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Math Skills for a Cosmetologist

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The age-old stereotype that cosmetologists don't need math and science skills is no longer true. To be successful in the beauty industry, you need sharp math skills. Not only will you measure chemicals and sterilizing solutions, you need to be business savvy about percentages and taxes, since being a cosmetologist is essentially running your own business. If you ever thought your makeup artist couldn’t do math, you might want to think again. This hands-on career is not just all about beauty, but the brains as well.


Some salons pay employees a percentage of the business they produce. Getting paid on a commission basis means you have to precisely calculate your earnings and make sure your figures and those of your salon owner match. Your wages and tips must be kept correctly organized; a percentage of your tips must be paid in taxes. Percentages are used in mixing color, perm solutions, facial preparations and sterilizing solutions in the salon. Knowing the difference between a 20 percent peroxide solution and a 40 percent peroxide solution is critical to having a good outcome when it comes to color application.


The appointment book is the center of any well-functioning salon or spa. Handling the appointment book means being able to divide your day into fractional equivalents and stick to them. If you need 30 minutes to do a service, divide your day into slots to accommodate services, breaks and unexpected client requests. You will still stay on schedule and be profitable. Dividing gallons of shampoo, conditioner, wax, foot soak and other salon supplies into individual portions is important when it comes to ordering supplies and keeping inventory current and cost-effective. The incorrect fraction may just throw off the entire product, therefore, this knowledge will come in handy.


When working with client’s hair, hairdressers use principles of geometry and proportion to cut hair and frame a hairstyle to their face. Many popular hairstyles such as wedge cuts, bobs and bangs are based on geometric angles.

Geometry is also important in cutting hair. Hair stylists divide the head into geometric shapes to cut, apply hair color and relaxer, and figure the correct positioning for highlights. The proper angle of scissors and razors when cutting hair is an important skill to master.

Braiding is a fantastic extension of geometry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says critical thinking skills are a key facet of cosmetology, you will always need to use your logic and reasoning skills to solve client problems.


Adding layers to a client's haircut or length by adding extensions or weave is definitely a mathematical skill. How many layers you need to cut into a hairstyle to achieve a desired look, or how many lengths of hair extensions or tracks of weave you need to add to make your client happy, depends on knowing basic addition. Getting the proper hair length for your client will be crucial throughout your career. Additionally, reconciling your cash at the end of the day, handling client checkout and making sure you have enough change to run smoothly also require adding skills.

Business Math

If running your own studio or salon is your dream, business math and computer spreadsheets will be tools you use every day. All aspects of business from taxes, insurance tables, banking, marketing and employee management require a proficiency in math. Many cosmetology schools have math curriculum geared toward the salon industry. These classes target the business math you need to make your beauty career successful.


  • Take an extra math class to sharpen your skills. Refreshing on just the basic math skills will help prepare you for a career in cosmetology.
  • Keep records up-to-date, and checkbooks and salon inventory balanced. Every small business has problems, and math proficiency will help you avoid common pitfalls.
  • Practice time management as you master your math skills balancing your clients. Success in the field of cosmetology depends on having good math skills and using them.

How to Acquire The Skills

  • Cosmetology programs: whether it be online, a local community college, or an on-site campus near you, you are bound to be able to enroll somewhere for math training.
  • Hands-on experience: beauty school will offer this to students, giving them real-life opportunities to handle math problems.
  • Talk to your clients: there’s no better reference than the client themself. Have a clear understanding of their vision before the scissors come out.
  • High School equivalency can be had via a GED if you do not have a high school diploma. More than 500,000 people take the exam each year and passing the exam is a life-long achievement.


Whether your specialty is styling hair, giving manicures and pedicures, skin care or makeup application, it is likely math is needed in your field. Beauticians can equally make out to be skilled mathematicians–just in disguise! No matter the job description you have, you will benefit in your profession by having these skills under your belt.


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