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Increasingly, You Can Find Technology and Men at the Salon

As the beauty industry evolves, becoming more professional and business-focused, beauty schools are adapting as well, using both new technology and methods to train their students, said school officials.

Even the lingo has changed — students are “future professionals,” teachers are “learning leaders” and customers are “guests,” said Katie Graves, co-director of Paul Mitchell the School, a cosmetology school in downtown San Diego.

Along with how to cut and color hair, apply makeup and do manicures and pedicures, students are being taught business and marketing skills, using the latest software for web design, tracking client histories, and posting video and other content on social media to drum up business.

Technology With Style

At Paul Mitchell, students are issued iPads, which they use in all their classes, said Graves. The school has developed interactive apps that help students learn techniques including makeup, hair-cutting and hair coloring, which allow them to see what various hair and makeup color combinations will look like on their clients.

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Across downtown at San Diego City College, the cosmetology program is also heavily invested in technology. Students do much of their work online, from taking exams and building their portfolios to watching webinars, said Sudie Phillips, chair of the cosmetology department. The school is even looking into software that will allow students to document their training hours by tapping a fingerprint reader, rather than punching a timecard.

Men’s Grooming Grows

Another trend in the beauty industry is men’s grooming, which can be seen both in salons — which are adding barber chairs to shops traditionally focused on female customers — and in cosmetology schools. Men want such services as hair coloring and custom cuts, as well as shaves and facial treatments, and schools offer training in these techniques and services.

That trend is evident in all phases of the beauty industry, including companies that have added male grooming products to their offerings, and department stores that have set aside special areas to display product lines for men, said Graves.

Shaving patterns or designs into the scalp is one popular male grooming service, said Phillips. At a recent industry trade show, she said, a stylist demonstrated these techniques by shaving a likeness of the Mona Lisa into the back of a man’s head.

“It becomes like a masterpiece, it’s not just a haircut anymore,” she said.

Other popular trends, said Michael Halmon, board chairman of the American Association of Cosmetology Schools, include importing skin care and other beauty products from Korea and Japan, and natural and organic lines of beauty products.

Esthetician Course

Also growing in popularity is the field of esthetics, which includes such services as facials, chemical peels, waxing and other skin care treatments. City College offers an esthetician course, which requires 600 hours to complete, separate from the general cosmetology course.

In April, the City College cosmetology program will debut a new training program for performing eyelash extensions, another service that is rapidly growing in popularity, both in San Diego and across the country.

The process is meticulous — the stylist must glue extensions on a client’s eyelashes, one lash at a time. Phillips said the procedure can cost $200 or more, and take several hours to complete.

See More: Cosmetology Schools Help Meet The Demand For Next-Gen Stylists

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