With the flick of a comb, a hairstylist can characterize, set a time period or even illuminate a theme. Successful hairstyles can evoke a sense of drama or even comedy. They can be tied to certain eras and even to certain celebrities. Because of this, it cannot be understated how important hair is to a star’s image, and subsequently, the films and television shows in which he or she appears. Just imagine the actor playing Wolverine with a Justin Beiber cut. To make sure that actors, actresses, and the characters they portray are properly done up according to the project’s needs, hairstylists are on the job.
The job duties of a hairstylist seem pretty straightforward: to take care of the hair of actors and actresses in film, television, and commercials by washing, drying, cutting, and otherwise styling. However simple this may seem, there are many intricacies that make the job slightly more involved than merely combing and brushing. Hairstylists work closely with the directors, as well as with makeup and costume departments, to help create a seamless image for characters through all their physical characteristics. They prepare the scalp and skin of actors and actresses, work with wigs, hairpieces, and extensions when needed, and often turn to chemicals and scalp treatments to achieve the desired hair effects. Another important part of the job is maintaining hair continuity throughout the shoot, which includes a great deal of touching and retouching during the shoot itself. Hairstylists work within the hair department and are often brought in during pre-production to determine how they will be performing their tasks during the shoot. Often, hairstylists will also work exclusively with the principal actors or actresses on the film, following them during the shoot to make sure their hair is always the way it needs to be. In addition to making sure an actor’s or actress’s hair is perfect for what is needed on set, the hairdresser also sees to it that all products, chemicals, and other funky do’s are washed away and dried at the end of the day.
Skills & Education
Hairstylists for film and television must first have strong skills. There are many cosmetology and beauty schools that give hairstylists the opportunity to learn and perfect their craft, and many film hairstylists get their starts in salons. Obviously, a talent for hair styling is paramount and this often necessitates knowledge of hair design, coloring, technology, and artistry. All are equally important to become a successful hairstylist. The ability to communicate well, understand directions, and work independently as well as on teams are also attractive qualities in a hairstylist. An eye for detail is one of the most critical requirements for hairstylists, since their work helps to define the image of the character, and thus must maintain continuity throughout the shoot, which is sometimes easier said than done.
What to Expect
Hairstylists can often expect to form close relationships with certain actors and actresses, since celebrities commonly develop loyalty to stylists who successfully manage their looks. Because appearance is such a vital part of an actor’s profession, their hairstylists must be aware of any allergies the actors and actresses may have to chemicals and be prepared to handle diva behavior. Then, of course, hairstylists also get the perk of high praise for making an insecure starlet feel confidently coiffed. Becoming a personal hairstylist for individual actors or actresses is not uncommon, and this is a highly coveted position that brings with it greater autonomy and with it greater success. As with many of the careers in makeup and hair, hairstylists can expect long hours on the set and lots of freelance work. The beauty of being a hairstylist for films is that when the shoot is over, you can always return to the salon and continue styling the hair of all the actors and actresses you’ve already impressed.
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