Fashion insights by Moda Database

How to Become a Celebrity Hair Stylist

What is a Celebrity Hair Stylist and What is Different About Their Job?

A celebrity hair stylist is a professional hair artist who works with high profile clients on all of their hair needs. From red carpet events, editorial photoshoots, music videos, to jetting across the country to represent a hair product major brand, a celebrity hair stylist has many different facets that are outside of a normal hair stylist’s job description.

The payoff means making anywhere from $950 for a haircut to starting an exclusive salon. But how do you get to be a celebrity hair stylist? A combination of luck, hard work, and location – here are the tried tips to make it in the celebrity hair stylist world!

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A post shared by Chris Appleton (@chrisappleton1)

Top hair stylist Chris Appleton is very much a celebrity himself – modelling for hair care line Color Wow (where he is the global creative director), appearing on TV shows, and with 1.8m followers on Instagram.

10 Steps to Start Your Career as a Celebrity Hair Stylist

1. Get Your Cosmetology Certification
2. Become an Apprentice For Celebrity Hair Stylists
3. Build a Professional Portfolio
4. Work at a Top Salon
5. Location, Location, Location
6. Say “Yes” to Event Opportunities
7. Create an Enjoyable Customer Experience
8. Promote Yourself Through Word-of-Mouth
9. Keep In Touch With Your Celebrity Clients
10. Promote Your Celebrity Clients (& Yourself)

Fun Facts
How much do celebrity hairstylists make?
What flat iron do celebrity hairstylists use?


Get cosmetology certification & set out to learn

First and foremost, a celebrity hair stylist needs a GED and a state cosmetology license, which usually require nine months of study. Working with a school that’s known for their styling or celebrity alumni can be a bonus, but consider certification the first step in a never-ending learning journey. As famous celebrity stylist Ted Gibson says, “Train, train, train! …If you follow any [celebrity stylist], you’ll see that’s the common thread. The key to their success is constant training and practice.”


Contact celebrity hairstylist for apprenticeship opportunities

When top celebrity hair stylist Tippi Shorter got out of beauty school, her friend, celebrity hair stylist Jamika Wilson, offered her an apprenticeship working alongside Jamika with celebrity clients. Tippi learned everything on the job and continued training voraciously for five more years in New York. Only after this intensive learning period did she find her first celebrity client – a then new singer named Rihanna. Almost every celebrity hair stylist has a similar beginning of first apprenticing with other celebrity hair stylists. After all, your skills need to be proven before you can work independently with these high profile clients.

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A post shared by Tippi Shorter Rank (@tippishorter)

Celebrity hair stylist Tippi Shorter receives emails and DM’s asking for mentorship opportunities all the time, and is now offering them!

Don’t be shy to ask about potential apprenticeship opportunities, and start building relationships early on. Even if a celebrity hair stylist doesn’t offer an apprenticeship, you can build a network of industry relationships through those first contacts. Furthermore, continue to nurture these relationships over follow-ups and social media.

Before you reach out to celebrity hair stylists, remember to research their areas of expertise. This can also help you determine who you want to learn from. For example, Tippi Shorter specializes in kinky, curly hair – so personalize your messages accordingly.


Build a beautiful portfolio & show it off

Nowadays, it is easy for you to reach a wide audience with everything being online. Having a digital portfolio is important, because it enables potential clients and celebrity hair stylist mentors to see your potential. Showcase your best work on Instagram and keep portfolios on professional platforms like Moda Database up-to-date, so that interested clients can reach out to you. The photos that you post represent your capabilities, so curate your portfolio with the work you’re looking to attract in mind.

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Dakota Johnson styled by celebrity hair stylist Mark Townsend – who features his star clients on his instagram and portfolio. Mark got his big break in an apprenticeship with another celebrity hair stylist who recommended him for styling the movie Vanilla Sky.


Work at a top salon

Once certified and experienced, a hair stylist can work in salons that celebrities frequent, and eventually start working with top celebrity clients. New hair stylists likely won’t be able to start at these salons, and should focus instead on building portfolios and skillsets that will set them up for an apprenticeship or a job in top salons down the road. It’s not unusual to have to work your way up – as Tippi Shorter worked for five more years after her apprenticeship to “learn everything [she] could” before getting her hands into a celebrity’s hair. 

Consider working in a top celebrity-attracting salon a stepping stone to strengthen your portfolio and reputation for A-list clients. When you work in a top salon, you’ll likely start at the bottom again, since celebrity clients already have established stylists that they go to. Stay patient, be friendly, and build your skills – so that you can rise up to the occasion when it is your time to shine.

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A post shared by STARRING By Ted Gibson (@starring)

Starring by Ted Gibson is an exclusive celebrity salon by celebrity hair stylist Ted Gibson, who recommends aspiring celebrity hair stylist to train like athletes to become the best. Working in a salon like Starring can build experience and a good reputation by working with celebrities under mentorship.


Live in an area where celebrities and celebrity hair stylists are

Fish live in water. Working with celebrities requires being where they are. Los Angeles and New York are the top two spots for celebrity hair stylists, and top salon apprenticeship will already be in these locations. Being where the actions are will open doors to connections and financial opportunities you won’t find elsewhere.


Put yourself in events where you’ll meet celebrities

Working at events is a great way for you to build your name, network, and portfolio. When you volunteer at charitable events, it also allows you to potentially meet celebrities supporting those causes.

Going for the unexpected can also open new doors. Celebrity hair stylist Mara Roszak accepted a call from a publicist friend to do hair on tour – which became the turning point in her career. Be open-minded, and grab every opportunity you can to learn and grow.

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A post shared by Mara Roszak (@mararoszak)

Supermodel Cara Delevigne’s unforgettable Met Gala look created by celebrity hair stylist Mara Roszak.


Create an enjoyable customer experience

Regardless of who you are working with, always be personable and strive to create an experience that your customers will love. Celebrity hair stylist Gregory Russell got his big break while working at Andy LeCompte Salon, where he met Chloë Moretz. They had a blast laughing together during blowouts and enjoyed each others’ company. While the relationship started by chance, he forged a genuine connection with a celebrity client, and his career took off from there.

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A post shared by Gregory Russell (@gregoryrussellhair)

Getting your hair styled can take hours – no one wants to be stuck with a hair stylist they don’t like – so make it a fun time for your and your celebrity clients.


Grow your celebrity clientele through word-of-mouth

Once you get your first celebrity client, word-of-mouth is your best friend to bring in more. Famous celebrity hair stylist Harry Josh was already coloring top models’ hair, such as Gisele Bündchen, Kirsty Hume, and Shalom Harlow, when Teen Vogue editor-in-chief Amy Astley heard about his at-home hair coloring, and featured him as an up-and-coming hairdresser in the magazine. This propelled his career to stardom. Therefore the key takeaway here is that referrals carry tremendous weight in show biz. Words spread fast in the industry, so take impeccable care of your current clients, and make sure they leave feeling and looking fabulous.

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A post shared by Harry Josh (@harryjoshhair)

After being featured as an up-and-coming hairstylist in Teen Vogue, Harry Josh now has his own name brand hair tools and A-list clients like Claudia Schiffer.


Maintain good relationship with your celebrity clients

Once you have built up your celebrity clientele, take time and effort to stay close to them. Celebrities are human too! Shower them with TLC and keep in touch through Instagram. It is always appreciated when one remembers special occasions, such as sending birthday wishes and congratulations.

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A post shared by Yusef | Celebrity Hair Stylist (@yusefhairnyc)

Sweet birthday IG post from celebrity hair stylist Yusef Williams to Rihanna. The two met back in 2008 at a charity event.


Promote your celebrity clients on IG

Another way to make your celebrity clients feel special is to feature them on your Instagram regularly. For example, celebrity hair stylist Ursula Stephen has Instagram story highlights of current clients Zendaya, Bebe Rexha, and Tiffany Haddish pinned to her profile. You’ll not only make your A-list clients feel good about themselves, but also build pathways for other celebrities to see and trust your work.

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A post shared by Ursula Stephen (@ursulastephen)

Celebrity hair stylist Ursula Stephen frequently posts images and reels of her celebrity clients. Here is a behind-the-scene photo of Zendaya for Lancôme Lash Idôle mascara ad campaign.

Fun Facts

What’s the payoff? How much do celebrity hair stylists make?

From making $950 per hair cut, to signing six figure partnerships with brands, being a celebrity hair stylist can really pay. The average celebrity hair stylist salary is $74,698 a year – with lows of $14,298 and highs of $380,394. In San Fransisco, the average salary jumps to $112,794 a year, showing the power of location, though that location comes with higher rent and expenses. The pay checks can be lucrative, but for many hair stylists, several years of work have to be put into the grind before seeing the payouts. 

As everything is built on reputation, the more experience and celebrity clients you have, the higher you can charge. Branding opportunities such as starting your own hair care line, a branded salon, working as a brand ambassador, and getting TV appearances. The revenue stream possibilities are limitless!

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A post shared by Jonathan Van Ness (@jvn)

Jonathan Van Ness became a celebrity hair stylist by appearing on popular TV show “Queer Eye”, leading to his own hair care line, merchandise, and podcast.

– Having the right tools: what flat iron do celebrity hair stylists use?

The true answer is that many celebrity stylists have a favorite flat iron based on their hair specialty. Straighteners have different surfaces, such as tourmaline, ceramic, and titanium, with each being better for specific hair textures and styles. It’s not one size fits all. Celebrity hair stylist Caile Noble, who styles Julia Roberts, Kirtsten Dunst, and Cindy Crawford’s famous feathered hair, calls the Revlon Salon Straight Copper Smooth his “one-stop and favorite flat iron”, while hair stylist Courtney Foster calls the Dyson Corrale Hair Straightener the “Rolls Royce of hair tools.” Both options have wildly different price tags, which shows that while tools matter – experience and comfort are just as important. If you’re starting out, work with what your mentor recommends, and get new tools when you want different results.

Last but not least, stay committed!

While every journey to becoming a celebrity hair stylist is a unique one, the steps above are footholds for many celebrity hair stylists. Following them, and building the right contacts and a good portfolio will put you on the right path. Keep hustling, and stay humble and grounded even as you start to make a name for yourself.