Free haircuts on campus

Tucked away between the parking structures and the pool, at the end of a poorly-lit hallway in the small, futuristic-looking business building on Santa Monica College's main campus, lies the cosmetology department—a world full of beauty supplies, skill and charitable work. The department gives free haircuts to the community on Mondays from 8 a.m. to noon for shorter hair, and from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. for longer hair.

Department chair John Rogers—who oversees the haircutting as part of a class for cosmetology majors training for their required California state cosmetology license—believes that they are doing a service to the community by giving away free haircuts, which they have been doing for 10 years.

Rogers said that more students should know about this service. Students usually bring in their own clients. There are not enough walk-ins because “not a lot of people know about it,” student Vibe Nystrom said.

No chemicals, such as those often involved with hair coloring and perms, are offered as part of the class, and typically the free haircuts are done on pre-washed, dry hair, although teaching assistant Michelle Cooper said that “it's a judgment call,” and that if someone looks in need of a shampoo and conditioner, they offer that as well. Rogers said that aside from the outside community, around eight students usually have their hair cut throughout the day by students or Rogers himself.

Many of the cosmetology students are capable of finishing a haircut by themselves, but instructors stay nearby to advise them and ensure that the haircut is satisfactory.

“A lot of [the students] are not sophisticated enough to complete the haircut by themselves,” teaching assistant Anne Hannick said.

Students who were not able to cut hair last Monday practiced techniques on doll heads that have real human hair, offered at different lengths at the SMC bookstore. Between 12:30 and 4:30 p.m. that day, six people received haircuts, including a student in the class, SMC institutional research director Hannah Lawler and an SMC student who was indifferent.

Student Christina Meadows, who said she has always loved playing with hair, was a psychology major before she found the cosmetology department.

“I always had friends go through the program here, and I would always see them with different hairstyles,” Meadows said. “I wanted to do what they did.” Meadows has been in the department for the past year.

Free haircuts on Mondays do not have to be scheduled. The class accepts walk-ins throughout the time periods.