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Hair Secrets: Build Your Hair Portfolio - Get The Hairstyle Of Your Dreams


One of the very first homework assignments I was given at both of the cosmetology colleges I attended was to build a portfolio of hairstyles from absolute scratch.

Although I have been working with hair since 1997 and knew just about every hair style possible, I was required to start over and "build a book" of basic styles to show to any prospective hair clients who might visit me for services at the school.

Initially it seemed like a troublesome assignment involving large stacks of hair magazines, scissors, tape, staples and a three ring binder. However, I quickly realized the fabulous value a hair portfolio offered to me and my future hair clients.

My attitude adjusted from being stressed at yet one more cosmetology homework task to being excited about all the possibilities of how having a working hair portfolio would make me a better hairdresser over the long haul.

Luckily I had the Gallery as my instant "cheat sheet" with close to 20,000 hairstyles to print out and clip for my book. No, I didn't take all of the Gallery images, but I did print some of the more popular styles and it did give me lots of inspiration.

What started out as a simple three ring binder with a few styles eventually grew to multiple portfolio volumes dedicate to specific hairstyles such as updos, long versus short. When I recently attended braiding college I was given the same assignment and thus developed a volume of braided hairstyles and looks that has grown into additional volumes.

As I continue on with my advanced hair studies, I am constantly finding new hair styles in fashion, beauty and hair magazines that I copy in color and then trim to fit into my various hair portfolios. To prevent wear and tear on each image, I slip each new hairstyle into a plastic cover sheet in the appropriate section.

In addition to each image I include appropriate information such as the Gallery or magazine where I found the image, the year of the style, the name of the salon and stylist (if available) and photographer. I also jot down any personal notes about the best way to create the style, tools required (brushes, styling products, hot tools, etc). Any info that will help me do a better job of learning or recreating the style is included.

How My Hair Portfolio Helps Me Be A Better Hairdresser

Since my passion is for long hair styling, braiding, updos, Prom, Party and Wedding styles, those are the sections in my hair portfolios that have the most styles. I even have separate volumes for those hair topics that I am specializing in.

As I find every new eye catching hairstyle, I always stop and practice the style on my mannequins to make sure the style is workable and that I am able to recreate it. The worst thing I could do is to offer a prospective hair client my hair portfolio and not be able to recreate a style they select.

This exercise makes me do my hair homework on every style in my Hair Portfolios. I also share my portfolio with my hairdresser friends to get their styling tips and overall feedback on the style. Compiling a portfolio has forced me to step and become more knowledgeable about creating hairstyles.

Once I have mastered a new hairstyle in my portfolio I find myself scanning people on the street, on television and in restaurants to locate similar hairstyles on real people. Am I obsessed with hair? It has been my passion since the beginning of in 1997.

Going to cosmetology school and braiding college has only made me more crazed about the topic. However, it has helped me learn how to do a much better job sharing hair information with consumers. It is really true that a picture speaks a thousand words and helps prevent miscommunication between hairdresser and student.

Advantages Of Creating A Personal Hair Portfolio

While I believe it is essential that every working hairdresser, novice or seasoned, have an update hair portfolio to share with their current and new clients, I believe every hair consumer should protect their own hair interests by building their own personal hair portfolio of styles to share with their stylist.

Portfolios are very easy (and fun) to create and like a recipe binder with all your family's secret goodies, a hair portfolio allows you to easily show your hairdresser exactly what styles you like and want to recreate.

It also allows you to keep a detailed hair history of your own styles through the years so that you can refer back to what worked and what didn't.

Creating a personal hair portfolio allows you to keep hairstyles right at your fingertips. In the past I would find hairstyles I loved in hair magazines only to eventually lose the magazines.

Whether you call it a hair portfolio or a hair journal, collecting your own favorite hairstyles, updos and party styles makes you take the time to search for and locate styles you absolutely love and would enjoy wearing.

Hair Portfolio Materials

Your own personal hair portfolio can be as simple or sophisticated as you desire. Since I am in the hair trade and constantly working with braiding and other hair styles I have a series of great portfolios. I also have personally compiled most of the Gallery of the past ten years and have a good working knowledge of different hair styles that are included in various galleries.

Hair Portfolio Materials you will need:

1. Three ring notebook binder in your favorite color or pattern OR new scrapbook, large journal book or other similar style book. 2. Clear plastic sheets for the three ring binder. 3. Scissors, invisible tape, paste, glue, staples to attach photos and images to paper or books. 4. Colored pens and markers if desired to jazz up your book with colored titles or other marks (optional). 5. Note cards, note paper or colored stickies and/or flags for adding personalized notes, hair history info or contact info for your hairdresser and/or salon. 6. Print outs of your favorite hairstyles from Gallery or similar online galleries that allow consumers to print out images for personal use. 7. Fashion, beauty, hair and related magazines (Glamour, 101 Celebrity Hairstyles, Life & Style Weekly, Allure, etc.,) to help you find hairstyles you love. 8. Friends and/or loved ones who can provide feedback on the styles you select. Although this is optional, it is always nice to get feedback from people that know you and your personality and style.

Creating a hair portfolio can be a good reason to have a party. My fellow cosmo students and I had a portfolio building party. It was fun. Not only did we get to all look at each other's various images but we could share feedback and suggestions. We also swapped photos when appropriate.

Does Your Hairdresser Have A Hair Portfolio?

Does your hairdresser have a portfolio of hairstyles they have created you can view? That's a very good question. Next time you visit your favorite stylist you might ask to see if they do and if you can look at it.

If you go to the big name cosmetology schools like Paul Mitchell, Toni & Guy or similar for hair services, it is most likely the student working on your hair will have a portfolio to show you if you ask.

It's also likely the cosmo student will not have created the majority of the hair styles yet. However, it will show you their hair perspectives and creative style. If they took the time to create a portfolio it means they did their homework and have identified hairstyles they would like to work with or eventually create on real live human heads.

Hair portfolios are also helpful for seasoned hairdressers and hair "experts".

A hair color expert I visited had photos mounted all over the walls of the different clients with their color work on their heads. It was fascinating to see the different color patterns but the history of how color had changed and evolved over the years the colorist had been doing color.

A wedding hair expert I know has several portfolios of wedding hairstyles she has created over the years. It is very helpful for her new brides wishing to get bridal hairstyle ideas.


Hair portfolios offer so many advantages for hair professionals and hair consumers. Not only do they offer a way to instantly communicate desired hairstyles, they offer a great way to build a personal hair history.

Even better? They are fun to create, develop and show off.

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- Revised Publication Date: 04/10/10

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