Cosmetology students undercut the competition

"CORPUS CHRISTI — The heads lining the walls at Del Mar College's cosmetology classroom tell of triumphs and failures.

Some have no hair. Others feature bizarre drawings on their faces.

A closer look at some of the mannequins — the hair style, the makeup, the attention to detail — reveals what makes them perfect trophies for aspiring students to model.

Each mannequin starts with a full head of human hair and an unblemished face, a blank slate for students at the 14-month cosmetology program.

"We practice perms, hair color and cuts until we get down to nothing," said advanced cosmetology instructor Sandra Garcia.

The fun part is working on the real thing.

Every week students in all three levels of the program — beginner, intermediate and advanced — offer a variety of services to clients including hair color, waxing or just a simple haircut.

"Some clients followed girls here since their first semester and into their new job," said advanced cosmetology student Stephanie Esquibel, 19. "It's all about your personality and how good you are."

Like many students in college who will struggle to find a job after school, Esquibel said her industry is no different.

She said it's all about maintaining a constant client base, which, for many, begins at Del Mar College's cosmetology program.

"If they (the clients) are willing to jump from a $5 haircut to a $30 haircut, you have to be really good," she said.

Getting job experience at a high-end salon isn't easy. Services at such establishments are expensive, and with a shrinking economy, the client base also is dwindling.

To attract clients, the program purchases the same professional salon products present in all high-end salons and is offering heavily discounted beauty services including facials, waxing, manicure and pedicure, men's and women's haircuts, hair color and various spa treatments for much less than the average salon.

All proceeds go to the purchase of mannequins and high-end salon products.

The newest addition to the school's product line is the new Pravana Smooth-out System. Esquibel said the system is perfect for clients with heavily damaged hair caused by frequent straightening and blow-drying.

"Lots of people come in with lots of damage. Some salons are charging $200, but we charge $60," she said. "It eliminates that frizz, especially here in this Corpus humidity."

This article was first published on caller.com.