When it comes to live hair competitions you only have one shot to impress the judges. Being successful on stage means you have to practice your skills well in advance and keep your nerves in check.
Rossa Jurenas, award-winning hairstylist and Essential Looks artist for Schwarzkopf Professional, has been competing live for a long time. “It’s a different kind of rush that you go through. You need to be on a timeline, keep yourself organized and your vision needs to be very clear,” she says. “When competing live you are running on adrenaline and the last thing you want is your nerves to take over.”
Here’s advice from live competition veterans about staying focused and keeping your cool on stage.
To prepare for live competitions Jurenas starts off with sketching out her colour pattern and cutting ideas on paper. Then she works on mannequin heads to make sure that the colour and cut was established with flow. “You definitely need to start in good time to make sure everything works together. Personally, I like to plan eight weeks to a few months in advance,” she says. “Then really look at your model’s hair in terms of colour and texture. Know who your model will be when designing your creation, if possible.”
The Allied Beauty Association (ABA) runs anywhere from four to seven live competitions at each of the ABA shows, including both men’s and women’s trend cut and style, elegant evening long hair and makeup, new talent and the Cityline Ordinary to Extraordinary Makeover competition.
“Stylists train up to a year in advance to compete in a live competition. The constant repetition polishes their skills in the allotted time frame and teaches the stylist to think quickly on his or her feet to solve any unforeseen problems,” says Stephanie Gadbois, event planner for ABA. She also says stylists must learn focus and patience in order to handle the excitement that surrounds them live on the floor. “It’s all about getting into the zone and tuning out everything around them,” says Gadbois.
According to Grace Martinez, national education co-ordinator for Schwarzkopf, learning to stay calm under pressure is the most important mental skill a competitor can have. “Focus on the outcome as you go into the competition and have a plan for your end result,” she says. “You should have executed your cut many times on a mannequin so you understand the timing and you know your line. Consider hiring a trainer or find someone who has recently won competitions.”
Martinez says not to focus on the opponent. Discipline yourself to keep centered in your job. “Also, wear loose, fashionable clothing. Wear comfortable shoes as you will be working in tight conditions and remember the judges are looking for three main things: suitability, creativity and quality of workmanship,” she says.
Eryn Wall from The Head Room in St. John’s, Nfld. represented Canada in the Young Talent category two years in a row at the international Wella Trend Vision competition, and is no stranger to competing live against other hairstylists from around the globe.
To prepare, Wall practices on mannequins so she can tweak her look and build speed. To prep her live model, Wall did a lot of deep-conditioning treatments and kept the hair in optimal condition right up until the big day.
“When you are working live you can’t hide anything. The judges have a 360-degree view of your model and can touch the hair,” says Wall.
She feels live competitions help her step outside the box, express her creativity and develop her skills as a stylist. “It’s such a rush when you get involved in a competition and get to the next level. It’s good for your clients to see that you are constantly pushing the boundaries and striving for that special place in the industry,” she says.
Rules to Remember
When entering a live competition, Schwarzkopf’s Grace Martinez recommends you do the following:
• Read the rules carefully and know the criteria for entering.
• Fully understand the tools allowed on the competition floor and what you may use during the competition.
• Research the lighting where your model will be displayed, as a major part of the preparation is your makeup. You may want to hire a makeup artist.
• Wardrobe and posing of your model is a key factor. Once you leave the stage your model has to stand out above the rest.
• Think carefully about how colour placement will complement the cut or style you’re planning to do.
This article was originally published in the March 2011 issue of Salon Magazine.