Are you wondering how to become a natural hair stylist? If YES, here is everything you need to know about becoming a natural hair stylist in 2023. In this age of advancement in virtually everything pertaining to humans and our environment, it is still very difficult to find natural hair stylists and salons in modern America, because it requires grounded skill, dexterity, and an extensive understanding of how best to work with textured hair.
Handling textured hair is not as easy as it seems and there are an inadequate number of professional stylists who know how to work across all hair types — and, more specifically, the intricacies of black hair — and this entails that people with natural textures don’t always get good services.
Currently, there is a rising demand for natural styling and hair care in the beauty industry. Regrettably, there are not enough trained professionals to see to these growing demands. Note that braiding, twisting, and other forms of natural hair styling are not part of the traditional cosmetology curriculum.
Owing to that, licensed professionals who are well versed in natural hair styling have to be intentional with acquiring knowledge and investing in continuing education and specialty classes. Note that every state has a governmental agency known as the board of cosmetology and barbering, also referred to as the state board, which lays down licensing standards and regulations for the barbering and cosmetology industry.
Note that the hair industry is steadily evolving, and to succeed as a natural hair stylist, it is important that you steadily invest in yourself to improve your skills and increase your level of expertise.
6 Steps to Become a Natural Hair Stylist in the United States
The primary reason why there is a scarcity of natural hair stylists in the United States is because many stylists are not taught to work with and appreciate curly hair types. There is a massive lack of education and salon service around natural hair; however, if you are looking to become a natural hair stylist in the United States, here are steps to consider.
Table of Content
Attend Beauty School
To become a natural hair stylist in the United States, you will have to attend a cosmetology school that has been approved by your state. Also note that states institute various requirements for anyone looking to go down this lane, and most would expect you to have a high school or equivalency diploma.
Also, have it in mind that a good number of high schools offer programs in cosmetology to their students. If yours do, or if you already have a high school or equivalency diploma, you can then consider a program at a vocational school. These programs more or less last at least nine months, but some may be take about two years.
Also note that some grant an associate degree upon completion. Some programs offer classes in languages coupled with English. To find a program, you can visit the American Association of Cosmetology Schools’ (AACS) website. Ensure to settle for one that offers a specialty in natural hair.
According to reports, skin, nail, barbering, and massage schools, tuition costs around $6,500 and $10,000, depending on location and curriculum. For instance, tuition in rural areas tends to be lower than in metropolitan ones. You will also need to pay for your tools.
But before you pay for any program, it is imperative you find out if it is approved by the state. Have it in mind that if you attend a program that is not state-approved, then you might not get licensed and, subsequently, will be unable to work as a natural hairstylist. If you have any questions about a program’s credentials, contact your state’s licensing board. Find a list of them on the AACS website.
In the United States, there are 19 states that mandate some form of formal training in natural hair styling. The hours required for the licensure or certification ranges from a 6-hour online course up to 600 hours from a board approved school.
Also, note that some of the states that mandate training do not require a practical exam and the aim is primarily on safety and sanitation. In states like California, licensing is not mandated for braiding and natural hair styling. Owing to that, there is no formal training on proper braiding, twisting, and locking techniques.
After you officially become a fully licensed natural hair stylist, then you can begin looking for a job. First, check if your school offers job placement services. Then try to find work through a salon, or you can also consider unique employment opportunities in nursing homes, spas, hotels, malls, cruise ships, and hospitals.
Once you are licensed, you can choose to be an independent natural hair stylist by renting a station or an employee earning an hourly rate and/or commissions. You can also choose to start your own natural hair styling shop, but it is imperative to first acquire experience working for someone else before you go out on your own. Note that classes and training in business administration will help you know more about all the steps required to run your own natural styling company.
Also have it in mind that acquiring special certifications can help you stand out as a natural hair stylist and also help you better see to the needs of your customers. This includes classes in advanced training not included in standard programs in beauty schools or vocational programs. You should also consider becoming well versed in subjects such as hair extensions, hair replacement, semi-permanent straightening, hair prosthetics, or coloring.
Build and Keep a Portfolio
Branding and building an enticing portfolio is what ensures you have a steady flow of customers and a good income. There are many ways to do this as a natural hair stylist, for instance, when your client’s hair comes out great, take a photo!
Keep a full portfolio of all the perfect haircuts, styles, and color work you have done. Ensure to take cognizance of any special situations that you encounter, including: fixing a bad hair job, addressing an unusual skin condition, or making a bad hair cut better. A good number of hair experts in this generation leverage social media to show off their work and attract customers to their chairs.
Have it in mind that you will be expected to pay a fee each year to maintain your license as a natural hair stylist. Ensure to research and contact your state cosmetology board to make sure you fulfill the requirements needed to keep your license current so it does not become suspended. Do not also forget to keep learning new techniques.
Becoming a natural hair stylist is not an easy feat, and with the growing demand for experts in this field, this is a niche to consider in the cosmetology industry. Your aim should not be on passing the state exam but on having the knowledge to manage all hair types, because the lack of knowledge of what constitutes healthy hair for a range of textures leaves you inadequate to help your clients.