What to Expect in Your First Cosmetology Student Kit

Many students starting beauty school are excited, nervous and a little overwhelmed. Receiving your first beauty school student kit makes the whole thing more real for you and brings the excitement home. Beauty school students talk about it as if they are opening holiday presents. They express a sense of pride and accomplishment for having gotten this far in the process, and are feeling they have set their futures into motion. Their long-awaited dream has started to become reality!

The standard full cosmetology student kit comes with everything the student will need to learn to perform every basic service for a client. Kits can be purchased online already created for a particular state and their licensing requirements, or various general kits can be ordered. Students can choose whether their kit comes in a rolling suitcase, a rolling aluminum case, or a rolling plastic kiosk with drawers. Inside the kit are sets of combs, brushes, shears, scissors, razors, items for mixing and applying hair color, clips of all kinds, sprays, a blow dryer and diffusers, flat iron, curling irons, perm supplies, hair dyes, apron, capes, coloring caps, mirrors and textbooks. Some kits come with mannequin heads, each with different hair types.

For those whose schools will include manicurist training, kits may include a complete manicure set including mannequin hands and feet, tools for working with artificial and acrylic nails, manicure tools, polishes, polish removers and lotions. Barber kits focus more on men's hair care and shaving needs. Kits include clippers, brushes, combs, razors, capes, sprays, gels, alcohol, powders, face creams, a manikin head, perm rods, mirrors, and towels.

Depending on the kit needed and the school, a student might have to purchase their own plastic gloves, hair samples, neck strips, a perm kit, hand sanitizer, hair spray, conditioning spray, measuring spoons, hair bleach and shaving cream. Most schools will provide students with a list of exactly what items are needed as part of their enrollment package. Many schools have students keep the kit at home, and only bring what is needed for the current week's studies. Other schools have students keep the entire kit locked and stored at the school, so every item is always available.

The pre-made state test kits often don't include a curling iron, hair dryer or lab coat if applicable. In this case, the students would need to bring their own from their regular kit in order to take the test. Students should also check their kits upon arrival, to make sure all items are packed securely and in the right places, and everything is in working condition. Schools emphasize that students must keep their tools and kit materials in top condition because they will be used during the state practical exams. Items should be labeled and sterilized for the practicals, and stored in mini-kits or plastic bags for each procedure. Experienced cosmetology instructors advise bringing extras of almost everything in case something is spilled or dropped during the exam. Students can also purchase specific practical exam kits, already labeled and prepared for any given state's exam. The examination stresses infection control and safety above all other tasks, so students should follow the proper procedures at all times.

If a blood spill occurs or is simulated in the test, students must follow the NIC Health and Safety Standards. A student can be dismissed from the exam immediately for failure to do this. It is also suggested that students bring a container of water to the exam if it will be needed for any section of their state's exam. They may also bring a Thermos of hot water if it will be needed. A basic requirement for all states, however, is that everything is clearly labeled and obviously clean and sterile. Students are also expected to keep their work area clean and sanitary throughout the exam.

Cosmetology student kits can range in price from just a few hundred dollars for smaller kits, to about $1,200 to over $2,500 for the larger, more complete kits - it all depends on what your school's supply list includes. Many schools require mannequin heads, hands and feetas part of the kit to practice the techniques you learn throughout your time at the school. Some schools have student kits available for purchase as a package with tuition and books. Others provide a list of approved vendors and allow students to create their own kits through direct purchases. Still others recommend the purchase of a specific complete kit from a vendor they approve, as long as it includes all the items on their school supplies list.

If a student has purchased a kit from the school, the school typically does not let any item be returned. They consider opening the kit to be opening each individual package within, and therefore used. Kits usually do not include student uniforms or scrubs, so these must be purchased separately. (Check out these adorable cosmetology aprons and frocks.) Usually cosmetology textbooks and exam materials are included in kits purchased through the school. A few schools provide students only with the parts of the kit they will be using in class each week, and by the end of the course, the student will have acquired a full kit and be ready for the licensing exam.

Regardless, students are expected to care for their equipment and their kit carefully, and to replace any broken, lost or damaged items immediately. So, choose the kit that will meet the requirements for the state and the school, and the method of carrying the kit that best suits the student. Then, enjoy opening the presents when they arrive!

Here are some videos of students at various beauty schools walking you through what comes in their school's cosmetology student kit: