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Posted at: Mar 15, 2017, 12:36 AM; last updated: Mar 15, 2017, 12:42 AM (IST)COSMETOLOGY

Pretty prospects

If you possess an eye for aesthetics and love working on beauty related challenges, you can keep yourself looking good and also enjoy a rewarding career.

Usha Albuquerque

Since ancient times, mankind has been striving to improve and enhance one’s appearance through the use of herbs, and creams and various cosmetic treatments. Whether it was the ancient Egyptians, or the Chinese, or other ancient civilisations, beauty and physique was important and much effort and time was spent to find, prepare and develop a variety of treatments for this purpose. Even the Ayurveda makes mention of a variety of treatments for skin and hair which have been used and tested for centuries. 

Work profile

Cosmetology, or the art and science of making people look good is one of the oldest professions in the world. Work in the field of Cosmetology encompasses several areas, including beauty therapy, hairdressing and beauty consultancy  covering  treatments of face, skin, nails, hair and body, and extends from make-up and facials to massage and diet. 

It brings together basic techniques like hair styling and manicures to salon-specific routines like facials, hair treatments etc, and employs professionals such as hair stylists, beautician, skin care specialist, masseurs, nail technicians, aestheticians, makeup artists,  manicurists and shampooers, and others. 

Cosmetology careers are more varied than many people believe. The work involves the knowledge and use of a range of treatments, products and equipment to enhance the appearance of the face, body and hair. It involves lifting and toning skin, clearing wrinkles, acne, scars and pigmentation, removing unwanted facial/body hair, treating hair and scalp and so on. It also includes advising clients on grooming and make-up, care and maintenance of their hair, or dealing with skin complaints that do not require medical treatment. 

Cosmetologists must be able to recognise abnormalities in the skin, such as acne, pigmentation, scares, warts and so on, and recommend effective treatments to correct those abnormalities. 

Work in the field of Cosmetology encompasses several areas:

n Aestheticians, or skin care specialists provide skincare services in salon, spa, retail, or medical settings. Their job is to enhance the quality of skin through services such as facials, colour analysis, microdermabrasion, chemical peels, hair removal, etc, and generally dealing with skin complaints that do not require medical treatment. 

n Hairdressing is the treatment of hair and scalp, as well as styling and cutting. Hairdressers use a range of techniques to make hair look healthy and attractive, and advise clients on the right choice of hairstyle and care and maintenance of their hair.

n Beauty consultancy is usually provided by large cosmetic firms and involves the sales and promotion of beauty products produced and developed by them. Beauty consultants have to be knowledgeable about skin care, of the use of different products and the benefits of various treatments advocated. 

n Make-up, a cosmetologist also handles the application  of makeup to clients — an area of work which has greatly increased in India, particularly during the marriage season. Bridal make-up and skin treatments in preparation for the wedding day is becoming common not only in the large cities, but also smaller towns. 

Make-up artists perform artistic services in a variety of settings including a spa, and model makeup application for photo shoots, fashion shows, television and entertainment presentations. Make-up artists for film, TV and stage use cosmetics to enhance or change an actor's or performer's appearance. 

n Cosmetologists also help women and men that have medical problems that have affected their looks. For example, a cosmetologist may style a wig for a cancer patient or help apply medicine to a person with skin problems. 

n In addition to general cosmetology which  deals with beauty in a non-surgical manner there is also Medical Cosmetologist, or doctors specialising in cosmetic treatments, which correct or restore any part of the human body through medical intervention and surgery. Skin problems like acne, wrinkles, pigmentation etc, requiring medical expertise, and treatments like botox and fillers are performed by medical cosmetologists or skin specialists. 

Where to work

Trained cosmetologists find well paid jobs in beauty parlours, high-end salons and hotels/resorts. 

The quality of services and facilities can range from the luxurious salons at five-star hotels to functional commercial establishments and intimate owner-run parlours. 

Some beauticians also work at clients' homes, but most beauticians work in beauty salons, which today are spawning in practically every locality of every metro, large city and even small towns. Some of these are exclusive women's or men's parlours, although a growing number cater to both men and women. 

Cosmetologists can also choose to be entirely independent and provide on-site cosmetology services,  set up their own  salon, or work out of home. 

Beauty consultants work with cosmetic firms in sales and promotion of beauty products or become affiliated with a distribution or manufacturing firm and assist them with education, product training, marketing, sales and more.

You can also build a career in the glamorous worlds of fashion, advertising, and the entertainment industry. Television programmes, music videos and movies can not be made without the skills of hairdressers, nail technicians, and makeup artists. One can also find lucrative openings in the fashion industry which continuously requires professionals to groom models and other fashion stars, handling the look and style of models and exhibits at fashion shows, exhibitions, weddings and other celeb events.

Other options include image consulting, writing books and articles, or teaching beauty. 

The demand to look good boosted by newer scientific developments and beauty care techniques and products  has propelled this career forward over the past decade with increasing earnings and reputation. Glamour is no longer confined to the catwalk.  Today even small towns boast of beauty parlours, and traditional middle-aged men and women are going to styling specialists and fighting the flab in neighbourhood gyms. 

Moreover market research studies indicate that intensive face care, the use of creams and lotions and the visits to the beauty parlours has evolved into a regular routine for most young men and women, turning beauty care into one of the faster growing industries. 

In a world of beauty pageants, reality TV, social media and selfies, and the overwhelming lure of Bollowood,  every person wants to look attractive. So if you possess an eye for aesthetics and love working on beauty related challenges, you can keep yourself looking good and also enjoy a rewarding career with increased earning potential.

Getting in

If you are looking for a career with a good outlook for the future and minimal educational requirements, cosmetology is the right one. 

A career in this field does not require any specific formal educational qualification, but being a specialist skill, it does require not only professional expertise but also a great deal of practical training to gain proficiency. There are several training schools for beauty and hair care courses. Most require no particular academic qualification. However, a Plus II or at least a Class X level qualification is preferred.      

The duration of the courses varies from institution to institution, and also depends on the area of specialisation. Most institutes offer certificate, diploma and advance diploma courses in beauty care, with specialisation in any field like cosmetology, hair styling, beauty therapy, massage, make-up, facials, pedicure, manicure, herbal beauty care and electrolysis. 

Cosmetology courses normally include classes in anatomy, physiology, hygiene, infection control, chemistry, and other technical and business-related courses, along with training in various beauty treatments and hair-styling techniques.  

Medical cosmetology: The basic requirement to practise medical cosmetology is a medical degree (MBBS) from any reputed medical college. After completing an MBBS degree, candidates can undergo a training/ certification programme in order to become a specialist or a trainer. 

Skill set

Skills required in this field:

  • Friendly personality
  • Creative eye for style and design
  • Stamina  — ability to stand for long periods of time.
  • Natural interest in physiology of the skin, hair and nails
  • Good communication skills.
  • Creativity and personal style
  • Basic understanding of the effects of different beauty products.
  • Practical skills and dexterity 
  • Keep pace with the fashion world and keep learning changing skills vital to success
Institute watch

Some of the prominent institutions imparting training in beauty and cosmetology are listed as follows:

  • VLCC, across several cities 
  • Shahnaz Hussain's Women's World International, across several cities
  • Habib's Hair Academy, New Delhi, across several cities 
  • Pearl Academy of Fashion, New Delhi 
  • South Delhi Polytechnic for women, South Extension, New Delhi.
  • YWCA, New Delhi
  • University of Mumbai offers a Diploma in Cosmetics & Perfumery technology
  • Courses in Medical Cosmetology or Dermatology are offered by medical colleges.
  • Indian Institute of Aesthetic Medicine in Pune in association with INLAKS & BUDHRANI HOPITAL, Pune, offers diploma and Certificate courses in Medical cosmetology to doctors. 
  • Indian Institute of Cosmetology in Mumbai offers a 12-week certificate course in clinical cosmetology 
— The writer is Director, Careers Smart Pvt Ltd., New Delhi


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