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Welcome to September, that superheated and interminable transition
between summer and … late summer. While
many students are preparing for college life in San Antonio, others are
to a less-traveled path, via which they will train to be the
aestheticians in our lives. Jokes about beauty-school dropouts aside,
business takes itself, and your appearance, very seriously.
is stringently regulated by the state in ways that make a traditional
student grateful for the ability to sleep through a class once and a
without too many repercussions. Each day is long in cosmetology school,
eight to 10 hours, and students are required to account for their time.
state regulations, students must clock 1500 hours of classroom
practical experience — they keep a time card and get only a
daily. Students who miss too many hours are dismissed.
[the student] as an employee and not as a student,” says
Mariana Gaona of the
Aveda Institute’s admissions department. If a student
doesn’t clock in or out
when they are supposed to, they can incur a $5,000 fine.
is in the details at beauty schools: Each student must perform 100
during his or her course of study and the student-to-instructor ratio
exceed 25-to-1. Cosmetology students study not only hair, but nails,
and basic skin care as well. The first six weeks are spent entirely in
classroom, and budding stylists must learn the six basic cuts on
before they go out on the floor to tousle the hair of actual clients.
combining those six, you can create anything,” says Flor
Molina, an Aveda
instructor. To her, “up-dos” seem most difficult
for students. “They require a
lot of creativity; most students don’t even want to try
a harsh mistress, and her lessons go beyond color theory and thermal
into subjects one might find suited for medical school: Chemistry,
physiology are important, and subjects such as bacteriology, infection
and the nervous system are taught in all cosmetology tracks. Stylists
recognize when a client comes in with a skin disease, for instance,
not it’s contagious, and how to handle it.
Taylor, co-owner of Shag the Salon and a beauty-school student at the
Institute of Cosmetology in San Antonio, communication skills are key
successful stylist. “The biggest failure in the industry is
the failure to ask
the client what exactly they want and to understand it,” he
says. “Being able
to do a good consultation and then have good conversation while
the hair is what makes a good salon.” He said that even a
can develop a following if he or she is personable.
the training is that when you teach [students] to hold the shears, you
them to talk to the client,” says Gaona. “The
students tell them exactly what
student has finished styling a (brave) customer, an instructor must
work and sign off on a job (hopefully) well done.
“It’s nerve-wracking when you
work on a client for the first time,” said Aaron Burroughs,
an Aveda student.
“Everyone who does this is very concerned about how the
person will look, and
is devastated if they mess up someone’s hair. This is an art
form, not just
something you fall into.”
students would like you to take note: Perms are out. Beauty schools
them and students must perm at least one live head during their
it is a dreaded procedure, time-consuming and difficult. Cosmetology
are trying to learn creativity, too, so the next time you stop by one
city’s many schools for a cheap hairdo, let them tell you
about all of the new
styles they’ve been learning and need to practice.
Aveda’s students are fresh out of high school, although the
class includes a woman with a master’s degree in
international business. The
state requires only a seventh-grade education to enroll in beauty
most institutes want to see a high-school diploma or a GED. Training
six months to a year and usually costs between $10,000 and $16,000.
Antonio has 10 beauty colleges to choose from, the youngest of which is
Aveda Institute, open since April 2005. Taylor said that some beauty
have a reputation for being rundown and suggests that prospective
visit the places they are interested in before applying.
“Look for a varied
clientele,” he said. “You don’t want to
get stuck doing the same thing over and
over on blue hairs.”