When I first decided to enroll in a hairstyling school, I over-romanticized with the gleam and glamour of a hairstylist’s life only to learn the low-downs shortly after I started my training. In this article, we will be sharing four essential things you need to know before you embark on your hairstyling journey.
Hairstyling is Hard Work
Hairstyling is a physically damaging job, if you ask anyone in the industry. Hairstylist involves long hours on our feet to, repeating the same motions with our body, especially with shoulder and wrist. Back problems, carpal tunnel, and bursitis are an integral part of the most common ailments we face. Ladies who love wearing high heel shoes, standing in them for extended hours are not fun for your health.
I strongly recommend a regular exercise routine if you want to look fabulous, prolong your health and your career. More than making us look good, other benefits include stronger muscles, longer stamina, improve body posture, and preventing those common ailments mentioned above. Additionally, exercise also improves our mental well-being. Increased creativity, ability to focus better and longer, making better decisions, emotional stability, reduce stress, and most importantly, increase a sense of happiness.
Hairdressing is a job that deals with lots of people. From colleagues to clients, day in and out. When we are happy, the quality of our work and social interaction improves and this will help us in taking our career to the next level.
Hours are Long & Irregular
You can forget about a nine-to-five job. When you first start out, six days weeks and a usual shift of 10 to 12 hours are the acceptable norms. If you are lucky, you get an hour lunch break. Lunch breaks are rarely during lunch hours because that is when most salons get busy especially if your salon is located around the CBD district. Aa well, you will need to give up dinners out and weekend brunches with family and friends.
To learn as much as you can, as fast as you can, you really need to be there in the evenings and weekends because these are time when the salon gets business from clients checking-in after their work and when they are not working. If you are an assistant, these are the time when you get most of your hands-on practice. If you are a junior hairstylist, these are the time when you get most walk-in clients for you to build up your clientele. Basically, the more you’re available, especially in the beginning, the quicker you accelerate your learning, experience, and rank.
When I was promoted to a junior stylist role, I volunteered to work every day and did that until I was promoted to a senior stylist role, which took around eighteen months. Life was work, work and work, what kept me going was my passion and hunger.
Your Hands Will Get Dirty & Dry
Once you are accepted as a competent assistant, most of your working hours will be behind the sink: washing client’s hair and washing up tools. Your hands will be so dry, it cracks and bleeds when you put your hand into a tight fist. To reduce the suffering, please remember to lotion up as frequently as you can.
At times, we get clients who haven’t washed their hair in, like, a week or they have some scalp affliction, and we still have to wash their hair. Other time, we get colour stain on our nails and hands while washing out colour on the client’s hair. We can wear gloves to prevent that, but the reality is we rarely do because it just makes our work inconvenient.
Even after being promoted to be a hairstylist, dirty hands are unavoidable, especially when we perform chemical work like colouring, highlighting, bleaching, and perming. It sounds scary but trust me it’s a rite of passage, many hairstylists survived, and we are glad we did it.
You will Hurt Yourself
Cutting my finger is the number one injury from my own experience, especially when cutting curly hair. I recalled when I had my virgin cut in the academy when I was practicing on a dummy the reaction from my trainer at that time said “Oh! Congratulations! You have just upgraded your skill to the next level.” Such was the attitude I was trained to adopt in my early training days. Plaster up and get on with my task.
Another thing is hair splinters. Little hairs can get embedded in your skin, and if they’re blonde, you can’t even see them.
Other less common injuries can be burns (curling irons, flat irons), allergic reactions (colours and other chemical products), trips and slips from wires left hanging around. The good news is, these can be easily avoided as long as you are careful, calm, and considerate.
With any career, there are always the low-downs and occupational hazards. If I haven’t deterred you from considering hairdressing as a career. Congratulations, and a warm welcome. You are on your way to a fun, exciting and fulfilling career.