Are You and Your Clients Looking to Instagram for Inspiration? Beware!

By AHP Staff 

I’m reasonably sure that every hairdresser or barber has lived this scene at least once, if not on a weekly basis. You client is sitting in your chair and eagerly shows you a picture on Instagram of a celebrity, and they say they want their hair to look “just like them.”

In the picture, the celebrity has bangs, something your client has never mentioned to you. You say, “Wow, you really want bangs?”

The clients replies, “Well, no, I don’t want bangs; it would be a hassle to style them every day. And when I don’t have time to straighten my hair, I’ll need to make sure the curly version of this style looks as good. Oh, and I don’t want to start coloring my hair, so I hope it looks as good with gray hair. 

You’re a bit baffled and ask them, “What part of this hairstyle do you like?” 

The client is silent, but you can hear the unspoken truth: “I want her perfect skin, bright blue eyes, pearly white teeth, and her tiny little waistline.” They finally admit the beautiful model in the picture is what caught her eye, and it’s not even the hairstyle your client actually wants . . . it’s the whole package.

If you’ve had similar talks with your clients, you know this is becoming a more frequent occurrence with Instagram and Snapchat and all the social media channels available. A client looks at a photo and thinks they want the hairstyle, but they may not be realistic about how that style will look on them. Or, if they really do want the style, maybe they only want aspects of it, which changes the look entirely. Maybe their hair texture isn’t right for that particular style. Rarely are they going to end up looking like that picture, and comparing themselves to a snapshot can end up in a big disappointment. 

But this blog isn’t about managing clients’ expectations or giving them a dose of reality. This is about you. This is about managing your own photoshopped expectations when it comes to your career. Hairdresser curls client's hair

Stylists and barbers love to check out another hair professionals’ Instagram. We look, we follow, we compare, we dream, and we end up losing perspective. Just as we attempt to manage our clients’ hair expectations, we must manage our own career expectations. Let’s define that idyllic career inspiration picture you have. 

“Is this what you want?”  

Before you get sucked into how good other stylists’ careers look in pictures, first define what you want your career to look like. Just because the life of a platform artist works for one stylist doesn’t mean it will work for you. Are you prepared to put in the “styling time” to make a career like that work? You might see a stylist or barber who appears elated as a suite renter or as an hourly employee. It doesn’t necessarily mean your personality or “hair type” will fit that style. Break down each piece of a career path and make sure you want all the aspects, not just one filtered perfect image of what it could maybe look like in an Instagram post.  

“This will take time.”  

Changing a hair color often requires more than one appointment, so what makes us think career success happens overnight? Don’t compare your current career to someone else who may have been in the industry for 20 years. It just takes a few seconds to do a social media makeover, but think about the years of practice, trials, and investment that are summed up in those snapshots. Remember that only the best pictures, the ones that tell the story we want the world to see, get posted. 

Barber shaves client's face“You will need to make an investment.”  

You will need to make an investment, and only you can decide how much you’re willing to invest. No matter what you want in your career, it may cost you some lifestyle choices. 

It is so tempting when you see a fellow stylist who has adoring comments and tons of followers on their social media channels for you to want the same thing. But you must be realistic and weigh the value. They have most likely spent hours catering to their audience, building their following, creating relevant content to post, responding to messages, keeping up on industry trends, etc. Will it elevate your career enough to justify the investment?  

When you see a fellow hairdresser posting pictures of themselves on stage doing hair all over the world, do your daydreams of an exciting life of travel begin? It may be that this is a perfect career choice for you, but again, be realistic. Travel is not always glamorous. It will mean nights in hotel rooms, lonely dinners, foods that are strange to you and may not fit your current health regimen—and you will end up missing out on lots of family time. Think of it this way: Some clients are willing to invest the time and money into a triple-process blonde, while others are happier with an easy-to-maintain gorgeous-in-its-own-way brunette.  

Just as all hairstyles are amazing for their own reasons, so are each of our careers as hairstylists. Before you pick a picture off social media and try to replicate it, make sure you give serious thought to determine what is best for you. Acknowledge the time it will take, and weigh the investment versus the value it will bring your career. What will make your career the most fulfilling and successful? 


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