Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => All In A Day's Work => Topic started by: Hillia on August 11, 2010, 05:31:48 PM

Title: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: Hillia on August 11, 2010, 05:31:48 PM
DS is a cosmetology student.  The school is operated through the local high school, so all the students are in the 16-18 year old range.  As most cosmo schools do, this one offers services to the public at very reasonable prices because they are performed by students.  Unless the client requests a specific student, they are more or less randomly assigned based on who is available.

Yesterday DS was assigned a client who is apparently homeless - she's been in before and the teachers offered that information.  She may also have some mental issues, as he said that last time she was in she smelled strongly of urine.   He was to give her a shampoo and haircut.  He said that her hair and scalp were incredibly filthy; she had thick, waxy dandruff built up very heavily over most of her scalp, and patches of dried skin flaking off several layers thick, although no open sores..  DS had gloves available, and he wore them while shampooing her hair although she gave him an 'odd' look when he put them on.  The shampoo apparently did little to make her hair and scalp cleaner; he said that cutting her hair was very unpleasant and he eventually asked a teacher to take over and finish the cut.  The teacher berated him later for not showing more compassion, and how he should have finished the service for the client no matter what.

I'm really torn on this.  On the one hand, I see the teacher's point: this woman may well be in a situation where she's not able to maintain her personal hygiene and the shampoo that comes with a $2.50 haircut at the school may be the only cleaning she's able to get in a month.  On the other...I sure wouldn't want to do it either.  And we're talking about cosmetology school, not a medical situation where there is a higher obligation to work with unpleasant clients.  I don't plan on saying anything to the teacher; it's more of a personal squick factor (DS is *very* fastidious) than an actual health or safety hazard, but I'm curious as to what other EHellions think.
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: MovieLover on August 11, 2010, 05:36:24 PM
Sorry but if I was hairdresser I would not be interested in dealing with that at all.  That is a condition that is going to take prescription medication and repeated shampooing with prescription shampoos over quite some time to get the situation under control.  A single or double shampoo is going to do little.

For the teacher's information your son was 100% correct for wearing the gloves and if she thinks they are unnecessary she is dead wrong and needs some education on biohazards.
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: Hillia on August 11, 2010, 05:38:29 PM
For the teacher's information your son was 100% correct for wearing the gloves and if she thinks they are unnecessary she is dead wrong and needs some education on biohazards.

Sorry, I wasn't clear...the client looked him oddly, not the teacher.  I think they encourage gloves rather than not; there are boxes all over the work room for the students to wear.
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: lolane on August 11, 2010, 06:25:16 PM
I'm torn on this one. On one hand, every profession has things or people they don't want to deal with and I think that even though you (general) may not HAVE to deal with unpleasant people or things once you become a full-blown professional, there is still value in going through situations like this because there are things that can be learned. So, while your DS might not have to service clients such as this if he were already a professional, he will still learn valuable lessons about dealing with people, undesirable situations, etc.

On the other hand, this does seem like a rather extreme case so I can understand your DS's reluctance.

I think the best thing would have been if your DS had recognized that he was going to have a problem completing the assignment/job before he started. I know I might be embarrassed if someone was so grossed out by me that they couldn't finish doing my hair, where I might be less embarrassed if they discreetly handed me off to someone else before they started.*

I'm not suggesting that your DS was rude to the woman, or made his displeasure know, just that it's the only thing I can think of that he might have done differently.
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: Harlow on August 11, 2010, 07:03:36 PM
As someone whose worked in the personal care industry for a while. ( Aesthetics and I do not  work in it anymore )

I think what your son had was a valuable teaching lesson.  In the real world, he is going to face this and there's no one whose going to be there to take over for him like his teacher did. Employers don't like to have to step in because it's unpleasant for the hairstylist, unless it violates the health codes like lice or open sores.  Employers like it when hairstylists can handle them on their own. I used to work in a salon with both hairstylists and aesthetics, and I've seen it happen.

Your son is only just learning, so he has all the time in the world to learn how to deal with these situations. He will have to learn to achieve and I'm sure he will as he gets more and more clients.

I think your DS might benefit with his teacher and talk about the incident. I don't agree with the berating because I don't believe thats the way you teach someone, especially in the personal care field. I believe all the moments that happen in school are teaching moments.

Your son is going to do amazing, especially with all the support around him. Cheers to him and cheers to you.
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: humbleonion on August 11, 2010, 07:20:10 PM
As someone whose worked in the personal care industry for a while. ( Aesthetics and I do not  work in it anymore )

I think what your son had was a valuable teaching lesson.  In the real world, he is going to face this and there's no one whose going to be there to take over for him like his teacher did. Employers don't like to have to step in because it's unpleasant for the hairstylist, unless it violates the health codes like lice or open sores.  Employers like it when hairstylists can handle them on their own. I used to work in a salon with both hairstylists and aesthetics, and I've seen it happen.

Your son is only just learning, so he has all the time in the world to learn how to deal with these situations. He will have to learn to achieve and I'm sure he will as he gets more and more clients.

I think your DS might benefit with his teacher and talk about the incident. I don't agree with the berating because I don't believe thats the way you teach someone, especially in the personal care field. I believe all the moments that happen in school are teaching moments.

Your son is going to do amazing, especially with all the support around him. Cheers to him and cheers to you.

The boy is 18 at the oldest.  He did the best he could with the client, and then asked the teacher to step in.  That's exactly the right thing to do.  He's still a student.  He wasn't prepared for this.

The teacher really blew it here. There's an obligation to educate the students on how to address these situations.  It's a "teachable moment". She should have addressed it with the entire class, after the first time this lady came in, and helped them all develop coping mechanisms for dealing with smelly/dirty/unpleasant clients.  Berating him for not knowing what he hasn't been taught is unacceptable.
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: Harlow on August 11, 2010, 07:24:45 PM
As someone whose worked in the personal care industry for a while. ( Aesthetics and I do not  work in it anymore )

I think what your son had was a valuable teaching lesson.  In the real world, he is going to face this and there's no one whose going to be there to take over for him like his teacher did. Employers don't like to have to step in because it's unpleasant for the hairstylist, unless it violates the health codes like lice or open sores.  Employers like it when hairstylists can handle them on their own. I used to work in a salon with both hairstylists and aesthetics, and I've seen it happen.

Your son is only just learning, so he has all the time in the world to learn how to deal with these situations. He will have to learn to achieve and I'm sure he will as he gets more and more clients.

I think your DS might benefit with his teacher and talk about the incident. I don't agree with the berating because I don't believe thats the way you teach someone, especially in the personal care field. I believe all the moments that happen in school are teaching moments.

Your son is going to do amazing, especially with all the support around him. Cheers to him and cheers to you.

The boy is 18 at the oldest.  He did the best he could with the client, and then asked the teacher to step in.  That's exactly the right thing to do.  He's still a student.  He wasn't prepared for this.

The teacher really blew it here. There's an obligation to educate the students on how to address these situations.  It's a "teachable moment". She should have addressed it with the entire class, after the first time this lady came in, and helped them all develop coping mechanisms for dealing with smelly/dirty/unpleasant clients.  Berating him for not knowing what he hasn't been taught is unacceptable.

OP's son maybe 18, actually I thought he was 16. OP's son  still going to have to learn and this was a teachable moment. He should talk to his teacher after the fact on guidance. I even stated in my post I didn't like how the teacher handle it. I don't think its a good way to teach someone.

OH I also wanted to mention, I agree. This should have already been discussed before they started working on clients. I know in my school was but all schools are different.

Editing because I don't like I wording my original post.
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: shhh its me on August 11, 2010, 07:31:38 PM
   I'm going to look at this from a slightly different angle.  the rules of the school are such that he has to accept any client with $2.50  as long as they don't have open sores etc.   DS is obligated to follow the rules of the school , it's not fair for DS to refuse service that other students would have to provide.  
You(general you) can petition to change the rules but asking for an exception may earn a chiding.


A salon may not service homeless but they might have a require the staff to put up with anything short of physical violence form clients (not saying I'd want to work there) you have to play by the rules  , get the rules changed or quit  but "I just can't" may not be acceptable to an employer.
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: DangerMouth on August 11, 2010, 07:51:34 PM
  I'm going to look at this from a slightly different angle.  the rules of the school are such that he has to accept any client with $2.50  as long as they don't have open sores etc.   DS is obligated to follow the rules of the school , it's not fair for DS to refuse service that other students would have to provide.  
You(general you) can petition to change the rules but asking for an exception may earn a chiding.


A salon may not service homeless but they might have a require the staff to put up with anything short of physical violence form clients (not saying I'd want to work there) you have to play by the rules  , get the rules changed or quit  but "I just can't" may not be acceptable to an employer.

DS never refused to do anything, though. He washed her hair and began the haircut. It wasn't until after he was having trouble with the cut that asked his instructor to step in. This is exactly what should happen in the 'hairdressing school' setting.

I've never used one, but my mom has been going to our local hairdressing school for over 40 years. I can't count the number of times she's wished the neophyte hairdresser would admit defeat and call in the big guns :D
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: Onyx_TKD on August 11, 2010, 07:52:32 PM
DS is a cosmetology student.  The school is operated through the local high school, so all the students are in the 16-18 year old range.  As most cosmo schools do, this one offers services to the public at very reasonable prices because they are performed by students.  Unless the client requests a specific student, they are more or less randomly assigned based on who is available.

Yesterday DS was assigned a client who is apparently homeless - she's been in before and the teachers offered that information.  She may also have some mental issues, as he said that last time she was in she smelled strongly of urine.   He was to give her a shampoo and haircut.  He said that her hair and scalp were incredibly filthy; she had thick, waxy dandruff built up very heavily over most of her scalp, and patches of dried skin flaking off several layers thick, although no open sores..  DS had gloves available, and he wore them while shampooing her hair although she gave him an 'odd' look when he put them on.  The shampoo apparently did little to make her hair and scalp cleaner; he said that cutting her hair was very unpleasant and he eventually asked a teacher to take over and finish the cut.  The teacher berated him later for not showing more compassion, and how he should have finished the service for the client no matter what.

I'm really torn on this.  On the one hand, I see the teacher's point: this woman may well be in a situation where she's not able to maintain her personal hygiene and the shampoo that comes with a $2.50 haircut at the school may be the only cleaning she's able to get in a month.  On the other...I sure wouldn't want to do it either.  And we're talking about cosmetology school, not a medical situation where there is a higher obligation to work with unpleasant clients.  I don't plan on saying anything to the teacher; it's more of a personal squick factor (DS is *very* fastidious) than an actual health or safety hazard, but I'm curious as to what other EHellions think.

Question: Did he ask the teacher to take over because the condition of her hair made it difficult for him to cut correctly, or did he ask the teacher to take over because he didn't want to work on the woman's hair anymore? Your son was aware that the woman was homeless and knew from her previous visit that there were some hygiene issues; if he was not willing to work on the woman's hair, then I think he should have refused before starting the job. If the school has a policy that a student cannot refuse a customer, then he would have to deal with the consequences of refusing (BTW, I think he should check what those policies are).

If, on the other hand, your DS stopped was unsure of how to proceed with the work, then I think the teacher should have worked with him, either by advising him as he worked or by taking over and demonstrating. Did he ask the teacher for advice before asking him to take over? Your DS could have mentioned to the client "Ma'am, I'm going to do a second shampoo for you, but first I'd like to check with my teacher to see if he has any tips for me to make sure I get it good and clean, ok?" Or later, if he had trouble during the cut: "Ma'am, I'd like to get some input from my teacher, if that's ok with you. This is my first time working with hair of this texture [OR: this thick/this length/in this style/etc.--anything plausible that could be interpreted as neutral or positive description] and I want to make sure you get the best cut possible."

If your DS didn't explicitly say that he wanted the teacher to take over because he was repulsed by the woman's hair, then he might be able to salvage the situation by asking the teacher now how he should handle hair that dirty. He already knows about the gloves, but what else would the teacher have done to work on her hair? Is there a different shampoo that would be more appropriate? (Or, since they know at least one regular customers has hair in this state, can they get a more effective shampoo just for this situation?) A different washing technique? Would letting the shampoo sit in the wet hair for a few minutes help at all? Are there different techniques he should use for the actual cut if the hair is still dirty after the wash? Should he mention possible ways to treat the dandruff or should he pretend not to notice unless she asks?

If he discusses the situation from the point of view of customer service (i.e. "I got frustrated because I was not able to give that woman a good haircut; I haven't been taught how to deal with hair in that state and couldn't figure out what I should do.") rather than his own squeamishness, then his teacher might be more forgiving and he might learn some good coping strategies.
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: shhh its me on August 11, 2010, 07:54:13 PM
  I'm going to look at this from a slightly different angle.  the rules of the school are such that he has to accept any client with $2.50  as long as they don't have open sores etc.   DS is obligated to follow the rules of the school , it's not fair for DS to refuse service that other students would have to provide.  
You(general you) can petition to change the rules but asking for an exception may earn a chiding.


A salon may not service homeless but they might have a require the staff to put up with anything short of physical violence form clients (not saying I'd want to work there) you have to play by the rules  , get the rules changed or quit  but "I just can't" may not be acceptable to an employer.

DS never refused to do anything, though. He washed her hair and began the haircut. It wasn't until after he was having trouble with the cut that asked his instructor to step in. This is exactly what should happen in the 'hairdressing school' setting.

I've never used one, but my mom has been going to our local hairdressing school for over 40 years. I can't count the number of times she's wished the neophyte hairdresser would admit defeat and call in the big guns :D

"I need help" "can you advise me how to proceed" should have been DS first step , assuming it wasn't.
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: kareng57 on August 11, 2010, 08:03:46 PM
I'd give your son a pass because he's still pretty young, just in high school.

However, for general cosmetology/aesthetics - this can be a frequent issue.  It's not just homeless people; some well-off people can still have horrible scalp conditions.  Sometimes it's a matter of medical neglect.  But it's also true that some skin/scalp conditions can be very difficult to treat, and the client could be working with a dermatologist who has been trying everything.  In the meantime, people still need to get haircuts.

While I don't think that he should have been berated the way he was - it's a reality of his chosen profession that he will encounter lice, fungi etc. often enough - even with "clean" people, and he needs to learn to deal with it.  Teachers can help him learn to tactfully say something along the lines of "this doesn't look like ordinary dandruff, perhaps you should see a doctor".  Of course this isn't applicable to a homeless person who doesn't have the money for her next meal, let alone for a doctor's fee.

Regarding the smell - and I do understand - one trick he could try would be leaving a jar of Vick's Vapo-Rub handy.  Apparently a discreet dab under the nostrils can do a lot towards masking unpleasant odours.
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: Harlow on August 11, 2010, 08:09:21 PM
I'd give your son a pass because he's still pretty young, just in high school.

However, for general cosmetology/aesthetics - this can be a frequent issue.  It's not just homeless people; some well-off people can still have horrible scalp conditions.  Sometimes it's a matter of medical neglect.  But it's also true that some skin/scalp conditions can be very difficult to treat, and the client could be working with a dermatologist who has been trying everything.  In the meantime, people still need to get haircuts.

While I don't think that he should have been berated the way he was - it's a reality of his chosen profession that he will encounter lice, fungi etc. often enough - even with "clean" people, and he needs to learn to deal with it.  Teachers can help him learn to tactfully say something along the lines of "this doesn't look like ordinary dandruff, perhaps you should see a doctor".  Of course this isn't applicable to a homeless person who doesn't have the money for her next meal, let alone for a doctor's fee.

Regarding the smell - and I do understand - one trick he could try would be leaving a jar of Vick's Vapo-Rub handy.  Apparently a discreet dab under the nostrils can do a lot towards masking unpleasant odours.

That was a life saver for me!! Something with a mint in it.
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: Hillia on August 11, 2010, 08:16:59 PM
Thanks for all the responses - there's some good info there.

DS is 16 and will graduate from this program in a few months, when he's 17 (he started school early).  He is extremely fastidious by nature and I tend to agree that developing a thicker skin would be to his benefit.  He seems to think that if he works with high end clientele he will never have this situation  ::)  I disagree; as someone pointed out, there are all sorts of reasons why a client might not be pleasant to work with and he needs to be prepared to handle himself professionally.

He asked the teacher to step in because of the condition of the client's hair/scalp, not because he couldn't figure out how to do her hair.  Essentially it was a personal preference, not a technical issue.  He had not worked on this client before and didn't realize the condition of her scalp until he had started working with her.

I especially like the idea of asking the teacher how to approach situations like this from a purely technical standpoint - different shampoo, longer soak, etc.  I'll suggest that to him, along with the Vapo-Rub hint!
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: Harlow on August 11, 2010, 08:22:31 PM
Thanks for all the responses - there's some good info there.

DS is 16 and will graduate from this program in a few months, when he's 17 (he started school early).  He is extremely fastidious by nature and I tend to agree that developing a thicker skin would be to his benefit.  He seems to think that if he works with high end clientele he will never have this situation  ::)  I disagree; as someone pointed out, there are all sorts of reasons why a client might not be pleasant to work with and he needs to be prepared to handle himself professionally.

He asked the teacher to step in because of the condition of the client's hair/scalp, not because he couldn't figure out how to do her hair.  Essentially it was a personal preference, not a technical issue.  He had not worked on this client before and didn't realize the condition of her scalp until he had started working with her.

I especially like the idea of asking the teacher how to approach situations like this from a purely technical standpoint - different shampoo, longer soak, etc.  I'll suggest that to him, along with the Vapo-Rub hint!

Hah, I had that dream once, and yeah, it's a total dream.
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: Cattitude on August 11, 2010, 09:49:25 PM
Sorry but if I was hairdresser I would not be interested in dealing with that at all.  That is a condition that is going to take prescription medication and repeated shampooing with prescription shampoos over quite some time to get the situation under control.  A single or double shampoo is going to do little.

For the teacher's information your son was 100% correct for wearing the gloves and if she thinks they are unnecessary she is dead wrong and needs some education on biohazards.

Dandruff and dried skin are biohazards?  There is no further information than this in the OP, the person's hair *could* just be incredibly dirty.  OP I completely understand your son's feelings but he does have to get past it.  I am a health care professional and I remember all too well the sights and smells of my first "bad scene" so to speak.  I was a student too and I had to hold back my dry heaving.  It's hard but tell him to hang in there.
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: Calypso on August 11, 2010, 10:27:42 PM
Congrats to your son for learning a valuable and useful skill---may he have work he enjoys for many years.
But, yeah, his assumptions about the physical perfection of high-end clients are naive (and I would certainly have shared them, at his age). Health problems, addictions and other conditions that can affect the skin hit people of all income levels.

But, they teach all about that stuff in cosmetology school, don't they? (At least here in California, the number of hours required to get a license is some humungous number, partly because they have to learn so much about skin conditions...)
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: Hillia on August 11, 2010, 11:28:56 PM
Here in AZ, it's 1300 or 1600 hours, I forget which.  They do cover skin and scalp conditions, but it's early in the program and there's not a lot of guidance on how to work with clients with these issues.  This was his first exposure to someone with really serious problems, and I'm glad he got it in school where he had some backup and potentially some guidance (although I don't think the teacher handled it well).
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: lolane on August 12, 2010, 09:38:21 AM

DS is 16 and will graduate from this program in a few months, when he's 17 (he started school early).  He is extremely fastidious by nature and I tend to agree that developing a thicker skin would be to his benefit.  He seems to think that if he works with high end clientele he will never have this situation  ::)  I disagree; as someone pointed out, there are all sorts of reasons why a client might not be pleasant to work with and he needs to be prepared to handle himself professionally.

I used to work for a high-end salon and spa and while these issues of this type are possibly rarer, they are harder to deal with. It may be easy to refuse service to a homeless person who is going to pay $2.50 for a haircut, it's much harder to refuse service to a local celebrity or politician who is paying $250.00 or more for their service. This is a great learning experience and I think a good time to start thinking about how to deal with unpleasant clients going forward regardless of their issue or walk of life.

I'll also add, with the updated info, I can see why the instructor was displeased, although he could have handled it better.


Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: HushHush on August 12, 2010, 10:16:24 AM
I consider myself a very clean person and I've been battling a scalp condition for years.  After trying all manner of dandruff/dry scalp shampoos, I finally went to a dermatologist and got a prescription for a medicated shampoo thats been working wonders.  But the condition comes and goes and I can't tell if there's going to be a flareup right when I have a hair appointment.

I hope he doesn't see a lot of yucky stuff but the nature of his work will be making people look their best despite any other conditions they might have.  I think he was fine to ask the teacher for help and will see what the "real world" is like once he graduates.
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: MovieLover on August 12, 2010, 04:26:51 PM
Sorry but if I was hairdresser I would not be interested in dealing with that at all.  That is a condition that is going to take prescription medication and repeated shampooing with prescription shampoos over quite some time to get the situation under control.  A single or double shampoo is going to do little.

For the teacher's information your son was 100% correct for wearing the gloves and if she thinks they are unnecessary she is dead wrong and needs some education on biohazards.

Dandruff and dried skin are biohazards?  There is no further information than this in the OP, the person's hair *could* just be incredibly dirty.  OP I completely understand your son's feelings but he does have to get past it.  I am a health care professional and I remember all too well the sights and smells of my first "bad scene" so to speak.  I was a student too and I had to hold back my dry heaving.  It's hard but tell him to hang in there.


Yes I consider those things Biohazards as does my place of employment.  In this age of Universal Precautions gloves should be put on before touching anything out of the ordinary.  Unless a doctor has diagnosed it it's hard to be certain that it actually is dandruff.  It could be a parasitic or fungal infection of some sort.  Scaly, flaking patches of human tissue is not something I want to contact my bare hands. Workers have the right to protect themselves from possible health hazards.
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: Wavicle on August 12, 2010, 04:47:43 PM
I was in a different field, but I went to a vocational high school and by definition these schools are preparing students for the working world. Teachers push professionalism and teaching students how to deal with situations that will pop up in the real world. I would guess that in cosmetology this is a tough thing to get through to students who may have gotten into it because they like making people pretty and want to play with their friends hair but don't want to actually work. I am guessing your son isn't like that, but situations like this may be built into the lesson plan for that reason. Compassion and discretion are some things that teens often need to work on, so I think the teacher probably wants to emphasise that aspect of their business.

A lot of hair business will come from older people. They often will go to the salon once a week, and that may be the only time they wash their hair. In that situation it probably won't be that gross because as people get older they produce less oils/sweat, but not everyone he sees will be healthy with nice skin.

I don't think it is unreasonable for the teacher to have him deal with people that are gross. Wealthy people can be gross too. People that have money and care can be gross due to medical issues. They also should be learning not to assume anyone is illness free and following precautions for that, so this may be a good reminder on being clean.

She also could have been more upset with his response than the fact that he had trouble, and your son may have misinterpreted a harsh talking to as berating. I would not have a problem with a teacher firmly telling a student "This is just something you will need to deal with. You are going to be an adult soon and you will need to grow up and deal with icky things" if a student said "I won't finish the cut because this lady is too gross." I am not saying that your son necessarily said that or that he said anything outright bad, but considering his age he may have not realized that refusing came off as being lazy and unprofessional to someone who has adjusted to dealing with grossness.

Every once in a while I think that people should get a pass on something just pushing their grossness meter, but to earn that you need to be willing to make up for it by dealing with other gross stuff. Otherwise you will just look like a whiner.
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: camlan on August 12, 2010, 05:11:18 PM
What did the instructors do to teach/prepare your son to deal with this client? I agree that the OP's son could have handled the situation somewhat better, but he's 16. The adults in charge of the program should have made sure that he knew how to wash hair that dirty and have been on hand to provide assistance--the way they would for any client with an unusual problem. It's not just the OP's son who could have handled this better; I put some of the responsibility on the teachers, who are the adults in charge.
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: whatsanenigma on August 12, 2010, 05:40:34 PM
It's not just the OP's son who could have handled this better; I put some of the responsibility on the teachers, who are the adults in charge.

I've been thinking along these same lines.

It's one thing to just tell students that it's important to show respect for less-than-textbook clients and to treat them with dignity, and even to describe in words what some of the problems might be and how to deal with them.

But it's quite another to see it for the first time, with no warning, and just be expected to sink or swim.

Yes, yes, yes, it's very important that the OP's son learn to deal with clients of all levels of health and hygiene and to always behave professionally. But it doesn't sound like he was very well prepared to do so, and panicked and did the best he could, which was, granted, not the best that could have been done, but the best he could do under the circumstances.

Honestly, and I realize that the OP's son has no actual power to make this happen, I think that if this particular school gets a lot of homeless or very poor clients, it could be a great opportunity for both students and clients to have special times for only those clients, at maybe even more discounted rates, to give the clients more dignity and self respect by allowing them to keep their hair cleaner (and not get to that point where it is that extreme to deal with) and to provide the students the opportunity to take more time to interact with those clients, and not rush, and learn to handle that situation with respect and grace and dignity.

Bottom line is, I think some learning opportunites are going to waste here, and that the OP's son handled it in a way that was not ideal but really really understandable. For a fully trained professional, it would not have been understandable, but the very point here is that he was not. He was still in school and relying heavily on his teachers in difficult situations, as was appropriate.
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: Sophia on August 12, 2010, 05:55:58 PM
...A lot of hair business will come from older people. They often will go to the salon once a week, and that may be the only time they wash their hair. In that situation it probably won't be that gross because as people get older they produce less oils/sweat, but not everyone he sees will be healthy with nice skin...

This was ... at least a decade ago.  But the lady that cut my hair told me about a nightmare she had.  She was covering for her friend on vacation who had the next chair.  The friend's clients were exclusively the older, once a week type.  She said she had a nightmare about small rats coming out of some woman's helmet head.  Apparently the reality was a tad gross. 
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: baglady on August 12, 2010, 06:27:39 PM
...A lot of hair business will come from older people. They often will go to the salon once a week, and that may be the only time they wash their hair. In that situation it probably won't be that gross because as people get older they produce less oils/sweat, but not everyone he sees will be healthy with nice skin...

This was ... at least a decade ago.  But the lady that cut my hair told me about a nightmare she had.  She was covering for her friend on vacation who had the next chair.  The friend's clients were exclusively the older, once a week type.  She said she had a nightmare about small rats coming out of some woman's helmet head.  Apparently the reality was a tad gross. 

FTR, my mom is 89 and is a once-a-week lady. She is fortunate to have hair that can go a week without getting icky, and has been in that position for around the past 20 years. She has never had any issue with her hair that grossed out a hairdresser. (I'm not implying that you said all elderly once-a-week clients were gross; as I said, just going on record here!)

Both the OP's son and the teacher handled this situation clumsily. The son gets a pass for his age. The teacher needs to work on her diplomatic/teachable moment skills. Like so:

Student (to client): Ma'am, I'm going to ask my teacher for some guidance here. I don't have much experience with hair like yours. (To teacher, out of client's earshot): Teacher, could you give me a hand with this? I'm not sure how to proceed with hair this dirty.
Teacher (to student): Sure. (To client and student): What we have here is some severe oil buildup and some dandruff. What we need to do is use some Oil-B-Gone Dandruff Formula shampoo and leave it in for at least five minutes before rinsing. We may need to do a second application. Here, let me show you ..."
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: MaggieB on August 13, 2010, 03:10:46 AM
I don't think the OP's son gets a pass because he's 16.  He is only a few months away from graduation, and at that point he needs to be ready to work in a salon environment.  While I don't think teachers should "berate" students, the teacher absolutely should have made the OP's son understand that he screwed up.  You can't just stop working on a client because the job is unpleasant.  All kinds of people get their hair done in high end salons, and he needs to be prepared to behave professionally with those who have hygiene issues.  And this is assuming your son is lucky enough to get a job in one as a 17 year old fresh out of cosmetology school.

Now I don't mean to come down too hard on your son.  I don't doubt that it was gross and that he probably wasn't prepared to deal with hair in that condition.  But this was the time to learn (both about dealing with the hair and about treating the client respectfully) and he dropped the ball.  The teacher needed to correct him.  If he had pulled that at work, he probably would have been fired, and rightfully so.

(I am only talking about him quitting the job halfway through.  The gloves are not an issue, IMO.)
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: blueberry.muffin on August 13, 2010, 05:10:49 AM
While I don't think teachers should "berate" students



Eeeeegh. I'm not trying to ignore the rest of your post, but I'm really really hoping you can explain what you mean by this.

(Without being at the scene, I have no idea if the teacher was correct in his/her guidance or went overboard on the discipline, so I really can't comment at that level. This is more wondering what your statement means.)
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: MaggieB on August 13, 2010, 05:46:44 AM
While I don't think teachers should "berate" students

Eeeeegh. I'm not trying to ignore the rest of your post, but I'm really really hoping you can explain what you mean by this.

(Without being at the scene, I have no idea if the teacher was correct in his/her guidance or went overboard on the discipline, so I really can't comment at that level. This is more wondering what your statement means.)

I'm not really sure what needs clarifying.   ???  (No snark intended, I just thought that was a pretty straightforward statement.)

"Berate" is the word the OP used.  For the teacher to actually berate the student (to "scold or condemn vehemently and at length"-MWD) is an overreaction, in my opinion.  To me "berate" carries the connotation of a really angry, over the top outburst; of totally losing it on someone.   I don't think that teachers in general should react to student mistakes that way.

But the student still made a mistake and needed to be corrected. 

You are correct that we were not there and don't know whether the teacher was over the top in his/her reaction.  That's why I put "berate" in quotation marks.  I don't think students should be berated, but the OP's son did need to be corrected and have it impressed on him that his behavior was unacceptable. 

Does that help clarify?
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: whatsanenigma on August 13, 2010, 07:09:46 AM
Now I don't mean to come down too hard on your son.  I don't doubt that it was gross and that he probably wasn't prepared to deal with hair in that condition.  But this was the time to learn (both about dealing with the hair and about treating the client respectfully) and he dropped the ball.  The teacher needed to correct him.  If he had pulled that at work, he probably would have been fired, and rightfully so.

I have reread the OP and I don't see where it says or implies he was disrespectful to the client, though. The OP didn't say her son ran away screaming or told the client directly that her hair was too gross to handle. She just says that he got his teacher, and that the teacher called him out for stopping halfway through.

Should he have finished the cut? Yes. And if he had openly showed disgust to the client, yes, that would be wrong at any stage of the game. But we don't know that he did. All we know is, he got his teacher to help.

And if he had "pulled that at work", as you say, that would have been another thing, because whoever hired him would have expected that they hired a fully trained professional.

I would find it very unfair as a general concept if at a job where I was not fully trained, that it would be okay to fire me because I messed up but it was because I hadn't been trained all the way yet. If I mess up, for whatever reason, sure, it needs to be corrected, but if it's because the training is incomplete, it's only right for a supervisor to take that into account, even to apologize for not seeing that there was a gap in my knowledge there (that I couldn't know about because I am, after all, new) and to show respect when correcting me.
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: MaggieB on August 13, 2010, 07:34:57 AM
That's true, we don't know what he said to the customer when he stopped.  But my point is that he shouldn't have stopped.  This wasn't about a lack of knowledge or training.  According to the OP, he stopped because the job became so unpleasant.  That's what I was referring to.  Of course an employee should be able to go to their boss if they need some additional training, but I can't see a salon owner being happy with an employee stopping mid haircut because their client is too dirty.  Cleaning and styling the hair is the stylist's job.

I'm really not trying to disparage the OP's son.  He's a student, and he made a mistake that his teacher needed to correct.  He's going to be done with the program and ready to look for jobs in a few months.  The teacher (as an extension of the school) needs to make sure he is ready for that.
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: Just Lori on August 13, 2010, 07:49:33 AM
I don't know if this is a consideration, OP, but would your son benefit from a discussion about looking beyond the ick factor to the person?  I understand that certain conditions can turn your stomach.  But maybe for this particular woman, the $2.50 buys a human touch that she rarely experiences?.  He's not just treating her scalp, he's giving her soul a little bit of comfort.

Sometimes when you change your perspective, you can handle a lot more than you think you could.

Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: Hillia on August 13, 2010, 08:41:18 AM
That's a really good point, Lori; I'll have to bring that up with him.  We did talk yesterday about everything that's been said here, and he seemed receptive to it, so I'll mention this very important aspect of the situation to him today and give him something else to think about.

Thanks for all the great feedback!
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: whatsanenigma on August 13, 2010, 08:55:09 AM
  Of course an employee should be able to go to their boss if they need some additional training, but I can't see a salon owner being happy with an employee stopping mid haircut because their client is too dirty.  Cleaning and styling the hair is the stylist's job.

(snip)

 The teacher (as an extension of the school) needs to make sure he is ready for that.

Oh yes, I absolutely see your point on this.

I suppose I was seeing it as, being prepared for a "too dirty" client should be a more systematic part of the training.

We don't really know what was going through the mind of the OP's son at the time, of course. It's very possible that he thought he WAS ready to handle this. He heard other students talking about extreme cases like this one, he studied his books for hours, he tried to emotionally prepare himself and was bound and determined to not ever let a "too dirty" client scare him away...

but the first time he saw, live and up close, something this far out of his comfort zone, he got overwhelmed and he panicked, because nothing can prepare you for certain things except seeing them and working with them.

So, maybe that's the disconnect in my thoughts here. The teacher should have anticipated that hair in this condition really is so far out of some people's usual comfort zone that no matter how determined a person is to always show respect for all clients and treat them with dignity and respect, and to follow through on a job no matter what it takes, that those feelings won't always be enough, and actual training to deal with the physical reaction to it is important.

Otherwise everybody (client and student) can end up feeling bad and that's not good-or necessary, if proper training is used.
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: Lynda_34 on August 13, 2010, 02:43:13 PM
If this person is a "regular", she is a teachable moment for the entire class and should be treated a such.  She should be given extra attention and all students should be aware of and expected to care for her.
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: blueberry.muffin on August 13, 2010, 07:03:31 PM
While I don't think teachers should "berate" students

Eeeeegh. I'm not trying to ignore the rest of your post, but I'm really really hoping you can explain what you mean by this.

(Without being at the scene, I have no idea if the teacher was correct in his/her guidance or went overboard on the discipline, so I really can't comment at that level. This is more wondering what your statement means.)

I'm not really sure what needs clarifying.   ???  (No snark intended, I just thought that was a pretty straightforward statement.)

"Berate" is the word the OP used.  For the teacher to actually berate the student (to "scold or condemn vehemently and at length"-MWD) is an overreaction, in my opinion.  To me "berate" carries the connotation of a really angry, over the top outburst; of totally losing it on someone.   I don't think that teachers in general should react to student mistakes that way.

*snip*

Does that help clarify?

YES. I've heard "berate" equated to a simple scolding, which as a former teacher I did plenty of times. ("Johnny, you KNOW you're not supposed to light your desk on fire!") I do agree that teachers shouldn't go on and on at length, which was more your definition.

Thanks for the clarification, and allowing me to go slightly off topic. :)

Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: baglady on August 13, 2010, 07:08:27 PM
To clarify: When I said the student "gets a pass," I meant that he probably hadn't been trained to deal with a situation like this, so I understand why his reaction was less than ideal -- not that it was acceptable. And rather than berating him, the teacher should have demonstrated and explained how to deal with it.
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: MaggieB on August 13, 2010, 09:50:53 PM

YES. I've heard "berate" equated to a simple scolding, which as a former teacher I did plenty of times. ("Johnny, you KNOW you're not supposed to light your desk on fire!") I do agree that teachers shouldn't go on and on at length, which was more your definition.

Thanks for the clarification, and allowing me to go slightly off topic. :)


OK, good!  I didn't think I was being controversial, so I was just a little confused.  It sounds like we are on the same page, though!
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: MissRose on August 14, 2010, 07:17:02 AM
I would have thought the students were given lessons in the classrom prior to real life experiences like the OP's son has just experienced.

I've been to the local beauty school place where senior students get the valuable experiences supervised by their teachers.  I've seen people from all walks of life receiving services like hair cuts, manicures, etc. from the senior students for a much lower cost compared to most salons.  The students do not get to pick their clients, they are assigned.  The school is a walk in place with hours for walk ins.

Skin and/or hair issues are not just for poor people.  I am sure the OP's son will learn that if he has not already.  My sister had a friend that was a stylist, and she told me about the wide variety of people she had worked on, and she worked in more of a high end salon where haircuts started around $20 / color for about $50 as a few examples not lesser expensive haircut chain store type place.
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: Cattitude on August 14, 2010, 04:10:54 PM
Sorry but if I was hairdresser I would not be interested in dealing with that at all.  That is a condition that is going to take prescription medication and repeated shampooing with prescription shampoos over quite some time to get the situation under control.  A single or double shampoo is going to do little.

For the teacher's information your son was 100% correct for wearing the gloves and if she thinks they are unnecessary she is dead wrong and needs some education on biohazards.

Dandruff and dried skin are biohazards?  There is no further information than this in the OP, the person's hair *could* just be incredibly dirty.  OP I completely understand your son's feelings but he does have to get past it.  I am a health care professional and I remember all too well the sights and smells of my first "bad scene" so to speak.  I was a student too and I had to hold back my dry heaving.  It's hard but tell him to hang in there.


Yes I consider those things Biohazards as does my place of employment.  In this age of Universal Precautions gloves should be put on before touching anything out of the ordinary.  Unless a doctor has diagnosed it it's hard to be certain that it actually is dandruff.  It could be a parasitic or fungal infection of some sort.  Scaly, flaking patches of human tissue is not something I want to contact my bare hands. Workers have the right to protect themselves from possible health hazards.

But if it's only dandruff and dried skin then it's not a biohazard as it poses no threat to another human though I understand the ick factor.  If one doesn't know what it is, sure go ahead and wear protective gear.  But remember, the dirty client could be perfectly healthy while the well dressed, clean  client could be carrying a communicable disease.  Looks are very deceiving.
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: Jocelyn on August 14, 2010, 07:38:58 PM
One time I opted to have a colleague of my regular stylist cut my hair, because my regular stylist was not available. I ALWAYS wash my hair the morning of a cut, but I don't blow it dry because my hair is very curly and if I blow all the curl out of it, the cut will not be accurate. The other stylist took the band off my ponytail, began to comb my hair, and made a face like she was combing slime. She asked (demanded?), 'What do you have on your hair?' I told her I'd washed and conditioned it that morning, but it was a wash-out conditioner. She insisted on shampooing my hair before continuing.
She's worked there since I started going there, so this wasn't a brand-new stylist. Why she couldn't have said, 'Did you use leave-in conditioner today? I'll need to wash it out to give you a good cut' or 'I don't think you got all the conditioner rinsed out', I don't know. But the impression I got was that she thought I hadn't washed my hair, and it was greasy and gross. I would have thought a stylist could tell the difference between recently shampooed and still damp hair, and sweaty, greasy hair, but apparently not.
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: LadyPekoe on August 14, 2010, 09:17:51 PM
I have very fine, very thick hair.  It's almost waist length and it tangles badly.  In fact, if I'm not careful, it mats.  It also accumulates buildup amazingly no matter what I do.  I can't tell you the amount of times hairdressers have berated me.  The tip decreases as they go on and on. 
Title: Re: Obligations of those in personal care professions
Post by: whatsanenigma on August 15, 2010, 03:28:13 PM
DS had gloves available, and he wore them while shampooing her hair although she gave him an 'odd' look when he put them on. 

You know, I'm wondering if this was part of the problem too.

Now, of course, the OP's DS had every right to wear these gloves. I'm not saying he shouldn't have put them on, odd look from the client or not.

But I have to say that if I walked into a salon, and there were many people around me getting haircuts and shampoos by ungloved stylists, and my stylist put some on to deal with me, I might be a little put off. If I was getting a color treatment or perm or something else chemical, I probably wouldn't even notice the use of gloves, but for a cut and shampoo? I would feel uncomfortable, I think, if I was the only one that seemed to require gloves-even if in my heart of hearts, I knew that yes, my hair or scalp condition required them.

Now, of course I'm not advocating that no stylist wear gloves ever. What I do think is that it would be better if everyone in the salon always wore gloves, if some did sometimes. This would be more respectful of all clients, and also it is true that some scalp conditions might not be as obvious as others and you might want gloves even if you don't think you do, KWIM? It would benefit both client and stylist, I think.

Not that the OP's son had any control over this in that situation but maybe one day he will, when he gets out into a job in a salon or even his own salon, and might want to consider a universal glove use policy.