Do Cosmetology Schools Teach Curly Hair Care?



Cosmetology schools teach students hair theory and the beauty basics. However, are cosmetology schools teaching students how to style and care for curly hair? No. Is this a sign of hidden discrimination or is it the perpetuation of the Western beauty standards? The beauty standards that praise light skin, light eyes and straight hair. You decide.

As twists, dreadlocks and braided hairstyles become more mainstream, naturalistas are spending more time on YouTube and less in the salon chair. From natural hair care to natural hair products more women are taking style notes from beauty bloggers. Still, there are things that should be left to the professionals. But are cosmetology schools teaching students natural hair techniques?

Each state has a governmental agency known as the board of cosmetology and barbering. AKA the state board, which sets the licensing standards and regulations for the industry. While the numbers vary from state to state, becoming a licensed cosmetologist requires at least 1500 hours of training. Training includes; learning the basics of beauty in class, practicing on mannequin heads and working with actual clients. But, to put it frankly, cosmetology schools do not teach students how to do hair. They teach students how to pass the state board test.




Seasoned curly hair expert and owner of Southern Curl Atlanta, Robin Sjobolm, agrees "Students need be aware the primary purpose of cosmetology schools is to help you pass the state board test. That’s it. The state board test, by the way, has not evolved since the 1950’s. That by itself says a lot for its requirements. So, why pay ungodly amounts of money to attend a well-known “designer named” cosmetology school instead of paying half that amount to attend a junior college that’s going to teach you the exact same thing? No matter what, you're going to have to invest in post cosmetology school training, to develop your career specialty. And if you decide curly hair is going to be your niche, it’s more difficult because there are only a handful of institutions that train in proper curly hair care, styling, and maintenance."

More than half of Americans have curly or textured tresses. Yet cosmetology schools offer no hands-on training for curly hair. On the contrary, they teach students to blow dry and straighten curly hair before it’s cut, colored or styled. So, are cosmetology schools teaching students how to treat and care for straight hair? Yes. Are cosmetology schools teaching students how to handle and care for curly or ethnic hair? No. Stylists that want to cater to textured hair clients have to invest in continued education after cosmetology school for specialized training.

Beautician and beauty blogger Tyra Robinson explains this perfectly in her post, What Cosmetology School Did Not Teach Me About My Black Hair. She highlights an interaction with her cosmetology classmate and teacher. When informed that her natural hair would have to be shampooed and conditioned by her classmate. Tyra requested a condition and rinse instead so that her hair's natural moisture wouldn't be striped. This turned into a learning opportunity for her entire class, including her teacher! She goes on to say, “Cosmetology DIDN’T teach me anything about black or ethnic Hair. It taught me the theory behind hair period. It’s up to the individual to apply those lessons to their client or themselves no matter the type of hair they have.”

Currently, only 19 states require some type of formal training in natural hair styling. Some states, like California, do not require licenses or training for natural hairstyling which include braiding, twisting and locking. Is this setting the right precedent? Is the current cosmetology curriculum teaching students that straight hair is better than textured hair? Is it fair that stylists have to pay out-of-pocket for classes that teach them how to style and care for curly hair? Are the current regulations in states like California discriminatory towards people with natural hairstyles since no training is needed to become a natural hair professional?

Supply and demand are two of the fundamental principles of our economy. The law of demand states that the higher the price of a good or service, the fewer people will demand that good or service. Curly and textured hair Americans spend the most money on hair care but have the least amount of options. As more people embrace their natural curls, coils, and waves the demand for natural hair stylists grows. There needs to be a shift and natural hair care, and hairstyles. So do the fundamentals of curly hair care need to be added to the traditional cosmetology curriculum? What do you think?

Sources: Formal Training in Natural Hair Styling is Not Required, but Still Important, What Cosmetology School Did Not Teach Me About My Black Hair


  • Alexa Jackson

    I also came here in the attempts to find a school that teaches textured hair. There’s beauty school then there’s Barber school, somehow varying textures and curl patterns have been ignored and essentially denied of existence in the beauty world. Curly hair , voluptuous hair body and style have been the most sought after hair types for nearly forever! It’s not only a shame but its discrimination to not include textured hair into The basic curriculum. There’s basics to every hair type, then after school you build upon those basics with your own artistic style, why should a curly girl be forced to pay $200+ for a trim while other women spend maybe 150 for a cut style and color? They tell you it’s because your “getting it all” shampoo, condition and a lesson on how to style your curls with a finger twist. First off, if your shampooing my hair, your not cutting it unless you’ve already asked me whens the last time I’ve shampooed in order to determine if I need it, 2nd of all it’s insulting to have a non textured haired stylist or really anyone for that matter try and school me on the basic knowledge and hygiene of my hair type that I’ve had all my life. I know how to twist and air dry or diffuse and scrunch. That’s my job as an adult. I’m not a 12 year old girl who needs to pay 200 bucks for someone to teach me how to comb my hair and get ready for my day. It’s extremely insulting to be told that I’m getting the “full experience” as if having a wash and dry isn’t already apart of a normal visit to any salon In the world today. Just know how to cut curls and then will be good. I do t need all the extra “fluff” to justify why I’m paying off your student loans that you needed in order to pass a racially driven, Beauty biased test that dates back to the segregation period! It’s time for a change and I think we need to fight on this one.

  • Brenda K

    I’m not black, but I’m from Middle Eastern ancestry, and have curly hair. This article confirmed what I have suspected for decades, that curly hair care isn’t taught at most beauty schools. I believe it is deliberate, upholding the values of a culture which promotes an Anglo-Saxon look The last thing I want is to have my hair straightened. I now go to stylists with extra curly hair training to have my hair cut and styled.

  • Elisabete

    Where can I find a natural hair school in RI or states near by.

  • Wendy

    I found this article hoping to learn the name of a school that taught how to style and cut curly hair so that I could find a stylist who actually knows what they are doing. I’m so sick of the girl who answers the phone telling me that this “master stylist” is great with curls and then I end up leaving looking like a frizzy poodle because they unevenly put gel on my dry hair with no leave in conditioner (100% no!!!!), a jacked up cut, screwy looking highlights, and $150 poorer. Curly hair care really needs to be a standard part of their education. Both wet and dry cuts and styling techniques, for thick, thin and all textures because the same cut and technique wont work for all of us. After my last few traumatizing haircuts, I now cut my own long layers using a series of ponytails and then angle the front. lol Then I just pay for highlighting. Its ridiculous, the thought of getting my hair cut shouldn’t make me sick to my stomach.

  • Concerned Viewer

    Yes I should. Over half of regular clientele is ethnic and all hair stylists should be required to know how to take care of, grow, style, cut and maintain all nationalities of hair. No matter who comes into your shop, the stylist will have a background knowledge and experience on how to take care of and style every type of hair. That’s a professional hair stylists. Remember celebrities come in all nationalities. If a stylists gets an opportunity to do a celebrity hair. They need to know how to do that clients hair at the first opportunity. You only get one chance to make a first impression. That could be the opportunity that propels ones career. The person in their chair could be the cousin of a celebrity, Salon owner, powerful client that can bring the stylist a multitude of clients etc… so the stylist needs to know how to do everyone’s hair. That could be their big break! Know how to do all customers hair is better then not knowing. Stylist always has the answer to the clients needs. Being prepared to do all hair types, styles and cuts is best! The stylist never has to turn customer away but can meet their need and make the money instead of turning money away. Wisdom is in being prepared.Taking advantage of every opportunity 😄

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