How To Build a Cosmetology Portfolio

One of the best tools you can use during your job search and salon interviews is your cosmetology portfolio. It highlights your work and experience and shows a potential employer why you should be hired over someone else. It also gives current and future clients confidence in your work and can help you build your reputation and credibility as a cosmetologist.

And it’s never too early to build your cosmetology portfolio. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Create a Photo Gallery for Your Cosmetology Portfolio

The most important section of your portfolio is the gallery of your work. You can’t bring hair models with you to every interview. The next best thing is a photographic showcase of what you’ve done for your clients. Include 10 to 15 before and after photos that will make a dramatic statement.

Pro tip: Organize your photos into sections for hair, makeup, and nails.

cosmetology makeup and hair

Use Your Cosmetology Portfolio to Build Yourself Up

The photos only tell half of the story. The rest of your portfolio should highlight your expertise as a Cosmetologist. Make sure you have all the right components:

  • Your Resume

Make sure it’s up to date, with all your most recent and relevant experience. Include externships and volunteer experience, as well as any classes you’ve taken. And make sure it’s picture perfect and polished; not errors or typos.

  • Awards

Pat yourself on the back! If you’ve received any awards for styling, creativity, customer service, reliability or even attendance, include it in your portfolio. Recognition from others enhances your reputation. Have you participated in a competition? Were you a school ambassador? These demonstrate a positive attitude and enthusiasm.

  • Projects and Activities

Do you manage social media for your salon? Did you create a fun contest or campaign to attract new clients? Have you done any educational outreach in the community or at local schools? Did you lead your salon’s celebration of National Beautician’s Day? By participating in projects and activities, you show passion and dedication to your craft.

  • Licenses and certificates

Once you earn your cosmetology license, put a copy of it in your portfolio. If you have a license in a related field such as barbering, or have earned additional certificates from taking classes, include those too.

cosmetology hair design

Make Hard and Digital Copies of Your Cosmetology Portfolio

It’s the 21st century, so a digital portfolio is a must. It’s more accessible to potential employers and clients, especially if you link it to your online resume or professional social media accounts. It’s also easier to update. And you should update your portfolio at least every six months.

But you still should still have a hard copy of your portfolio. Use a three-ring binder with dividers and bring it along on job interviews. It’s easy to transport and can be a great conversation starter—especially if you’re a little nervous. That portfolio is also great to keep on hand in the salon so you can show clients your previous work.


If you’re ready to build that other key piece of your portfolio—your education—look no further than Salon Success Academy. We offer a Cosmetology Program that will teach you  the fundamentals in hair, makeup, and mani/pedi techniques taught by a group of dedicated professionals. To learn more, call 877-987-HAIR (4247) or fill out the form.

Comments are closed.