How does maths help you to be a hairdresser? Stylists reveal it’s more than counting costs

We discuss just how much do mathematical angles and calculations come into a day in the life of a hairdresser

Where do statistics, calculations and percentages come into play?


Maths is all around us, from the money that we spend to cooking.

It makes sense then that it is incorporated into many of our careers, in ways that we might not even consciously realise.

With a relaxing trip to the hairdressers, you can almost feel your problems melt away as they massage shampoo into your hair in the way that only they can. But behind the friendly conversation, hairdressers may indeed be calculating their next step mathematically.

On the surface you might not think that hairdressing uses an awful lot of maths, more so technique and an eye for style – but here’s where you’re wrong. So aside from handling money, where does mathematical technique come into hairdressing?

We spoke to Bristol-based hairdresser, Emma Claire Beresford, about how maths is used in the salon.

Emma said: “There’s plenty of ways you use mathematics within hairdressing, for me personally I use angles and ratios in every single haircut and colour I do.

“I’m so glad I listened in school as it’s helped my hairdressing knowledge progress quicker and also helps with diluting oxidants and making the perfect tone for my customers’ new fresh look down to the finest detail.”

As Emma says, there’s much more to the techniques surrounding colours, layers and style in the form of angles, ratios and percentages.

We also caught up with the National Hair & Beauty Federation to see what they had to say about the role of maths within the industry.

Amanda Lodge-Stewart, NHBF Vice-President and owner of the Link Training in Huddersfield, said: “Maths is an essential skill for a hairdresser.

“It’s more than just the arithmetic to calculate the total price of a service, add up your takings for the week and subtract the costs of products used to work out if you’ve made a profit.

“As a stylist, you need to understand angles, which will determine the weight of the cut, measurement so that you cut to the length the client requests and understand the right tool to use for shorter cuts, fades or shades, as well as symmetry to ensure balance in the finished hair style.

“For colour services, you need to understand weight, ratios and percentages to ensure you use the correct quantities to get the desired effect and to calculate the time it will take to apply the colour and allow it to develop.

“You also need to work out the time so you can tell the client when the treatment will be finished and ideally whether you can fit in another client in between.

“Salon owners use statistics to understand which days and times are busiest so as to organise their staff rotas, which services are more popular, and to compare the effectiveness of their individual team members.

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“Many of our trainees come to us with a poor sense of their own abilities in maths, having struggled at school. We show them why maths is relevant and important in hairdressing so that we can get them to the GCSE standard within a year of starting with us.”

So there you have it, almost everything from the admin side of things through to physically cutting and styling hair appears to revolve around a basis of mathematical knowledge and calculation.

Just another way that maths is a central topic to the world around us.

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