How Do I Become a Hair Color Specialist?

Color can bring a hairstyle to life. That’s why salons and spas operate with trained and talented hair color specialists. One only has to look to “color bars” popping up in cities all over the country to realize that people want access to professional colorists more than ever before.

Hair color specialists often become central figures in the lives of their clients simply because maintaining a good coloring job takes commitment and planning. Combining art and chemistry, a hair color specialist helps clients create custom looks. A skilled hair colorist makes achieving the perfect color look easy. The truth is that intense training, expertise, instinct, and dedication go into creating beautiful looks that keep clients coming back time after time. If you have a knack for hair, you may be wondering how to become a hair color specialist.

What Does a Hair Color Specialist Do?

Hair color specialists don’t just help clients “pick a color.” They are color advisors capable of creating every type of look using a combination of science, color principles, skill, creativity, and specialized equipment. They can provide services for:

  • Hair color.
  • Permanent dye.
  • Semi-permanent dye.
  • Gray coverage.
  • Highlights.
  • Lowlights.
  • Babylights.
  • Ombré.
  • Balayage.
  • Streaks.
  • Chunking.
  • Depth and tone.

Hair colorists can also fix coloring mistakes. This can include everything from adjusting a mismatch to removing color from hair. Hair colorists are also trained to help clients achieve color goals in ways that keep hair as nourished and healthy as possible.

Why Working With a Trained Hair Color Specialist Matters?

Trained hair colorists ensure the health and safety of clients every step of the way. While the hair dyes used in salons today are considered to be very safe, it’s still important to follow strict safety guidelines to prevent injury that can come from exposure to the chemicals used in hair dye.

Trained hair colorists conduct skin tests to ensure the safety of the products being used. In addition, they are strategic about timing how long dyes stay in contact with the scalp to ensure that no harm is done. Finally, hair colorists have the training necessary to identify how different ingredients and chemicals might interact when they come into contact. In addition to helping to ensure that coloring products create the desired result, this knowledge of product interactions helps to prevent pain or irritation for a client.

OSHA Guidelines

All hair color specialists are trained in accordance with the regulations created by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Under OSHA guidelines, hairstylists are required to be familiar with the chemicals that are present in their styling products prior to using them on their clients. They must also research all labels and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) attached to products.

In addition, hair color specialists are required to communicate with clients regarding any potential for allergic or chemical reactions. Finally, OSHA requires hair colorists to keep records of any injuries or reactions that occur. All of this comes in addition to training for proper disposal of any chemicals or hazardous materials used during the coloring process. Most hair dye falls under the category of “hazardous waste.” As a result, hair color specialists are required to dispose of excess coloring materials in properly labeled hazardous-waste containers.

How Do You Become a Hair Color Specialist?

Most people first discover that they have a passion for hair coloring after dyeing their hair at home. However, this isn’t enough to start taking on clients. In fact, charging money to dye hair without first obtaining the proper licensing and certification can make it hard to find a job. Luckily, getting the education needed to be a professional hair color specialist is achievable for anyone who has the motivation to get started.

What Education Helps You Become a Hair Color Specialist?

The first step is enrolling in a cosmetology program at a vocational school. Most states recommend that future cosmetologists complete a set number of hours of education at an accredited school or institute. Students enrolled on a full-time basis can complete their education in as little as 10 months.

What Do Students Enrolled in Cosmetology Programs Study?

Programs consist of both classroom and hands-on learning. Students spend time studying the technical and business aspects of coloring hair in what can be considered a traditional classroom setting before moving on to practice scenarios that give them real-world experience.

While future hair color specialists are focused on learning techniques for dyeing hair, cosmetology programs don’t necessarily box students into one specialty. A program that equips a student to graduate as a trained hair color specialist will also help them to gain familiarity and expertise regarding the following:

  • Hairstyling.
  • Extensions.
  • Haircutting.
  • Manicures and pedicures.
  • Skincare products.
  • Facials and masks.
  • Light microdermabrasion.
  • Hair removal.
  • Makeup application.

Cosmetology programs also equip future hair color specialists to manage the business aspects of working in the beauty and wellness industry. Topics covered throughout a cosmetology program can include how to run a salon, how to make personalized product recommendations, and managing clients. In fact, knowing how to judge different color-safe shampoos and conditioners based on their ingredients can be especially important for hair color specialists.

Once a student has completed a cosmetology program, the next step is to consider taking the state cosmetology exam. Students can then register for their state licenses to get a job as hair color specialist in any salons, spas, or beauty bars of their choosing. They can even work on their own as independent hair colorists. Students who have completed a cosmetology program are considered equipped to pass the state exam to obtain licensing.

What Kind of Equipment Do Hair Color Specialists Use?

During a cosmetology training program, future hair color specialists spend time becoming familiar with the various tools they’ll use on a daily basis. Equipment isn’t just important for carrying out hair coloring techniques. Knowing how to use the right equipment and accessories helps to keep clients comfortable and safe. Here’s a look at the different tools a hair color specialist interact with every time a new clients sits in the chair:

  • Shampoo chairs.
  • Shampoo bowls.
  • Bleach-safe, color-safe towels.
  • Clips.
  • Color bars.
  • Brushes and combs.
  • Spray bottles.
  • Gloves.
  • Timers.
  • Protective capes.
  • Mixing bowls and whisks.
  • Color brushes.
  • Foil.
  • Tint applicators.
  • Bleach applicators.
  • Neck strips.

A hair color specialist must keep a continuous inventory based on client volume. They must also manage inventory regularly. Hair color specialists must maintain relationships with vendors to ensure that they can access the products they need. In addition, hair color specialists must create systems for storing all of their essential tools so they can access them easily while working with clients.

What are the Traits of a Professional Hair Color Specialist?

A passion for cosmetology is all that’s needed to pursue this career. During training, students have opportunities to explore their own talents, skills, and passions to focus on specialties that make them feel excited about their future careers. Hair color specialists are in high demand simply because maintaining a look is an ongoing process for clients. In addition, many people like to change their hair color to keep up with current trends. Clients depend on hair color specialists to provide them with guidance about how to obtain specific hair looks. They also come to hair color specialists when they are desperate to correct coloring mistakes.

A hair colorist’s job is often a good fit for someone who enjoys working with people. This role requires a high level of client interaction. It also requires strong communication skills that enable them to understand the visions that their clients are looking for. Finally, the attributes of being organized, having creativity, and enjoying “the process” are all extremely helpful when becoming a hair color specialist.

Final Thoughts

The journey to an in-demand career starts by enrolling in a cosmetology program. The rise of “hair color bars” means that you are in demand. Some people pursue cosmetology because they aspire to open their own salons or color bars. However, the bottom line is that being a hair color specialist leads to a bright future.

Want to Learn More?

At Minnesota School of Cosmetology, we are dedicated to helping our Cosmetology program students develop a solid foundation and a flair for style through hands-on training in basic and advanced industry techniques. You will learn how to cut, color and style hair, give manicures and pedicures, provide spa treatments, and perform various skin care techniques from industry-experienced instructors in a professional salon setting.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a cosmetologist and start a rewarding career in the beauty industry.

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