your resume). Even then, a 5-day seminar will not produce an expert, but it will at least get the stylist closer to their goal.

Less common: The master of the “template”

Template masters are the most cunning fake experts. The reason they are cunning is because these masters have taken classes over the years for formal education giving the impression of a true master stylist. However, the additional classes and training were about learning specific haircuts, not methods and techniques. One of the most notable successes in the hair industry is that of a popular national chain. They created a system in which they specify haircuts they are taught and passed on to their stylists. Each haircut is given a different name within their community and each graduate goes back to their salon and gives their clients the cut they just learned about. The problem is that the typical barber jumps from salon to salon every 6 months to a year. They leave only knowing certain cuts, but they never learned how to design their own cut. In reality, some of these salons won’t allow for creativity because they want to maintain a standard level of service across all brand locations. Therefore, they force all their clients to fit into the same template.

WEIRD: The “real” master stylist

Very hard to find are the true master stylists who can be identified as members of the design teams at Vidal Sasson, Arrojo Studios, Ted Gibson and Jos Eber. You will find that regardless of the team, many of the teachers on these teams were heavily trained by Vidal Sasson teachers or trained by those who came from a Vidal Sasson trained teacher. An indicator of a true master is that he or she DOES NOT USE CLIPPERS. Whether it’s a men’s or women’s cut, clippers are a “dirty word” for the true craftsman. Unfortunately, in some states like Texas, razors must be used on the neck instead of a straight razor due to state laws. This would be the only exception to the use of razors.

NEARLY EXTINCT: The Grand Master and his protégé

The creme de la creme are those considered “Great Masters”. A Grand Master is one who has won the prestigious Long Beach Venus Medallion(1), which designates him as a world champion designer. On rare occasions, and only if you are lucky, you may find a protégé of a Grandmaster. A protégé is someone who has done more than take a 5-day course, but has studied intensively and trained daily with a Venus Medallion winner for 6 months to a year or more. Venus winners and protégés are extremely rare gems that are difficult to find. If you find one, hold them in awe and respect as the level of training and skill they have acquired is second to none.

In a world filled with namesake and more celebrated experts, interviewing your stylist is your best bet for finding the true master. It may take time and work for him to sift through the darkness to identify vendors, dinosaurs, and institutionalized staff cronies, but his efforts will pay off when he finally finds that rare gem. In a future article, we’ll go into more detail about what to ask a stylist and how to properly examine her work to determine if you should give her a chance to work on your hair. Thereafter, you can rest assured that you are getting your money’s worth for their services.


(1) Expo Salon and International Spa (2012). ISSE Long Beach Special Event Competition. Retrieved on April 17, 2012 from

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