Cosmetology students working on mannequin heads. Image by Rob Campbell via Flickr.
How to Find Hair Models: 6 Resources for Hair Students, Assistants, and Apprentices
If you are a recent beauty school graduate and are starting off as an assistant or apprentice at a hair salon that offers advanced training, this post is for you. Why? Because as part of your training, you will most likely be required to find hair models for whom you’ll provide free (or low-cost) haircuts and haircolor!
Finding Hair Models
For those of you taking the path to become a hairstylist or haircolorist, you will at some point need to find hair models. If you are starting off as an assistant or apprentice at a hair salon that offers advanced training, or if you are doing a short-term advanced training at an academy, you will most likely be required to find hair models for whom you’ll provide free (or low-cost) haircuts and haircolor.
Some salons will have you start off working on mannequins, but eventually you will have to move to real people, because no mannequin head can compare with a real person’s. Head shape, hairline, growth patterns, and hair texture can differ wildly from person to person, so the sooner you can start practicing on humans, the better! You’ll get a chance to see how much variety there can be, and how to adapt your skills to each person’s head.
Some salons will provide hair models for their apprentices, but that cheats you out of the experience of learning how to acquire and retain models who might someday convert to regular clients.
Here are six resources for finding hair models; if one doesn’t work for you, try another! Before you know it, you’ll have all of your model days filled up.
Resource 1: Your Friends
At first, it might seem easy: just post to Facebook or send a few texts to friends and you’re good to go. Everybody wants a free haircut, don’t they? Well, for one thing, you’re likely to go through your contacts list very quickly. Your friends might want free haircuts or $25 highlights, but whether they can make it to your training day is a whole other issue. Many salons have their training days during regular working hours on weekdays. Which means that if your friends have regular, 9–5 jobs, Monday through Friday, they are unlikely to be able to be your model.
Unemployed, semi-employed, and freelancer friends are your best bets here. Again, though, be prepared to go through them very quickly. If your apprenticeship is a year long, you’ll get maybe a month or two out of your friends, then you’ll need to consider other options.
Also, once you start working on specific cuts or color techniques, such as graduated bobs or full highlights, you’ll need to expand your search, unless you have tons of very creative and openminded friends!
Resource 2: Other Social Media
Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat… these all provide the same opportunities as Facebook when it comes to finding hair models. Write up a text post in a photo editor, make it attractive, proofread for typos, and see if you get any hits.
Resource 3: Craigslist
For some apprentices, Craigslist is THE spot to find hair models. Craigslist can be hit or miss, though, so you will need to do some extra work to find the right models. Ads for hair models are sometimes full of typos or they lack crucial information, making the apprentice who posted it seem very unprofessional. Also, people who respond to the ads can sometimes be flaky or fake.
If you’re posting to Craigslist, here are a few tips to help your ad stand out against the masses:
- Be specific in your subject line — Describe the exact cut or color service you are looking to fill. This is especially important in your subject line, because people browse Craigslist for keywords that catch their eye. For example, don’t just say, “Haircolor model needed.” Let potential models know what you’re looking for! “Long Hair Models Needed for $25 Highlights” is more specific.
- Be specific about your needs — In your post, be even more clear: “Need female hair models who want a free pixie cut like Jennifer Lawrence’s, next Tuesday, April 14th, at 10am.” Tell potential models what their hair should be like, so you don’t have to weed them out yourself. “Need models for highlights, only $25!” will get lots of responses, but you’ll have to sort through them all to find good ones. “For partial highlights, your hair should be at least shoulder-length and have no previous color on it, including any highlights,” is more specific and will deter those who don’t fit the bill.
NOTE: Also remember that your potential hair models might not be familiar with the technical terms that you use as a professional. For instance, they might not know what “balayage” is, or “virgin hair,” or “new growth tint.” They might have no idea what a graduated bob looks like, or what a men’s short square cut looks like. Instead, use terms like “natural-looking highlights,” or “hair that has never been colored,” or “grey coverage.” Be sure to explain your cuts and color in regular-people terms, so people browsing Craigslist can understand what you’re looking for!
- Include pictures — Search through Pinterest or Google Images to include pictures that best demonstrate the cut or color you need to do, so potential models can decide if that’s what they want.
- Include dates, times, and location — If you don’t want to give away all of your information on Craigslist (yes, it can be creepy), at the very least, give the date and time of your class, and the general location, such as what neighborhood your salon is in.
- Include your contact information… or don’t — Many people don’t put their phone number on Craigslist because there are too many weirdos out there, but some people do. A good option is to use the Craigslist email, which forwards to your regular email account. Once you’re in touch with a potential model, you can share your phone number.
- Be friendly — Use words like, “Thanks!” and “Hi there!” in your ad. It will make you sound more like a real person.
- Proofread — This can’t be said enough! If you’re a bad typist or speller, definitely get someone who is good with grammar, spelling, and punctuation to review your ad before you post it. Misspellings, typos, incorrect dates, and lack of crucial information are all huge turn-offs for potential models. (Note: I can edit ads for a small fee via PayPal. Just get in touch if you need my editing skills!)
Once someone has responded to your ad, you can begin to have a conversation with them via email or text, like you would if you were meeting them in person.
- Verify they are a good candidate: If they haven’t already, ask them to describe their hair and include a recent picture, so you can be sure it be appropriate for your training.
- Be friendly and polite: Thank them for getting in touch! They are doing you a huge favor by offering up their time in exchange for your services. Say “please” and “thank you.”
- Confirm the service you’ll be doing. Make sure they know exactly what to expect.
- Confirm the date, time, and location. It can also be helpful to explain anything they might need to know about parking or directions. Make sure the date and time work for them.
- Get their phone number: You’ll need this in case you have to get in touch on the day of the service. Be sure to give them your phone number, too!
- Confirm! Finally (depending on how far in advance you posted your ad), send a confirmation email a couple of days before the appointment and ask them to respond by a certain time. Craigslist, unfortunately, is full of flakes, and sometimes people simply don’t show up, which can be a huge bummer if you were expecting them.
Confirmation emails should be the THIRD time you confirm with potential models! First, when they first get in touch; then, after you’ve worked out the details; and finally a few days before the service. In the email subject line, say, “Confirmation: Free Haircut, Tuesday, April 14, at 10am. Please Respond,” and then in the body of the email, ask them to confirm by the end of the day that they still want the appointment, otherwise you’ll need to open it up to another client. If they don’t respond by your time limit, reach out to a backup!
A note on backups: If you have followed these steps, you will likely have several people interested in your services. Usually when that happens, you’re already in touch with a good candidate. If several people get in touch but you have already confirmed someone, still respond to them, but tell them you’ll put them on a waiting list, in case you have a cancellation. Then, if your first potential model does not confirm or has to reschedule, you can go with one of your backups.
Resource 4: SalonApprentice.com (or SalonGuineaPig.co.uk in the UK)
These sites are like a more targeted Craigslist and can be very useful! People interested in being hair models can place ads as well as apprentices looking for hair models, so you can connect easily. The only drawback is that the city range is limited, so if you are outside a large metropolitan area, you might not have much luck.
Resource 5: Model Mayhem
This site is an online community where professional models, photographers, designers, hairstylists, and makeup artists can connect. It’s a fabulous resource for finding other creative types to play around with! Often newer models need an updated look but have limited resources. If you do a good job, you might see your work in their future photographs!
If your service is offered for free, you can post a call for models as a Casting Call as long as it follows the posting guidelines. The service MUST be free, or one in which you are paying the model, not the other way around. Again, be very specific and detailed in your posting, otherwise it might get flagged and taken down.
Resource 6: Real Life
Online postings can be helpful, but they can also be a lot of work. Nothing, and that means nothing, beats finding hair models in real life. You already know what you have in mind, so get off the computer, put away the phone or tablet, and get out to where there are real human beings walking, wandering, or sitting around. Cafes, shopping areas, beaches, parks, wherever people walk their dogs in your area, bars, clubs, music concerts and festivals, casual restaurants, college campuses… these are just a few possible areas to find potential hair models.
Keep some pictures of the cut or color you are looking to fill (probably the same pictures you included in your Craigslist ad) on your smartphone or print them out and carry them to show potential models. Don’t be afraid to walk up to strangers. Remember, when you’re a stylist on the floor, you’ll need to be interacting with strangers ALL day long. Consider this good practice.
Be your most positive, energetic self! Tell them you’re a hairstylist in an advanced training and you’re looking for someone with hair JUST LIKE HERS to give a free haircut to next Tuesday at 10am. Is she interested? If so, take a deep breath, stay positive, and talk her up! Smile a lot but don’t act crazy or pushy. You’re both doing each other a favor — she gets awesome hair for a great price, and you get a model! Show her the pictures of what you’re looking for. Exchange information. As soon as you get home, email her the details so she has them right away. Then proceed like you would with a Craigslist person, and confirm, confirm, confirm.
If you follow the suggestions above, finding hair models for your apprenticeship will become the least of your worries. You’ll be able to focus more energy and time on becoming the best hairstylist you can become! Instead of moping that you couldn’t find a model that week, you’ll be able to practice your work on a human being and take your training to the next level, sooner than you ever thought possible.
If you have any comments, tips, or insight of your own about finding hair models, please share them in the comments below! Thanks and best wishes on your journey!