I recently read an article in Allure magazine called “cutting class”, which is about famous hair stylists’ beauty school experiences. It made me think back to the not so distant past to my own time in beauty school.
At the time I thought I was better than the school, and perhaps I was in some ways, but there is always something to be learned, from even the poorest institutions. The saying “you get what you pay for” is the best way of looking at my beauty school- it was cheaper than most other schools and offered night classes so I could keep my day job.
I took my time in beauty school very seriously. I was not only going to learn how to color, cut, set and perm hair for salon clients, I was also going to figure out how to be a session artist and do hair for photo shoots and build a special occasion business that could rival the best of the best. I have always been an avid learner, and wanted to cruise through my education so I could pack more into less time. Unfortunately, beauty school tends to lean toward those who are slower learners, rather than the more advanced, who felt they had mastered the course work early, like myself. This bit of vanity and pride are not becoming now that I analyze my actual thoughts at the time, but still hold an ounce of truth- I learned quickly and got bored when I had to wait for the rest of the class to catch up.
I had also assumed that I would learn advanced techniques for the subject matter, but we were only taught the very basic principles of hair styling that would allow us to pass the state board test. I wanted to learn how to style elaborate updos, how to master the art of color and execute precision hair cuts often seen at trade shows where stylists from major brands would perform miracles and make hair into art. Getting a grasp on the basics, the fundamentals of my trade, and learning why it is we start a certain way was a very important foundation for me to learn, and I needed it to build upon, but I wanted more.
I ended up teaching myself a lot of what I know and now use daily. I always found that if I wanted to use a new technique or try a new style I had to figure it out on my own, so I became good at copying styles, cuts and color, and creating them with my own spin. I tend to have a softer hand when I recreate looks, whether an up style or a cut or color, because I would rather come off conservatively and make tweaks later, than start off radically and not have any room to fix it if the client is unhappy.
I have leaned on this ability to pick things up as I go a little too heavily sometimes, and haven’t placed furthering my education through classes at the forefront of my mind. I realize now I need to let other people teach me, so I can have a greater variety of skills and abilities to pull from. I think I’ve limited myself creatively through only having my perspective to see hair through. I know there are many ways of looking at styling hair, and I would be better off to embrace new teachers, so that is what I am going to do. I will look up local classes in coloring, cutting, and styling to give me more options, more creativity, and more respect for my fellow artists in this field. Through this, I will be able to offer my clients more of everything!