Skyline’s cosmetology department reaches a diverse group


Adriana Hernandez

Kaitlyn Diaz practices her foiling technique on a practice doll.

Going to the Salon & Spa at Skyline College will have you leaving the place loving your new look! Skyline College’s cosmetic department has created a diverse environment that boasts treatments and techniques to help people enhance their beauty.

“It feels nice to get a haircut, but it feels even better to give a haircut,” said Yacoub Atshan.

Atshan is one out of the two male students at Skyline currently studying cosmetology. He never saw himself practicing these skills until COVID-19 hit and his brothers needed haircuts desperately. They ordered clippers, and since no one was leaving their house during that time, they would be shielded from harsh criticism of the cut.

“Skyline has a cosmetology department (that teaches) women’s haircuts. I tried it out; it was a quick decision, but probably the best decision I ever made,” Atshan said. “If anything, I regret my student loans for college when I was studying business.”

The world of cosmetology pampers hair, nails and skin — a totally different spectrum compared to administering business operations. From business costs to salon logistics, Atshan felt at ease knowing he was headed in the right direction and is getting used to the fundamentals of being in the cosmetology business.

“To a certain extent, I did feel uncomfortable, but you have to feel uncomfortable to learn,” said Atshan. “I can be 1000% a man and still be in beauty school.”

In a women-dominated field, walking into a room outnumbered could be a hard step to take and may make it difficult for men to feel confident and secure.

“I love when I see men enter the cosmetology department because it tells me they’re fearless,” said Ryan Cassdiy, program coordinator for the cosmetology department. “When a man shows up and they’re like, ‘I’m here and I’m here to do hair,’ it’s the best. But they’re no different than the women.”

There has been a desire to serve more male students, so in fall, there will be a new barbering program available. The more male-dominated field of barbering will also be hoping to see women and non-binary students be part of the program.

Cosmetology major Sheila Thomas agrees with the growing diversity in the cosmetic community as they now teach how to care for different hair types.

“My mom went to beauty school and didn’t learn different textures of hair, but only American white hair,” Thomas said.

At Skyline’s cosmetology program, students are taught how to identify different types of hair and skin, now including more than what the American standards identify as “beautiful.”

“The standard of beauty isn’t just one box,” said Thomas. “I was thinking the other day, when I used to play with Barbie dolls, that was the standard of beauty, this one doll was the representation of what women had to look like.”

Skyline cosmetology endeavors to create a more inclusive community for all students whether they are male, female, or nonbinary. Helping them go for their passion, build on their skills and abilities for when they go out and serve their own clients.

“When I first started, I was so inside the box. I was asking them to teach me the rules and techniques so I could reciprocate, but there is more applied than that when serving a client.”

People may underestimate the major but it is more than beauty and appearance. It requires knowledge in math and science like chemistry and biology.

“In cosmetology it is needed to know the different levels of your skin and the hair like what it’s made of and so much more that could affect the result of a client” Thomas said. “Without proper knowledge of certain things you put yourself and your client at risk.”

Besides the foundational knowledge of tools, techniques, and materials, clientele service is a must in this field in order to succeed and develop experiences.

“No two people are ever going to get the same approach,” Atshan said. “You want to turn the client inside out, you want to get a feel for their personality and make them feel like themselves.”

When attending to a client, there are interpersonal skills involved. There are verbal and non-verbal communication between client and stylist that lead to certain decisions taken. With so many tasks sometimes it leaves them with very little space for themselves.
“You have a 10-minute gap between appointments, you sprint to get lunch and run back,” said Atshan. “There is nothing girly or manly about it.”

Cosmetology also insists on the need to be tough mentally and physically as students work on both courses and appointments.

With all these stigmas, stereotypes, and struggles the Skyline cosmetology program face, the student still aspires to provide their best service and expand their knowledge. Knowing that they have left a client walking out with a smile on their face is the best reward they could receive.