North American Hairstyling Awards 

If you’ve never heard of The North American Hairstyling Awards, let us be the first to welcome you to the most glorious, aesthetic, and prestigious photographic beauty competition in North America.

Glamorous, fierce, and filled to the brim with maximum talent, NAHA is one of the dreamiest competitions for stylists and hair artists in North America.

Spanning 15 categories, and entering its 30th year, this annual competition pits the most top-notch talents, creatives, and unique artists against each other for the ultimate glory – winning this glamour-envy notoriety. 

For decades this has been the goal of the top talent in the industry, and now, it’s your turn.

If you’re ready to enter this prestigious competition, catapult your career, and launch yourself into the limelight, but aren’t sure how to do it, what to consider, or the best way to get your photo noticed, we’ve got you covered.

We’ve listed out everything you need to know about entering NAHA with some tried-and-true-tips-and-tricks.

Check out our list below of things to check-off your list when you’re entering NAHA: 

Read the Rules Carefully

NAHA is a hugely complicated, incredibly intricate, and insanely detailed competition --- this is both good and bad. You’ll have a ton of requirements to abide by, but they’re going to be meticulously detailed. For a full list of things to abide by, see the rules here.

We won’t list out of every single rule, but we do suggest going through them carefully – maybe even a few times – before you make any big decisions about your entry.

There are rules about multiple entries, entry fee requirements, forms to sign, specific rules for certain categories, photo manipulation rules, and information about how judging works.

Reading through every section carefully is going to help determine your success because when it comes to NAHA, the judges are quick to disqualify for mistakes (even if they’re accidental).

We’ll say it one more time – read every rule carefully before you make decisions, and once more before you decide to submit your photo, to ensure you’re in the clear and your photo can be judged properly.

It’d be a shame to go through all the effort and have your photo discarded due to an accidental error.

Get a Mentor

Don’t brush this one off – if you’re really looking to win and catapult your styling career into the limelight, you won’t want to ignore the idea of asking for help. Acquiring a mentor is something that a lot of stylists take seriously.

If you have a connection or can get in touch with a past NAHA finalist and want to work together with them, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for advice.

Learning from other stylists, especially about a prestigious award like this one, is the key to bettering your skills – why wouldn’t you aim to be your best?

If you’re working on finding a mentor, another helpful step is to watch the free, and incredibly helpful, NAHA webinar series.

This features previous winners, judges, and participants and can answer a ton of your NAHA questions. Not only will you get a better idea of what NAHA is all about, you can better understand how to craft your best entry, submit your application, and find inspiration that makes sense for you and your style.

Lunatic Fringe NAHA finalist

Lunatic Fringe NAHA Finalist 2014

Decide Your Category and Stay Focused

The beautiful thing about NAHA is that it’s so versatile, diverse, and inclusive, that being said, there are so many different categories to consider and enter that it can be sort of confusing and overwhelming.  

From Avant Garde to hair cutting to men’s hairstylist of the year and more, there’s plenty of variety to choose from, though be mindful, each category is going to have their own rules.

Once you decide on your category, stick to it.

Focus on it, learn everything about it, and ensure that you’re on task when you start creating your submission.

Study the categories and look at past winners.

Do your ideas make sense in relation to the category? Do make sense when compared to past winners? Are you focused on your category, or have you let your idea get too far off track?

Ensuring that you’re well-within your category and focused on your primary objective is going to be a hugely important detail you don’t want to overlook.

Work with a Team That Shares Your Vision 

One of the best parts about this contest is that you get to work with a team. From fellow hair designers, to models, to photographers, you get the opportunity to curate a team that wants the win as bad as you do, and you can ensure that you hand-pick the best of the best.

When doing this, though, ensure you’re picking ever member of your team carefully. You want to bring diversity and different ideas to the table, so creative spirits with unique minds are vital, that being said though, you need to pick members who share your vision and your passion.

Most importantly, don’t try to do it alone. Work with people whose opinions and skills you respect, trust, and want to show in your submission.

Before adding someone to your team, ask yourself, “would I be happy with this person’s influence showing up in my submission?” or “will this bring something positive to my submission?”

If the answer is yes, consider adding them to your team. Focus on the hair, but make sure your team is running smoothly – it’s your reputation, your name, and your future career on the line.

Submit Early and Submit Correctly

Again, read the rules.

Submitting incorrectly earns you an automatic disqualification – you don’t want your hard work to go to waste, so ensure that you’re properly submitting your photo and application.

We also suggest you try to submit earlier than the deadline.

This won’t ensure you any kind of added bonus in the competition, but it will help you eliminate a mountain of stress and save you from accidentally submitting too late.

Set your own, personal deadline for a week or two earlier than the actual submission deadline.

This will help keep you on track!

Practice, Practice, Practice

We think this tip pretty much speaks for itself. You don’t want to submit a photo of your style until you’re 1,000 percent confident that you can nail it, so we suggest practicing over and over and over until you’re positive that you’re going to kill it.

Make sure you’re focusing, minimizing distractions, and keeping your eyes on the prize. Create a timeline, stick to it, and try to accomplish everything flawlessly so that when the big day comes and you’re going to shoot your style, you can replicate the look you want without issue and without holding up the rest of your team.

Don’t Ignore the Need for a Budget

Entering and aiming to win a contest like NAHA doesn’t have to cost you thousands upon thousands of dollars, in fact, it’s good to acknowledge a budget.

We don’t necessarily mean that you should do everything on the cheap, but we do think that it’s important to understand your resources and know what’s in your means.

Take advantage of online resources, work with up and coming models, and search for photographers who can collaborate with you for a price that makes sense for you, your team, or your salon.