In her chamber at a luxury hotel in Mumbai, Pamela D’Souza patiently listens to her client’s skin deep revelations. The client’s hair will be dealt with later — right now D’Souza, a beauty therapist, wants to look into her head, which needs unburdening.
Beauty and hairstyling professionals, clearly, are moving on. Once seen as the preserve of bored housewives and girls waiting to get married, the industry — fast spreading its tentacles across India — is also responding to new demands.
“About 20-30 per cent of students at the L’Oréal Academy in Mumbai have moved from professions such as human resources or even dentistry,” says Priya Kasthurirangan, L’Oréal’s artistic developmental manager in Mumbai.Yet those wishing to train as beauty professionals have to be careful about the institutes they choose, for the industry is an unregulated sector in India. Anyone can start an institute and even franchise it, without being scrutinised and approved by any governing body.
“There is not much available in India in terms of academies. People open training schools in their houses,” points out Puneet Saini, founder of Pankake by Puneet, a makeup academy in Mumbai.
Changes may come about now that the National Council for Vocational Training has been formed. But while the regulations will take time to be implemented, students keen on joining the industry should be more discerning about which course to pursue.
A few institutes are affiliated to or partner with internationally recognised vocational institutes. For instance, IndiaSkills offers International Vocational Qualifications (IVQ) from City & Guilds, the UK, and the Blossom Kochhar Aesthetic & Spa Academy is affiliated to CIDESCO, a Switzerland-based accreditor. The Delhi-based LTA offers courses leading to international certificates such as CIDESCO. The Pearson group is planning to launch Edexcel beauty therapy/science certificates for budding beauticians.
“A certification by the UK-based City and Guilds gives you a better leverage in terms of jobs, both at home and abroad,” says celebrity hairdresser Savio John Pereira of the Savio John Pereira Academy, Mumbai. “For a beautician to be able to treat the skin with chemicals, creams, ointments or administer botox, it would need certification by CIDESCO. But otherwise, as long you have a shops and establishment licence, no government regulation applies.”
Scores of institutes have come up across the country in recent years. Among them are Blunt (for hair) in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Pune, Fat Mu Make up Academy, Mumbai, L’Oreal Academy, Mumbai, Christine Valmy (India) School of Beauty, Mumbai, Enrich Hair and Skin Academy, Mumbai, Nalini and Yasmin Academy, Mumbai, and Lakme Academy, Mumbai and Delhi. Among the other institutes are the AN John Hair Studio and Academy, Calcutta, Pivot Point, Delhi, and the Savio John Pereira Academy, Mumbai. The VLCC Institute of Beauty and Nutrition has 51 campuses in 39 cities.
The charges and the course durations vary. A course could last for any period from four to 24 weeks, and can cost anything between Rs 40,000 and Rs 2.25 lakh. Most institutes admit students who have cleared their school leaving examinations. “A student must be fashionable, knowledgeable about fashion trends and have good communication skills,” stresses Kasthurirangan.
For those wishing to make a career in the world of beauty, it’s important to join an institute that gives both practical and theoretical training. Experts say that it should have a competent faculty, good technical equipment, adequate classroom space and hygienic settings.
The institute should be registered. A government-recognised course is preferable. The course curriculum should include elements about hair science, product knowledge and client communication.
Professionals stress that the sphere is vast — and goes beyond simply snipping hair or painting nails. “The head is like a compass and you have between zero and 360 degrees to play around with,” says Blossom Pinto, a hairstylist with salons in Mumbai and Goa.
Young professionals have wide job opportunities. Studios — in cinema and television — need professional makeup artistes, as do television newsrooms. They could work in salons, freelance or even teach. Salaries will depend on where you are placed and your experience. At news channels, the starting salary is Rs 10,000-Rs 15,000, says Anita Rawat, a former television makeup artist. An experienced hairdresser working on a film shoot is assured a minimum wage of Rs 3,000 for an eight-hour shift. “Celebrity shoots could bring in anything from Rs 10,000 to Rs 1,00,000 a shift,” says Pereira.
A mid-level makeup artist could easily earn between Rs 80,000 and Rs 1,00,000 a month, and if you make the cut as the personal makeup artist of a big star, it could fetch you Rs 35,000 to Rs 40,000 a shift. Ad films pay an average of Rs 10,000 a shift. A 20-day TV serial contract could be worth Rs 80,000-Rs 90,000, a part of which must be shared with the junior makeup artist.
Expertise in bridal make up and hairdo is a money spinner. Raunaq Tahuja, who recently completed a course in beauty from VLCC, says she has already priced her bridal dress and makeup service at Rs 12,000, and will double it as she goes along.
Charles Harrisson, who teaches hairdressing at the VLCC Institute of Beauty and Nutrition, believes students should build on what they’ve learnt. “If you are taught one style, turn it into four different ones, allowing the cut and colour to complement each other,” he says.
Those who are interested in the subject should regularly go through fashion magazines to look at new trends in hair styles, makeup and so on. Keeping in touch with new fashion trends is essential. For instance, points out Khursheed Noble, a freelance hairdresser in Mumbai, tight ringlets for brides are passé. “Today’s bride would rather wear her hair loose,” says Noble, whose repertoire includes bridal hairdo and make up.
Pinto believes students should keep feeding their interests by attending seminars or discussions that deal with beauty. “Never say no to learning or assume you know it all,” she says.