According to Merriam-Webster, Cosmetology is the treatment of skin, hair and nails.

What is Cosmetology?

Cosmetology includes, but is not limited to, manicures, pedicures, application of artificial nails, special occasion hairstyling, shampooing hair, cosmetic application, body hair removal, chemical hair relaxers or straighteners, permanent waves, coloring and highlighting of hair, and hair extensions or wig treatments.

To become a cosmetologist in the United States, a state license is required. Each state mandates the amount of educational hours necessary before a practical exam may be taken. Some states also allow apprenticeships in hair salons when under the guidance of a licensed cosmetology teacher, but this is quickly becoming obsolete. Safety guidelines and the threat of lawsuits have changed the salon environment, and kept apprentices away from the chair. These days it is beneficial for anyone interested in cosmetology to pursue even the minimum qualifications of hairdressing. Cosmetology licenses must be renewed every two years. The State Board of Cosmetology [[1] (] regulates how many, if any, continuing education units or hours are needed to maintain an active license in a particular state.

There is a difference between a barber and a cosmetologist. Barbers mainly cut hair and shave facial hair of men, they are allowed to use a straight razor to shave their clients, whereas a cosmetologist can only use the razor if it used for cutting hair. A cosmetologist is concerned with a wide range of issues not limited to hair. These include makeup and skincare. Today, the traditional barber is being replaced by a well educated beauty professional. Schooling is rigorous, and salons will typically retrain a hair stylist in their own method or program. As American men in particular become more metrosexual, the demand for qualified salon workers is increasing. Today the median income for a hairdresser is $26,000 and is much higher in some areas. See U.S. Department of Labor (

If someone were interested in studying cosmetology, they could take a general cosmetology course and graduate being able to test to become licensed to all of the things listed above, or they could choose to study only to become a manicurist or cosmetician. There are private schools, and many vocational schools offer Cosmetology to high school students. In addition, there are national organizations that provide educational and professional information. In the United States, this includes the National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences ( and the National Cosmetology Association. (

Standing long hours behind a chair is not uncommon in this field. It's best to care for your feet and wear support hose if you can. It is also common for some stylists who have been doing hair for many years to develop carpal tunnel syndrome, varicose veins in their legs, and also suffer chronic back pain.

Famous Cosmetologists

Vidal Sassoon Paul Mitchell Jonathan Antin


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