About Thoughts Before Student Teaching Beauty School 101

Monday, March 10, 2014

Beauty School Weeks Six & Seven: Onto Bigger Things

So, as I mentioned last week, the past 14 days had been a whirlwind of studying and tests and non-stop nerves. All of which I am done with. Whoo hoo! The floor test came first, and although I typically prefer hands on evaluations in lieu of regular tests, I was full of butterflies. And kind of wanted to vomit. When my sister arrived to be my floor model, I didn't even notice her and completely ignored her. Then suddenly I realized she was there and I felt like a total goof! Fortunately, her presence made me much less nervous.

The first part of the floor test was the (timed) prepping of our stations. This includes sanitizing equipment, organizing and displaying tools, and preparing the drape. The client interview, which requires me to ask questions about and observe my clients hair, came next. Finally, it was time to demonstrate some skills. I sectioned Catherine's hair and spent the next three hours doing foils, all over color applications, double process applications, perm setting, and curling with a Marcel. You should see her hair--it looks ridiculous. Just kidding. We use fake dye and fake chemicals during the test.

Later in the week came the written test. This test covered the entire Core program--six weeks of material. A lot of test items were only talked about once or demonstrated once, and I was afraid I would just forget a lot of small things. I spent a lot of time making flash cards. And then I lost them. The night before the test. Yeah.

But it turned out just fine. I passed with a 94%!

With good test scores, I was able to move out of the first program, Core, and progress into the next program, Protégé. We celebrated with "Kitmas," which is the day we receive our giant kits full of styling tools. I'm obsessed!

There is a lot of difference between Protégé and Core. Core is all about the theory behind what we do in a salon--hair cutting, hair color, manicures, pedicures, you name it, we see it on a Powerpoint and take notes. You don't do a lot of hands on work which is all one really wants to do after enrolling in a cosmetology program.

That's why Protégé is so fun!  Instead of reading and writing, my classmates and I have moved out onto what we call the clinic floor where we work at an actual station. Just the other day I got to mix and apply lightener during a foil application on my doll head. The result was beautiful highlights.   The day after I applied lowlights and now my doll head has gorgeous dimension and movement from the layered cut I did. Here are the results...

What do you think? I love it. 

Tidbits from weeks six and seven:

Favorite exfoliator: I recently talked about using sugar to exfoliate, and I found an argan oil sugar scrub that I love! It's from Shea Moisture and the frankincense and myrrh extracts make it smell delish. It's different from other scrubs that I've used--you can see the oils and sort of have to mix it every time you use it, but having that excess moisture makes it so it doesn't dry out. Super lush. $8 at your local Walgreens.

Goal for next week: To soak up as much knowledge as possible on the floor during my last week of Protégé. Yep, you heard right! Protégé only lasts two weeks, and then I am going to be cutting hair on actual clients. I am also going to try and manage those butterflies that will inevitably pop up in my tummy a little bit better.

Thoughts on beauty: I loved this pin that's been circulating that highlights an excerpt from Lupita Nyong'o's Oscar speech. Truth.

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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Beauty School Week Five: Don't Panic!

Short post tonight! This past week consisted of far too much stress. Week six is looming with three important tests in my immediate future. I'm a little worried because a nasty cold kept me out of class for a couple of days and I missed some demonstrations on perms. Or permanents, as I like to call them. I have all of my study materials ready to go and I'm trying my best to take it one day and one test at a time! First up is my floor test tomorrow. My sister is coming in to be my guinea pig--she's such a good sport. I'll let you know how it goes. Wish me luck!

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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Beauty School Week Four: Don't Forget Your Blush Brush!


I think I've mentioned it in every post thus far, but can I just say how much I love going to school at Paul Mitchell? I literally can't stop talking about it here at home. I've made an effort to tone down my feelings, but I can't! I'm still totally excited. I never want to have a moment where I'm less than 100% sure of my choice for my education, and the upbeat atmosphere I get to be a part of everyday helps me stay positive, too.

So, last week was my crash course in spa services and makeup applications. I was thrilled beyond belief to finally get the low-down on makeup. I was also lucky because I have a teacher who is really passionate about makeup and so listening to her and seeing the energy she exudes when speaking about cosmetics really inspired me to give this part of my education my total focus.

Honestly, I've barely scratched the surface! Makeup can be so much more than your basic eyeliner/mascara/foundation combo, but it doesn't have to be difficult. What really stood out this week for me was when my instructor got out her tools and the cosmetics she swears by. I think my heart grew 10 sizes when I saw that she uses Great Lash mascara on her clients. That has been my all-time favorite brand and it's one that I always go back to after I've tried out the newbies on the market.  It was amazing to see a professional makeup artist use a brand that we can all afford. On that same note, a good amount of her makeup brushes were none other than the e.l.f brand, proving that you don't have to rob yourself blind to apply makeup like the pros.

During the week I learned about the different face shapes. There are seven: oval, round, square, rectangle, triangle, heart, and diamond! Something new I learned is how to properly place blush or bronzer on each one. I've actually started to wear blush myself because, yeah, I know where to place it now! I also know how to correctly line a lip, whether they're small, average, or full. Overall, I still like to keep my makeup simple and classic, but I'm definitely interested in learning more about stage makeup.

In addition to makeup applications, we learned how to give an eyebrow wax, a manicure, and a pedicure. This portion was a bit dodgy for me because feet sort of freak me out, but I'm trying my best to get over it!

xo, Becca

Tidbits from this week:

Favorite new exfoliator: Sugar. True story. I take a bowl with me when I shower, and it makes my skin super soft!

Favorite nail polish: Plumberry by Essie. The color reminds me of a strawberry!

Makeup technique of the week: When you line your lips, here are a few tips to consider. If you have small lips, you'll want to line your lips on the outside of what we like to call the vermillion border, which is basically the edge of your lips.  If you have average sized lips, apply your liner directly on the vermillion border. And if you're like me and you have full lips, before lining, apply concealer to your lips and make them disappear; then apply your liner on the inside of the vermillion border.  Voila! Small lips appear fuller, average lips remain lovely, and fuller lips appear slightly smaller and more proportionate with the eyes.

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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Beauty School Week Three: Square Cuts and Tri-Grads

Oh, my goodness, I cannot believe I've been at this for three weeks. I've basically had a whole month of non-stop fun, something I don't expect to stop anytime soon. 

Core, the program where all Future Professionals begin their career, is preparing for our written tests that is in two weeks. Yikes. After graduating from Core, we'll move onto the next level where my classmates and I will begin taking appointments and applying what we've learned on real guests.

I have no words for I feel about that. Definitely excited. Appropriately nervous. 

This week was five whole days of hair cutting; three women's cuts, and two techniques for a man's cut. Below are two of my women's cuts: a square one length cut and a triangular graduation. I learned that square one length cuts are great for fine hair. Tri-grads are great for adding volume. Which one is your favorite?

I really can't decide what I love more: chemical applications or hair cutting. And soon enough, I'll start playing with makeup, too. I cannot wait for that. Bobbi Brown is my idol and makeup artistry is why I looked into cosmetology in the first place!

It's definitely a plus that so far, I love all that I'm learning.  But what do I do when I'm out of school? I thought that I would find a skill that I was totally and completely good at and specialize in it. Nowadays, I don't think I'll be happy unless I get to do it all.

Quote of the week: Julia Child said "Find something you're passionate about and stay tremendously interested in it." Of course, the quote is all over Pinterest...I think this one will be my desktop background for a while.

Working on: Booking appointments for March! I'm asking all of my friends to come in for a style.

My energy levels: I won't lie. I'm absolutely exhausted. But that's okay, because my support system has grown exponentially, and there is always someone to keep encouraging me. I can hardly keep track of all the techniques we go through from week to week. I never knew there was this much to cosmetology. It really is a technical skill that not everyone can do. There is a lot to learn, but it's a great way to express your creativity every day.

Most interesting thing I've learned so far: Probably men's cuts. Weird, right? I couldn't help but wonder all week how to go about doing a men's cut. What I imagined was much more difficult than it actually is. It's all about that comb! And I much prefer cutting with scissors over clippers. Who knew?

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Friday, January 31, 2014

Do I Have the Mettle? (12 Months to Go)

Twelve months before student teaching begins, and today I ask the question: do I have the mettle? If you're a teacher or studying to become one, you understand why I'm asking. On the outside looking in, teaching sometimes looks easy. Especially if you're watching a teacher that is really, really good at what they do. But for a teacher, every single day is a production, and there's a lot that goes on behind the scenes. 

When I think of all the details that need orchestrating for a successful first day, first month, and first year of teaching, it's almost too much to bear. There's a lot of decisions to make, a lot of planning to be done, and a lot of experiences to be had that I won't come across as a student. There are going to be a lot of mistakes in the road ahead. 

To ease my mind, I've decided to stick my nose into as many books as possible over the next year. First up is Real Talk for Real Teachers by Rafe Esquith. I needed some practical advice, and the first section of the book for rookie teachers starts off with a chapter titled "Badlands." Mr. Esquith wants new teachers to know one thing: that no matter how hard you try, you will always have bad days. It doesn't get much more practical than that. Beyond this simple truth, there is one thing I will always remember from this book--the word incorrigible. 

I love words, but not as much as my sister. I knew the general meaning of incorrigible as I read it--a loose synonym for bad. But my sister often knows a more Webster-y definition, so I asked her and she told me:  incapable of being corrected or amended. 

Mr. Esquith uses this adjective so many times you realize that it's this word that'll cause many of your bad days.

The incorrigible student: no matter how well you teach, no matter how relevant the curriculum, no matter how much you show you care, this is the student that remains obstinate. 

The incorrigible parent: no matter how much you communicate, no matter how much you reach out, no matter how calm you remain when they're yelling at you, this is the parent that remains uncooperative.

The incorrigible administrator: no matter how well your classroom functions, no matter how great your idea, no matter how professional you are, this is the administrator that keeps pushing you down instead of lifting you up.

And then there are the hundreds of mistakes that I am destined to make.

So how do you deal? How do you remain positive? How do you turn a bad day back into a good day?

One of the themes that Mr. Esquith writes about is the idea of leaving the door open. He discusses this idea within the context of classroom management. It's hard to discipline students, no matter how loving or logical the model you apply may be. It's hard to watch students make bad choices and go through the discomfort that we all feel as we learn from mistakes. But if you assure the student, as Mr. Esquith suggests, that the door is always open for them try again, you communicate some very important things. First, that their mistake is not the end of the world. And second, that if they work to correct their behavior, they can participate in the classroom with the full rights of citizenship again. And finally--and maybe most importantly--that you won't hold anything against them and that everyone will be able to move on. 

I think this idea of an open door is a concept I will try to communicate not only to my students--but also to myself. Let me just say that...

...I will never be a perfect human.
...I will never be a perfect daughter.
...I will never be a perfect sister.
...I will never be a perfect wife.
...I will never be a perfect friend.
...and I will never, ever, be a perfect teacher.

And neither will any of the people--students, parents, administrators--that I ever work with. Perfect, that is.

Mistakes are a part of life. Bad days happen. Sometimes it might be my inexperience that makes a day turn grey, but many bad days will result from things I have zero control over, like the incorrigibility of others.  But the door must remain open.

Open for me to walk into my classroom everyday, confident I can be better than the previous.

Open for my students to continue to grow, learn, and discover who they are.

Open for parents to strike up a conversation without my grudge widening the canyon between us.

Open for an administrator to try new things without scorn, or ask for my help without being resented.

The door should be closed to negativity. Closed to a begrudging attitude. Open to new ideas and fresh starts.

So what is mettle? It is a person's ability to cope with difficulties in a spirited and resilient way. Do I have it? Yes, I do. I think the challenge will be keeping it. But I think the key lies in forgoing perfection and remembering that making mistakes does not make me a bad teacher or close the door on becoming a great one. It's just a part of life. And the days won't always be bad, either.


P.S. Next, I'll be reading Everybody Present: Mindfulness in Education by Nikolaj Flor Rotne and Didde Flor Rotne

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Esquith, R. (2013). Real talk for real teachers. New York: Viking.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Beauty School Week Two: Color, Color, Color

I think it's safe to say that this past week had been the busiest, most intense 5 days I've had so far.

Of course, I really need to wrap my head around the fact that everything is about to become even more fast-paced than it already is. 

Oh, Color Week...

I learned so much in such small amount of time, and in a very fun and cool way. If I'm honest, I'd say that out of all the subjects studied at Paul Mitchell, hair color was probably the one I was dreading the most. Why? I suppose I just had this feeling that it would be difficult, but I don't feel that way anymore. Studying how hair dye actually goes to work on the hair, and learning about the different types of color that we offer at Paul Mitchell was a lot to take in, for sure.

But dying hair? Placing foils?

So. Much. Fun.

What I love about doing foil application is the precision that it takes for it to be perfect. Getting the angles right in order for the color to go where it will undoubtably look the best is actually more difficult than it sounds, but if the placement is correct, then the finished look is so pretty!

It boggles the mind that I'll be doing that with real hair dye and on a real person in the near future. Probably my sister--she promised to be my guinea pig for all things hair for the next 365 days.

I can't wait! 

Tidbits from week two...

Most stressful moment: This is also my most ding-batty moment of the week. Friday morning, I accidentally locked my books, my binder, my purse, my phone, my main car key, and my spare car key in my car. Luckily I have a spare spare key, and my sister was able to find it and come to my rescue. 

Books I’m reading: My nose has been stuck in my giant Milady Standard Cosmetology textbook, but I've also been reading every Phryne Fisher mystery story I can get my hands on. In addition to styling hair and buying makeup, I have always loved lady detective mysteries. Phryne Fisher is like a grown up Nancy Drew, except with much more dynamic and lovable characters. Check one out at your library and get in on it!

Playlist of the week: My most prominent learning style is that of the musical variety, so I've been listening to Pandora and Spotify non-stop. Click below to hear some of my favorites from the week!

Beauty School Week Two by Catherine Jones on Grooveshark


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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Beauty School Week One: Done and Done

My first day of school was terrifying.

I will readily admit that without shame. I had no idea what to expect. I had no idea what kind of atmosphere I was walking into.  But my main reason for the many butterflies in my tummy was that before January 13th, I hadn't been in a classroom in, oh, 12 years.


In the end I had no reason to be so nervous because although my first day was like a swift kick in the pants, there wasn't a minute during my 8 hours there when I felt overwhelmed.

On the contrary, my first day was wonderful! I've been moving and thinking non-stop since I started at Paul Mitchell and I can't remember a time where I've had more fun.

This whole week I've been swimming in this wonderful feeling of rightness, like I've really found my niche. And I think I have. I totally belong there. I'm already sad that this will only last a year.

Having this opportunity to attend and learn at Paul Mitchell is a dream. The culture there is an everyday pick-me-up. My teachers are all super positive and motivating, and I couldn't ask for a better group of classmates.

Last Monday was scary and new and it gave me a head-ache.  Today, a full week later, I can safely say that I'm no longer 'New Girl Becca', I know the building like it's a second home, and the dreaded Monday blues no longer have any sway over me because there's just too much fun to be had.

And what do I mean by fun? Massages, pin curls, french and fishtail braids, teasing, and finger waves. The rest of the week was spent adjusting to the Paul Mitchell culture--learning about the brand, figuring out the dress code, and organizing supplies.

Some tidbits from my week:

Favorite (beauty) blog post: After I read this review by Katie, I immediately bought a tube of Illamasqua lipstick in Shard. It's the most expensive lipstick I own (totaling a whopping $26) and you better believe I treasure it. A quick swipe makes it look like you just snacked on a delicious berry, and a few coats build up to a rich, matte Oxblood.

Inspiring me this week: My wardrobe for school has to be all black. Regardless of color, I've been looking to this blogger for style inspiration. I love every single outfit she wears. So effortless and beautiful.

Go-to hairstyle right now: These days, I'm kind of in a pickle with my hair--it is neither short, nor is it long. I've had to be very experimental and ingenious with my hairstyles--no bedhead (or ponytails!) allowed at school. I took inspiration from this pin and it has been my go-to style for days now. Lots of compliments to be had, ladies.

Next week is color week! Stay tuned...


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