Is There Money in Your Mane? 6 Steps to Becoming a Hair Model

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Straight or curly, long or short, hair is the making of many models. Think of runway favourite Adwoa Aboah, who credits shaving her head for changing her life, professionally. Musician Lily Allen turned heads by switching her brunette crop for a bleach-blonde bob and then a striking copper-red alternative. If you’ve inherited a decent barnet, it could be your passport to an exciting, interesting, and versatile career. Hair modelling is a chance to collaborate with style-savvy creatives, travel professionally, and make a decent living

At the starry end of the spectrum are magazine photo shoots, runway opportunities, and adverts for hair products. However, plenty of opportunities can be found in salons and studios, be it internal advertising for a hairdresser’s services or having your hair cut and styled by trainee stylists.

There is some crossover with regular modelling, too: Many of the UK’s most famous models—Twiggy, Naomi Campbell, and Claudia Schiffer among them—are as well-known for their manes as for their faces. 

So, if you want to make a living from your locks, here’s how to become a hair model.

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What is a hair model?

Hair model U.K.

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Like regular models, hair models pose and have their pictures taken, but their hair is always the focus of the shoot. The job involves sitting for stylists and having your hair cut, coloured, and styled. 

Your work might involve: 

  • Sitting for trainee hairdressers
  • Hair product promotion
  • Magazine photo shoots
  • Commercial shoots 
  • Runway shows
  • Salon promotion
  • Trade shows

Hair models must be comfortable having their hair cut, coloured, and styled to the brief of their stylist. While it’s protocol that you’ll be told what to expect before a shoot, you'll need to be open to handing over creative licence of your tresses. An added bonus? Not only will you be paid for your time, but you’ll also enjoy free haircuts.

How much do hair models make?

Hair model and stylist

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As is the case for all modelling jobs, your salary as a hair model will vary depending on the types of jobs you book and how frequently you book them. Having your hair cut and photographed for a salon’s own advertising campaign won’t pay as much as a magazine photo shoot, for example. The job aggregator Jooble estimates the average annual salary for a hair model in 2024, all factors considered, is around £34,280.

How to become a hair model in 6 steps

Hair model in U.K.

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Kick-start your hair-modelling career by following these six steps.

1. Check you meet the requirements

Of course, there is no uniform look or style to adopt in order to become a hair model. Diversity is key to the industry, and having hair that is in any way exceptional might play to your advantage. However, as a rule of thumb, your hair should be strong and healthy. Some agencies favour natural hair, so if you’re hoping to book your first gig, you might want to think about losing any remnants of dyes or chemical styling first. 

2. Research the industry 

Before you start applying for jobs as a hair model, it’s worth doing your homework. 

3. Get your hair out there 

Sure, flicking your fringe in a shampoo advert might be the eventual goal, but first you need to lay some groundwork: 

  • First, build a portfolio. Get some high-quality pictures of your hair taken in natural lighting and send them to agencies, along with any other requirements stated on their website. 
  • Speak to salons and find out whether there are any opportunities to sit for their students or have your hair cut by their senior stylists for internal promotions.
  • Search job boards for hair modelling jobs. 

4. Self-promote

As with many careers in the gig economy, doing the jobs themselves is only half the work. Promoting your latest shoots on social media can help you get your name (and hair!) out there, which, in turn, can help secure your next contract. How you do this will vary from platform to platform. For instance, on Instagram, you might post a Reel featuring stills from your latest shoot. On TikTok, you might do a short behind-the-scenes video. If you’re on Pinterest, stills of your hair in different styles might work. If you’re planning on posting images or videos from professional photo shoots, check you have permission to share the content before you post it, and remember to credit the stylists and photographers involved. 

5. Don’t let location hold you back

Jobs with regular, long-term contracts are often tied to specific locations, but as a freelance hair model, you’ll probably have to travel quite a bit for shoots. On the plus side, your travel expenses likely will be covered, so this gives you flexibility over where you live, so long as it’s in the UK and you’ve got access to transport. Don’t be afraid to put yourself forward for jobs that are further afield, but be sure to let the production team know where you’ll be travelling from and agree on your travel arrangements in advance. 

6. Take good care of your hair between jobs

It might sound obvious, but as a hair model, your locks are your most valuable asset. Taking care of your hair between shoots will help keep the work coming in. For some tips and tricks for achieving supermodel hair, check out celebrity stylist Sam McKnight’s 10 commandments.