Top Ten Tips To Kill It In a Hair Competition

Oct 18 2014

So you’re lurking on the sidelines, wondering whether it’s worth it to put your pride, time, energy and cash on the line and enter a hair competition. Our answer: Abso-flippin-lutely, it’s worth it! Hair competitions are amazing outlets for you improve your technique, step up your styling game, and flaunt your mad creativity. Follow these tips on how to prepare for and win a hair competition … and clear your bookshelf,  ‘cause one day, you’re gonna need room for all those awards.

Some hair competitions judge your entry based on photos or mannequin heads. Some require a preliminary photo and/or dummy head, and if they name you a finalist, will ask you back to reproduce your look live in front of judges. Others are straight-up live competitions. Whatever type of competition you’re entering, go into it with a very specific hair look in mind.

  1. Choose your trend and the type of competition. Will you be entering competitions focusing on cut, color, style, or a combination of the three? Do you gravitate toward classic looks, trendy looks, or avant-garde looks? In order to rock this contest, you have to relate to the trend in a way that motivates you and plays up your strengths.
  2. Follow the rules or pay the price! You wouldn’t believe how many entrants are eliminated right away because they didn’t follow the rules. This is the dumbest way ever to lose a competition. Print out the rules, go over them carefully, and follow them obsessively! Get creative with your hairstyle, not with your interpretation of the contest rules. Get your entry in on time and make sure they got it, by sending it as registered mail or with receipt requested.
  3. Find out how you’ll be judged. Often times, the judges’ scorecards are available to contestants, so ask to see them beforehand. Find out what percentage of the scores is based on the photo or mannequin, what percentage is based on the live performance, and what other elements will factor into the judges’ decision.
  4. Keep a competition journal. Take notes during your preparation to remind yourself of methods you will be using and what areas need improvement. Log your progress — it builds confidence to flip back through your competition journal and see how you’ve improved with practice. Form responses to potential questions from judges about your inspirations and technique. They will ask, so have well-thought-out answers ready to fly.
  5. Practice, practice, practice, part 1: Technique! As for how to practice, it’s really just more of what you’ve done through your technical education. Start on mannequins so you can perfect your lines and methods. Move onto live models — recruit friends, family, strangers (people love the idea of modeling). If you have chosen your hair model for the live portion of the competition, practice styling her hair again and again in different ways to get familiar with it. You’ll want to know her hair texture well and understand how it reacts to certain products. You will also want to be very familiar with the shape of her head and face.After getting the techniques down, if it’s a live competition, start timing yourself as you practice. If your goal is to perform live, you’ll need to stay within the time frame — you’ll be surprised (i.e., horrified) at how quickly the minutes fly by.
  6. Practice, practice, practice, part 2: Professionalism! Did you know that judges often dock points if you’re too sloppy at your station, if you’re using bleep-able language, or if you show up looking like a hot mess (no matter how good your model looks)? Practice working efficiently and neatly, and dress like you’re going to a job interview — all in black is your best bet.
  7. Pick the right model. This cannot be underestimated. Your model can make or break you! Hair models should have a nice long neck (to best display your hair creation) and they should have facial features that complement the theme you’re entering. “Pretty” isn’t always what you’re going for. Bold, interesting features might be better for your theme.For photographic models, make sure all the elements in the photo look polished and perfect from head to toe. That means hair and make-up, of course, but also nails, teeth, and wardrobe (nothing chipped, ripped, ill-fitting, or stained).Everything should fit your theme. For live models, make sure they are strong walkers who are confident on the runway. They should have great posture, and able to sit or stand still without fidgeting or slouching when under the judges’ watchful eye.Live models should have the typical model proportions (you know — tall and skinny), but photographic models can be more varied in size and shape.
  8. Take a great photo that accurately showcases your work. Your photographer and lighting choice are critical. The lighting in the photo should play up your hair creation. For instance, if you’re being judged on color work, the lighting should not be so dark that it obscures the hair color. Bad shadows and strange angles will change the appearance of your style and get you dinged.
  9. Staging is key. The background, props, and accessories in your photo should go with your trend. Be creative, but make sure the backdrop doesn’t overpower your look. The hair is the star of the show here. Light-haired models look best against darker backdrops, while dark-haired models should be shot against a light backdrop.
  10. Finish strong. Judges want a beautiful finish, so make sure you give yourself enough time to style and finish the hair to perfection. Per-Fect-Shun. That means no flyaways, no frizz — not a hair out of place, literally!

Look, you might not win every hair competition you enter — and that’s okay. This is an awesome opportunity for you to build yourself up as a stylist, take your skills to a new level, rock your creativity, and start your portfolio — and those benefits are all worth the effort. Keep entering hair competitions again and again and eventually, you will need that shelf space.