How to Become a Hair Model

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Photo Source: Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock

Hair modeling offers the opportunity to participate in the creativity of the cosmetology world. In return, hair models get great perks such as financial compensation, the chance to travel, and a fantastic new look. If you don’t have Rapunzelesque tresses, not to worry—hair modeling offers a diversity of opportunities, meaning there are various paths you can take to get bucks for your bangs.


What is a hair model?

Hair modelViDI Studio/Shutterstock

A hair model is someone who works in the beauty space by allowing their hair to be styled, cut, colored, or otherwise altered and featured for any of the following:

  • Commercial shoots
  • Cosmetology school instruction
  • Hair care product promotion
  • Magazine photo shoots
  • Runway shows
  • Salon promotion
  • Trade shows

If there’s a beauty industry experience that spotlights hair and the servicing of it, it’s a job for a hair model.

What does a hair model do?

Hair model responsibilities Sofia Zhuravetc/Shutterstock

Just as a painter works with a canvas to display their talent and expertise, professionals in the beauty space work with hair models to highlight a styling technique or hair product. Hair models generally work with:

  • Cosmetology students and instructors
  • Hair or fashion magazines
  • Hair product brands
  • Hair stylists
  • Photographers

Like any model, hair models might model on a runway; pose for photographs; perform on video; or be used in expos and other live demonstrations. 

While they can set their own parameters, models should be open to change regarding hair color, length, and style. Brittany Urenda, certified cosmetologist and instructor at the Academy for Salon Professionals, points out that most modeling jobs will clearly state the service the hair model will receive. Models “sign up knowing exactly what we’re going to do,” she says. The hair model and professionals working with them should have a clear and explicit understanding beforehand of any alterations.

How to get into hair modeling

Hair model requirements Sofia Zhuravetc/Shutterstock

Getting into hair modeling depends on what the aspiring model wants to do and their location and hair. The most common paths include:

Cosmetology schools: Many schools post casting calls for hair models. “We put it on social media,” Urenda says, as well as on “a sign-up list at the school.” Follow social media accounts of local cosmetology schools, visit campuses to see if they have anything posted on bulletin boards, or even call them directly to offer your services.

Agency representation: If your interest lies in booking commercials, photo shoots, or trade shows, you should consider agency representation. Many brands and publications work exclusively with agencies. This ensures they are matched with a professional hair model who has the right qualifications and understands what is required of them for the job.

Job postings: You can also book gigs by keeping an eye on job postings. Be on the lookout for general postings or ones that call for your specific hair type. 

Word-of-mouth: If you know any other hair models or people in the beauty biz, let them know about your desire to become a hair model and ask if they can help you on your path. 

Self-promotion: Having the most luscious locks in the industry means nothing if nobody ever witnesses it. Don’t be afraid to do some social media self-promotion, particularly on the following platforms: 

  • Instagram: Instagram likely can provide the quickest route to modeling success because of its inherently visual nature and hashtag use. The trick is to create posts or reels with stunning hair looks that immediately draw in the person scrolling by. Depending on the following you cultivate, you may then draw sponsorship for hair care, hair accessories, or related hair products. 
  • YouTube: Are you interested in making your mark with a longer-form platform? Then don’t overlook the impact that a YouTube channel can make. In the same way that high Instagram numbers can potentially translate into money-generating sponsorships or influencer deals, so too can popular YouTube channels.
  • TikTok: TikTok, like YouTube, offers content creators the chance to engage with viewers through video content. However, there’s that 10-minute limit on TikTok that creators must abide by. Given the continued popularity and growth of this social media platform, it provides a good opportunity to grow your own brand and professional following.

Regardless of the approach you take for getting into hair modeling, be sure to lean into what sets you apart from the rest of the pack. Sandra Nakawunde, a 4C natural hair model, first found her following by giving tutorials on how to style her hair. As she told Black Beauty & Hair, “I started [my YouTube channel] by wanting to show some hairstyles because I had always been asked questions about doing my own hair.”

Requirements to become a hair model

Hair modelingLook Studio/Shutterstock

The requirements to become a hair model vary depending on the gig and type of modeling. Generally, the requirements include:

Healthy, strong hair: For cosmetology school services where the hair may be chemically altered, Urenda notes that models should have healthy, untreated hair that can safely undergo the procedure. On a case by case basis, gigs may also accept hair models who haven’t colored their hair in a while. “If it’s a chemical service like highlights, it’s definitely preferred that we do the consultation before the actual day of service,” she says. “We do a test strand and see what happens to your hair.” And if a hair model wants to work on commercial or photo shoots, they shouldn’t have any issues hair stylists will need to consider and work around (unless the gig specifically calls for it). 

Flexibility: As with most types of modeling, there may be long days spent in front of the camera, so flexibility is a must. It also helps to be flexible about your hair itself, since you’ll likely leave the shoot with a different style than the one you arrived with. 

Diversity: Hair models working with an agent must have a portfolio showcasing different looks and their unique aesthetic. The more range you and your hair have, the more gigs you can be submitted for. Aim for a range that goes “from tame to very creative,” Urenda advises. 

Collaboration: The ability to work well with photographers and videographers, cosmetologists and hair stylists, and agents and other models is imperative—otherwise, things could end up a tangled mess. 

How do hair models take care of their hair?

modeling for hairTimeImage Production/Shutterstock

Just as a singer must protect their voice or an athlete must maintain their fitness, so too must a hair model take all necessary measures to protect their most important professional asset. Proper hair caretaking includes:

  • Recurrent haircuts to remove compromised areas
  • Avoidance of compromising habits such as heat styling and chemical use
  • Attention to healthy lifestyle practices, including hydration and a healthy diet
  • Regular conditioning

But what if you don’t quite have hair that’s ready for a magazine spread? “My biggest tip is: be gentle and patient,” Nakawunde says. “Stick to a hair care routine using a good set of products for a while before changing them.”

At the end of the day, taking care of your hair can very much impact how often you work. Your hair will be your calling card, so ensure it’s a top priority. 

How much do hair models make?

Hair model salaryBernardo Emanuelle/Shutterstock

According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary for a hair model based out of Los Angeles is $53,457. However, earnings vary widely depending on location, type of work, and notoriety. As with most jobs in the industry, hair models usually get paid per job rather than receiving an annual salary.

Those with the comeliest coifs may earn up to $10,000 for a single job, while models working with cosmetology schools will likely be paid in the form of the service received. If the job requires travel, payment may include travel expenses and lodging as well as per diem compensation.

Taking on different hair modeling gigs—even those you hadn’t initially imagined doing—can likewise translate into bigger and more exciting income opportunities. “I’ve been able to work with some major hair brands on different marketing campaigns and product launches and been featured on some websites, magazines, and blogs related to particular styles,” Nakawunde says. “I’ve modeled for celebrity stylists at hair events, shows, and fashion week. I have also collaborated for videos to show my hair care for various occasions… It’s been an amazing journey and I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had because of my hair!”

Famous hair models

Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer, and Twiggy famous hair modelslev radin/Kathy Hutchins/Featureflash Photo Agency/Shutterstock

Many hair models get their start on social media. If you already are following the more famous hair models, some of these names might be familiar.

Jay Alvarez: For hair model Alvarez, it’s all about promoting a look that fits in with his adventurous, outdoorsy lifestyle. 

Sarah Angius: Angius has become famous in part for teaching others how to manage naturally curly hair.

Toni Mahfud: Mahfud’s eclectic array of looks show that even with a single haircut, you can still rock an impressive array of different styles. 

Negin Mirsalehi: Mirsalehi walks the walk: This hair model and founder of haircare brand Gisou regularly shows off her luscious locks treated with her own products for her seven million Instagram followers. 

Anisa Sojka: Do you want to watch easy-to-follow videos on how to create spectacular hairstyles? Then head over to Sojka’s Instagram profile, which has over 500,000 followers and counting.

Levi Stocke: Stocke shows off his long, wild locks on Instagram, offering inspiration for anyone longing to let it all loose. 

As famous as they might be on social media, hair models don’t often become household names outside those platforms. That said, many high fashion models are also recognized for their tantalizing tresses. These include:

Naomi Campbell: From natural hair to any number of elaborate styles, Campbell’s work as a runway and editorial model often showcases her hair. 

Linda Evangelista: Evangelista is renowned for her chameleon-like ability to pull off multiple looks—which stems in part from the many cuts, colors, and styles she has achieved with her hair.  

Claudia Schiffer: Schiffer’s commercial and magazine work with the clothing company Guess during the late 1980s and early 1990s received global attention – not least of which because of her high-volume locks. Her “big hair” look promoted a trend that would persist for years. 

Twiggy: Twiggy’s iconic pixie cut struck a beauty and cultural chord in the 1960s. Though her iconic haircut wasn’t intentional, the model leaned into the look to become “The Face of 1966.”

If these examples inspire you to discover if hair modeling is also your calling, it’s never been easier to reach out to those who work in the beauty industry to get started on your dream career today.

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