Understanding Hairstylist and Salon Burnout

Understanding Hairstylist and Salon Burnout

After 28 years behind the chair, I know firsthand what salon burnout feels like. Not only do the long hours of standing behind the chair take its toll, clients can absolutely wear you slick.

Despite what some people may think, salon burnout is a real problem in the beauty industry. This blog is dedicated to my fellow hair stylists and salon owners who may be feeling burnt out, ready to quit or just need a bit of inspiration to keep moving forward.

Whether you are trying to understand how NOT to be burnt to a crisp, or what other salon career opportunities there might be out there for you, let’s discuss the possibilities. If you don’t know me, my name is Susan Wos, I am the founder of Salonspa Connection and I was once burned out too…

Life changes that can cause salon career exits

When I was 41, life changes happened and I wanted to explore what was out there for me, beyond doing hair. To prevent burnout, I moved my schedule to working part time in the salon.

This allowed me to figure out what was next, I was a single mom with no safety net, so doing hair till I died felt volatile. I slowly learned tech and how to run marketing campaigns.

Now I help salon pros with their careers and I sell salons. I tell you these things so you can think about what may be possible for your career, should burnout take over.

Let’s work together to find out what will lead to burnout and what we can do to turn things around.

photo of a hairdresser who is tired of working in a salon

What Is Salon Burnout?

Salon burnout is when you have experiences working in a salon that lead to feeling like you would like to quit or leave the industry, altogether. This is caused by physical and emotional stress or exhaustion due to performing hair services on a variety of people.

Salon burnout can also be caused by working long hours on your feet, from client related stressors or by working in a salon that isn’t right for you.

Why Can Salons Cause Hairstylist Burnout?

Salons can cause hairstylist burnout by placing demands on stylists that aren’t in line with their career goals. Often, stylists accept jobs or rent booths in salons that aren’t right for them, just to start working in the industry.

To avoid salon burnout as a hairstylist, thoroughly investigate all of the salon opportunities in your area and make fact based decisions before saying yes to working in a salon.

Getting Unstuck Through Creativity

As creatives, we love the stimulation of creating personal relationships through making people feel beautiful. We tend to attract similar client types and styles of hair. This great, but can make you feel stuck or like you need more creative stimulation.

Seeking out education, in person classes, salon industry events or even talking with a salon mentor can change things up in the salon, fast! If you are experiencing burnout, consider getting a little outside inspiration. Talk to other stylists who have been where you are.

How to Recognize Burnout in the Salon

Are you working grueling hours or sacrificing your mental health, just to keep paying bills? What about working your ass off to get new clients but your self care is non existent?

Feeling resentful about clients, the salon owner or maybe just about your career choice in general? This may be a sign that burnout is near.

Dreading your work day, or if your salon job takes the life right out of you, you may be headed towards burnout.

Getting snappy

If you are struggling to be kind or happy in the salon, this too can be a few telltale signs of burnout on the horizon. It is HARD to be perpetually friendly and listen to all of the bullshit clients talk about.

First, try taking care of yourself with healthy eating habits. Secondly, getting daily exercise, a relaxing massage or even start taking regular vacations can really help. 

A constant bad mood means something needs to change! It’s up to you to add positive things to your work and personal life.

Let’s review the reasons salon burnout happens, and what hairstylists can do to regain career happiness.

is it stressful to work in a salon?

Physical symptoms that lead to salon job burnout- take care of mental health

Outside of health problems that keep us from doing hair, things like not wearing the right shoes for hairstylists, or holding all of your stress in your back make it painful to work in salons. If you don’t feel you are at your best or doing hair is a struggle, this can cause stress and anxiety.

Anxiety and stress make it difficult to perform at your best. This is especially true  when your legs ache or you haven’t eaten in hours.

Make sure you are practicing good self care to minimize physical stressors that make it painful to do your job.

The emotional toll that working as a hairstylist causes salon burnout

As much as I love working with people, for me, the “people factor” caused the most stress and worry. Making every single client happy with their hair, takes it’s toll. Being “on” all the time and worrying about clients I had lost was at times, too much.

I got tired of needing to please and cater to whatever ridiculousness came my way. Not one to stay up on the latest trends, I felt myself aging behind the chair. Not being able to keep up enough to make younger clients happy ate away at my self confidence.

While most of this was just in my head, it still was enough for me to take a big step back. I became a mom so the demands on my time and energy weren’t as available as they once were.

Clients wanted to see pictures of my kids but they sure the hell didn’t want to sacrifice their hair appointment if they were sick. Having kids and personal life priority shifts caused me to experience burnout.

Managing the emotional aspect of doing hair- build on workplace relationships

The longer we are in the salon business, the less we care what individuals think of us. If you are lucky, you settle into a sweet groove where you know all of your clients and things become more predictable.

As a newer stylist, building a client base is hard work and can affect your emotional well being. From being required to do specific tasks like putting yourself out there on social media, doing hair can break your confidence and make you question your career choice.

To alleviate emotional stress from working in a salon, spend time with co workers or experienced stylists who have learned to manage mental health. These warriors have been where you are. and can help you laugh away some of the problems you are facing as a new hair stylist.

Practice great self care, create open communication with the salon owner and try to relax!

Plum tuckered out- the exhaustion from salon burnout

Man, it’s great to be busy! Making money behind the chair is a wonderful thing, until you get completely exhausted and worn out.

Whether it’s physical symptoms you are experiencing or you aren’t someone who prioritizes mental health, it’s time for a big fat break. Seriously, would you beloved clients rather you take some time off or totally fizzle out?

Clients will come back, and if they don’t you can always find new salon customers. The health benefits of taking time for yourself or your family are very invigorating. Your family members will love you for making them top dog and you won’t regret taking a step back to re-up your energy level.

When you have your own salon- burnout from salon ownership

Whoa nelly, have I been here! Owning a salon is no cake walk. There are things you can do to avoid salon burnout, though.guide

Are you are on the brink of selling your salon? Or if you are exhausted from failed attempts in salon recruiting, this can ready you to call it quits.

First, get a good schedule down when your phone is off, you spend time with friends and do things for yourself, at least once a week. Step away from social media, invest in yourself personally and take care of things, outside of the salon.

Get help with hiring hairstylists and learn to take time away from the salon.

For salon owners who want to grow their business, plug a problem or search term into our blog and find almost everything you need to have a successful salon business.

If you are looking for more personal help, we created a list of every salon coach and mentor in the biz, some that even specialize in salon mental health.

Automate Your Salon

One of the best things you can do as an independent beauty pro or salon owner, is to implement as much automation and systemization as possible into your daily life. There is so much salon tech that can help with these days.

Consider adding programs that don’t break the budget into your salon business to make life easier!

Salon burnout as an employee or booth renter

Working in a salon that isn’t right for you is a leading factor for stylists burning out. While I would never suggest anyone to leave the salon you are working in, I would recommend listing out the reasons you aren’t happy at work.

Most of the time finding a place to work with the kind of salon culture that speaks to your specific needs, resolves a ton of issues. Make sure to check our salon jobs and booth rental opportunities before you get to the point of quitting your salon, before you are ready.

Find Value in Your Work

If it isn’t enough for you to make people feel good anymore, try something new to spice up your salon work life. Things like haircuts for the homeless or adding in evergreen income with salon affiliate programs can make burnout much less of a reality.

Take Care of Yourself

You won’t be able to do hair if you don’t feel up to the task. Please visit a health professional and take good care of yourself! Even if you don’t want to take the time or spend the money, you will be glad you did, in the long run.

Salon Time Management

Got more clients than you know what to do with? It’s challenging to sort through tips, create wealth and do all of the things needed to keep your salon up and running.

Q & A on hairstylist burnout

Here are some common questions surrounding salon burnout we have received:

Why do most hairstylists quit?

Most hairstylists quit doing hair due to creative fatigue, exhaustion from dealing with people or co workers, physical pain or some just get tired of doing hair. Limited earning potential also can be a factor and is one of the leading causes for new stylists to leave the salon industry.

Is being a hairstylist exhausting?

Being a hairstylist can be exhausting, standing for long hours, dealing with varying personalities and issues stemming from being too busy. Stress is a common complaint from hairstylists, this can cause burnout or a leave of absence from a salon career.

Is being a hairstylist hard on your body?

Unless you take good care of yourself, being a hairstylist can be hard on your body. Even with proper health care, standing for long hours and working with your hands can cause issues like foot, back and leg pain or carpal tunnel syndrome.

What is the burnout rate for hairdressers?

Salon statistics show up to 23% of actively employed or self employed hair stylists feel burnt out, most of the time and up to 44% of stylists feel burnt out on occasion. This varies depending on the length of time a hairstylist has been working, with stylists who are more experienced feeling the brunt of the burnout statistics.

is it normal to feel burned out as a hair stylist?

What else can a hairdresser do?

Alternative careers for hairdressers can include:

  1. Performing nail or esthetic services
  2. Working as a salon manager or at the front desk
  3. Becoming an educator on hair or product techniques
  4. Work for distributors as a sales representative or in stores
  5. Become a salon business consultant or coach
  6. Selling salon retail products online in an affiliate program, on a website or social media
  7. A salon social media manager
  8. Become a salon owner
  9. Work as a salon recruiter for companies like Salonspa Connection or salon franchises 
  10. Work in a cosmetology school as an instructor or administrator
  11. Get a job working as a representative for salon software companies in sales or support
  12. Become a platform artist
  13. Work in a funeral home as a hairdresser (Deserology)
  14. Work with news networks or television stations for hair and makeup
  15. Create, sell and distribute your own product line
  16. Become an influencer or brand ambassador for hair product companies

Are hairdressers the happiest workers?

Hairdressers report a higher level of career satisfaction than most professions. This is due to a flexible work week, the ability to work in a wide variety of salons, getting cash tips, and the satisfaction that arises from making people feel good for a living.


I hope after reading this blog you feel a little less alone in the burnout department. Before you leave the industry altogether, make sure you are taking good care of your mental and physical health.

Find a new salon to work in if your environment is causing needed stress and anxiety. Consider hiring a salon coach or mentor for additional tools and resources for continued career happiness.

Check back with us if you need any help, we love chatting with hairstylist and salon owners about how we can help in your career! Follow us on Instagram for free advice and salon resources.

Yours in service,

Susan Wos

where beauty salons can get help

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