Education plays a big part in my work. I am constantly looking for more ways to make better, for you my clients and to ensure I keep loving my work. Being committed to building a career and educational opportunities are the key factors in any career but Hairdressing opens so many doors. It's not a job it's a life commitment!
I had enrolled myself on a 15 week degree course with L'Oréal Professionelle in Leeds and after graduating I will be the only L'Oréal Colour Specialist in the Cumbrian area. This course is designed for experienced colourists, for which you have to sit an entry exam to be accepted on the program. We are then taught technical and practical skills to take our knowledge to the next level. As well as presentations, written exams and practical work we also had to create a portfolio of work all of which went towards the marking for my degree.
Feeling nervous and anxious
On the day of my entry exam I remember feeling nervous and anxious, but at 42 years old I shouldn't be feeling like that, or should I? Of course I should feel nervous I'm only human after all, chasing what I believe I can be and I know what I am.
I remember getting up 5.10am, my train left Carlisle station at 5.50am I SLEPT IN! Anyway, after a mad rush I eventually got to Leeds Academy and as I walked anxiously into the room there was a couple of nervous faces waiting there.
There were 10 of us in total. The lady Chelsea who was teaching us that day was stunning and younger than me (lots younger than me) .... We did some theory. 'Hmmmm', I thought this isn't too bad. We went for lunch either by ourselves or in pairs, then we had our entry exam in the afternoon..... 'Woooooarrrr what Am I doing here?', I kept asking myself. Looking around the room we were like scared rabbits....
After completing the entry exam we could leave and would find out how did in the next couple of days......
That wait was torture ! Oh the wait..... The wait..... The wait.....Every time the phone rang I'd run for it nearly knocking myself out. I eventually put my phone down and out of my sight for 10 minutes and I'd missed my call from Chelsea saying " CONGRATULATIONS YOU HAVE GOT ON THE COLOUR SPECIALIST COURSE!
After lots of excitement and screaming in the salon between myself and my own mirror image I calmed myself down and started to look forward to what the course would bring me. Not forgetting the courses I will embark on and all the new contacts I will make.
Day 1 April 1st 2015
All ten of us had got on the course. We were all a mix of ages. Sophie was the youngest and as bright as a button and at 19 years old already showing signs of a big future. With her tiny little scruffy ponytail on the top of her head and gorgeous long nails she was lovely. We were all excited to see each other and we all had a new case with Loreal Colour Specialist on it, new files, pens, polly pockets, labels, fluorescent pen. It was exciting enough just to get those. It soon dawned on us this wasn't going to be easy. We all had 2 things in common, Hairdressing and Facebook, that's what brought us all together. We quickly bonded as Sara set up a Facebook group so we could all ask each other questions etc through that and help each other through the coming weeks.
The work we covered today was all about the Health & Safety and The Science of the Hair and Scalp. This covered everything from the importance of allergy testing right through to how the hair gets its colour, what makes the hair, were does it come from?
***Did you know that the cortex makes up 90% of the hairs substance, is rich in Keratin and is made up of 20 Amino Acids? No I didn't know that either, but I do now.
Day 2 April 8th 2015
A new teacher today Karen...... We were completely thrown into panic,,, :0
Today Was all about the "Distribution of Pigment" and Case studies! Oh how we dreaded those case studies.
Each of us has our own natural hair tone that determines how colour will react and reflect, taking into consideration the distribution of pigment can make a real difference to colour placement. By the time lunch time came we had been thrown into a blind panic every one of us.... Excessive red, Excessive blue, yellow, even distribution, medium red, medium yellow what were all these colours we had just been taught....! I'm not joking when I say this, I was lost, completely lost. We had practical models coming in the afternoon so we had to know and be able to see what was the "DOP".
As we came back from lunch our models were waiting for us. We were told to go and get a model each and to come back to the salon. I went and found myself a model, took off her coat and was popping her coat in the cupboard and when I turned around she'd gone. Thomas had whipped her away. I had no model (the song 'all by myself', came to mind). As I went back into the salon room ALL BY MYSELF, there was a lovely young lady sitting there with no stylist. Ta-da I had myself a model. It took ages and ages to finally be able to do her hair as we had to go through everyone's models to see their "DOP". Now it was all making sense. We took our models to the light and right at the very root you can see the clients "DOP" wether it be the colour blue, red or yellow and how excessive you can see it. This all plays a part in what colours and how you mix your tints to get the exact shade you require.
We were all nervous about doing hair in front of each other. It was a bit like losing your virginity. The first time was awkward but after that we just got on with it. Our little group was bonding and it felt like we had been together for years.
Day 3 15th April 2015
Last week we were sent home with 8 case studies to do and we had to do 1 each on the board in front of everyone. I can remember sitting there terrified. Do we; 1. Use it? 2. Neutralise it? Or 3. Subdue it? They are the rules!
I don't know why because we all have a different way of doing things that is why we are hairdressers and that's what makes us all different. There's no wrong way and there's no right way either. Just we all have a different way of doing them. They are like puzzles, they just need worked through.
We still had lots to cover for the "DOP" it was never ending and even MORE of those dreaded case studies, except they were getting harder.
I would do them on the train home and try not look at them again until the following week. I remember Karen saying "Go with your first answer as that is the one that is correct" and she was right.
Day 4 22nd April 2015
"Colour Communication" Today was all about understanding your clients personality (I need to fathom out my own first). Is your client a warm or cool client, how to carry out a consultation. It was all about the different kinds of clients. We have the The Stylist Client who likes to draw attention to herself with several different tones running through her hair. The Individualist Client who likes be ViBrAnT, FuN and FaBuLoUs. These clients have there own sense of style. Last but not least, the The Understated Client who just wants to enhance their own natural look. We looked through magazines and came up with a picture of all the different clients we have. I soon realised that I have rather a lot of The Individualist Clients.
Day 5 29th April 2015
More case studies today, it is never ending!!!!
We were told today we were doing a presentation next week all about the different colours and makes of colours. We would be working in pairs and we had to come up with a 10 Minute presentation for the group.
I had been paired up with Thomas. So I decided I would do the Majirel products and I decided Tom would do about the Inoa products. I'm not bossy, I just like to show some leadership.
Day 6 6th May 2015
My hardest week so far!! Would you believe me if I told you the last week was not only spent working flat out in the salon, but was spent dealing with a virus in my laptop, nearly losing ALL my work. I held a charity night in aid of MacMillan and Carlisle Stroke Club raising £2400, spending 20 hrs on the laptop completing my presentation. I started it at 10.30am Sunday morning and completed 6.45am Monday morning and if that wasn't enough my Dad fell ill on the Monday. All this was going on leading up to the presentation. I nearly had a breakdown!!! BUT, in my usual style I dealt with it.......
Presentation day on our L'Oréal products. Tom and I had to do our presentation today on Majirel, Majirel Cool Covers, Majirel Mix, Inoa, Inoa Supreme, Inoa Mix. We had to tell the group all about these products the way you mix them, basically everything about them. I got to say, that with my mini handouts all laminated, we did good Tom! ;)
After my first few weeks attending theL'Oréal Colour Specialist degree course I am starting to look at hair colouring in a whole new light. It’s fascinating to learn how expert colour diagnosis leads to the perfect colour placement to give the best results. I loved the creative toning we did with more playful colours in palest pink, lavender and blues to give pre-lightened hair a new look.
Day 7 13th May 2015
As well as practical session we had to do a load of case studies today :(
TXT ALERT! I got a text off Karen on route home to say I got all my case studies correct... I'm feeling rather proud... Just going to burst into my mini tuck shop for the rest of my journey home.....
Day 8 20th May 2015
Practical today along with the endless amount of Case Studies..
We had cleanses in today, how to cleanse out unwanted reflective, colours out the hair. There wasn't enough models so I paired up with Jay (JAYMASSSS) he's my super cutie new best friend!! Reminds me of me. Cleansing is very basic to do, but not many salons do it. I don't know why as you colour cannot sit on colour... It's a basic rule "If in doubt cleanse it out!"
Our client was called Tina, she was so lovely. Chelsea our tutor bought us all lunch and I can remember Tina pinching a sandwich off the table. We did find it funny. Anyhow, Tina did not like any warmth in her hair at all. We cleansed the gold tone out and using our knowledge of what we had just learnt we then carried on with the rest of the service. I soon told Jay what to do. Tina was very happy with her hair, so it was full marks all around.
Day 9 27th May 2015
Jeez my file is getting bigger and bigger by the week. It's getting embarrassing!
As well as having to go home and write up all our notes from the previous week we also have 8 case studies to do...
It's getting harder And harder. We are all feeling it now. We have no life!!
It was complete theory today, Chelsea said only a little bit of writing today.... Eh! 15 pages of it 15!!! As well as the usual case studies.
Day 10 3rd June 2015
So today I got some M&Ms off Sara as a treat ;) What a lovely way to start the day. I can remember coming home on the train feeling drained! My file is so big I refuse to get it out the case in fear if it collapsing the table....I don't know whether it's a good thing or a bad thing my file being huge....After saying that I've nearly 30 years of hairdressing inside my head and there's a lot to get out of me and put it on paper...
My file got looked at again today and there was silence from my tutor ;) (feeling rather smug I am) ....
Our homework for the next two weeks is a biggy. We have to design a comfort blanket with what makes us us. What we like, who are the most important people in our lives, were we get comfort from, what inspires us. So once that is done we have to come up with a mood board, with our future trends on. What we forsee is going to be in fashion A/W 2015 so on. I got to say my comfort blanket was exceptionally good, but I think I got a wee bit carried away. I got everything on it, my family, my teddy, fairies, fire, you name it, it's on it.
This soon gave me inspiration for my future trends. I had already done my clients looks in the salon, but I was hoping that my model next week for the practical session was quite open minded and would let me carry out my image.
I called my mood board "Flare Reflections" Flare for the lighter side and Reflections for the darker side. Yes, there may be a bit of Jekyll and Hyde in there somewhere but as I said before there's a lot of ideas in my head and I need to get them out. I am a hairdresser after all. My mood board was full of leather, volcanoes, oranges, lemons, red onions, feathers, you name it they were on it.
Day 11 10th June 2015 PRESENTATION DAY OF THE MOOD BOARD!
I wrapped my mood board up in bubble wrap terrified I'd break it or a gust of wind would take it away, all my hard work and money spent on it would just disappear. I got to Leeds were Jay and Polly (Amy) were already there. Then Alecia and Becky, Sophie, arrived, followed soon by Laura and Tom, then Christopher. My worst nightmare again. I didn't only have the biggest file I had the biggest Mood board too, (so embarrassed) but, then Sara walked in with hers yessss it was the same size as mine and also we used the same Designer - Vivienne Westwood how bizarre.
I was terrified to talk about mine, I went last, as I couldn't stand the pressure. I was so excited about it, I just hoped everyone could see my image and where it came from.
My client in the afternoon was great, she used to be a beauty therapist but, now teaches theatrical make-up. She asked to see my mood board (at last someone who can see what I see), she loved it. Said she could see where I was coming from. She asks her students for mood boards and mine was exactly what she looks for.
I felt proud again. ;) I wrapped my mood board up and placed her carefully against the wall ready for when I was going home. After all I want to keep her. All my hard work time and energy went into the making of it. I want to show it off.
Day 12 17th June 2015
The last week before the exams. We cannot believe it. As a group we are excited and saddened at the same time. We've became so close even though a couple in the group are a lot younger than me, I truly respect them.
We went through our files and everyone's file is catching up with mine now......
Day 13 22nd June 2015 THEORY EXAM DAY
It's here the final 3 exam days are here! This was the decider on how well we had done over the past 12 weeks on both theory and practical. The exam covered everything we had done. I don't like theory exams but I did my best and that all I can do.
Day 14 23rd June 2015 1st PRACTICAL EXAM
I was so nervous I remember crying in the reception. So scared I was! It was the not knowing of who the models were or who we would be working on. The models for our exam were arriving and they all had such different hair types, I was scared stiff! Karen and Charlotte took the models away to the practical room, were they carried out their own consultations first. We then were called in. The atmosphere was different. We all felt the same - terrified. The models were all sitting at the stations and we were all told to stand up and if there was a model whom we had worked on before we had to go and stand next to them. So I did. I stood next to a lady I had done before and we were then told where to work. My model was lovely, truly was. I carried out my consultation, asked her the relevant questions and then analysed her hair. Once I decided on the colours and what I was doing I then went over to our examiners, who never left their seats! Yes I was right! I was right! I got all my products, how to apply them, how long to leave them on for etc correct.
The practical side of the exam was so intense, you could almost hear what everyone was thinking about. I remember we weren't allowed to speak to each other either, or rinse each other's equipment out. We had to do all this ourselves.
Day 15 24th June 2015 2nd PRACTICAL EXAM AND THE LAST DAY!!!!!!
Same routine as yesterday, we all waited in the reception along with the models. I found I wasn't as scared as I was yesterday, more nervous and a little emotional.
After completing the exam, Karen popped the champers, the course was all completed, the file was handed in, exams had been done. I'd done my best and felt a little bit proud of myself. Not only had I fully completed the course, it was arriving on time every week, the countless case studies, theory work we had to do was finally complete. All we had left to do was wait for our percentage and pass mark..
After waiting weeks and weeks and weeks I finally got my marks and I passed with a 93% Credit...
Well worth it in the end.
But it doesn't end there. Completing the course ensures I not only get invited to attend further courses but I'm also one step ahead for finding out the new colours, new trends and new vibes for you my clients...