What college doesn’t teach you about salon life

In college you are shown a variety of techniques, such as how to file nails and conduct a spray tan, and you will have practiced on fellow students while your tutor watches and gives pointers. 

It’s not easy but you do your assessments and exams, write up your notes and learn anatomy, physiology and contraindications. Then, voila, you pass, and it’s a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire looking for your first job. 

College courses require you to complete services in a set time but what they don’t do is prepare you for life in the salon and treating every possible body shape and skin type.  

Clients come in all shapes and sizes and treatments must be tailored to each individual, while maintaining the customer’s dignity and providing a service that exceeds expectation in a strict timeframe. 

The hard lessons I learned

When I completed my spray tan course I was confident, enthusiastic and keen to get going. However, once I was out on my own with no tutor to guide and correct me, my first couple of appointments were an absolute disaster. What I discovered was:

It was a swift learning curve for me because these things had not been covered during my course. 

Likewise, after my nail diploma, I was ill prepared for elderly, brittle nails, even though I’d read about them somewhere during the course. Also, I wasn’t fully prepared for waxing coarse, super stubborn hairs on a half-leg wax, which in the end took me more than an hour. 

It’s a learning curve

In this industry, practice makes perfect. I see so many nail techs wanting to quit because their finished nails don’t compare to the fantastic art they see on Instagram, but Rome wasn’t built in a day and nor is a career in beauty. 

When you come out of college and those ideas and techniques are fresh in your mind you are ready to take on the world. However, it’s easy to get disheartened by not being amazing the second you start your first job, whether that’s in salon or freelance, but skills come from experience as well as education.  

My advice when you get your first job – ask questions, take advice, listen to constructive criticism and never stop learning. Concentrate on your journey and be proud you’ve made it this far. 

Michelle Hill is a nail tech, beauty therapist and owner of freelance business All That Glitters Flintshire. She is also a PB Influencer, providing feedback via focus groups. 

Read our articles from fellow PB Influencers Clare Pearson on training at a make-up academy, Michelle Quimby on workplace wellness, Samantha Humberstone on streamlining your treatment menuand Emma Ginever on what to do when another salon opens around the corner