Many hair stylists go into the beauty industry so they can break into the world of magazine and celebrity hair styling. When styling hair for a magazine, this kind of work is called editorial or session styling. So, how do you become an editorial stylist?
To work in the celebrity styling world, you will first have to get representation from an agency. These agencies represent hair stylists, makeup artists and photographers, and are much like a modeling agency. Your agent will get jobs for you and handle all of the coordination that has to do with the client. The agent will take a previously agreed upon percentage of whatever you're payed for the job.
To get represented by an agency, you will have to compile a book of photos that represent your work. This book (as it's referred to in the fashion world) will be your portfolio, which you will take to agencies as you try to get represented. It is very important to have a professional looking and well organized book. Before you start yours, go to agency websites and look at their talent's online portfolios. This will give you a good idea of that agencies aesthetic and what they might be looking for.
How are you supposed to get photos for your book if you can't get the jobs in the first place? This is the issue that all hair stylists have when first starting out. The best thing to do is pair up with other makeup artists, photographers and models, who are just starting out, for test shoots. Test shoots are photo shoots that are strictly for everyone's books and the parties involved are usually not payed. To find other people that are looking to set up tests shoots and build their books, you can go to sites like modelmayhem.com where you'll find tons of beauty professionals, photographers and models that are looking to coordinate on test shoots. Once your portfolio has at least 8-10 different photos in it, you will be ready to go to the agencies.
Just because you have a book of great photos doesn't mean you will get an agent right away. One of the surest ways to guarantee representation is to get on the agencie's assistant list. Once you become an assistant, you will join other stylists that are already represented by the agency on shoots. When assisting, you will basically be payed to watch and help, this is not your job, so don't expect to do a ton of hair while on set. There was many a day when I was assisting that I only held bobby pins or was running out to get extra hair spray. As boring as it can be at times (but not really, you're on set!), this is the surefire way to get representation in the future. The more you assist, the more chances you'll have to build relationships with the agents who will one day represent you.
Look online to find a list of local agencies near you, but don't just walk on in to the place. Call first and see if they have a day that they offer open call to new talent. On these days, you usually come in with your book and meet with one of the agents to see if they like you. It's good to remember that agencies are not as scary as they sound and I've personally only had great experiences them.
If you're serious about becoming a celebrity hair stylist, prepare for a lot of work and a lot of hustling. Getting representation from an agency can sometimes take years, and if you're truly committed, I highly suggest working in LA or New York. That being said, hard work in this industry usually pays off big and nothing can beat the exciting world of celebrity and editorial hair styling.