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Hair styling as a career? Even a decade ago, the mere thought of it would have produced hair-raising horror amid your loved and some not-so-loved ones. If you were a girl, you might even have been able to get away with it, but God forbid if you had the misfortune of being a guy with the same ambition.

Cut to 2009. Hair styling has not just become an accepted job, but a career path with a difference. And in several cases the road to celebrity status.

Salons across the city now have women, and yes, a rapidly increasing number of men, who have changed the landscape of the profession with their creativity. To discuss hair styling as a career in greater detail, JAM met Natasha Naegamvala of the Nalini Hair Academy at Bandra.

Natasha, with her combination of vivaciousness, panache and absolute seriousness about her job, is almost a poster girl for the GenY hairstylist.

Scope of the profession?
Huge — if I have to describe it in one word. The gamut of avenues available to a hairstylist is tremendous. You can be on a salon floor; work for films, photo shoots and fashion shows; or even strike out on your own.

How much does a hairstylist make?
It depends on the kind of work you do and your experience. If you have your own set up, you can charge anything from Rs 500 upward. The figure only goes up with time.

The background required?
To do hair styling, you can be from any background as long as you know you have the inclination and interest in it as a career. If you have the determination, passion and flair for it, you can make your mark in this industry. Your gender and your educational qualifications don’t matter. There are no rigid rules.

How has the perception towards hair styling changed over the years?
There has been a dramatic swing in popular perception of the job. Earlier, the Type As wanted to be lawyers, engineers and doctors. The Type Bs settled for clerical and secretarial jobs. Hair styling was seen as a job chosen only by the Type Cs. Now, from being a job that those with no scope in other professions opted for, hair styling has gone to being a career of choice that requires special skills.

Not only do people acknowledge that someone would willingly want to get into this profession, they also perceive it as a high-end job that requires a lot of creativity.

Motive behind starting the hair academy?
The academy is something my mum, Nalini Naegavala, had wanted forever and ever. It is purely aimed at bringing the science of hair dressing to our country.

My mother learnt this art in London when my dad was posted there. She realised that hair styling, like other conventional art forms, had to be taught in a regimented manner at the basic level. It can’t be a dekho-kya-kar-rahen-aur-kar-lo lesson. It has to be taught scientifically. She wanted to bring this knowledge back to her own country and that dream, clubbed with my sister’s organizational efforts, led to the inception of the school. The rest, as they say, is history.

The different kind of courses available here?
We teach them a number of the classic haircuts. It is not advanced. It is the foundation of the job. The course is taught in English and Hindi. We provide refresher and advanced courses as well.

They changed the face of hair styling in India
Aalim Hakim
Jawed Habib
Adhuna Akhtar
Sapna Bhavnani
Dilshad Pastakia

Natasha’s tips
Although you may not be able to afford the expensive L’Oreal and Wella products on a regular basis, make sure you use only good products. Every company has high and low-range products, catering to different people. Companies like the above use only tried and tested ingredients and, therefore, using them often will not harm your hair.

Whenever you go for straightening or crimping or any other hair styling, you must make sure you go to reputed people only. Since our hair is dead just like our nails, nothing much can go wrong if you make sure that no harm is done to the scalp. The worst that could happen is being stuck with a style till your hair grows back.

Don’t fret if you cannot have poker straight hair in this season. The rainy season adds humidity to the air, making your hair frizzy. Just accept the situation, as it is a natural reaction.

You can use mousse to style your hair. Use a wax-based or water mousse, as there is no guarantee of you not getting wet in this season. If you use a cream-based mousse it might drip off your hair and leave you feeling icky.

Using a lot of hair spray, mousse, or other such products doesn’t harm your hair. But make sure you are using the right products from reputed companies only.

If you want a quick hairstyle for an evening out, all you have to do is twist your damp hair and blow-dry it. Velcro rollers that are now available in the market even take away the pain of painfully pin your hair into the old-fashioned rollers.

– Nikita

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