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No two heads are the same and that's something the 16 students in the senior cosmetology class at the Lancaster High School Career Center will start learning firsthand.
The class will start accepting clients at 12:30 p.m. today. Appointments aren't necessary, said instructor Jan Williamson.
The career center offers a variety of beauty services, including hair and nail care, make-up and waxing. Services are not available on non-school days.
After more than 300 hours of state-mandated class time, reviews and practice on each other and family members, Williamson said the students are ready to get started.
Williamson said client work prepares students for the real world.
"You can only do so much with a mannequin," she said. "A mannequin doesn't have the skin elasticity that the scalp has. It won't give you the practical experience that working with different hair-growth patterns gives."
A haircut or style by the students is a bargain. Prices range from $5 for a shampoo and set up to $30 for a spiral wave.
Williamson said the goal of the program isn't to make money, but for the cosmetology class to break even.
She said the revenue generated in the class defrays the cost of supplies. However, students are allowed to accept tips.
"The only thing we ask is that you bring small bills or the exact amount for the type of service you want," she said.
Williamson said she's sure first-time clients will be coming back.
"This is a very good group of students and all of them are talented," Williamson said. "I think all of them do exceptional work. You can take your pick and none of them are going to disappoint."
Dustin Allen, 17, said when it comes to the all-important customer satisfaction factor, women can be the more finicky sex.
"Normally men are easier," he said. "But there are some picky men out there, too."
Lacy Booher said being a good cosmetologist involves a combination of factors, including natural ability. It's more than cutting and styling hair, she said.
"You have to be able to look at the whole person and put the hairstyle together to fit their image," Booher said. "That's the real key."
And staying on your feet for hours at the time takes plenty of dedication, said Annqunia Hayes.
"You've got to have a love and passion for doing hair just because of the beauty of it," she said. "If you don't, you won't last."
Contact features editor Greg Summers at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (803) 283-1156