Beauty Business

Barbering vs. Cosmetology

As a cosmetologist who crosses over to barbering, I recommend getting licensed for both. Cosmetology gave me the fundamentals of hair cutting and shear work. I am confident in my color skills and can do amazing blow outs. Barbering put my skills to work by learning clipper cuts, straight razor shaves, and understanding shapes in a whole new way.

If you’re unsure about whether you want to do long hair, short hair, color, or cuts, I recommend starting in cosmetology and finding what you’re good at and what comes most naturally to you.

When I was in cosmetology, I disliked cutting men’s hair because it did not come naturally to me. I felt it was hard, and I was not good at it, so I tried my best to avoid men’s haircuts. But I did not want to be afraid of cutting short hair, so I decided to study barbering. I want to be a good hairstylist and, to me, you can never have enough education in this industry. New trends evolve every day and you are never going to stop learning outside of school.

Now that I understand short hair, I love it. I’m so glad I will be a dual-licensed hairdresser. I don’t think cosmetology is better than barbering or barbering is better than cosmetology. It’s a personal choice, but for me, having the knowledge of both, and the licenses for both, was a good decision.

Microbead Controversy

For years, microbeads have been touted as a great agent for scrubs and other cleansing products. Their small size and perfectly round shape allow for manual exfoliation of dead skin cells without any harsh tearing or damage that other exfoliating agents with rougher edges may cause. They also create a smoother texture in products.

Microbeads Shown in a HandBut what seemed to be a convenient and effective product is now a source of controversy. It turns out that microbeads have a significant negative effect on the environment. Microbeads are made of plastic and, because microbeads are too small to be filtered from waste water, they are becoming a major source of pollution. They are washed down the drain and flow into streams, lakes, and oceans. Once in the water supply, the microbeads are swallowed by birds, fish, and other marine life and, through the food chain, they eventually wind up in our food.

Microbeads have been especially harmful to the Great Lakes region. Studies have shown a high concentration of microbeads have collected there, especially in Lake Erie. They account for 81% of the plastic pollution in the Great Lakes. Because of this, the state of Illinois passed legislation to ban the manufacture and sale of microbead products.

Other states are following suit with varying degrees of success. Unfortunately, the proposed bill to ban them in California failed to pass in August of 2014. Still, many activist groups are working to raise awareness. There is an app called “Beat the Microbead” to inform consumers of which products contain microbeads. There are many excellent alternatives out there.

The Power of a Haircut

“A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.”Coco Chanel


Sometimes the importance of a haircut goes beyond just necessity. Although in a salon, we maintain our clientele by keeping them on a schedule for trims and touch-ups, every now and then you will have guests in your chair relying upon your haircut to change their lives. 


Women often hold onto their hair as a “security blanket”; maybe they’ve always had long hair and that’s all they’ve ever known; or maybe they feel that it’s more feminine to keep their length. Whatever the case, never underestimate the power you have as a stylist to not only change a guest’s physical look, but to also change a guest’s lifestyle.

Too many times, I’ve walked a guest with long hair back to my chair and spoke the phrase: “So tell me a little bit about your hair, and what you’re looking to have done today.” I’ve expected, “Oh, just a trim.” But always expect the unexpected. Transformations such as these—from a simple long layered haircut to a drastically shorter haircut—are what keeps me inspired as a stylist. More than likely, there’s an important reason behind the guest’s decision as to why they’re “making the chop”; I believe that half the fun of the service is being the person responsible for their new outlook. 


I’m sure any stylist would agree: doing a “big reveal” and observing your client’s expression has to be one of the most rewarding feelings you can experience in this industry. I encourage everyone not to overlook their appointments, and remember the impact that your service has on your guests!A woman with long hair gets a new hairstyle in three images.

Body Machines: CoolSculpting

October 1, 2014
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Triptych of midsection showing before and after of CoolSculptingCoolSculpting, approved by the FDA in 2010, is a non-invasive fat reduction technique, sometimes considered a nonsurgical alternative to liposuction. The technology uses a medical treatment process called Cryolipolysis. Fat cells are destroyed by controlled cooling which then, in turn, reshapes the contours of the body. The cooling process is to cause cell death of subcutaneous fat tissue without damaging the outer layer of skin. In the weeks that follow, once the process is complete, those dead fat cells are naturally eliminated from the body. Lipids from the fat cells are slowly released and transported by the lymphatic system to be processed and eliminated, much like that of fat from food.

Undergoing this service is quite simple. The client is seated in a treatment chair and the technician will place a cold get pad across the area to protect the skin. There is an applicator cup that is positioned by the technician and then a gentle vacuum pressure is applied to draw the tissue between the cooling panels on the applicator. The applicator stays on the treatment area for one hour. Once that is completed the technician will then massage the area to break-up the fat. The client can return to their normal routine post treatment. Some average responses to the procedure are redness, swelling, some numbness, mild cramping, and possible bruising. On average about 20-25% of the fat cells will be eliminated within that one hour service. A technician would design a treatment plan tailored to each individual’s desired results.

Surviving the Beta Blues

July 15, 2014
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Congratulations! You’ve made it to the halfway point of your education. By the time you reach Beta you’re at about 800 hours, half of what you need to get your Cosmetology license here in California. You’ve survived Intro and Alpha and now you’re starting to get more comfortable on the salon floor as well as with your class room. But you have no idea what’s in store for you yet!

A Row of Heads and Sinks at Cinta Aveda Institute.  Photo by Pipsqueak Productions.

The Beta phase will start to test you as a student as well as a stylist. If you were lacking when first in Alpha, you’re starting to get better. Your services aren’t taking as long (hopefully) and your skills are getting better with each service. You’ve probably spent your fair share of time in dispense as well as at your station with guests. You’ve gotten used to the six hours on the floor and four in theory. But now that’s changing. All your service times need to be faster. You don’t get to spent as much time in dispense coming up with color formulas. Your classmates are starting to wear on you. In Beta, things start to change. Gone are the cheery “We’re the best friends” and now it’s all about focusing on where you’re going to end up after you leave school. You tour salons to see what’s out there and possibly where you’ll want to work (or not want to work). While in Beta, you’ll hit the hour mark when you can start externing at a salon, something that will really open your eyes to how things are outside of school.

All of these things start happening faster and faster all the while you’re still trying to learn what you need to do before taking your state board test. But what really starts to happen is the blahs. You’re done with being at school. You’re done with some of your classmates. You feel as if those last 800 or so hours are simultaneously speeding at a million miles an hour and crawling like a snail up hill in a head wind. You get the Beta Blues as they’re called. If you don’t take care of them, just like the real blues, the emotions start to get the best of you. Myself, I let them get a hold of me a bit too much but there are things you can do to make sure they don’t get you for too long. Here’s what I did:

  1. Stay focused—Write down what your goals are: for school, work, life, etc. Keep those goals in a place where you can see them every day. Memorize them. Burn them into your head. Remember that those goals might not be attained in a day, a week, a month, a year or soon, but they will be attained when you remain focused.

  2. Acceptance—This goes along with staying focused. Learn to accept that some things are not going to go your way when you want them to. That’s all right, it happens. Learn to accept that not everyone is you and people do things differently. That’s what makes us all unique and similar at the same time. Have a fellow student that grates on you like nails on a chalkboard, accept them for who they are.

  3. Don’t Get Cocky—While you’re starting to get better at things you still need to remember that you’re still in school. What you think you know, you don’t know. While you might have a different, faster way of doing something, that doesn’t mean that you are a gift to the world and that everyone should bow down to you and worship the ground you walk on. Remember this: The higher you climb up that pedestal, the farther you have to fall.

  4. Get Rid Of The Negative—A negative attitude will suck the life out of a room quick. Think about it, the last time you walked into a room with a bunch of people and one of them was in a bad mood, you could feel it. Negative energy brings not only yourself down but those around you. Get rid of that negative energy. Having a bad day? Write out a gratitude list, listing everything you’re grateful for at that time. It will change your day immensely. Have a friend that is negative, talk with them about it. See what you can do to help. If you can’t, try not to let it affect you. Just because someone else is having a bad day, doesn’t mean you have to have a bad day.

Surviving Beta isn’t that hard but during those fourteen weeks, it seems like an eternity. With the right frame of mind and focus, you can do it! If you think you can’t, talk to someone. Talk to someone that went through what you’re going through, you’ll see that we’ve all been there. You’re not alone and you don’t have to do it alone.

Students at the Cinta Aveda Institute Campus.  Photo by Jeffry Raposas.

What You Can Expect to Find After School

July 10, 2014
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A Teacher in Esthiology at Cinta Aveda Institute.  Photo by Jeffry Raposas.

So you’ve spent the past 14 months working your tail off at school and now with license in hand you’re ready to hit the big time, right? Well, kinda. Yes, you’ve attended one of the better schools for your field and yes, you’ve received a plethora of information. But does that make you ready to start your own salon or spa? Sadly, I must pop that balloon.

What we learn in school is leaps and bounds over what other schools are teaching. And if you’re ready to scoff, then I don’t think you’ve had the luxury of taking your state boards yet. When you do, talk to the other applicants. Listen to their stories, to the way they were taught. In some cases, you don’t even have to hear them speak, you can just see from the way they do their tests that they didn’t get the same education as us.

But does all this education mean that we’re ready to be at the top? Not necessarily. Speaking from experience, what I learned in school got me far in school, but there is so much more to learn outside of school. And once you’re done with CAI, don’t think you’re done learning. Most salons that are hiring out of school expect the former student to take another year or so of their classes to learn the way of cutting hair.

In short, what you can expect to find out of school is pretty much the same as in school: a bunch of learning. But what you might not expect to find is: a new way of learning. Keep on learning folks!

Students work on a Male Client's Hair at Cinta Aveda Institute Salon.  Photo by Jeffry Raposas.

My Advice to You: Get a Job in a Salon Now!

June 30, 2014
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When I first started here at Cinta Aveda Institute, I had the “luxury” of being unemployed and being able to fully focus on school and what I needed to be a good student. Of course, after a month of being unemployed that money quickly starts to evaporate and you realize that maybe being just a student isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But what job should you get while attending beauty school? Starbucks gives you flexible hours and some kick ass caffeine perks (not to mention your work uniform is pretty similar to the schools so you get to save some dough on clothes), a retail job can work around a school schedule as well plus give you the bonus of discounts on what they sell. You could work in a restaurant or bar, make some tips and since it’s the service industry, you can practice your customer service skills.

When I was looking for work, I decided against working in a bar or restaurant since I had just come from a job like that and I thought “Too Soon”. I got a job working for a non-profit for about two weeks before I realized that it was more like a telemarketing firm than a non-profit. Then it hit me: get a job in the field you’re studying! What better way to really get an idea of what you’re in for than to be in it from the get-go!

OK, first off, it’s not that easy. Take a gander at Craig’s List, under the jobs section and you’ll see that there are a metric crap load of salons looking for receptionists (they’re also looking for stylists, Gammas I’m looking at you) but they’re also looking for the right receptionist. Some of the salons want you to have previous experience in a salon, other salons say they want someone who will work weekends only (a tough one for us on the TTS side of school), most of the salons want someone who is trendy and looks like they fit into their high end establishment. And they all want to pay you minimum wage (which, my advice: get one in SF where the minimum wage is at least $10.50/hr).

One of the toughest things you’ll find is getting your foot in the door. Most of the salons I looked at didn’t really want someone (or just me) who was in school for Cosmetology. I was told that they were concerned that I wouldn’t be able to work on their schedule, which might have been true. Another tough thing I encountered was my lack of experience as a receptionist. Sure, I’ve managed a large comedy club and a staff of over 30 employees as well as been a jack of all trades with over 20 some years of work experience, but just not as a receptionist. Even my current job, I had to fight to get my job there because I was “over qualified” for the position. But once I got my foot in the door and showed that I wasn’t over qualified but more than qualified to do the job, I got the job!

Getting a job in a salon while in beauty school is like basically getting paid to go to school while you’re not in school. As a receptionist, I get to watch stylists doing cuts their way, learning several different methods of cutting, styling, consultations and retail sales all while being paid to do my job. And once the staff learns that you’re in school, they will go out of their way to teach you things that they’ve learned since leaving school. It’s the best of both worlds! You get to learn and pay rent! And an even better perk: get a job in the shop or salon you want to work in while you’re still in school and you’ll more than likely have a job working behind the chair before you even graduate school. It’s win-win!

The Student-run Salon at Cinta Aveda.  Photo by Pipsqueak Productions.

Congratulate the Beacon Award Winners!

June 16, 2014
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2014 Beacon Banner with Event Dates

Cinta Aveda Institute has some of the best beauty students in the industry. We are proud of each and every one of them. Sometimes, though, we have to boast about how great our students are. For the second year in the row, ever since Cinta Aveda Institute started participating in the Professional Beauty Association’s (PBA) prestigious Beacon competition, our students have taken top honors and honorable mentions. Beacon is part of the PBA Beauty Week, North America’s largest, most inclusive beauty event hosted by Cosmoprof North America.

Beacon provides the nation’s most promising cosmetology students with education and opportunities to network with the industry’s highest profile salon owners and stylists during PBA Beauty Week, July 12-14, 2014 in Las Vegas. Beacon students attend specialized classes with the biggest names in the industry, get up close and personal with NAHA finalists and get a firm understanding of the business of beauty.

  • 2014 Beacon Winners from Cinta Aveda Institute

    1. Sunny Chea

      Portrait of

    2. Alicia ‘AiLi’ Garcia

      Portrait of Alicia ‘AiLi’ Garcia

  • 2014 Beacon Honorable Mentions from Cinta Aveda Institute

    1. Katherine Buchignani

      Portrait of Katherine Buchignani

    2. Saajida Lane

      Portrait of Saajida Lane

    3. Andromeda Quan

      Portrait of Andromeda Quan

This recognition is important not only for the winners but for the whole school. We are celebrating with you — Sunny, AiLi, Katherine, Saajida, and Andromeda — we are all incredible proud of you, of your accomplishments and talent, and of how well you’ve represented Cinta Aveda Institute to the world.

PBA Beauty week logo Beacon winners receive free tuition, and honorable mention attendees pay a small fee, to attend PBA Beauty Week in Las Vegas, which includes a full line up of education tailored specifically to them. Students are also able to tour the Cosmoprof North America trade show floor to meet beauty business leaders and attend PBA’s annual Business Forum where they can learn the role global distributors and manufacturers play in the industry. As part of this year’s Beauty Week, PBA is encouraging Beacon winners to post the “I’m Going to Beacon 2014!” graphic on their social media pages as a way for their followers to support them on their journey to Beauty Week.

Today our students win the Beacon awards, tomorrow they will be professionals accepting the North American Hair Association awards! Here’s an image from a winner from last year’s NAHA award.

NAHA Award Winner for 2013

Always Be Nice to the Receptionist!

June 10, 2014
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Often times, the receptionist is the first person a guest sees or speaks to at a shop/salon as well as the last person. Unknowingly, they are the front line of the salon/shop. But the receptionist is much more than just the person answering phones or bringing clients they’re beverages, they are the backbone of the business. Yes, stylists and colorists do the work to make their guests look beautiful, but they don’t do it alone. There has to be someone there to do the grunt work: the receptionist.

Often, people think of a receptionist as someone who sits comfortably behind a desk answering phones and telling people to take a seat. It’s different in this world. Being a receptionist is part air traffic controller, part therapist, part workhorse and all awesome! A good receptionist will keep everyone at the salon busy while a great receptionist will make the business look like it’s running itself.

But not everyone appreciates what the receptionist does. Stylists look at receptionists like they’re lazy because they’re sitting at a desk and not behind a chair with a guest. Some people see just the sitting (granted, there are receptionists who just sit on their duffs and don’t contribute much, jerks) and not the hustle. Want to know what it’s like to be a receptionist? Full disclosure: I work as a receptionist at a barber shop here in San Francisco. Yes, big, burly me. My boss often makes fun of how I stand at the desk like a big bulldog greeting guests as they come in. But that isn’t just my only job. Here’s what my job is on a “normal” day:

  • 9:30 am—Arrive at the shop.

    Clock in. Check appointments for the day, set lunch breaks for staff before getting fully booked up. Start coffee for guests/employees. Check voicemail for appointments/cancellations, call back clients. Put out sign for walk-ins (if we aren’t too booked up already). Check all stations for empty Sanex container (refill if needed). Fill shave cream dispensers. Make sure towel warmers are on and ready to go. Make sure there are enough towels for the shop (both steam towels and dry towels for shampoo bowls). Check bathrooms to make sure they are ready for open. Fill water bowl for dogs and place outside.

  • 10:00 am—Shop opens.

    Greet clients. Check guests in and out (make retail suggestions if stylist hasn’t already). Get beverages for clients, let stylists/barbers know who their clients are (if new). Sweep stations during services. Clean chair and station when guests go to shampoo bowl. Answer phones and book appointments (making sure to maximize times so stylists aren’t waiting between guests). Call guests when previous appointments are running over (if they aren’t at the shop already). Stock retail area and maintain cleanliness. Keep stylist/barbers on time. Rearrange schedule to accommodate guests. Fold towels that are in laundry. Make more steam towels for next day. Check back bar stock levels. Maintain products at shampoo bowls.

  • 8:00 pm—Shop closes.

    We take our last appointment at 8 pm (during the week, weekends at 6:30 pm). Wait for last guest to check out. Close drawer (make money drops, check sales figures, make sure drawer is balanced and not off). Restock retail area. Sweep shop. Make sure towel warmers are cleaned and restocked for next day. Fill shave cream dispensers. Pull in the sign from outside (if it hasn’t been pulled in already during the day). Ditto the water bowl. Check schedule for next day, fix any issues. Clock out, it’s 9 pm already.

Sure, all this seems like something easy. Try doing it all at once. For six hours by yourself, oh and it’s multiplied by six because that’s how many stylists/barbers there are on at that time. Scheduling alone is difficult (it’s like playing human Tetris except in regular Tetris, if there’s a hole you don’t have to worry about that costing someone money) let alone trying to do all that other stuff on top of it. It’s not an easy job to say the least. But when done right, no one notices that everything’s been done already. That’s the job of a good receptionist. We make things look and feel right.

One thing I didn’t put in the job description was dealing with the nasty customers or employees. That’s a part of the job that while it’s rare, it happens. It’s not easy dealing with someone who isn’t happy with their service or just isn’t happy in general and want to take it out on someone. That part of the job is not easy at all. But a good receptionist will know that it’s not about them and just deal with it. Personally I haven’t had to deal with it much but that might have to do more with the fact that I have a PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) and I also have “POW!” and “This Won’t End Well For You” tattooed on my arms (not saying to get this done, just saying it helps me).

So next time you’re dealing with a shop/salon receptionist, be nice. Ask them how their day is going. Know that their job isn’t easy either. And when you become a stylist, really remember that! The receptionist will make you a lot of money!

A Receptionist at the Cinta Aveda Institute Student Salon.  Image by Timothy Chang.