Cosmetology Skills: Definition and Examples

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated March 1, 2021 | Published October 9, 2020

Updated March 1, 2021

Published October 9, 2020

Cosmetologists do more than provide hair cuts and styling services. These professionals have a deep understanding of the industry, what's trending, how to apply specific styling skills and how to interact with and work with their clients and colleagues. If you're interested in a career in cosmetology, you'll need a strong combination of specific hard skills for the job along with soft skills like communication and creativity to be successful. In this article, we'll explore what cosmetology skills are, how you can improve yours and how you can highlight these skills on your resume, in your cover letter and during an interview.

What are cosmetology skills?

Cosmetology skills include a range of both hard skills and soft skills that are necessary to succeed in the role. Aside from specific skills that focus on the application of styling techniques and hair treatments, cosmetologists also rely on transferable skills like empathy, creativity and passion for their work. Generally, cosmetologists develop these skills both throughout their training and on the job.

Related: Learn About Being a Cosmetologist

Examples of cosmetology skills

Since cosmetology requires a strong mix of both hard skills specific to the field and soft skills that can apply to every aspect of the job, there are several essential traits you'll want to develop to be successful in the role. These can include skills like:

Communication skills

Cosmetologists work with a diverse range of clients and other cosmetology professionals and should have exceptional communication skills. The ability to interact with and speak with clients, listen to their concerns and work with them to provide the services they request is highly important as a cosmetologist.

Interpersonal skills

Empathy and compassion and the ability to apply pragmatic skills when interacting with customers and other professionals are examples of interpersonal skills that cosmetologists depend on to be successful. This includes approaching others with understanding, finding ways to connect with customers and building strong networks and professional relationships.

Customer service

Cosmetologists are service industry professionals, so strong customer service skills are a must on the job. Greeting customers and making them feel welcome, attending to their needs and providing exceptional service are just several ways that your customer service skills will be beneficial as a cosmetologist.

Creative thinking

Styling techniques, unique looks and other applications in hair care require the ability to think creatively. Customers might walk into a salon looking for a unique style, or you may even encounter customers who aren't sure about the style they want. In situations like this, your creativity will be important for providing your customers with satisfactory service.

Networking skills

Many cosmetologists are independent contractors and small business owners and often build professional networks that support their work. You can build a strong network by connecting with other cosmetologists, industry professionals and clientele so that if you ever decide to start your own business, you will have a solid network for support.

Related: Top Networking Skills Your Should Have (and How To Improve Them)

Time management

Cosmetologists set appointments according to their daily schedules and work efficiently to adhere to each appointment time. Strong time management skills are necessary for ensuring you have an appropriate amount of time for each customer.

Organizational skills

On the job, cosmetologists organize and maintain hair care and styling products, equipment and tools. In addition to this, you'll also need to understand proper disinfecting procedures and how to properly care for and store your cosmetology tools. This is where your organizational skills can be extremely helpful to keep your styling area clean and ready to use.

Business sense

Since cosmetologists have opportunities to work as independent contractors and may even open their own businesses, a strong skill set for things like basic bookkeeping, handling money and promoting products and services can be highly beneficial in the profession. Even if you have no plans of venturing out as an independent cosmetologist right away, developing your understanding of basic business concepts can be very advantageous for your career.

Industry knowledge

A deep knowledge of the beauty industry is a must as a cosmetologist. You'll want to stay updated on the latest hair and makeup styles, techniques and new industry trends so you are able to offer a range of different services to your customers. Additionally, cosmetologists must also stay updated on industry regulations and any changes within the cosmetology field that apply to their jobs.

Personal style and hygiene

When you meet your customers and work as their stylist, it's important to have high attention to detail when it comes to your personal style and cleanliness. Cosmetologists often wear trending fashion and will usually have a stylish cut. This demonstrates your passion for incorporating the latest beauty trends and hair cuts into your personal style.


Manual dexterity is another specific trait you'll need to develop as a cosmetologist. Working with scissors, razors, combs and other styling tools requires strong hand-eye coordination and the ability to work with your fingers and hands for long periods of time. However, you are likely to develop strong dexterity the more you practice throughout your training and on the job.

Physical stamina

Cosmetologists are usually standing and moving during their day-to-day activities, so you'll want to prepare yourself for long days on your feet. Physical stamina isn't all you'll need, either. Communicating and interacting with customers, applying business skills and performing effectively in your job will also require strong mental stamina, too.

Product knowledge

As you enter your career, you'll likely develop your knowledge and expertise with various styling and beauty care products. Whether cosmetologists work strictly with hairstyling, makeup, nails or beauty services (like facials) or not, successful cosmetology professionals have a deep knowledge of the different products they use and provide to customers.

Sales experience

Sales experience like handling money, running a cash register and recording transactions is another necessary skill to have as a cosmetologist. Typically, cosmetologists learn these skills during their training, but you can develop your sales experience on the job, too.

Computer and technical skills

A basic understanding of computer applications and even more proficient technical skills are highly advantageous in cosmetology professions. Many salons use appointment-setting software to manage and book client appointments, so understanding how to navigate computer programs and basic scheduling applications can help you be successful in your career.

Related: The Best Job Skills To Make Your Resume Stand Out

How to improve cosmetology skills

As you develop in your profession as a cosmetologist, there are several ways that you can improve your skill set to succeed in your career. Use the following steps to add to your professional and skill development:

1. Network with other professionals and learn about industry trends

This is beneficial for improving your overall skill set because when you stay updated on the latest styles, products and techniques, you'll have a wider variety of services to offer your clients. Additionally, networking with other professionals can provide opportunities to meet new clients and adapt to new trends.

2. Practice your styling techniques with cosmetology resources and tools

Whenever you learn a new technique, style or cut, practice it on your mannequin. Typically, cosmetologists have styling mannequins with realistic hair textures and colors, which helps them apply new methods and styling techniques they learn throughout their career.

3. Gather resources that help you stay up-to-date on regulations and laws

Cosmetology encompasses more than just hair cuts and styles. Cosmetologists commonly work with hair dyes, nail polishes and chemicals and additional applications within the beauty industry. Therefore, you'll want to ensure you're always updated on current laws, protocols and regulations concerning cosmetology. For instance, some regulations may require you to practice a specific disinfecting technique to clean your tools, or you may need to follow specific regulations when providing beauty treatments like facials.

4. Attend additional training courses to boost your industry knowledge

You can improve your skills further by attending trainings, additional classes or events where you learn a new skill or technique that you can take back and apply on the job. For instance, cosmetology conventions and networking workshops can be highly beneficial for staying current with trends, finding the best tools and resources for your job and learning new skills from other industry professionals.

Related: How To Improve Your Soft Skills in the Workplace

Cosmetology skills in the workplace

In your career, you'll have many opportunities to demonstrate your skill proficiency in the workplace. Whether you work in a salon or as an independent contractor, here are several ways you can showcase your skill set on the job:

  • Communicate regularly with clients. Speak with clients, welcome them when they arrive and when you are setting them up for their hair appointment. Ask open-ended questions to converse with your clients and make them feel comfortable. These actions will effectively demonstrate your strong communication skills.

  • Ask customers what they want, and listen. Just like engaging others in conversation, learn how to ask questions to find out your customers' needs. Additionally, listen actively when you speak with your customers so you understand their perspectives and what they're asking for when they come to their appointment with you.

  • Take over more of the business aspects. Get more involved with running the cash register, recording transactions, handling money and documenting inventory. These activities will show your colleagues and employer that you're motivated to take on every aspect of the role in addition to providing hair styling services.

  • Educate clients about various products. One of the most important aspects of working as a cosmetologist is your ability to promote your work's products along with your services. Learn about the products that your salon carries so you can educate your clients on items for hair care, skincare and more.

Related: Ways To Become Indispensable at Work

How to highlight cosmetology skills

When looking for the perfect cosmetology career, it's important to highlight your unique experience and skills on your resume, in your cover letter and during an interview:

On a resume

Since employers scan resumes fairly quickly during the hiring process, it's important to highlight your strongest skills right away. Use a professional profile or resume summary to showcase your strongest cosmetology skills, how you applied them in past roles and how these skills helped you accomplish a goal.

In a cover letter

In your cover letter, it's important to show employers how your skills will be beneficial in the role you're applying for. For instance, show how you will apply your skills to make an improvement or achieve a specific outcome. This way employers will have an idea of how you will fit in with their organization and values.

During a job interview

You can showcase your cosmetology skills by giving examples of how you used your skills to make improvements, help customers, achieve goals and develop as a professional. Additionally, when answering questions about your skills and experience in an interview, it's important to give the interviewer specific ways in which you succeeded in past roles.

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