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The age-old stereotype that cosmetologists don't need math and science skills is no longer true. To be successful in the beauty industry, you need sharp math skills. Not only will you measure chemicals and sterilizing solutions, you need to be business savvy about percentages and taxes, since being a cosmetologist is essentially running your own business. Many areas of the salon require you to use percentages and fractions to be successful.
Some salons pay employees a percentage of the business they produce. Getting paid on a commission basis means you have to precisely calculate your earnings and make sure your figures and those of your salon owner match. Your wages and tips must be kept correctly organized; a percentage of your tips must be paid in taxes. Percentages are used in mixing color, perm solutions, facial preparations and sterilizing solutions in the salon. Knowing the difference between a 20 percent peroxide solution and a 40 percent peroxide solution is critical to having a good outcome when it comes to color application.
The appointment book is the center of any well-functioning salon or spa. Handling the appointment book means being able to divide your day into fractional equivalents and stick to them. If you need 30 minutes to do a service, divide your day into slots to accommodate services, breaks and unexpected client requests. You will still stay on schedule and be profitable. Dividing gallons of shampoo, conditioner, wax, foot soak and other salon supplies into individual portions is important when it comes to ordering supplies and keeping inventory current and cost-effective.
Hair stylists use principles of geometry and proportion to cut hair and frame a hairstyle to their client's face. Many popular hairstyles such as wedge cuts, bobs and bangs are based on geometric angles. Geometry is also important in cutting hair. Hair stylists divide the head into geometric shapes to cut, apply color and relaxer, and figure the correct positioning for highlights. The proper angle of scissors and razors when cutting hair is an important skill to master.
Adding layers to a client's haircut or length by adding extensions or weave is definitely a mathematical skill. How many layers you need to cut into a hairstyle to achieve a desired look, or how many lengths of hair extensions or tracks of weave you need to add to make your client happy, depends on knowing basic addition. Reconciling your cash at the end of the day, handling client checkout and making sure you have enough change to run smoothly also require adding skills.
If running your own salon is your dream, business math and computer spreadsheets will be tools you use every day. All aspects of business from taxes, insurance tables, banking, marketing and employee management require a proficiency in math. Many cosmetology schools have math curriculum geared toward the salon industry. These classes target the business math you need to make your beauty career successful.
Take an extra math class to sharpen your skills. Every small business has problems, and math proficiency will help you avoid common pitfalls. Keep records up-to-date, and checkbooks and salon inventory balanced. Success in the field of cosmetology depends on having good math skills and using them.
Greta Chapin-McGill has been a writer and beauty professional for more than 15 years. Her articles have appeared in "Nails Magazine" and "les Nouvelles Esthetiques." Chapin-McGill attended Howard University and the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C., studying painting and art history. She is now a features writer for SantaFe.com.