In an industry that’s full of creative and talented hairstylists, how can you set yourself apart while creating a visual signature for your clients to show off to the world (and other potential clients)? The answer to that question is likely by achieving it through your finishing skills.
Although some hairstylists may not think finishing is something that’s still important, we spoke to experts who all share that finishing hair is something they take very seriously.
WHEN IT COMES TO SELLING THE PRODUCTS YOU USE, KLONTZ RECOMMENDS FINISHING ONE SIDE OF THE CLIENT’S HAIR FIRST SO THEY CAN SEE THE DIFFERENCE THOSE PRODUCTS MAKE.
“The devil is in the details,” says Dan Nguyen, owner of Lure Salon in Vancouver, and educator for Oribe. “Styling is about building the foundation and setting the shape for your final look, while finishing is the final touches that elevates that look. Finishing can be as simple as perfecting your part, brushing out your roller set, or perfecting the exterior shape of a style. It’s what takes your look to the next level and is always important.”
Another misconception about finishing is that it’s not the most effective way to build business in the salon, but that’s not the case. “When I’m finishing a client’s hair, I’m walking them through the process and explaining the products I’m using and why,” says Kirsten Klontz, a Toronto-based hairstylist and brand ambassador for Hot Tools. “This helps me when it comes to selling because clients can see the products in action.”
“Finishing is also your branding,” she adds. “When you or your clients post a photo showcasing a look you’ve created for them, it’s getting yourself and your abilities out there. And when a look is finished perfectly, you show potential clients what you can do.”
Although there are some styles that may require more effort with finishing, it’s vital that hairstylists know how to finish every style a client may ask for. Here are some tips.
From beachy to Hollywood waves, more clients are asking for more bends in their hair—regardless of whether a client has naturally wavy hair or not. While lived-in and undone looks continue to be in high demand, it doesn’t mean they’re as effortless to achieve.
“If a client has shorter hair, I’ll use a one-inch curling iron but if they have longer hair and they want a really loose look I’ll use a flat iron and pull it down the hair strands to create the waves. I also like to consider what the client likes to use so I can walk them through the process. I use dry texturizers and a dry wax because I love the definition they give to the ends of the hair, and I always try to avoid hairsprays that are too strong because I want my end result to be a little bit undone and messy.” — Kirsten Klontz, Toronto-based hairstylist and brand ambassador for Hot Tools
“I think the most important things are to work quickly, to work with a heat styling product and to work with a very soft setting product initially. Once you’ve done a variation of a round barrel curl and flat iron flat wave- mixing those together helps to get a good combination of textures- you can finish with something that has a grip to it, whether that be a salt spray or clay. I like to put those products on my fingertips and work them through the hair.” — Anthony Crosfield, owner of Union Salon in Vancouver
“Always start with a heat protectant, but one that’s going to give the hair shine. Once you’ve done the beach waves and the hair has set, I love to add a texturizing product with a tiny bit of dry shampoo at the roots. Using a combination of these products is going to ensure you’re able to achieve a finish that isn’t too matte. After I’ve applied the product, I love to finish the look off with a bit of cold air from the hairdryer which allows me to set the product while creating a bit of volume.” — David D’Amours, Montreal-based hairstylist, owner of PRIVÉ par David D’Amours and Canadian editorial director for Kérastase Paris
“A flexible hairspray makes all the difference when brushing the hair out because it can really help to keep the look together.” — Dan Nguyen, owner of Lure Salon in Vancouver, and educator for Oribe
“When you don’t finish a look, you don’t leave your signature on it. Many hairstylists can do the same cut as you can, but when you finish a look and develop your own signature way of finishing a style, that look becomes yours and it becomes special to you.” — Darek Wierzbicki, owner of 237 Salon in Belleville, Ont. and guest artist for Matrix
2.Sleek & Straight
Sleek and straight hair is a classic, go-to style seen on many different hair types, but achieving a truly polished finish takes a lot more than just a flat iron.
“A lot of it comes down to how the hair is prepared. I like to use product that’ll give moisture for control when I’m blow-drying and not dry the hair out or make it look matte. I don’t use products that are sticky because I want the hair to move, so I love to finish with a shine spray to give it that glossy, sleek look.” — Anthony Crosfield, owner of Union Salon in Vancouver
“The key to finishing this look is not allowing the hair to sweat and using heat protectant. The idea is to not create any inner volume when blow-drying the hair, so you want to apply volume down. To finish, an oil is a must because it’ll sit on the hair and give it that shine.”— Darek Wierzbicki, owner of 237 Salon in Belleville, Ont. and guest artist for Matrix
“Once I’ve blow dried and flat ironed the hair, I like to add hairspray at the roots and again, finish with cold air from the dryer on top of the roots to ensure there are no flyaways.” — David D’Amours, Montreal-based hairstylist, owner of PRIVÉ par David D’Amours and Canadian editorial director for Kérastase Paris
Finishing All Hair Types
In need of help for finishing different hair types and textures? We asked finishing experts for their tips.
“Analyzing hair texture, density and porosity before starting any styling or finishing is critical to deciding what products you’re going to use. Fine hair should never be finished with any products that are heavy and will weigh it down, and for coarse or thick hair you can use much richer products.” — Dan Nguyen, owner of Lure Salon in Vancouver, and educator for Oribe
“For clients thin or fine hair, I like to use anything that adds volume to the hair or that swells the hair, which can include powder, serums or water-based moisturizers. For thick or coarse hair product selection is just as important. If the client has thick straight hair, I’ll use serums and touch up the hair with an iron, but if they have thick curly hair, the idea is to make it smoother, so it doesn’t go frizzy or have flyaways.” — Darek Wierzbicki, owner of 237 Salon in Belleville, Ont. and guest artist for Matrix
“For straight hair, I reach for a shiny and volumizing mousse to get that shine and bounce for fullness. For wavy hair, I have a big, wide-toothed comb and I use products that have a bit of elasticity and memory for a soft hold. For curly or coily hair, I like to mix product. For example, I’ll mix a leave-in conditioner with a crispier curl product to give me that flexibility.” — Anthony Crosfield, owner of Union Salon in Vancouver
“If a client has naturally tight curly hair, I don’t use product with a grip because it becomes too much. The key is oil, oil and oil again. It’s important to keep in mind for curly hair that the finishing process starts when you’re cutting. You want to focus on getting the right shape at the perimeter to have the best finish.” — Darek Wierzbicki, owner of 237 Salon in Belleville, Ont. and guest artist for Matrix
“If the hair is naturally curly, I love to use a curl cream and rework the curls with my fingers and then diffuse the hair. If I want to create the curls that aren’t natural, I’ll use a very small curling iron and go back in with my fingers and add a texturizing spray to give the illusion that the client has a lot of hair. Remember that for curly hair, hydration is key, so starting with a good hydrating shampoo and conditioner is important.” — David D’Amours, Montreal-based hairstylist, owner of PRIVÉ par David D’Amours and Canadian editorial director for Kérastase Paris
Whether it’s tight and sleek or loose and effortless, adding the finishing touches to an updo can make all the difference when it comes to keeping the look in place.
“I use mousse, not only to give the hair more body, but it also helps make the hair more controllable, almost like a piece of fabric. Ideally, I would do the updo on hair that’s not too clean, but if I have to wash the hair, I’ll apply dry shampoo and a bit of texturizing spray to give the hair more grip.” — David D’Amours, Montreal-based hairstylist, owner of PRIVÉ par David D’Amours and Canadian editorial director for Kérastase Paris
“Updos are one of those things that you have to ask yourself if the client is going to be able to wear it comfortably. Of course, it depends on the client but a lot of people don’t want to look like they’ve just come out of a ballet class. With those styles, I like to use soft styling products and use the sticky products at the end to secure everything.” — Anthony Crosfield, owner of Union Salon in Vancouver
“You want some grip in the clients roots so it can hold the bobby pins or U pins, so root powder spray is something I use to help the style and the bobby pins stay all day. Beach spray can also give a good amount of grip, so I like to saturate the root with it and then blow-dry it out before curling it. I would avoid finishing the hair with products that give a high shine or silicone feel to the hair, so that way everything stays much better.” — Kirsten Klontz, Toronto-based hairstylist and brand ambassador for Hot Tools
“Finishing is the final touches you make to something and it’s a very important aspect of hairstyling. You could have done a really great blow-out, but you have to finish with the right product or technique to make the hair look even better.” — David D’Amours, Montreal-based hairstylist, owner of PRIVÉ par David D’Amours and Canadian editorial director for Kérastase Paris
4.Finger Waves and Curls
Although finger waves and curls may not be in high demand on a daily basis, learning the technique and being able to apply it to other styles may come handy for your special-occasion clientele who may want to try a new look for an event or night out.
“For a wet look, using any kind of gel and not brushing the hair out will allow you to achieve that wet look without leaving the hair actually wet. I like to use a dry texturizer through the middle and a dry wax on the ends, while avoiding anything too glossy. For finger waves, a lotion or mousse that I can use a lot of before setting the waves with a comb or my fingers is really great. I won’t touch it until it dries, and if I want it to stay wet looking, I won’t brush it out, but if the client doesn’t want it to look actually wet, I will brush it out.” — Kirsten Klontz, Toronto-based hairstylist and brand ambassador for Hot Tools
“I have a lot of success when I mix product. I take a heavy gel product and mix it with a cream or even add oil, and it creates a heavier product. I then apply it on wet hair, create the shape that I want, and then let the hair set by applying a towel or a net around it so the hair doesn’t break.” — Darek Wierzbicki, owner of 237 Salon in Belleville, Ont. and guest artist for Matrix
“A trick I like to do is to apply barber tape at the temples and around the back of the head to ensure the hair stays flat to the head. For finger waves, I always reach for products with a lot of hold and shine.” — Dan Nguyen, owner of Lure Salon in Vancouver, and educator for Oribe
“This type of texture can be added into many different styles. For example, a slick, glossy wet look on one side of the hair while having the other side cascading. A big part of the wet look is layering the product and using products that are going to dry really shiny. When you’re doing the application, it has to be done quickly and with purpose because once it sets it’s hard to get past it. A lot of times I’ll use a mesh and blow-dry it, which allows the hair to set. I always finish it with a glossy hairspray to keep everything in place. You can achieve a dry finger wave by doing spiral curls but when you’re doing them on a wet hair texture, it’s better to do it on a client who has a natural wave to their hair. Working with the product quickly and being gentle with your clips is important to remember.” — Anthony Crosfield, owner of Union Salon in Vancouver
PRO-TIP: To stop hair from creasing while it’s clipped, Crosfield places his business cards in between the clip and the hair.