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Cosmetology Schools Market Data and Statistics

cosmetology hair styles
If you're looking for industry statistics on beauty schools, cosmetology schools, or barber schools, look no further. The market research report contains all the information you need to know about the industry: market size, market forecast, state level market distribution, financial ratios, and a list of the largest beauty schools in the US.

History and Trends of the Cosmetology Industry

The cosmetology industry has seen many changes and transformations since the first school was opened in the early 19th century by self made female entrepreneur and millionaire, Sarah Breedlove. Although technically cosmetology has been around for over 6,000 years, the actual teaching and training of students is much more infantile. The history of cosmetology is rich and versatile; the founders and innovators skilled and morphing. As the times and consumer demands fluctuate, so does the cosmetology industry, all in an effort to make the world a more beautiful place, the people in it ravishing.[1]

The cosmetology industry dictates the latest trends in all that is hair, skin, and nails. Having the monopoly on beauty, it has shifted and shaped looks and beauty care since ancient Egyptian times. For all intense purposes, Egyptians are the first to be documented as using what we now know as make-up. For this culture beauty was not skin deep and it was thought that with the eye, one could see straight into a person's soul casting said person as either good or evil. Thus they began experimenting with eye makeup as early as 3000 B.C. Additionally, some of the ingredients utilized in creating the makeup also served medicinal purposes. Much of the ingredients served as protection of the eyes as workers and children spent long days in the blazing sun. Copper, one of the key ingredients was thought to protect the eyes from the sun's harmful rays.

Ingeniously Egyptian women would use what was then available to them. Ingredients such as beeswax and animal fat were conjured into pastes; while plants were crushed to not only add supple conditioning for skin, but also to add the vibrant colors needed to illuminate the eyes.[2]

For this and other cultures beauty and cleanliness was right next to Godliness and these cultures spent an absorbent amount of time using pumice stones and razor like objects removing hair from the body and moisturizing their skin to perfection. The entire body would be shaven and the head replaced with wigs. For the rich, human hair was used along with beeswax; for lesser fortunate felt and other textiles were used.

Hebrews and Greeks soon followed and the Greeks themselves coined the phrase 'cosmetology' meaning "skilled in the use of cosmetics." Although not as flashy as the Egyptians, these cultures did seek cosmetology for medicinal and hygiene purposes.

Within the Elizabethan era the more makeup and complex the hair style, the wealthier one was. Excess was coveted. That is until the Victorian Era hit and women were less about flair and more about covering up.

cosmetology school mannequin
Fast forward thousands of years and the Americanized version and outlook on the cosmetology industry has become indigenous with beauty, royalty and success. Actresses like Garbo and Dietrich made cosmetology the in thing again, and makeup was synonymous with beauty and sex. Not only that, but alcohol and petroleum had become pivotal ingredients in makeup and after WWII manufacturing businesses were booming thus spurring the economy.[3]

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2010, 712,200 individuals were employed in the cosmetology field and that number is expected to raise approximately 14% by the year 2020.[4] This is not a shocking number to anyone who follows the media outlets, as actors and musicians continue to set the precedent within the fashion and beauty world. In fact, the U.S Census Bureau ascertains that the cosmetology industry nets approximately $19 billion dollars per year with no signs of decreasing in the near future.[5] Much of that number is directly linked to how the media conveys beauty. Another link to the increase came about with the 1980's boom with women entering the workforce, and in general began to seek higher, more profiled and professional positions. With those positions came the need for a polished and authoritative look.

Generationally, the cosmetology industry has wavered greatly. Each decade brought with it the trendiest looks and must haves; concurrently when the 1990's hit and the metro-sexual male became predominant, the industry honed in on a whole new population complete with hair coloring and manicures for the business man as well as the surfer babe. Here's a snapshot look at how the industry has become metamorphic in the last 40 years.


Everything in the 80's was big: salaries, hair, clothes and makeup. Much like the 60's high-do beehives, women flocked to the full service salons challenging their hairstylists to make their hair the biggest and boldest on the block. The hairspray industry skyrocketed as consumers meshed and molded their teased out tresses to phenomenal heights. Cyndi Lauper set the stage not only for catchy, blazing lyrics but also was the trendsetter for hair coloring. Suddenly blondes and brunettes were yesterday's news. Golden tresses were replaced with colors such as titanium blue and purple passion.

Likewise, makeup took a colorful turn. Although the 1970's initiated the infamous blue eye shadow that gleamed on the disco floors, the 80's brought about 'face painting'-literally. Caked on palettes were in and the brighter the better. The cosmetology industry dictated that high cheekbones (thank you Linda Evangelista) were to die for and the 80's ladies painted and defined them to the max. The industry also began to get more creative with hair care. Out came crimping irons and razor sharp clippers that could make designs on the scalp. The irons afforded even the limpest hair with shy high volume.


The 1990's influenced the cosmetology industry phenomenally. Hair bands made long hair and highlights on men popular which meant more visits to the barber or salon for this population. For the businessman crew cuts and even shaved heads were the way to go. Women traded in their punk and high hair for pixie styles and bone straight do's that were popular in the 60's (remember the 'Rachel'?).

All the while new trends were becoming popular which further induced the cosmetology industry. Facial and body masks began a life of their own; chemical exfoliates and aromatherapies were the new age ideal and this posed a problem for cosmetology schools and students alike. They were not equipped or educated wholly on these methods. Suddenly cosmetology schools scrambled to educate themselves and their students on these new protocols. Students and teachers alike were traveling all over the world in an effort to learn the new tricks of the trade because consumer demand dictated it. Both sexes had shifted their ideals from simply looking good on the outside to a more holistic approach of beauty begins from within and works its way out. Hair treatments such as hot oils also became frequently requested in salons. All the damage done from the harsh 80's now needed mending and the hair treatments of the 90's answered that call.[6]


The 2000's were also a radical time in the cosmetology schools industry. By this time many cosmetologists had joined or were joining national associations such as the National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts because it lent credence to their field. Many chose to return to school and get advanced degrees in cosmetology sciences and chemical sciences as well as studying holistic approaches such as aromatherapy. Others schooled themselves in skin care techniques such as laser hair removal and cosmetic surgery. Acrylic nail technicians also became abundant. The new decade called for advances within this realm and soon business entrepreneurs were opening up spa salons that met consumer's needs not only in hair and makeup but also nails, skin care and tanning.[7]

Present Day

Alas, 2012 still brings heavy interest in cosmetology and with it a new wave of thinking. With everything going green, the emphasis is not only on beauty, but how to be beautiful while preserving Mother Earth. The cosmetology industry now has a flurry of green friendly products, animal testing is at an all time low and harsh chemicals are becoming obsolete. Herbal exponents are also a popular study and trend in this industry as humans are fighting the aging process in an effort to add longevity to life and beauty regimes. Using folkloric trends from long ago, the emphasis on fighting aging is among the top on the list in the cosmetology industry and many salon owners and retailers are adding these extracts to their manufactured products. Body wraps in aloe and jojoba are increasingly popular.

One area that has begun to diminish is tanning beds. Though many still utilize them, people now are more educated on the harmful effects of UV rays, and there is a declining need and desire for tanning and more emphasis on self tanners and even the fair glow of au natural.[8]

New developments and trends in laser dermatology and skin care are incorporated every day. Looking better in lesser time will play a pivotal role as our lives and schedules continue to be hectic. There is still today a captivating need to look and be our best, and the cosmetology industry will surely pave the way as they have throughout the decades for newer and improved products and procedures. Cosmetology schools are now offering a wide variety of new classes and breaks for students who need loans. The average cost of cosmetology school in 2012 according to the American Association of Cosmetology Schools ranges between $6500.00 to $10,000.00 in metropolitan cities or advanced schools with more competitive programs and requires on average 1600 hours of training prior to taking the test for certification and licensing. The U.S Department of Labor cites hairdressers, skin care specialists and nail technicians as the most prominent of cosmetology fields with an expect increase in demand to be about 20% in forthcoming years.[9]


[1] History of Cosmetology
[2] Analysis of the Cosmetics Industry
[3] Barbers, Hairdressers, and Cosmetologists Summary
[4] Barbers, Hairdressers, and Cosmetologists Job Outlook
[5] US Census Bureau
[6] Careers in Focus: Cosmetology
[7] Ferguson Publishing - 2008 -
[8] Indoor Tanning Dangerous
[9] American Association of Cosmetology Schools