Expert Advice

Game Changers: 2018 MODERN SALON 100

Jamie Newman | August 2, 2018 | 6:00 AM
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“Know your target audience and everything about them,” says Shannel Mariano, @shannelmariano.
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“Consistency, post what you’re best at; composition, a clear and precise focal point for each post;education, people love tips, formulas, tutorials; hashtags, tag what is trending," says Hai Tran, @hai.stylist.
Photo By Hai Tran Photo 3 of 4
“I like to share the steps I took to achieve the look while tagging all the products I used during the process in the caption,” says Grace Joo, @colorwithgrace.
Photo By Grace Joo Photo 4 of 4

Every year in our Game Changers issue, MODERN SALON editors feature our favorite social media influencers. In the past, we annually spotlight between 15 and 20 Instagram personalities; big names such as @guy_tang, @mustafaavci, @xostylistxo, @andrewdoeshair, @anhcotran and @taylorrae_hair have all graced these pages. It’s one of our most talked-about issues of the year.

Last year, we decided to blow up our August issue—why limit ourselves to 20 artists when we could make it 100? And so, the MODERN SALON 100 was born—a compilation of 100 key players in the professional beauty industry who are creating standout work on Instagram and using it to leverage their careers.

Instagram has changed the lives of salon professionals around the world: From access to education via tutorials and formula posts to connecting with major beauty brands and feature pages to forming friendships with like-minded stylists. Quite obviously, Instagram has also changed the entire beauty industry, which is why we are dedicating 25 pages in our August issue (and 100 separate articles on our website!) to beauty’s movers and shakers who impact viral trends, new product launches and become the faces of brands. 

This group of artist’s work, pages and personalities vary, yet there are some overarching themes to what has given them social-media success. Honoree Hai Tran, @hai.stylist, summed up the keys to strong posts quite simply: “Consistency, post what you’re best at; composition, a clear and precise focal point for each post;
education, people love tips, formulas, tutorials; hashtags, tag what is trending.” Here, we dive a bit deeper.


Natural lighting is key—a flash creates a glare and makes every piece of frizz stand out. However, a ring light or soft box can make the most immediate difference in your photos.

“So much goes into posting a photo,” says Joshua Boynton, “When it comes to my colors, I love to take my pictures in a ring light and natural lighting because some colors look completely different in different lighting. And sometimes it can still look amazing in both and then you have two pictures you can post— one for now and one for later.”

It’s also important to keep in mind the other aspects of your picture, not just the hair. The background, makeup (if you’re showing face) and clothes play a role—make sure they aren’t distracting and that they add to the overall image.

“My goal for every photo I post is to make it look as much like a piece of art as possible,” says Ashlee Allen, @aaashleee. “I think my biggest tip would be to always change up your angle and to look at the hair from more of an artistic point of view and less like it’s a picture of hair.”


Did you know more than 4 billion videos are live-streamed on Facebook and Instagram every day? As Instagram continues to ramp up its offerings with filters and stories, Instagram Live and most recently long-form videos on IGTV, the platform offers everything the salon professional needs to market, network, inspire and get inspired.

It’s important to note that between Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and other platforms, video will make up 80% of all internet traffic as early as next year. Create your video with purpose, and convey your message in the shortest way possible. Seeing a hyperlapsed technique can be accomplished in several seconds, but explaining how to do it step by step takes more time and detail.

“Remember that people have very short attention spans, especially when it comes to Instagram,” says Jacob Khan, @jacobhkhan. “Video will help you grow a lot faster than pictures will these days, but make sure you keep it interesting and don’t have anything drag on for too long. If something is ‘oddly satisfying’ people love it! Even if it doesn’t show an end result, if it is soothing to watch it will go far!”


How are you going to make a name for yourself? Remember, what you put online says a lot about you. Whether you’re more edgy or classy, or into natural colors or vibrant colors, your brand should resemble that.

“The best way to get strong interactions with your post is to be consistent with the message you’re trying to convey,” says Julius Cvesar, @juliuscaesar. “For me, the monochromatic, high-contrast imagery has been attached to my brand.”

This year, many of our honorees said investing in the proper gear brought more eyes to their page. Repeatedly, artists mention the benefits of a good quality camera: colors are more true to tone, images are better quality and there is even more of a likelihood you’ll get published.

“Switching from a phone camera to professional camera completely changed the game for me,” Boynton says. “Better quality photos equals better chance for your work to be noticed and published.”


In captions, limit your use of hashtags because these can look distracting. Tell your audience what you did and how you created your look. If you’re using professional hair color, don’t be afraid to share formulas.

“I like to share the steps I took to achieve the look while tagging all the products I used during the process in the caption,” says Grace Joo, @colorwithgrace. “It helps clients and hairdressers to understand the process.” Asking questions in the caption can boost your engagement and lead you to better results on your posts. And, with Instagram’s ever-changing algorithm, better engagement makes your posts appear in more feeds.


The best advice to gain more exposure is to be active in the community. Comment on posts you love—don’t just “like.” Once you start tagging your favorite brands, entering competitions and engaging on pages you love, it’s likely you will start becoming top-of-mind to various artists, influencers and outlets.

“Engage (authentically) more than you post,” says Constance Robbins, @constancerobbins. “Support your friends and mentors, and the people who support you, and they will return the favor.”

An added tip: make sure captions are five words or more—we’ve heard this is the only way Instagram will count them toward engagement.


When you know the type of people you want to attract to your page, you will be able to craft posts with purpose.

“Know your target audience and everything about them,” says Shannel Mariano, @shannelmariano. “Think about them when you craft your post. Give value to your audience and everything else will follow. You’ll create content with them in mind, photograph with them in mind, and create captions, hashtags and post at certain times with them in mind.”

Your vibe attracts your tribe. Post what you enjoy creating—if you hate doing gray coverage, don’t put that on your feed! Post looks with an aesthetic that brands you love and want to work with will want to share.



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