What to Expect in Your First Cosmetology Student Kit

As most current and former cosmetology students will tell you, orientation often feels a bit like Christmas morning. In addition to discovering all the exciting skills you're about to learn and meeting your classmates and instructors, you're also likely to receive a large case of cosmetology essentials known as "the kit."

Your student kit should contain all the supplies, beauty products, and essential tools needed to perform the hair, skin, and nail services you'll be tested on in your state board exams. You'll go on to use and grow your kit throughout your cosmetology career. It will become your trusty sidekick, your best friend, and your key to success.

What's In a Cosmetology Student Kit?

Every cosmetology school has a distinct list of must-haves for student kits. Some may contain makeup or skincare products, for example, while others may not. Some include their own branded items—for instance, Toni & Guy or Paul Mitchell—while others may have an assortment of preferred beauty brands.

Before you purchase anything for your kit, be sure you understand what is or isn't provided for you by the school and whether there are any particular brands or styles you should or shouldn't purchase.

The following is a list of supplies that cosmetology students often have in their kits. Your school's list may differ.

Cosmetology Tools

  • Combs: Assortment of combs, ranging from detangling to cutting, rat-tail, and different tooth widths for longer or shorter hair
  • Brushes: Vent, nylon bristle, round, paddle, chemical applicator
  • Scissors: Various lengths of cutting shears, thinning shears
  • Clips: Alligator, butterfly, or duckbill style, and, in some cases, hairpins
  • Shaving tools: Straight razors, shaving brushes
  • Makeup applicators: Assorted brushes, sponges
  • Tweezers
  • Manicure set: Nail clippers, cuticle pushers, cuticle nippers, emery boards, polishes, toe separators, nail tips, acrylic and brushes
  • Hair rollers: Assorted sizes, may also include permanent rods
  • Spray bottle
  • Hair dye bowl
  • Mirror
  • Wax and wax strips
  • Eyelash curler

Beauty Products

Some kits may include products such as shampoo and conditioner, styling products, hair spray, or skincare products, while others don't. Schools like Aveda and Paul Mitchell typically want students to use their branded beauty products. Be sure you familiarize yourself with your school's list. Typical salon-quality products may include:

  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Leave-in conditioner or hair mask
  • Heat protectant
  • Styling lotion or mousse
  • Hairspray
  • Skincare products: Moisturizers, cleansers, exfoliants, toners, makeup remover
  • Nail polishes: Colors, base and top coat, polish remover, wipes
  • Makeup palette: Blush, lipstick, eyeshadows, eyeliners, mascara

Equipment and Apparel

  • Mannequin heads: Multiple heads with varying hair textures and lengths, along with tripods or chair stands to post the head for ease of use
  • Hair dryer: Should have multiple heat settings, titanium or ceramic grill for even heating, long cord, ergonomic handle, excellent manufacturer warranty, lightweight, with accompanying attachments (diffuser, concentrator)
  • Curling iron: Marcel style with locking/rotating handle, titanium or ceramic barrel, excellent warranty
  • Straightening iron: Titanium or ceramic plates, lightweight, slim design, temperature control, excellent warranty
  • Electric trimmer and attachments
  • Capes: May include caps for dry and wet hair
  • Stylist apron and/or pouch
  • Latex gloves
  • Uniform, smock, or required shirt: Your school may provide you with a required uniform, shirt, or smock. Otherwise, plan to wear all-black, comfortable clothes and closed-toed shoes with your apron.

Other Items

Given the number of items in your kit, you’ll need a large case in which to keep all these items. Many schools provide bags or cases containing the necessary supplies, while others may ask you to purchase a bag. These may be roller-style cases, resembling a suitcase, while others may be backpacks or duffel bags.

To organize your kit, you might need to purchase small pouches and clear containers to allow you to see what's inside at a glance.

Many schools provide textbooks and iPads or other tablets—or an iPad case—for readily accessing needed apps and resources or completing cosmetology theory assignments.

Finally, it may be tempting to provide items that you already own and love to save a buck (if you're purchasing items to supplement your student kit). However, remember that many items in a cosmetology kit are salon quality, which differ from home consumer items.

These items are intended to be used by professionals and be used multiple times daily. For example, you might love your curling iron, but cosmetology schools tend to prefer the Marcel style of curling iron, which lacks a spring, allowing for better control for the stylist to rotate the handle rather than the barrel. If your school provides you with or suggests that you purchase a particular type of product, it's best to use what's recommended.

Where Do I Get a Cosmetology Student Kit?

Every school has its own policy on the kit. Many schools—for example, Paul Mitchell—The School, Aveda Institutes, and Empire Beauty Schools—provide their own kit during the first day or first few weeks of school.

However, it’s possible you may need to purchase one on your own. If this is the case, you can often find preassembled cosmetology kits on Amazon or Walmart's website, or at beauty supply outlets such as Gielle or Pivot Point. You may not be able to get everything you need in a premade kit, but you can supplement it with individual items, which is less expensive than assembling your kit completely from scratch.

Cosmetology Student Kit Unboxing

Unboxing time! Here, you can see what cosmetology student kits look like as their owners open theirs for the first time.

Danielle Rounds, Toni & Guy

Lyna Hao, Paul Mitchell The School, Pasadena

Jania Aaliyah

Cosmetology