Cosmetologists are often the initiators of style and change. Cosmetologists help their
clients improve on or acquire a certain look with the right hairstyle and hair coloring, manicured
nails, and either a properly trimmed beard or carefully chosen makeup, depending on
your testosterone and estrogen levels. Cosmetologists also shampoo, cut, color, and style hair
and advise clients on proper hair care between appointments. They add permanent waves or
straighten hair in addition to giving manicures, facials, and scalp treatments and caring for
and styling wigs.
This is a profession that requires considerable tact
and diplomacy in dealing with patrons.
Cosmetologists are people-oriented and must be able
to inspire the confidence of those they service. With an emphasis on personalized care and
services, cosmetologists must understand the individual characteristics of their clients to be
able to choose the hairstyles and makeup colors and tones that are uniquely suited to them.
One New York City stylist remarked, “It’s simply important to get to know and understand
your clients . . . their likes and dislikes . . . and you work with that, finding styles that enhance
aspects of their personality.” The move toward more personalized care and services means
that cosmetologists with charm, good communication skills, and the ability to inspire trust
in their clients will be very successful. For cosmetologists who work in teams where each
member has her own specialty—hair, nails, makeup, etc.—interpersonal skills
are crucial for success. Constantly updated skills in new hair treatments and techniques give
the ambitious cosmetologist the edge. Many cosmetologists regularly attend classes to
improve their trade.
Cosmetologists must keep on top of the latest styles and trends in hair fashion and beauty
techniques. If you knew next year’s hot hairstyle, you’d be a hit. If you created next year’s
hot hairstyle, you’d be a star. The hours in the field are flexible, with some professionals working
nine to five, others working nights, and some working only weekends. What’s not flexible
is the considerable amount of time cosmetologists spend on their feet. Professionals are also
exposed to hair and nail chemicals that could possibly negatively affect their health.
Cosmetologists face varying licensing requirements in different states, but essentially a
high school diploma, formal training at a cosmetology or vocational school, and, in some
states, completion of an apprenticeship and passage of a state examination constitute the
educational requirements. For most cosmetologists, professional training continues
throughout their careers. The recently certified stylist can expect to perform duties that
amount to sheer drudgery. Newcomers are left to washing, blow-drying, and setting customers’
hair, occasionally being given the task of a simple hairstyle pattern. New workers
should perform these tasks with glee, knowing full well that practice makes perfect, and soon
enough they’ll develop followings of their own, make better wages, and collect bigger tips.
New cosmetologists should be especially careful in following the instructions of patrons and
seeking help and direction if unsure of a particular procedure. Remember: This is an industry
that relies on the proper use and application of chemicals. Hair and nail disasters can
make the cosmetologist and the management of the establishment vulnerable to lawsuits.
Cosmetologists can virtually step into any area of the beauty business. Hairstylists, hair
colorists, nail technicians,makeup artists, estheticians, and massage therapists are in constant
demand to help the public look and feel their best. People looking to combine their experience
as a cosmetologist with a strong business sense can attempt salon management or
ownership or positions in the sales,marketing, and distribution of hair care products. Some
cosmetologists become personal consultants to celebrities and VIPs. There are many opportunities
for cosmetologists to share their professional knowledge teaching at a cosmetology
or vocational school.