A Cosmetologist’s Guide to Creating a Portfolio

Posted on December 21, 2016 by Xenon Academy

Whether you’re a new cosmetology student or a licensed cosmetologist, a portfolio is critical to creating a name for yourself and a loyal reputation. Even though it’s never too late to start, your professional portfolio is something that you should start to build as you make your way through cosmetology school. It’s also something that you should continue to grow and advance right alongside the growth and progress of your career.

At Xenon Academy, we want our students to graduate feeling prepared for a future career. So, we are sharing our tips of what a portfolio should contain and how to graduate a step ahead.

What Is a Cosmetology Portfolio?

A cosmetologist portfolio is a compilation of a cosmetologist’s work, experience, skills, and qualifications. It’s a place where you can keep photos of your work displayed so that people can visually see how you express your talent.

The list of reasons as to why you should start your portfolio is endless:

  • It’s a wonderful tool to have when looking to land a freelance gig or a long-term career with a specific company.
  • It’s an easy go-to item to provide potential employers during interviews and even potential clients to grow your career and reputation.
  • It’s a great way to track your growth as a stylist!

What Kinds of Portfolios Are There?

There are several types of portfolios depending on your own personal preference:

  • Book portfolios
  • Website portfolios
  • Social Media portfolios

You can choose one or you can choose all three, however, each one has a purpose. Let’s dive a little deeper as to what each of these are and why you would use each of them.

Book Portfolios

A book portfolio is a physical copy of your work put into a binder to show your potential employer during an interview. Many people who you interview with may appreciate a physical copy as a reference point.

open computer, mug, lights, and book on a table

Website Portfolios

After your interview, a potential employer may continue to look for your work online. This is why a website portfolio would be a great asset to have. A website portfolio is an aesthetically pleasing website that showcases your work. It’s a huge way to get your name out there. It also can help you reach a wider audience, get more information out there, and provide an easier way for people to look at your work.

Check out for an easy platform to start your website portfolio!

instagram analytics open on an iphone

Social Media Portfolios

If you don’t have an online presence, you need to! Instagram and Facebook are the powerhouses of social media marketing these days. They’ve quickly transitioned to places where creatives, entrepreneurs, and professionals can market themselves, their products, and/or their services. This should be your go-to place to create your portfolio, especially when starting school, so you can not only show your work but see your growth as well.

One trend we see especially on social media portfolios is stylists including their favorite motivational quotes about life, their career, or something that makes them laugh in addition to including their work. It’s a fun way to break up your social media feed, give your followers something else to look at, and a way to express your personality.

Again, your portfolio is not only for your potential/current clients and potential employers but it’s also for you. Make it your own. Express yourself and your passion in a way that feels right and true to you. When you figure that out, you can feel confident in growing your clientele and your business.

How To Create the Ultimate Portfolio

Trying to find the right way to start your portfolio can be tricky because it’s different for every stylist. Don’t be afraid to customize and make it your own. Show some personality and be true to who you are! While you have the freedom to express your creativity while making your portfolio, there are things that you should absolutely include. Let’s check them out!

Show Your Cosmetology Work

In this portion of your portfolio, you have the opportunity to show people exactly what you’re made of so make sure to give them variety! Also, use some good quality photos. If you can’t afford a professional-level camera, use your phone! Smartphone cameras are pretty advanced so just make sure that you have good angles and good lighting. You’re going to want to show them examples of:

  • Updos
  • Behind-the-scenes
  • Products you use
  • Before and afters
  • Color corrections
  • Creative colors
  • Long, medium, and short haircuts
  • Men’s haircuts and styling
  • Different textures of hair

Include Your Resume

Some of the information on your resume will probably be able to be found elsewhere in your portfolio and that is okay. It’s great to have a separate section in your portfolio dedicated to your resume. That way all of your professional information can be found in one place. And, if you are presenting your portfolio to a potential employer, it would be beneficial to include a cover letter or letter of intent along with your resume. See our guide to resume building to learn more.

Promote Your Educational Background

Dedicate a section to your education. Showcase your diplomas and even licenses and certificates. If there are any educational experiences that you have participated in like attending trade shows, participating in externships at salons, signing up to participate in fashion shows, and more (anything that has helped you grow as a stylist), you can also advertise that experience and explain why it makes you a well-rounded and talented stylist.

According to Forbes, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising. That is why including reviews in portfolio is tremendously important. We all know the importance of social media when you are a stylist.

Google My Business, Facebook, Instagram, Yelp and many other sites are all popular hubs for reviews and client experiences. Use this to your benefit! Pull some of your reviews from these sites and list them. If a client posts a selfie raving about how much they love their hair, screenshot it and add it to this section! Like we said before, the majority of your portfolio gives you the opportunity to humbly brag about yourself. In this portion, let your clients and employers do the bragging!

Get Started Today

Whether you are still in cosmetology school or you are already in an established career, you should start building your cosmetology portfolio now! If you’ve built your portfolio and have any recommendations, we want to hear them. Share with us in the comments or share your tips with us on Instagram or Facebook!

Need more help starting your dream career in beauty? Check out our guide on all things cosmetologyguide on all things cosmetology!

Does a future in cosmetology sound like your dream career? Check out our cosmetology program to learn about our program and how you can become a student! Trying to land yourself a job in the industry? Check out our guide for interviewing well, and how your portfolio can help!

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