Let’s Talk About Your First Time…

Posted on December 17th, 2014 - Written by: Leilani Angel

Let’s Talk About Your First Time…

Sweaty palms, shortness of breath, butterflies fluttering in your stomach and an overall, “OMG” feeling all throughout your body… no, I’m not talking about your first date, I’m talking about your very first appointment with your client. We’ve all been there… if you are a beauty technician or a wellness practitioner, I’m sure you can totally relate to that moment when you realize that you are not practicing on a doll head… you’ve got a real live human being in front of you. Yikes!

1 Famous hairstylists like the iconic Sam McKnight, who is known for his collaborations on the runway with Chanel and Fendi, was even a beginner himself at one point. Everyone has to start somewhere! This got me thinking about our students here at Bellus Academy… what was their first time like? I took my curiosity to the student clinic and salon floor to get the insider scoop!

“After practicing on models, my first day on the floor was not as nerve wracking. The instructors are always around and watching for support and always there when we have a question. My first appointment was a success because of how well prepared I felt knowing that my instructors fully prepared me and gave me the confidence I needed. Overall, it was an exciting and positive experience. I would tell new students to focus on a warm and comforting welcome and spend as much time as possible with your consultation and listen. Pay close attention to your instructor and take a lot of notes and absorb as much as you can when your instructor is talking to your client. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Confidence is everything in the salon.”

-Liz Philo, Cosmetology Student

2 “I was so nervous for my first appointment! I had my facial protocol right by my side and I kept going over all of the steps in my head before my client arrived. When she did arrive I totally stuttered through my consultation and forgot the first few steps in the facial. The appointment turned out just fine and she was really happy with the service but I was definitely a ball of nerves! I would advise future students to not over think it too much. You’re going to be a little nervous and you might feel a little awkward but you are going to feel so much better when you’re done. You just need that first appointment to get you comfortable and in the game. It’s smooth sailing after that!”

“I was so nervous and dreading it all day! When I first touched her face my hands started shaking! Once I got into it, it ended up going really well! I would tell other beginners that nerves are natural but don’t let them get the best of you.”

-Morgan Farris and Kelli Hateh, Esthetics Students

3 “During my first appointment I was concerned that my skills were not up to par. I kept wondering if my client was relaxed and if they were satisfied. My advice to new students would be to always be professional no matter how nervous you get and to try your best. There is always room for improvement. Make mistakes now so you can learn and grow from them. “

-Stephanie Roman, Holistic Healthcare Practitioner Student

The first step down any path can be the most challenging, the most terrifying and also the most exhilarating and the most rewarding thing you will ever do in your life. It’s important to remember that those pesky butterflies in your stomach should give you a boost of confidence as they are cheering you on! If you are thinking about making a change and chasing your dreams don’t just take the first step, make a huge jump!

Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best, “Every artist was first an amateur.”


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Bellus Academy Educator Awarded Prestigious Scholarship

Posted on November 17th, 2014 - Written by: Bellus Academy

Bellus Academy is overjoyed to announce that educator and Cosmetology Curriculum Manager, Lindsey Washbourne, was granted the prestigious “Advanced Scholarship Award” from the Vidal Sassoon Professional Beauty Scholarship Program on behalf of The Beauty Changes Lives Foundation in conjunction with Wella’s Hairdressers at Heart. The award includes a five day course at a Sassoon Academy in North America including travel, lodging and course fees!

Let’s hear what Lindsey has to say about her experience and this colossal opportunity!

“Androgyny meets glamorous sophistication, blurring the lines of gender with shape and a juxtaposition clash of conflicting tone.”

LINDSEY 4-web I believe in the power of classic shape and technique creating unexpected yet suitable beauty. As someone who has personally battled with self-image and an introverted nature, the beauty industry has allowed me to step forward and find not only the unique beauty in others, but also in myself. I’m still surprised at the woman I’ve been able to become.

Competition work is unlike anything you’ll ever create in the salon, working behind the chair. Hours of conceptualization and planning happen before you even attempt to get your hands in hair. Once you begin to bring your concept to life, staying flexible and open minded is a must! Expect the unexpected and don’t have your heart set on one look. I try to plan my look around my model as opposed to trying to squeeze my model into a look. I find this creates the most organic, fluid result and allows you to roll with obstacles as they come. Consider the silhouette, lighting, wardrobe, body proportions and two-dimensional angle of the shot you will ultimately end up with. At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” The only way to be recognized is to take risks, which requires an insane amount of vulnerability. You’re going to experience more disappointments than successes, but the satisfaction of success outweighs, always.

5-web Becoming an educator was never a part of my plan, but my passion for hair and design forced me to be part of a bigger picture. My ultimate goal is to play an integral role in elevating the standards and perception of our industry. Hairdressing is no longer the legacy of the ‘beauty school dropout’; it is an intelligent, challenging, ever changing craft that deserves much more respect than it is traditionally given. Mastering technique and design allows our creativity to flourish at its best. The only way is through not just continued, but quality education – not only for newcomers, but for current industry professionals. Continued education is at the core of all of my career goals. Mastering the craft is key.

Lindsey Washbourne
​Cosmetology Curriculum Manager, Bellus Academy
Design Team & Master Colorist, Wella Professional

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What’s your makeup bag personality?

Posted on November 6th, 2014 - Written by: Amy Masini

What’s your makeup bag personality?

By Leilani Angel

You can’t leave home without it. You’d rather purchase a bigger one than downsize. You might even have an emergency one in your locker or your glove compartment. That’s right beauty enthusiasts, it’s our makeup bag! No matter if it’s in your backpack, your designer handbag or if it’s in your briefcase, the products in your makeup bag can reveal personality traits about you. Now, I am definitely a lover of all things makeup but let’s see what one of my favorite professional makeup artists has to say on the topic…

Based on my professional experience as a makeup artist, there’s a common theme amongst women and their makeup bags. Whether it is with clients, behind the scenes at fashion shows, photo shoots, TV/Film and with my students in class, I can vouch that your makeup bag speaks volumes for your personality. Regardless, if you are a makeup junkie, a minimalist or a gal on the go, we all have a commonality and that is a love affair (sometimes an obsession) with makeup!

-Breanne McNally, Professional Makeup Artist/Bellus Academy Makeup Instructor

So, what does your makeup bag say about you? Let’s find out!

1bag The Bag:
-bright lipsticks
-false eyelashes
-scattered bobby pins from the night before
-eye drops
-hair pieces
-setting spray

BOLD, ADVENTOUROUS AND FEARLESS: You are a saucy diva that is the life of the party!


The Bag: 2bag
-eco tools
-vegan makeup
-lip balm
-mineral powder
-clear mascara
-your headband from Coachella
-sage spray

FREE SPIRITED, DEVOTED AND ARTISTIC:  People gravitate to your sensitive nature. You bring balance into any social circle.


The Bag: 3bag
-red lipstick
-eye shadow primer
-black eyeliner
-whitening strips
-eyelash curler

CHARMING, STYLISH, AND SOPHISTICATED: Your chic style is memorizing and those around you consider you the leader of the pack.

4bag So, what does my makeup bag say about me? For one thing it says that I definitely have a makeup addiction! Also, it says that sometimes I’m bold and take on the day without fear and other times I’m just a free spirited carefree gal wrapped up in my art with random moments of channeling Audrey Hepburn in, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”…sound familiar? That’s the beauty of makeup artistry, it’s just that…a form of art. You can use it as a tool to enhance your natural beauty and express yourself however you choose to whenever you choose to. ..or, maybe I just have too much makeup…said no one ever! #iheartmakeup

By Leilani Angel

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Why Bellus Academy was the best choice for me.

Posted on November 4th, 2014 - Written by: Amy Masini

Heather R. Heather Rikoric is a student at Bellus Academy in Manhattan, Kansas. She has a degree in Journalism/Mass Communications with an emphasis in Psychology from Kansas State University, but decided to pursue her passion for hair in the beauty industry. Read more to see what her post graduation plans are and what her number one hair tip is:

1. Why did you decide to go into the beauty and wellness industry?

I have been obsessed with beauty and didn’t even really know it until it was brought up to me. I did my sister’s hair and makeup while in college and started researching videos on YouTube to find out how to perfect different makeup techniques, nail art and hairstyles. I also have been keeping up with different product lines and trends each season. I went to Ulta one day to get my hair done and talked to my stylist who thought I was a stylist already with my knowledge and she told me I really needed to go to beauty school. So, after hearing my mom say it, my dad, my sister and now my stylist, I decided that it was time to turn my obsessive hobby into a successful career and make it my life instead of a hobby.

2. Have you been able to combine your two interests thus far?

Believe it or not, I have! It’s kind of funny because the Admissions Department saw that I have a journalism background and told me “Hey! One day you could be combining these!” I feel that is probably where I will go since it was my dream to work at a magazine. Obviously, journalism is more than just writing stories. Journalism also involves using social media and theories of mass communication, so I log into Facebook when I can and let people know what I am doing and how much I love doing it. I have posted pictures onto my Facebook so people can see what I do, which has actually gained interest with some followers considering going to beauty school. I want people who were like me at the beginning to honestly realize there is more to beauty school than just hair and makeup and “oh, wow we played with some polish today”. It’s SO much more than that!

3. What is your favorite lesson you have learned at Bellus Academy?

There are so many things I have learned from Bellus! I have learned how to better take care of my hair and I like sharing with others what I have learned about hair products and hair techniques (like holding the blow dryer above my head so I don’t frizz out my hair). What I love about the college is you don’t just learn stuff about cosmetology. I guess the most important thing I have learned is self-confidence and learning how to motivate myself to get where I need to go. They have a program that is called “Pacific Institute” so I have learned to be a better “me” and it has seriously changed my life.

4. Any advice for people thinking about pursing an education at Bellus Academy?

Bellus is what Mr. David, the Academy Director, has said it is, a beauty and wellness college, but it’s not just a wellness school for our future clients, but for us as well. This school has plain and simple changed my life. So, if you are thinking of enrolling, DO IT. When I first thought about enrolling, I was terrified because this is a huge career change and I already had a degree so this HAD to be it. It has been the best experience I have ever had and it doesn’t even feel like school. The teachers are SO knowledgeable and they teach you what you need to know and THEN some. I have learned way more than I thought I would learn so you are going to get more than your money’s worth at this school. There are schools out there that will teach you basics but if you want to learn basics and more, Bellus Academy is for you.

5. What are your plans after you graduate?

I want to start off by working at a salon to build my clientele database. I also see myself doing theatre makeup which will help me on my career path to the film industry! Of course, I really like cutting hair or so I have discovered in inspiration class. I could also go back to my original dream of working for a magazine and writing beauty products and trends.



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Va-Va Varnish Salon talks on how they entered the industry!

Posted on October 16th, 2014 - Written by: Amy Masini

Elizabeth Morris, Owner/Operator of Va-Va Varnish, San Diego’s destination for cutting edge nail design, tells us how she got into the industry, what trends she loves for 2015 and more.

Q & A with Elizabeth Morris

Va-Va Varnish Tell us why you’re in the beauty industry:

I officially joined the beauty industry in 2010 when I decided to leave my corporate finance job in the hopes of doing something I truly loved. I have always loved nails and have been doing my own and those of family and friends for a long time, but I didn’t become a licensed nail tech until about four years ago. In 2012 I opened my own nail salon downtown called Va-Va Varnish and it is one of the greatest decisions I ever made. I love everything about this industry. I think the thing that makes it so different is the fact that it is so artistic, passionate and the people and professionals in it are obsessed with beauty. It’s something you choose to do and can be proud of.

Which 2015 nail trends do you think will be most requested at the salon?

Every year more and more people are getting into nail art. One of the biggest trends I see is using texture to bring out designs. Things like gel foil, 3D gel art powders and mosaic art are really getting big. Even our most conservative clients are now coming in and asking for more advanced and elaborate things on their nails.

Any you’re not a fan of?

One of the trends I personally don’t like is bubble nails and hump nails. This is a very recent trend to come about. I personally prefer a more streamlined, natural and beautifully sculpted look so these super thick nails just don’t sit well with me. But to each her own!

What is your favorite nail polish color (brand and name)?

We don’t use a lot of regular nail polish at my salon (mostly gels) but I would have to say one of my favorite brands is Morgan Taylor. It’s a newer brand that was started by Danny Haile and David Daniel from Gelish (Hand & Nail Harmony).  It’s hard to pick just one color. I really like all their colors, bottle design and consistency, but if I had to pick one it would be “Sweetest Thing”.  It’s a really pretty rose gold glitter polish. As far as gel polish I am obsessed with Akzentz. It’s a Canadian company that makes all of its products in house and they are best I have found to date. I use all of their gel polishes, soak off and hard gels. My favorite color from Akzentz is “Bluebelle”.

Tell us about the most outrageous manicure request you have ever received:

The craziest manicure request I ever received was actually a request for duck feet nails. I had only ever seen them in pictures but I got a client that wanted electric yellow duck feet nails with tons of glitter. It was a challenge as I had never done it before but they turned out really nicely and the client was super happy. Not my aesthetic but it’s good to know how to do just about anything and do it well.

Why do you think nail artistry is finally getting the attention it deserves as a key player in the beauty industry?

Nail art in my opinion is kind of like tattoos. Tattoos started out as a major taboo that were reserved for lower class individuals, criminals, sailors, etc., but now is evolving into an accepted art form that allows people to express themselves. Similarly, for a long time the traditional views of society have deemed nail art to be outlandish, unprofessional, low class, and outspoken.  A lot of clients used to tell me the same things, “I could never wear that to work,” or “that’s too wild for me.”  Even I would get judged sometimes for having neon green toe nail polish or blue glitter. But what I end up seeing now is the mere quantity of nail art we see in magazines, on celebrities, on friends, is now driving a higher comfort level across the board. The more people are bombarded with the idea of nail art, the more it becomes something that seems fun and acceptable.  People crave ways to differentiate themselves from others. They want to be able to show their personality and express themselves and I think nail art is a great and temporary way to do that. You can switch up your nail art every day if you want to and use inspiration from outfits, seasons, holidays, or just about anything to spice up your day.

Tell us about your Crystal Culture class.

Crystal Culture is one of the many classes I offer.  The cool thing about this class is it’s backed by Swarovski (the official and amazing Austrian crystal company that we all love).  The class was started by two amazing and award-winning nail techs, Viv Simmonds and Gina Silvestro. The class teaches nail techs how to integrate high-end Swarovski nail art into their appointments as both a money maker and a wow factor. It gives nail techs a competitive edge and invaluable skills that can be used to apply just about anything onto nails. I really like this class because it doesn’t just focus on technical skills. It also focuses on being a better business person which is just as important when it comes to being a successful and professional nail tech. The intent is to nurture, mentor and assist nail techs in building their businesses by teaching retail skills and additional services to add to their treatment menus. It also assists them with troubleshooting and perfecting the salon style nails in various mediums. Each attendee receives genuine Swarovski nail kits, tools and training to expertly create this high end nail art. Crystal Culture certification is given at the end of the session and it is open to all education levels. Registration is available each month via the following link: bit.ly/crystalclass.

French manicures: timeless or tacky?

Definitely timeless. French manicures and sculptured french nails I think will always be a classic and mastering them is one of the most important skills for any nail tech. Why?  Because there’s no hiding a bad french manicure. It must be clean, well-balanced and beautiful, or it will look sloppy. A lot of affluent clients love french manicures, but if not executed well you can lose business quickly, so I recommend everyone practices them regardless of whether you prefer them or not. They are also a staple in most nail competitions.

Who is your dream client and why?

My dream client isn’t really a specific person but more so a type of person. I prefer someone who loves the experience of being pampered. They value the health of their nails, they yearn to express themselves and experiment through color and art, and they want a high quality experience. Just like choosing a doctor, they take their salon choice seriously and enjoy high quality service. I also love bringing people “to the light” so I guess to pick one dream client it would be Theresa Caputo (the Long Island Medium). Her nails need a major update!  :)

What advice do you have for aspiring nail industry professionals?

My top bit of advice would be STAY PROFESSIONAL.  I can’t tell you how many young aspiring nail techs I see that burn bridges with coworkers, employers and clients by acting unprofessional or getting too casual at work. You never know where each opportunity will take you so it is important to maintain your reputation and consistently show people what a high-quality individual you are. Even if you want to quit a job, make sure you do it professionally and never resort to acting out or succumbing to your emotions. Everything comes full circle and I can’t tell you how many major opportunities have come my way because people rely on my professionalism, loyalty and honesty. Good reputations are very difficult to build but they are extremely easy to destroy.

For more information about the chic nail salon in Downtown San Diego, visit: www.vavavarnish.com

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student testimonial

"I enrolled at Bellus Academy in 2009. I enrolled in the make-up course with Ms. Judy and the Esthetics Program with Miss Larissa and Miss Olga. Since day one the teachers and staff have been amazing. I could not have asked for more out of a school and teaching staff. I feel very fortunate and happy that this school is available and can accommodate such fantastic services."

Ellie Davis, Esthetics & Make-Up Artistry Program

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