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Royal Oak , USA

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How To Build Your Professional Beauty Portfolio

two women talking at a table
June 13, 2020

As you begin your journey into the world of beauty, you may hear mention of building a portfolio. But what is a beauty portfolio? How do you create one? And why is it important to have one?

At Elevate Salon Institute (ESI), Royal Oak, we strive to educate salon-ready professionals and hope to provide the tools our students need to succeed. Below, we’ve outlined some of the best ways to go about building a beauty portfolio for the first time and what might be helpful to include in your own.

Why Do You Need a Beauty Portfolio?

Portfolios are important to beauty professionals for many reasons. This is the place where all your past work is housed and on display for anyone to see. Your portfolio is essentially your resume to show clients and future employers what you’ve achieved and what work you may have specialized in.

A portfolio is usually made up of photographs and may be composed of headshots, a series of one client, or a series of many different clients. It could also include close-up shots of details in makeup, hair, or nail designs.

The goal of a portfolio is to showcase past work, experience, and skills you have gained in the industry. Having a portfolio can also help you control the direction of your career to some degree, as you can edit and curate it to move into the types of work you want to do.

two women talking at a table

How To Build a Portfolio

Today, having an online version of your portfolio is just as important as creating a hard copy. You may want to think about creating both types as you move into a more professional space.

A printed copy portfolio is just like it sounds, a photo album filled with examples of your work. It is usually kept in a binder with plastic covers to protect your photos. You may hear this type of portfolio referred to as a “book” more than a portfolio. It is important to take with you when you apply for new jobs or when consulting with a new client who may want examples of previous work.

An online portfolio can be built a few different ways. You can create your own website or even use a portfolio template site like Format to help get you started. Creating your own website isn’t as hard as it sounds either. You can use software like and to create a small biography, a gallery of photos, and a contact page. Upload your portfolio to your LinkedIn account, Instagram, or anywhere else you connect with clients or professionals.

What To Include

Your portfolio should speak to you and your own unique style. Start taking pictures early on so you can pick and choose from your best ones. Always start with one of your best photos. You want to grab your client’s attention right away!

Include a variety of styles to show your versatility in what you can create. If you have a bridal updo shot, a more editorial makeup look, or before-and-after pictures, be sure to incorporate them all to highlight what you can do. Of course, if you know your specific client, you can change out pictures to develop a focus for what they might like to see.

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to the number of images you can include. A good rule is to stay around 10 to 15 photographs. You’ll be able to include a lot more images online, but be sure they have their own categories or form of organization so looking through a gallery isn’t overwhelming.

You want to show your client what you can do, while leaving them wanting more. Be sure each image shows off your unique style so they know what makes you a special find.

How To Organize a Portfolio

Your portfolio should be organized in some way that makes it easy to follow. If you can, group similar photos into categories. This might look like:

  • Updos
  • Braiding techniques
  • Cutting
  • Coloring
  • Nail art

You have the freedom to organize your book or online galleries any way that makes sense. The important thing to remember is to have a flow, so as you flip through, you can easily see the style and variety of techniques used.

woman styling another woman's hair in a salon

Tried and True Tips

A few other elements you might consider adding to your portfolio might be reviews and recommendations. We all know how much we rely on the reviews before buying a product online, and the same is true of a salon or service. If you have any customers who left a nice review online or shared and tagged you in a photo of their hair, take a screenshot and add these to your social proof.

Be sure all your photographs are taken with a high-quality camera and are printed at a high resolution. If you are just starting out, see if you can invest in a photo shoot or professional photos. These can add a lot to a new portfolio and can be a stepping stone to helping it grow.

At the back of your book you may also want to include a resume and business cards.

Headstart Your Portfolio With an Education in Beauty

At ESI Royal Oak, we are dedicated to helping our students get an education that can prepare salon-ready professionals. If you are interested in elevating your education or career, check out our courses or book a tour with us. Our admissions team would love to answer any questions you have and introduce you to ESI Royal Oak. Contact us for more information.

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