I Let Beauty Students Cut My Hair Off. Here’s How I Looked When They Were Done

by Kate Taylor
Kate is a writer who laughs at her own jokes and likes to pour too much hot sauce on her food.

Getting your haircut can be a very cathartic, therapeutic experience. Of course, it can also end in tears, so I knew I was taking a gamble when I decided to get a cut at a local beauty school.

I’ve had good and bad experiences with haircuts. As a teenager, the salon was a place I dreaded as much as the dentist. If my stylist made one wrong move, I was devastated.

Thankfully, sometime around my very early 20s, I realized that my nearly butt-length “mermaid hair” was actually more like a rats’ nest. That’s when I began opting for a shoulder-length look.

With my new ‘do came an acceptance and openness to different kinds of haircut experiences.

I can’t say exactly when the girl who cried over one wrong snip became the girl who would walk into a salon in a foreign country and let a brand-new stylist loose on her locks.

Maybe I just saw so many inspirational hair transformations that I started to trust in the magic of the salon.

A few weeks ago, I was due for a haircut and didn’t want to pay the $80 or so market price we have here in New York City. Instead, I made an appointment at a cosmetology school, where a cut, wash, and blow dry were only $25.

I thought the new, less highly strung me was up to the task. But when I went in for my cut, I discovered that this experience was going to seriously put my newfound mellowness to the test.

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There are two leading cosmetology schools in New York. I picked one based solely on what worked with my schedule.

Because your appointment has to sync up with their “class time,” there are usually slots you sign up for, unlike a traditional salon.

When you tell the receptionist that you are there, they make you sign this form. It more or less says that you are relinquishing your right to demand a refund because you were aware of the situation that you are walking into with a stylist in training.

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After signing what felt like my own death warrant, I sat and patiently waited. It was a hot day and I had been looking forward to a nice hair wash/massage/cat nap.

Kate Taylor for LittleThings

My appointment was supposedly at 5:15 p.m. I had gotten there early, which is rather unusual for me.

When the clock struck appointment time, I got a little nervous. Then, someone else showed up who clearly had the same slot as me and I overheard the receptionist saying that we would be let in at 5:30 p.m.

Point being, they tell you an earlier time so you’re not late. Joke was on me.

Kate Taylor for LittleThings

My student stylist finally got me at 5:30 p.m. and led me into the “classroom,” which is more or less a very large salon without any interior decorating.

I explained what I wanted, “shoulder length, some layers because my hair is very thick.”

Then, the educator (pictured in white) comes over and discusses the game plan with the student.

They chat for a while as I just sort of sat there, smiling and nodding. It was almost like they were speaking another language.

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Before I go any further, I do have to mention the fact that there are mannequin heads all over the place.

In fact, this was the one who was getting her hair done right next to me. When there aren’t enough clients, they use the heads. It was a little weird, but mostly funny. I quickly got used to it.

Kate Taylor for LittleThings

Of course, I had to snap some shots of my super attractive mid-haircut styles.

Yes, I did feel like Princess Leia, in case you were wondering.

Kate Taylor for LittleThings

The haircut plan put in place by my stylist and educator had several steps. After each one, the educator comes over to make sure everything looks good.

It definitely makes you feel like you’re being well taken care of, but it takes a very long time.

If you’re interested in a beauty school haircut, I would carve out at least three hours. And that doesn’t include my unnecessary half hour wait at the beginning.

I personally do not like getting my hair dried at the end of cuts, because I like to see it dry naturally. I also had to catch a train after my cut and took off without really assessing the state of my new ‘do.

Spoiler alert: I did not love it.

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I had a feeling that there was something funky going on in the back when I first felt my new hair. It seemed extremely short in the back, and it didn’t look much different at all from the front.

I proceeded to deal with this by avoiding mirrors for a few days. I was at home with my family, and was easily distracted.

Plus, they know me better than to point out that my hair doesn’t look great and risk causing a nervous breakdown. They were mostly saving themselves.

When I finally decided to face the music, my best friend pointed out the sad truth: that my hair looked like two different haircuts. The layers were very rigid, and just looked wrong.

This is when I slipped into a temporary depression the same way I would have seven years earlier when I was 16. Regression is not a great feeling, by the way.

Kate Taylor for LittleThings

Throughout the cut, I heard my stylist and educator describe my hair as “bulky.” This wasn’t news to me, but it must have been to my stylist in training.

Let it be known that I do not blame her. I walked in and gave very little instruction because I thought I was grown up and bullet proof. I should have shown a photo of what I wanted, and also looked into the specifics of the school I was at.

Turns out, they have a specific bob they are known for that is shorter in the back and longer in the front. Of course, I do not have the correct hair texture or personality to pull off such a trendy look.

The whole situation also wasn’t helped by the fact that I had just had my hair colored (elsewhere), and the intense layering exposed my dark natural color underneath, making the contrast all that much worse.

Kate Taylor for LittleThings

After a lot of complaining and more tears than I would care to admit, I finally made peace with the fact that my hair looks fine in the front and isn’t as bad as I think in the back.

I confess that I made an appointment with my normal stylist a month after the cut to help soften my layers and “fix me” immediately after I decided how much I didn’t like it.

Luckily, I stopped being the biggest drama queen in the world, canceled my “repair” appointment, and am letting it go.

It felt pretty terrible to be reminded of how high maintenance I was (and still am) as a teenager. If I’ve learned anything in my life as a horrible salon client, it’s that hair grows and there are bigger problems in the world than my chunky cut.

Be sure to learn from my mistakes and SHARE with your friends on Facebook!