When I was 18 I was in college and spiralled into a huge pit of depression. I didn’t gain the freshman 15, I actually lost a significant amount of weight because I had no appetite. No appetite for food, no appetite for socializing, no appetite for life. I struggled to find my identity after high school because I was so involved and busy that I never sat and thought about what I would be once I graduated. I took a lot of safe routes; went to the same college as my sister, became roommates with my best friend since middle school and chose the most generic major I could think of at the time (psychology-not discrediting it, I just didn’t chose it authentically). Once I was enrolled and started attending my classes I realized that the other students were truly engaged in their majors, they wanted to become neuro-psychologists or teachers. I just liked the study of psychology, it didn’t occur to me that I would have to actually chose a career based off a major that I half heartedly decided upon. On a snowy, winter day in December 2005 I met up with my older sister to come check out her new job at a spa. She introduced me to all the stylists, receptionists, and most importantly the spas’ head esthetician, Ashley.
Ashley was 19 and leading the spa in the esthetic services. This blew my mind. How could someone that is only a few months older than me be in such a pristine position? My usual shy self was overwhelmed by my need to discover how she got to where she was. Ashley decided to give me a little makeup lesson as I was waiting for my sister to finish her work. In that time Ashley has no idea how she changed (and possibly saved) my life forever. She told me all about the schooling process to become a cosmetologist or an esthetician. The school she attended was only a short bus ride away so as soon as I got back to my dorm room I called the school’s helpline for some information. Coincidently they offered tours of the school every week on Fridays which happened to be the next day. I braved the cold, the unfamiliar bus line and ventured into downtown Milwaukee for a tour of the Institute of Beauty and Wellness, an Aveda school. As soon as I walked in I fell in love and felt as if this were my destiny. Very few times at that point in my life was I very trusting of my instincts, but on that very day back in the winter of 2005 I made the scariest and most important decision of my life. I signed up for esthetic school.
I called my dad while I was waiting for the bus back to my college and I was sure he would convince me I had made a mistake. The truth is my dad was probably the only person who could have convinced me to stay in school and finish my degree in whatever, but he was so supportive and said “of course this makes sense for you, you’re obsessed with this stuff”. Wow. How did I not realize this earlier? Was I too focused on what I thought I “should” be doing? Did the universe need for me to experience college for a while so I could truly realize my path? None of that mattered as I knew to follow my bliss at this very moment. With the support of my parents I felt as though nothing could stop me.
Suddenly this whole new Hayley was born. One that had purpose, direction and a sense of duty. I got a part time job, A’ced my exams, moved in with my sister to save money, and filed for financial aid to afford my new school. My superwoman powers were ignited and have never dimmed since that day.
Along the way I have helped others by sharing my story. Many people I encounter with questions on how to become an esthetician have helped me realize that even when I felt very alone 10 years ago in my first semester of college, I wasn’t. No one really knows what they want. Some people trust the process more, or have the decisions laid out in front of them to begin with. My situation wasn’t as different as I thought. So for all of you who have an interest in changing your career to becoming an esthetician please know that you have a support system in me and message me with any questions. Here is the general process:
1- Each state requires a different amount of hours for the schooling. The average hours are between 600-1000. Visit your state’s cosmetology board website for specific requirements. Don’t let this discourage you if the hours are on the higher end, you can usually choose between doing your program with a full time or part time schedule. I did full time and worked at my campus coffee house until midnight 6 nights a week. I would go home and study until 1 am and wake up around 630 am to get ready and study on my bus route again. It sounds like a lot but quite frankly I loved it.
2- Take a tour of your local schools. Generally a course can be offered at your local community college or you can google “Esthetician School” with your zip code. Call each school and set up a time to take a tour. While you are on your tour, ask yourself: “Can I see myself growing here?” if the answer is yes, go for it. If the answer is no, listen to your instincts. The right school will find you.
3- In the rare case that no school seems suitable for you, choose the one that has the highest ratings and best scheduling for you. You can then call any skin care establishment and see if they offer an apprenticeship. This is one of the best ways to gain immediate experience and a reference before even graduating. I had 5 amazing teachers that molded me into an outstanding esthetician but the continuing education I received was essential to my confidence while in the treatment room.
4- Start gathering your friends and family members for practice. You learn so much really quickly in school that is it important to apply your knowledge right away. Part of your schooling will be on the floor clinicals. Services will be monitored by your instructors and discounted for the public so you can practice everything that will under your state’s license of services.
5- Sign up for any webinars, conventions and extra classes. The IECSC: The Spa and wellness show tours the country throughout the year to showcase different classes, equipment and skin care brands. This is an awesome opportunity to network and gather information on what’s hot in the industry.
6- Get the services. Believe it or not, I had never been waxed or had a facial prior to signing up for school. I had many trips to the dermatologist but never experienced what I was training to do. Book yourself a facial, a wax or lash extensions and ask your service provider questions. The little insider tips will resonate with you as you will most likely experience the same situations.
I hope this helps you find confidence in your decision to becoming anything you want to be. My path has been quite the ride but I wouldn’t have it any other way.