The Hair Books you Need to Read in Lockdown (and After)

by akesha / last updated January 21, 2021

hair books recommendations from the hair historian

If you have more free time on your hands than ever while the salon is closed right now you might be looking for new tasks to occupy your day. If you want to be inspired and are over spending time scrolling through Instagram, Pinterest and Tik Tok, maybe it’s time to add a few more hair books to your pile.

“Books are great escapism during lockdown – and they’re great for giving you a break from obsessive Insta-scrolling or saving your eyes from the screen after a day of Zoom calls,” says The Hair Historian, Rachael Gibson. I love browsing through coffee table-style inspiration books to get new ideas for projects, and history books and biographies are my absolute favourite for reminding myself of why I love this industry and learning about someone new. Creative blocks are normal during times of crisis, when other things feel like a priority, but feeding your creativity and furthering your professional skillset in a low-impact way – even if it’s not something practical and obvious like cutting or colouring – is a really important aspect of self-care for me.”

Last week we welcomed Rachael the to our HJ Goes Live series and she gave us a run through of the top five books she would recommend to hairstylists. She says, “these are a few of my must-have hairdressing books, that provide a combination of inspiration and historical references. There are so many fantastic hairdressing books out there which help us to understand both the creative and cultural context of the industry, but hopefully these give a good spread of all aspects of hair.”

The Hair Historian Essential Book Recommendations

Haircults: Fifty Years of Styles and Cuts, Dylan Jones
Marie Antoinette’s Head: The Royal Hairdresser, the Queen, and the Revolution, Will Bashor
Hair: Fashion and Fantasy, Laurent Phillippon
Hairstyles: Ancient to Present, Charlotte Fiell and Antony Mascolo
Pretty: The Nylon Book of Beauty, Fiorella Valdesolo

Further Reading…

Photo books

Hair: Guido, Guido
Heads: Hair by Guido, Guido
Hair by Sam McKnight, Sam McKnight and Tim Blanks
Noodled, James Pecis
Hair Heroes, Michael Gordon
Hair’em Scare’em, Robert Klanten
Metamorphosis, Serge Normant
Her Style, Odile Gilbert
Ara Gallant, David Wills
Ladies’ Haircult, Giulia Pivetta

Reference books

Fashions in Hair: The First Five Thousand Years, Richard Corson
Encyclopedia of Hair, Victoria Sherrow
Beauty and Cosmetics 1550-1950, Sarah Jane Downing
The Barber Book, Phaidon
Hair Styles Of The World, Pepin Van Roojen

Academic books

Vidal: The Autobiography, Vidal Sassoon
Good Hair Days: A History of British Hairdressing, Caroline Cox
Entanglement: The Secret Lives of Hair, Emma Tarlo
Red: A History of the Redhead, Jacky Colliss Harvey

The Books Hairdressers Recommend

Good vibes Good life by Vex King

“The author Vex explains everything so well, advises a positively constructing voice yet keeps all the examples so realistic. I felt I can relate to it all and apply it daily,” says Joseph Ferraro, Joseph Ferraro Hair. “I recommend this book to those that need an extra boost to walk on this journey especially at the moment when the world is in the place it is. We need all the help or guidance in mental health.”

Surrounded by idiots by Thomas Erikson

“This book is phenomenal, a complete game changer for how you view yourself and those around you. Based around DISC profiling this explains the different personality types, how they act, react, their traits, strengths, weaknesses and so much more. Learning this invaluable information has helped so much with my understanding of people and how their minds work,” says Corey Taylor, NOCO Hair, Bristol.

“This has helped my business as I can better understand our clients and their needs, my team and how to motivate/inspire them and how to work in harmony with my business partner! The key message of the book is to treat others how they want to be treated and I live by that motto. This book has honestly changed my life,” Corey adds.

Braiding Manes & Tails by Charni Lewis

“There’s an amazing book called Braiding Manes & Tails, aimed at people who own horses, but there’s incredible things we can take from there to use on a head of hair,” says Noel Halligan.

Anyone Can Do It by Sahar Hashem 

“The founder of Coffee Republic Sahar Hashem wrote Anyone Can Do It, the story of someone who started a coffee house – how she winged it, opened the shop, bought the coffee, did it all herself, then sold if for millions,” says Jamie Brooks, Brooks & Brooks, London. “It’s a good story on making something a success and I’d recommend if to anyone who wants to open a business as it gives good insight into what is involved and what it takes.”

The Secret by Rhonda Byrne 

“The Secret is one of my favourite inspirational books based on the belief of the law of attraction, adapting the thought process of this book can change a person life,” says Tiff J, 3thirty. “One of the quotes that particular stuck with me was: ‘Your thoughts become things’. The book states what you think about constantly can eventually become your reality. I particularly love this sentiment as it drives my ambitions.”

The Alternative Hair Show Book

“Obviously it goes without saying the alternative hair show book is a collaboration of all of the teams’ imagery and is available throughout the years, not only is it an inspirational book but I find it is amazing to look at the years of history and it also is an amazing reflection of fashion through our industry,” says Sharon Cox, international education director, Sanrizz.

Hairdressers Journal Magazine

“For me as a young hairdresser coming into the industry it would be the weekly magazine. You would be excited to receive it and not only did it keep you updated with the up-and-coming trends but the Who’s Who of hair,” says Sharon. “I would always look at the back for new positions dreaming of your perfect job.

“Many years later when I had the dream job as educational director for Sanrizz, I had the opportunity to go to the London College of fashion library and researched all of the Hairdressers Journal archives. This was amazing and so inspirational,” she adds.

Visions in Hair by Trevor Sorbie

“This book is a peek into Trevor’s mind, one of the most successful hairdressers of all time,” says Danilo Giangreco, Danilo Hair Boutique, London. “One particular quote I love: ‘Why do we create unwearable hairstyles? We have to try to push boundaries and stretch the imagination into statements which can then be diluted and turned into something commercial. Fashion designers use the same philosophy on catwalks.’”

Smart Retail: Winning ideas and Strategies from the most successful retailers in the world by Andrew Hammond

“A ‘must-read’ for anyone selling anything at all! Local (Oxford Products) businessman has written this superb, easy to follow guide on how to effectively retail, simple but VERY effective,” says Mark Creed, Idlewild.


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