For almost two years I’ve worked at a hair salon back home. When I started my job as a shampoo girl, I expected to come into work, make some money, and go home. I had no idea I would be introduced to the incredible world of cosmetology, and the even more incredible men and women within it. I know more about hair than I ever thought I would just by working and adapting to the ever-changing salon environment. I learned some seriously important lessons, some not hair related, that I’ve listed below.
1. Please cut your hair.
When I first started my job, I had long hair down to my butt. I loved it, and I thought everyone else did too. However, within the first few weeks of my job I would get small comments whispered in my ear from my amazing, yet bossy co-workers, such as, “Why don’t you let me give your hair a little trim?” or “Your hair would look so pretty with some long layers.” I got the hint pretty quickly. Long, untamed stringy hair is not nice. It can quickly make your beautiful long locks look like they are poorly taken care of, which they probably are if you have split ends for miles like I did. Long hair is beautiful, damaged hair is not! Get the trim, and don’t cry in the chair. It grows back, I promise.
2. Hair dye does not lighten hair, bleach does.
This is something I didn’t know either. Unfortunately, your stylist can’t just coat your dark chestnut hair in some dye and make you a beautiful blonde. In order to make your hair even a little bit lighter than your current color, your stylist will need to use bleach or some other sort of lightener. This means that inevitably, your hair will be at least slightly damaged since lightener chemical removes the color pigment from your hair. However, this is not the end of the world.
3. Hair masks are your best friend!
Dry hair? Use a mask. Damaged hair? Use a mask. Frizzy hair? Use a mask. Hair masks are like conditioner on steroids. They are amazing treatments that you can apply in salon or at home that give your hair it’s much needed hydration. I normally apply a mask once every week by shampooing, running the mask through my ends and putting my hair in a bun on top of my head while I shave or just jam out in the shower. If you have thinner hair and a fear of conditioner, do not fret! There are masks for everyone, and they really are a lifesaver.
4. Shampoo is the devil… sort of.
This is one of the most important things I’ve learned. Do not, and I repeat, do NOT wash your hair every day. This is one of the most common causes of dry, unhealthy hair. Shampoo cleans your hair from oils and dirt, both the good and the bad. Some of the oils in your hair work to keep it healthy, happy and hydrated. When you shampoo your hair daily, you are depriving your hair of the moisture it needs to stay healthy. I personally wash my hair every two or three days, but everyone is different. Depending on your hair type, do some trial and error runs on how long you can go without washing your hair. Remember, dry shampoo is amazing.
5. There is a reason good hair products are so expensive.
I know we’re college students and are ballin’ on a budget, but make the investment in your hair. Drugstore hair products can sometimes do more damage than good. That being said, there are a few hidden gems, but it’s normally your best bet to purchase what your stylist recommends. The reason these hair products are so pricey is because of the advanced ingredients. There are affordable, high-end hair products that will get the job done beautifully. Ask your stylist and tell them your budget, your hair will thank you!
6. Hair stylists are some of the most amazing people you’ll ever meet.
One of the most common misconceptions I’ve heard about the hair industry is that those who aren’t smart enough for college go to hair school. This could not be any further from the truth. Some of the men and women I work with are the most intelligent, talented people I’ve ever met. These stylists are able to take a head of hair and transform both the hair and the person in the chair into a confident, beautiful human being. The insane amount of hands-on work and long hours that this profession entails are seriously under-appreciated. Next time you’re getting your hair done, thank your stylist. They rock.
7. Beauty is not skin-deep.
I know this might sound cheesy, but this is the most vital life lesson I’ve learned from the job I thought would just be a placeholder in my life. Countless times, I’ve seen women walk into the salon looking stressed and disheveled. I’ve watched that same woman leave glowing, radiant, and beautiful. This isn’t because of her hair either. The boost of confidence these stylists give men and women alike is amazing and life-changing to watch. These people spend all day making people look beautiful, but every single one of them will tell you it has nothing to do with the hair, but the confidence. The idea that feeling beautiful makes you look beautiful is something I will carry with me my entire life, way beyond my first job at a hair salon.