The Society of a Hairstylist

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Lisette Amaro
Professor Crepeau
Intro to Sociology
1 April 2007
The World of the Hairstylist
The hair industry has been around since the beginning of time. The hairstylist has become a very big part of society today. It is a huge branch on the fashion tree. A hairstylist does more then just cut hair. Their schooling is just as extensive as any two year college degree. They are often stereotyped as air heads and as having a very easy job which is so far from the truth. This subculture requires continued education. They are constantly learning something new to keep up with fashion today.

The hair industry goes back as far as six thousand years ago. The Egyptians were the first to cultivate beauty, fashion and cosmetology. They used combs, pins, ointments and other tools to groom and style their hair. They also wore wigs that were curled or braided. Most adult Egyptians wore some kind of false hair, including extensions and wigs. They used instruments from sharpened flints, oyster shells or bone to tie their hair back. Henna was used to dye hair in different shades of orange-red in 1500BC (Alpert et al 7). Hairstyles, eye makeup and grooming practices from ancient Egypt have been revived in modern times (Sherrow 114).

In 500BC, The Golden Age, Greece used hair as a form of art. The word cosmetology came from the Greek word Kosmetikos which means skilled in the use of cosmetics. They believed that cosmetology was the art of science of beautifying and improving the hair, skin and nails. They washed their hair with oils to soften it and style it. Even this far back women took pride in their appearance and devoted a lot of time into styling their hair.

From the beginning men have played a big part in the hair industry. In ancient times barbers were also known to be surgeons and dentists. During the 16th century the occupations were separated and became independent (Alpert et al 8). In those times salons weren’t unisex. Today all salons are unisex and men have slowly started to get their haircuts at a hair salon oppose to a barber.

In 1890 the first hairdressing academy was opened in Chicago by Bris Bois and Feder Meyer (Alpert et al 9). Today schooling has become the key for a hairdresser to begin their career. A hairdresser must go to beauty school for a certain amount of hours in order to take an extensive exam to get a state license. For example in New Jersey a hairdresser needs one thousand two hundred hours and New York they need one thousand hours. Every state varies in hours and specialties. In order to be able to cut hair, do nails, or even wax a hairdresser will need a license for any and every state they want to cut hair. Their education doesn’t stop at beauty school. The industry is constantly changing so education is constant and necessary.

Through out the years products, techniques and technology have evolved. From brushes to shears the hair industry has managed to almost perfect the art of hair. The round brushes used to straighten hair used to have wooden handles with bristles, now they are made of metal cylinder bases that transfer the heat from the blow dryer creating a stronger bend (Alpert et al 377). The curling iron was made out of solid steel and had no attachments and would simply put curls in your hair. Now the curling iron is made of ceramic or ionic and comes in different sizes for multiple size curls and attachments for different types of curls. Pressing combs, which were made of stainless steel or brass and had a wooden handle, were used to straighten curly coarse hair. It was heated on the stove or by electricity and then combed through. Now the industry has a flat iron which is heated by electricity and made of ceramic or ionic materials which is healthier for the hair (Alpert et al 411).

The stereotype of a hairdresser is normally that all they do is cut hair, which is false. A hairstylist must know all the different specialties in order to be successful. They must know the...
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