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What’s a college beauty network? How to find the best beauty stylists and stores at a PWI

Just last year, in the middle of the pandemic, I moved over 1,000 miles away from home and started college. 

Physically and socially, I felt isolated from my peers. With no traditional orientation or extracurriculars, Zoom became the singular portal to communication. Figuring out college is hard enough without such restrictions, but with them, it is nearly impossible. 

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Going into it, I knew finding a cultural community was going to be essential to my own success during my four years on campus at a PWI (predominantly white institution). During my first fall semester, I joined a student organization for Black women. Since then, I have felt so connected and understood by people who experience our university in a similar way and even address problems I didn’t even know I would have. The main one? Beauty. 

Being a Black woman, especially in a majority non-Black area, can make it difficult to find hairstylists and beauty supply stores who are able to help you. The organization wanted to help its members easily find these resources – a sort of beauty network. 

Such a source is incredibly useful when it comes to making college life a little easier, but not everyone is so fortunate to have one made for them. So, we came up with a guide on how to build your own beauty network while you’re in college. 

Hair 

Hair is often the most necessary and yet hardest-to-find beauty resource. Many people might not be able to do their hair themselves, and while they may plan ahead, choosing to do any dying, cutting, or protective style while on school breaks, it may not always be possible to do so. 

So, when it comes to finding hair-related resources, whether hairstylists who specialize in your type of hair or beauty supply stores to provide the necessary products, your biggest fountain of knowledge is going to be your peers. You may be in group chats with upperclassmen or students from the area who will likely know someone either on campus or in the nearest town that can do your hair or where to shop for hair supplies. 

Online searches and social media can also be incredibly useful as stylists may post their work or former customers will post reviews of stylists and stores. 

Also, if your hair needs are influenced by your culture, such as needing someone who can do Black or Asian, reach out to cultural student organizations on campus. They may be able to ask their members and recommend someone. There may also be another student who can do your hair, typically for a more student-friendly price. 

Nails

You may or may not be able to do your own nails. If you can, then it is likely easy to find the necessary supplies either online through Amazon or another retailer or at a nearby drugstore.

But, if you want or need to go to a nail salon, a little bit of research may be all you need. Similar to finding hairstylists, you can try asking classmates. They may know which one is the least expensive and has the best service. Online reviews for nail salons tend to be plentiful and can be more easily found than hairstylists. In college towns, salons are usually on campus and town centers or in nearby suburban areas. 

Friends and roommates could also be a good resource and you can even bond by doing each other’s nails. 

Makeup and skincare

Shopping in person is ideal for some, especially when it comes to using testers or getting help. The first step to making sure you keep your makeup and skincare products on deck at all times is to identify where you like to shop.

If you prefer more high-end products, look for an Ulta or Sephora. But in a college town, drugstores or big-box stores, like CVS, Walgreens, Target, or Walmart, can also be helpful, especially when you need something quickly.

If your college is in a larger city, it might also be worth going online and finding small cosmetic stores, as they often have more specialty products and more frequent sales.

When all else fails though, online is your best friend. There are tons of options for online beauty retailers and plenty of coupons out there for them. They tend to have fast shipping and are often more budget-friendly, too.