Should You Get Your Hair Cut by a Student?

Years ago, when we were broke (oh, wait, we’re still broke! But now I blame the kids), I decided that a great way to economize would be to get my hair cut by a student at a local beauty school. Trigger warning: This is an extremely cautionary tale, but you should have known that from my “About Coach Dawne” page. My Monday Malice this week is aimed at “people who have no business in their chosen professions.”

Aveda primes you for this experience in “What You Need to Know Before You Get Your Hair Cut at a Training School.” Written by Molly Shea, Beauty and Health Editor at Yahoo!, this is a must-read before trying this money-saving approach. You WILL save money, but if you don’t follow these tips, well…read on.

Back then, I read no such thing, of course, because (a) there was no real “internet” yet; (b) if the internet had been widely available, we probably couldn’t have afforded it.

I would take you through, point by point, exactly how I ignored every tip in that article, but I still have unresolved trauma, so I’ll summarize here.

The “Fancy School of Beauty”

I walked into the “[INSERT SOME FANCY FRENCH NAME School of Beauty]” on a sunny Saturday morning, full of hopes and dreams (for my hair, anyway), the way we always feel when we utter the magic words, “I want a whole new look!”

The instructor/manager/ringleader did not see fit to suggest to me that her school might not be the best place for “a whole new look.” Nor did she assign me to what I hope to God were better students than the one I got, Rosa.

Rosa was very nice. Rosa also had a wildly overinflated sense of her own abilities. As for me, I was just an idiot.

Freshly shampooed, I eagerly awaited (idiot) Rosa’s artistry. She began cutting. Snipping. Shaping. Cutting. And at some point, I began to get a little concerned. She seemed to be cutting in what was a sort of random ampersand pattern. When she began cutting what appeared to be bangs onto the side of my head, my judgment (finally) kicked in.

Rosa, the Persistent

It was about then that I noticed that some of the other students had stopped what they were doing to look at Rosa. “This is bad,” I thought. One of them summoned the instructor, who briskly walked over. Here’s how that conversation went:

Instructor: “Rosa, give me the scissors.”
Rosa: Snip, snip.
Instructor: “Rosa, please give me the scissors.”
Rosa: Snip, snip.
Instructor: “Rosa, PUT DOWN THE SCISSORS OR I WILL TAKE THEM FROM YOU.”

Finally, Rosa wordlessly gave up the scissors. By now, a small crowd of horrified students had gathered around me, whether in shock, support, or to ensure that I didn’t pull out a weapon, I don’t know. Several of them whispered variations of “You’re being SO GOOD about this.” This was not comforting, especially since I hadn’t yet seen the full extent of the damage.

The instructor finally came out of her trance and remembered that she was, at least nominally, in charge. She handed me a side mirror, spun me around, and said, “Here’s what we have – and I’ll do my best to fix it!”

The Lawnmower Look

The other students scurried back to their clients, all of whom were, presumably, saying silent prayers of thanks for not being assigned to Rosa. I have no idea how their hairstyles turned out – I was too consumed with my “whole new look,” which is best described as “someone who’s had an unfortunate run-in with a lawnmower.”

The instructor started in. Snip, snip, snip. She did the best she could, really, short of giving me an allover two-inch bowl cut. In case you haven’t guessed by now, here’s my advice: WARNING! WARNING! Don’t ever, ever, ever go to a hairstyling school for “a whole new look.”

She finished up and spun me around. “What do you think?” she asked brightly. “Well,” I responded, “The best thing I can say is that it’s just hair – it will grow back.”

I can’t recall if I had to pay for the “whole new look.” Naturally, Rosa was deprived of her tip. On that subject, here’s a note to Rosa: If you’re still out there, I really hope you either (a) magically improved or (b) went into a whole new line of work that didn’t involve scissors, or hair, in any way, shape or form. Like maybe air traffic control, where you’d probably do less damage.⧉

What about you? What’s your closest brush with beauty disaster? Leave a comment and let me know!

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4 thoughts on “Should You Get Your Hair Cut by a Student?”

  1. I’m sorry you had to go through that but it makes a hilarious story! I also went to students for years when I was broke and thankfully never had a terrible experience, but I definitely liked and disliked haircuts almost every other time I went. I can afford a bit more now and am happy that I get a haircut I like every time!

    1. Thanks for commenting! And yes – while it didn’t feel funny that day, I learned early on that most things in life ARE eventually funny, so you may as well laugh! Like you, I’m glad that I can now afford to go to hairstylists who’ve already graduated, haha! – Coach Dawne

  2. You are too funny! I went to a college where people paid a nominal amount of money to have a student practice on them, but there was someone in charge who watched like a hawk what each student was doing. Like you, I was broke, so thought ‘why not? Someone needs to practice; I need a hair cut – what could go wrong?’ Luckily my hair grows very quickly and even though I was broke and remained that way for some time, I did not return to the college!!!

    1. Thanks and oh, how funny that you did the same thing! But at least you had “Hawkeye” watching! And yes – there’s probably a larger life lesson in there: “Hair grows back.” 😉

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