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Pros and Cons of Working at a Hair Salon Versus Freelancing

When you hear the word freelance, you think of freedom and flexibility. While that is true and there are a lot of perks to being your own employer, there are also downsides—and you can say the same about working full-time as a salon hairstylist. When you are employed by a salon, you are working under specific rules and guidelines you must adhere to. When you are a freelance hairstylist, you are either self-employed or own your own business and typically rent out a chair, suite, or studio within a salon to perform your services. Below are some pros and cons of working as both to help you decide whether you should be a salon hairstylist vs a freelance hairstylist. 

hairstylist | Mane Addicts
(Photo courtesy of Rayme Silverberg)

Freelance Hairstylist Pros

100% Revenue

A definite perk is getting to keep all the funds that you make, without having to give a percentage to your salon. Keep in mind that you are responsible for all your own expenses too like color, tools, water bills, and assistants.

Product Flexibility

When you work for yourself, you get to decide which products you use and sell. Sometimes at corporate salons, you’re required to push their brand or the brands they carry even if you’re not a huge fan.

Flexible Hours and Rates

Being your own boss means you can choose your own hours and rates. This means raising your prices when you want, working when you want, and also giving discounts and deals to those that you want too.

You Can’t Be Fired

Because hello, you’re the boss!

No Dress Code

Many top tier salons require that you wear all black or dress a certain way, but not on your watch. You can wear whatever you want.

Freelance Hairstylist Cons

Responsible for Your Own Supplies

Everything is on you, boo. Which is great but can also be costly.

Acquiring New Clientele

Walk-ins are a much smaller part of your business when you operate your own business, which means you and only you are responsible for keeping and getting new clients.


Booking clients, bookkeeping, filing taxes…. that’s all on you too.

Health Care

You miss out on the benefits of working for a corporate business, like health care, PTO, and other life-easing perks.

Salon Hairstylist Pros

Entitled to Hourly Pay and Overtime

If you are a non-exempt employee, you are entitled to the minimum wage and overtime wages whether you are working on clients or not. You are also provided certain benefits and protections that you don’t get when you’re a freelancer.

No Overhead Work Costs

Your employer is the one who provides all of the products and tools and runs the business side smoothly so you don’t have to think about it.


More corporate salons and larger establishments have a bigger name and brick-and-mortar presence, so the chances of getting new walk-in clients are much higher.

Salon Hairstylist Cons

Unflelxible Hours

You must operate under the employer’s schedule, which can make taking outside clients or house calls hard.

Policies and Dress Codes

You must adhere to the salon’s policies and dress code.

Product Flexibility

You are only able to use the products that the salon provides.


You lose a large percentage of your income to your salon.

Thinking of becoming both a hairstylist and a makeup artist? We’re weighing the pros and cons of doing so HERE!

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