Life as a Cosmetologist…It is not a Fairytale – by Hanna Sarber (11)

Salons

For as long as I could remember my one dream was to become a cosmetologist. Ever since I was just a little girl I was obsessed with hair, makeup and overall beauty. I am in amazement of the magic and happiness that hair stylists can create for another person in no time at all. What they have the chance to do everyday completely mesmerizes me. They get to meet and share relationships with all different types of people. They are always able to be creative and try new things. To me and many other people it seemed like the perfect job but underneath the bright smile,the unending kindness, and their enormous drive, it’s not always the fairytale one might believe it to be. Hair stylists or anyone involved in the cosmetology business are constantly working long, crazy hours that over time cause a strain on their bodies without a steady income.

Most clients have a full time job during the day so they want to come in during mornings, evenings, and on the weekend to get their hair done. Unless a cosmetologist owns their own salon or have been at a salon long enough to have a say in their schedule, they are forced to work the hours their clients need them to work. Most stylists will work until 9 or 10 pm at night shift just to get up the next morning at 7 am to work the morning shift. Meghan Bays at Coiffeteria Salon in East Grand Rapids expressed her hardships by stating “By any means, it’s for sure not your average 9 to 5 job. Being home one night to tuck your child in for bed and not being there the next is the worst feeling ever. It causes a strain on your family.”

Lori Lehner a previous instructor at Douglas J Aveda Institute in Lansing explained to me what is taught at Douglas J Aveda. “You are taught the basics on how to cut, how to color, and how to style. We would teach the learning stylists things such as a way to stand or how to hold their wrists when cutting to keep their body healthy, but even with those special tricks their body is still in constant aching pain throughout the day.” Many hair stylists are dropping out of their career due to the things it does to their body. Their hands are constantly in water, which causes the skin to dry out and crack. Their arms are constantly pulling and tugging in weird positions. Nonstop standing and on their feet is something they do all day. The worst part of all of this is that hair stylists eat when they can. Most times when they get this chance it’s due to a client cancelling on them or having a few free minutes while their guest is processing to scarf down their lunch.

Last, most stylists do not have a steady income. It all depends on the season or holidays for them. During the holidays the amount of tips and income a stylist brings home at the least doubles.  Demi Conn, from Echo Salon in Grand Rapids, expressed her concern claiming “During Christmas season I can bring home around $300 a night in tips or more but then during the non holiday season I sometimes only bring home $10 or nothing in tips.” If no one books with a hairstylist or cancels on them day of their appointment, a stylist won’t bring home any income unless there is some sort of cancellation policy put in place.

For as long as I can remember I have been obsessed with hairstylists. It’s amazing that before a person sits down in their chair they feel depressed, anxious and most likely that they are worth nothing. Then all of a sudden one or two hours later this person loves himself or herself and can’t stop smiling. It is perfectly imperfect, that it can be changed that fast, in the blink of an eye. If the life of a hairstylist includes long hours, while tearing down the body without having a steady income is something you are truly passionate about, like me, it won’t matter one bit. If this is the case, the top three beauty schools in the area are as follows the Douglas J Aveda institute in Grand Rapids, the International Cosmetology Academy and Paul Mitchell the school Grand Rapids.

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