How-to Guide for Online Haircut and Styling Appointments

Destinee Cushing

Featuring expert advice from Destinee Cushing

Chances are, you have clients who can't get beauty treatments as regularly as they should due to "real life" getting in the way. Thankfully, you can help them with this—and perhaps earn extra money along the way. You can connect with clients between visits by offering online appointments where they see you from the comfort of their own homes. These can be done via any video chat application to help clients who have questions about beauty maintenance, skin care, and haircuts.

We asked Destinee Cushing of Vinspire several questions about how she supports new and existing clients who can't visit her in-person due to illness, travel, or other reasons. Destinee started offering virtual appointments during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. You can learn more about the online hair and makeup lessons that Destinee offers on her website.

Interview answers have been edited for clarity with approval from Destinee.

How can beauty professionals support clients who can't come to an in-person appointment?

[They] can help their clients maintain their looks when they can't get an appointment or between appointments. Some examples of this can be showing clients which makeup or skin care products would be best for them to use at home, including how to use them.

Beauty professionals could also recommend a root coverup product, such as a powder or spray, so that their clients can still look fresh for photos or special events between color appointments. They might show their clients how to do a basic version of the style they do for them, including the products and tools that would work best. In a pinch, hair stylists could recommend techniques, such as how to do a basic hair trim, when they know they won't be seeing their client for a while.

What tips do you have for stylists who are doing video lessons with clients?

Patience is key. Keep the atmosphere of your lesson light and be prepared to explain things several different ways before your client understands. They haven't been through extensive training like you have and are usually entirely outside of their comfort zone. It needs to be a safe space where they can push themselves to learn something new as you reassure them.

What are some of your technical recommendations for online lessons?

  • Invest in a good lighting setup, such as a ring light. You can't rely on the sun or the time of day to be on your side, and overhead lighting looks horrible on a video call.
  • Use a program (such as the GoToMeeting App) that allows you to record your session and give the recording to your clients.
  • Give your clients a set hourly price for your online lesson. Making lessons donation-based or even free can make clients uneasy about how much they should tip you or pay you overall. They don't want to offend you, but they need to see if they can afford a lesson with a professional. Charging a flat fee isn't recommended since there is no guarantee of how long it will take your client to learn what you are trying to teach them.
  • Consider putting a page on your website that lays out how you will be conducting your online lessons so you can easily link to it when clients inquire about your services.
  • Be prepared to give recommendations for products and tools that your clients might need to buy for your lesson.
  • Insist that your clients buy haircutting scissors if they don't have them instead of using something like kitchen shears to cut their hair. Scissors that aren't designed for haircutting shatter the hair shaft and will leave your client worse off than if they just hadn't cut their hair at all. They are also challenging to maneuver, and your client is more likely to cut themselves with larger or duller scissors.
  • If the client can get a partner or roommate to help them cut their hair, recommend that they do that. Cutting their own hair may be possible (depending on the desired cut), but it's never easy.
  • Recommend that the client have two mirrors on-hand so that they can check the back of their head, whether they are cutting or styling their own hair or not.

What treatments do you recommend clients do at home until they can see you again?

I like to discuss my client's beauty regimen with them so that I can make recommendations for when they are home and between appointments. We'll talk about skin care, makeup routines, how they style their hair and the products and/or tools they are using, etc. I usually don't recommend that they cut their hair, but during the Coronavirus pandemic, I've been walking clients through how to cut their hair using video chats. So far, everyone has been very happy with their looks!

What are your favorite tips for at-home styles?

  • Keep it simple. This is not the time for clients to make a drastic change.
  • Clients don't appreciate long-winded explanations for things you are trying to teach them. Try to limit the time you spend talking and maximize the time they spend doing whatever they're learning.
  • Ensure clients do not expect to achieve something exactly like what a professional would be able to do.
  • Be encouraging. Your clients will be trying their best to achieve something like what you would do for them. If you have recommendations, feel free to give them. But if it's close enough, praise them for a job well done and move on.
  • If you are showing the client how to fix something, quickly explain what needs to be fixed and why. That way, they will learn how to identify things that need to be fixed in the future. This applies to haircutting, hairstyling, makeup, etc.

Essential At-Home Haircut and Styling Supplies

According to Destinee, here are some products clients should have on-hand for an at-home haircut, depending on the type of cut desired:

  • Haircutting shears
  • Thinning shears
  • Comb
  • Hair clippers with multiple guards
  • Hair trimmers
  • Detangling brush to use on wet hair or tangles
  • Spray bottle
  • Sectioning clips (could possibly use bobby pins or hair ties depending on hair length)

Additionally, here are some products clients should consider having on-hand for styling their hair at home, depending on the style:

  • Hot tools (straightener, curling iron, blow-dryer, etc.)
  • Bobby pins and hair pins
  • Hair ties
  • Styling products (heat protectant, mousse, gel, hairspray, etc.)
  • Comb
  • Sectioning clips

Meet the Expert

Destinee Cushing

Destinee Cushing

Destinee Cushing is a professional vintage hair stylist and makeup artist and the founder of Vinspire. She does freelance work full time in New York City, doing hair and makeup for photoshoots, video shoots, fashion shows, weddings, special events, and in-home beauty services. Destinee is a licensed cosmetologist in New York and has several makeup certifications in addition to her cosmetology school training. She found her passion for vintage beauty services when she started swing dancing in college, and it led her to pivot her career from Internet Marketing to doing hair and makeup. She loves her work and feels as if she's gaming the system by getting paid to do it!

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