Head Knowledge ~ hair stylists use knowledge in their heads to work with hair on yours

by Aaron Wilson

From sweeping the floor and cleaning the sink to learning the muscles in the upper body and a sprinkle of chemistry and mastering people skills, the cosmetologist’s job is comprehensive in science, style and sanitation before picking up those ultra sharp scissors. When you think of a hair stylist or manicurist or nail technician, you may not realize the behind-the-scenes protocols a cosmetologist goes through.
Christiansburg High School offers a wonderful cosmetology program, taught by respected instructor Rebecca Fore. Students must complete a two-year journey through their junior and senior years to earn a license in cosmetology. Besides the hands-on practice across diverse hair and nail skill sets, the curriculum includes these chapters in the Salon Fundamentals textbook:

? Professional Development
? Salon Ecology
? Anatomy and Physiology
? Electricity
? Chemistry
? Salon Business
? Trichology (Study of Hair)
? Haircutting
? Hairstyling
? Wigs and Hair Additions
? Chemical Texturizing (perming,
relaxing, and curl reforming)
? Hair Coloring
? The Study of Nails and Skin

Cosmetology participants must learn all these topics in depth and practice on wigs the first year. Students work with real clients in their senior year to earn a minimum of 1,500 salon hours in order to be eligible for licensure. Toward the end of this final year, wanna-be cosmetologists must take state boards which include both written and practical exams. With a passing grade, the license is issued by the Virginia Board for Barbers and Cosmetology and is good for two years.
High school salon customers have many services from which to choose:

? hair cuts and styling
? manicures and pedicures
? hair coloring
? eyebrow waxing
? perms and roller sets
? facials
? and more.

Cosmetologists use many tools that each stylist has to personally purchase; most salons do not supply tools, only products and basic supplies like towels. To perform even the most basic duties, every hair stylist needs a hair dryer, various types of combs, curling iron(s), multiple brushes, clips, straightener, apron and shears. One way salons are structured is by booth rental, where the stylist pays the owner a set amount every month, and the stylist supplies all the tools and products. Commission is the most popular, however, where the owner furnishes the products and the owner/ stylist split the service price, typically 50/50, but sometimes 60/40 or 70/30.
Rebecca Fore is in her second year teaching cosmetology at Christiansburg High School. A graduate of CHS and the cosmetology program, she worked as a hairdresser for five years before accepting this position. “I had this one special lady named Anne who cut my hair from when I was a little girl to a teen-ager,” Fore reveals. “She gave me a mannequin, and I would work on it every day. I remember wondering how to cut layers, so I picked up a strand and tried it on myself. I learned how to cut layers before cosmetology class. I thought I wanted to be a nail technician, and then I learned that I was more interested in hair.”
Fore loves her job. “The students and my relationship with them is wonderful, in part because I learn from them. I’ll teach something one way, and some of them pick up on it and perform the service another way.” One challenge is teaching left-handed students, who perform backwards to the more common right-handed hair stylists. “It can be tricky, but at the same time, it is good for me to interpret skills to my left-handed students in a way they will master them. I stayed late to perfect it for teaching purposes, and now I think I could cut hair with my left hand.” Fore is still in school to become a Career & Technical Education (CTE) teacher and is taking classes for her teaching degree.
Stephanie Guthrie, stylist/nail tech at Studio 700 in Blacksburg, was surprised at all the head knowledge she had to learn; that is, knowledge about the head and its shape, bones, skin and muscles. “If I notice something odd on the scalp, like an unusual pink bump or lesion, I will bring it to the attention of my customer; it might be something to be checked by a doctor or dermatologist. Heads are different shapes, and some hair styles work better than others. That’s the artistic part,” she says.
Getting your hair cut or a manicure or pedicure may seem like a simple drop-in and walk-out event for you, but cosmetologists have a whole ton of head knowledge inside their heads to work with the hair on your head and nails on your hands and feet.

Madison Miller is a 2017 CHS graduate of the cosmetology program and a student at New River Community College. She is a hair stylist at Hair It Is and an aspiring photographer. Facebook.com/memoriesbymadison

Christiansburg High School Cosmetology Department is open to the public:
Wed., Thurs. and Friday, 11 a.m. — 1:55 p.m.
ask for Cosmetology or press 4

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