Going to Skyline College Salon & Spa will have you leaving the place loving your new look! Skyline College’s Cosmetic Department has created a diverse environment that offers treatments and techniques to help people enhance their beauty.
“It’s nice to get a haircut, but it’s even better to get a haircut,” Yacoub Atshan said.
Atshan is one of two male Skyline students currently studying cosmetology. He never saw himself practicing these skills until COVID-19 hit and his brothers were in desperate need of haircuts. They ordered mowers, and since no one left their house during that time, they would be safe from the severe criticism of the mower.
“Skyline has a cosmetology department (which teaches) women‘s haircuts. I tried it; it was a quick decision, but probably the best decision I’ve ever made,” Atshan said. “If anything, I regret my student loans for college when I was studying business.”
The world of cosmetology cares for hair, nails, and skin – a whole different spectrum than the administration of business operations. From business costs to salon logistics, Atshan felt comfortable knowing he was headed in the right direction and getting used to the fundamentals of the cosmetology industry.
“To some extent I felt uncomfortable, but you have to feel uncomfortable to learn,” Atshan said. “I can be 1000% a man and still be in beauty school.”
In a female-dominated field, stepping into an outnumbered room can be a difficult step to take and can make it difficult for men to feel confident and secure.
“I love when I see men walk into the cosmetology department because it tells me they’re fearless,” said Ryan Cassdiy, program coordinator for the cosmetology department. “When a man shows up and says, ‘I’m here and I’m here to do my hair’, that’s the best. But they’re no different from women.
There has been a desire to serve more male students, so in the fall there will be a new barber program available. The more male-dominated barber field also hopes to see women and non-binary students on the program.
Cosmetology major Sheila Thomas agrees with the growing diversity in the cosmetic community, as they now teach how to care for different hair types.
“My mom went to beauty school and didn’t learn different hair textures, just American white hair,” Thomas said.
At Skyline’s cosmetology program, students learn to identify different hair and skin types, now including more than what American standards identify as “beautiful.”
“The beauty standard isn’t just one box,” Thomas said. “I thought the other day when I was playing with Barbie dolls, that was the standard of beauty, that doll was the representation of what women should look like.”
Skyline cosmetology strives to create a more inclusive community for all students, whether male, female, or non-binary. Help them pursue their passion, develop their skills and abilities as they go out and serve their own customers.
“When I started I was so inside the box. I would ask them to teach me the rules and techniques so I could reciprocate, but there is more to serving than that. ‘a customer.
People may underestimate the middle finger, but it’s more than beauty and looks. It requires knowledge of math and science like chemistry and biology.
“In cosmetology, it’s necessary to know the different levels of your skin and hair, what it’s made of, and much more that could affect a client’s outcome,” Thomas said. “Without proper knowledge of certain things, you are putting yourself and your client at risk.”
In addition to the fundamental knowledge of tools, techniques and materials, customer service is a must in this field to succeed and develop experiences.
“Two people will never have the same approach,” Atshan said. “You want to turn the client inside out, you want to get a sense of their personality and make them feel like they are themselves.”
When dealing with a client, there are interpersonal skills involved. There is verbal and non-verbal communication between client and stylist which leads to certain decisions being made. With so many tasks, it sometimes leaves them very little space for themselves.
“You have a 10-minute gap between appointments, sprinting to lunch and running back,” Atshan said. “There’s nothing feminine or manly about it.”
Cosmetology also emphasizes the need to be mentally and physically tough when students work both classes and appointments.
With all of these stigmas, stereotypes, and struggles facing the Skyline cosmetology program, the student still aspires to provide their best service and expand their knowledge. Knowing that they let a customer walk away with a smile is the best reward they can receive.