How To Build Your Professional Beauty Portfolio

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 over a paper with pen on top, consultation

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 applying bun style to another woman's hair.

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.

Our Mission.

At Elevate Salon Institute (ESI), Royal Oak we’re dedicated to giving our students an education that can help them become successful in today’s beauty industry. From the moment students start researching our school to after they graduate, our main priority is helping them feel supported and encouraged as they pursue their passion! Read below to find out more about our school and what makes our education so special.

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Pick up some cool summer gear and support a great cause.  From June 1st to August 1st we will be selling a fun and versatile summer stretchy scarf or “buff” like the ones you’ve seen on the tv show Survivor.  They can be worn more than a dozen different ways and are the perfect summer accessory!  They only cost $5 and all of the proceeds from your purchase go toward support of Maggie’s Wigs 4 Kids of Michigan. Maggie’s Wigs 4 Kids Wellness Center and Salon is a local grassroots non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that provides wigs and support services at no charge to children and young adults experiencing hair loss due to cancer, alopecia, trichotillomania, burns and other disorders. Their wig recipients, also known as Ambassadors, range in age from 3 to 18, and are located throughout Michigan. Get them for you, a friend, and the kids and know that you are doing your part to support a great cause.


ESI Royal Oak is running a fun contest that could make you “Insta-famous” and hook you up with a fabulous prize.   Simply follow the steps below for a chance to win the grand prize of a Salon and Spa package of service and products valuing over $300!

The contest is simple:

  • Purchase a ESI “Buff” at the school
  • Take a fun, creative selfie prominently featuring you wearing the buff. (keep the images appropriate please 😊 )
  • Post it to your Instagram account using these two hashtags: #esiinthebuff & #esiroyaloak
  • Post your picture by August 1st
  • Check back with the school, our social media accounts, and/or website to see if you won and to claim your prize.






CONTEST DETAILS: Employees, currently enrolled students, and direct account contacts from vendors/companies affiliated with the school are ineligible to win the grand prize.  All posts need to be of an appropriate nature. Lewd, profane, discriminatory, or inappropriate posts will be disqualified.  Winner must claim prize by September 1st, 2019 or it will be awarded to the next selected post winner.  Contact this school with any additional questions you may have.  The use of the word “buff” is a play on words as well as the colloquial, generic term for a stretchy, tubular-sewn scarf and not meant to imply the product being sold for charity is the trademark brand BUFF®. 

Your Guide to Cosmetology

Updated December 2, 2019

Trends change every season, but a career in cosmetology is not going out of style! According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, growth in cosmetology jobs is higher than the average growth for other jobs. An education in cosmetology can set you up for a future with many opportunities to grow. 

At Elevate Salon Institute (ESI) Royal Oak, we want to support future beauty professionals. Whether you already know all about cosmetology or you’re just starting to think about a career in beauty, this guide to cosmetology is a great place to learn more about it and get some questions answered!

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Is Cosmetology Right For You?

It’s time to get excited high school seniors, because the school year is finally starting to wind down. At Elevate Salon Institute(ESI), Royal Oak we can’t wait to see what you’ll accomplish after graduation! Maybe you’ve decided that you want to do some form of higher-education learning, but you haven’t figured out what that means for you yet. If beauty has a special place in your heart, you might want to consider going into cosmetology school. With beauty trends always changing and cosmetologists being in high demand, you could prepare for a career that challenges your creativity and individuality. Take our quiz to see if beauty school is the next step for you after receiving that high school diploma.

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Meet Our Admissions Representative: Laura Tessmer

As a beauty school, Elevate Salon Institute (ESI), Royal Oak wants to support students through every step of their educational journey. A huge part of that support system comes from staff members like our admissions representative, Laura Tessmer! Laura recently joined the ESI Royal Oak family and we’re so excited to have her on board moving forward.

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