Preparing for a showpiece – Act 2 Behind the Hair Spray

Whilst being a model for my sister-in-law for her Bedford College course final showpiece (part-time Hairdressing Level 2) at the 2015 Vintage Hair & Beauty Style Show, I acquired a lot of respect for hairdressers and beauty technicians.  Being behind the scenes whilst preparations are made for an event of this scale gave me the opportunity to see the industry from another perspective – one where I wasn’t the customer for once.

Emma informed me she always had a thing for hair since she could remember, with long hair herself and a sister and mother to practice on, it is clear that hair is a medium she can easily manipulate to her advantage…I will admit I am envious of my sister-in-law’s ability to just ‘throw’ a hair style together for some of the many family functions we have both attended.  Whilst I can handle my own war paint – my long, yet fine and often unruly hair is beyond my control (hence why I opted for a small left hand shaved side after spending my daughter’s 1st year detangling my mane of knots, dried yoghurt and crusted Wotsits – she prefers my left side and I can easily sweep my long mane to the right shoulder when she nuzzles without hair disasters now).

Emma did what most girls at 16 do, move from school to a career choice (hers being hairdressing), but being ‘too wild’ (her description) her scissors were shelved for alternative distractions – until last year, when she made the decision to go back to college.

A new passion for pleasing people grew, one which has focussed her future involving hair and two groups of people.

Her first direction she could see herself moving forward in barbering.  An art which has resurfaced in recent years with metrosexual men no longer ashamed at spending time fiddling with their hair in the mirror.  In Bedford itself is the Jagged Edge Academy which boasts mentors such as award winning Vidal Sassoon stylist Alfie Barnes.  Emma feels confident she can branch off towards being a cutting technician, but she is open to see where the barbering can push her skills set to.

The other direction she envisages is being able to put smiles on the faces of a group of people often overlooked by the beauty industry and give something back…those over 60.  Tending to the tresses and locks of the residents of the local elderly home or visiting your Nanny Doll Doll, is what she would like to do.

For now, Emma is using all the basic skills learnt at college to refine her own specific set, ones which she will master and become comfortable performing.  I credit anyone who can work on short hair – thankfully my experiences with using a clipper and scissors/comb end with my brother’s grade zero undercut, I occasionally got that wrong so there is definitely an art and skill to using these tools successfully.

In the last week Emma has shown to me her ability to manage long hair (my length sits at the base of my spine), to tidy shaved sections (I have the side shave – a la’ Rhianna), and produced vintage curls which your grandmother would be proud of – and they stayed in and held shape.  A great achievement with my fine strands of length.  But it was down to a rediscovered old styling technique during her ‘vintage’ research for the show…lots of pin/barrel curls achieved the volume and perfect hold – thank god for the practice run the week before the show, she hadn’t realised quite how much hair I had to work with and modern curling techniques, such as with a curling wand may not have held the bounce needed for more than 12 hours.

I for one will no longer be dismissing hair dressing as a ‘glamorous’ and ‘easy’ profession.  I guess it’s hard enough that we as individuals have to learn what does and doesn’t work for our hair, so spare a thought for the hair dressers themselves – they certainly have to be prepared for all varieties of hair.

By Leanne Nuttall

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