Searching for super stylists

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By Monique Larkin

RCC Cosmetology student Nicole Jackson prepares for her class final.

By Monique Larkin

They didn’t even notice me.

Maybe it was the sound of ruffling chip bags or soda cans popping as they were being opened that acted as distractions.

All of their attention was given to whatever they were having for lunch.

Not that I minded.

I was trying to get in the air conditioned building as fast as I could anyway, as quickly and as quietly as possible.

I wasn’t even in the hot seat yet, and I was already nervous…

I don’t know what it is, but hair salons have always made me nervous, and getting my hair done in one makes me even more uneasy. If you are like me, you value your hair looking good; it just makes for a better day.

More or so, my hair is the one part of my body that I like to have pampered the most. Thus, I am careful and suspicious of whoever takes care of it. I have had a long history of hairdresser “hell.” I have been to almost every single type of hair salon in Riverside that can “handle” a black woman’s hair or at least say they can try.

In knowing that RCC’s Cosmetology program has a 98 percent passing rate when it comes to the students taking the California State Board in order to become licensed, I concluded the students here must know what they’re doing when it comes to hair and are being educated very well.

So, I decided to investigate for myself, as a student journalist and as a client.

As I entered Riverside City College’s Cosmetology building, I signed myself in and paid $15 for what I was going to have done to my hair.

$15 by far is the cheapest price I have ever paid when it comes to getting my hair done. Nonetheless, I could still feel my hands starting to grow sweaty….

I did not have an appointment, so I waited in one of the orange chairs that were in the lobby for “clients waiting.” I was already suspicious and beginning to rethink my decision for relying on my husband to “strongly recommend” me as to where I should go to get my hair done.

I started to feel my heart rate beginning to rise…

As the lunch hour ended, I started to notice students in black and white uniforms making their way into back into the building.

I began to wonder as to which one of these students would be “practicing” on my hair. Honestly, this caused my heart rate to rise and palms sweat at the same time.

I wasn’t sitting in that chair for long…when a woman by the name of Vanessa was chosen to be my hairdresser.

She told me that she needed to set up, so once again I waited.

As you see, I was having my hair “pressed and curled” so she needed to heat the flat iron and the pressing comb.

Minutes later…

Vanessa came back, and I followed her as she led me inside the room where all the hair action happens.

I noticed that there were students (men and women) at work doing whatever it is that cosmetology students do. (I have yet to be in a classroom where students were working as diligently as these cosmetology students were here at RCC.)

They each appeared to have their individual work stations. Some were working on what is known as a “doll heads,” while others were working on other students, or some in particular like Vanessa were working on clients like me.

I sat done in the chair that was placed at her station. I was deeply impressed that she had everything waiting for me once I got to her station because normally as a client, you have to wait for your hairdresser as he or she gathers all their supplies needed to do your hair.

As she began to press my hair, she began talking to me and asking me questions about myself. She made me feel as comfortable as possible. However, I was still utterly nervous, and I finally admitted this to her.

I told her that it’s not that I thought she would do a bad job on my hair or maybe burn me with the 500-degree hot comb, it’s just that I have had such bad luck with hairdressers in the past that I didn’t want to be disappointed and regret the money I had spent.

Even though Vanessa knew this, she continued to make me feel as comfortable as possible. She included me in everything that she was doing to my hair as she held a consistent easy going conversation with me.

An hour and a half later….

I was looking in the mirror at my hair. I was genuinely impressed. My hair looked good, and I had been treated well.

I found Vanessa as well as the program professional. It felt surreal to have had a positive and cheap hair salon experience especially coming from a beauty school.

I decided for myself that RCC’s Cosmetology program reputation is withstanding.

All suspicions aside, I will definitely come back.

If you would like more on the RCC Cosmetology program, call (951) 222-8181.

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