Seniors consider pursuing alternative post-graduation path in beauty industry

Rilee Malloy | Staff Writer

Some seniors are giving the traditional post-graduation plans a makeover.

Seniors Alexis Nichols and Mackenzie Savage are taking an unconventional path with their decision to attend cosmetology school. Nichols is still weighing all of her options, but is highly considering cosmetology school right out of highschool. Savage plans to attend cosmetology school after a four-year university. Savage has planned on attending cosmetology school since a young age, but Nichols was unsure of what she wanted to do after high school; after consulting friends and family, she decided cosmetology might be the right fit for her.

Many people associate cosmetology with strictly hair, but Nichols knows that there is more depth in the cosmetology field then others make it out to be. Cosmetologists are trained in many different areas and the amount of training they have often goes unnoticed. The decision to attend cosmetology school does not come lightly for Nichols and Savage.

“When going into cosmetology most people just think of hair but really it’s hair, nails, makeup, waxing, threading and more,” Nichols said. “It takes a lot of dedication into your work.”

Nichols has always enjoyed doing her friends’ hair and finding new styles to try — she hadn’t considered cosmetology school until recently, but she thought that it would be something to strongly consider for her post-graduation plans.

While Nichols’ passion for hair led her to cosmetology school, Savage’s interest in special effects makeup led her to want to incorporate cosmetology into her career in some way. Savage has been experimenting with special effects makeup since middle school and her relationship with makeup has been an outlet to get her through hard experiences. 

Savage plans to attend cosmetology school at some point in her life but struggles with the idea of going immediately after high school. When she was younger, she wanted to pursue cosmetology out of high school, but because others have invalidated her choice it led her to desire a backup plan. Savage said she would be a different person without makeup and although it is an unconventional career choice, she hopes to be able to pursue cosmetology, whether in a big or small way. 

“Makeup has always been an outlet for me to feel good even if I don’t,” Savage said. “I love the idea of making people feel comfortable in their skin, I want to be able to help others find that confidence and joy of looking in the mirror and being like, ‘I like this.’”

Savage knows that there are many different opportunities in cosmetology. To others who may be considering a similar career, she said to not let negative attitudes towards the field impact their decision to pursue it. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for makeup artists is projected to increase by 13.2 percent by 2024, faster than the average of most occupations. People still need to do the makeup for the supermodels, TV shows, and Blockbuster movies, and Savage said she encourages those who have a passion for it to not let anyone stop them.

“It’s a hobby and it’s a job opportunity,” Savage said. “If it makes you feel good, keep doing it. Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s weird or invalid.”

Nichols’ family supports her decision, but she has felt the effects of the stigma surrounding the career choice first hand as it caused her to second guess her post-graduation plans. Nichols continues to wrestle with the idea of attending cosmetology school, but she knows if she does decide to go, her faith in her work will take her a long way — a mentality that she advises others considering the same path have as well.

“Be proud and confident in your work and present it whenever you can,” Nichols said. “It will be worth it.”

Savage has a strong support system behind her as her parents have reassured her that they want her to pursue a career that makes her happy. Other people have not been as supportive, as they warn her she may end up as a “hairdresser at GreatClips”. Careers in cosmetology often have negative connotations around them, but Savage said that you shouldn’t invalidate someone’s career choice because it doesn’t line up with the standard idea of success. She has learned that the foundation of a career in cosmetology is reliant on the independence and passion to do what you love aside from outside opinions. 

“You don’t know those hairdressers,” Savage said. “So what if she’s a hairdresser at Great Clips. She loves her life, she’s doing what she wants to do and it doesn’t matter where she is.”