Choosing A Course Provider

With so many training schools and courses to choose from, how do you know what’s best and right for you?

Here’s what Master Lash Stylist Julie Knight wished that she had asked before she took her first training courses when starting out. Her experience has shaped the training opportunities she provides for her students as a consequence.

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1.     Is the course accredited by a reputable body so you can obtain the necessary insurance to practice?

This is essential as you need to have insurance cover you to practice. If you’re already in Beauty, you need to ensure that your existing insurance provider will cover you once you have completed the course.

All of my courses are accredited by The Guild of Beauty Therapists and Lash Inc.

2.     Does the course attract Continuous Professional Development (CPD) points as a testament to learning and development?

The accrediting body advise on the amount of CPD that you can earn on successful completion of a course. The higher the CPD, the greater the learning and development structure. There’s more about CPD here

I have deliberately designed my courses to earn high earning CPD.

3.     Training courses vary in cost, but is it value for money?

Excellent training does isn’t cheap and cheap training is often money wasted as Julie can attest. Julie has completely retrained students who have undertaken cheaper courses and she’s also enrolled to see for herself! Ask yourself, ‘does this company want to help me to succeed or are they just after my money?’ You get what you pay for . . .

I truly believe that poor training puts you, your clients and our industry at risk. The same is true if you have taken a great course but that was many years ago. You may network on Social Media but a lot of well-intentioned advice that’s on offer is not accredited and are often unsafe or unclean practices.

4.     What does the course include?

Some courses offer a kit that’s included in the price and others invite you to purchase one. If you’re new to the industry, you don’t know what you need. Is your course provider is affiliated to a product brand? If so, that’s what you’ll get. That’s okay if its good quality and the products are relevant. Top tip – run for the hills if their kit contains a tray or bag of loose 0.25mm thick J curl lashes as these are very ‘old-school’!

Check if you can use other brands after you qualify. Some brands cleverly tie you to theirs and with the opportunity to test the market, you might find that other brands work better for you and are better value for money.

5.     What supporting materials come with your course?

This is important. In social media forums, I constantly see our colleagues asking questions about some of the must fundamental basics as they haven’t been taught and haven’t practiced them. This truly horrifies me.

No one should be learning the essentials by asking colleagues on social media. Who’s to say that they are right and whether you’ll be insured if you follow it and it goes wrong?

This is why my courses are comprehensive and far from cheap! I won’t leave someone in this vulnerable position. I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night!

You shouldn’t learn essential aspects about this delicate treatment by making mistakes on the job. That puts people in danger. That puts you at risk of litigation. That harms the reputation of our industry. This is why all of Julie’s materials are comprehensive with full colour illustrations that are backed up with helpful videos to cater for the different ways that people like to learn.

6.    What training materials come with your course?

I’ve been on training courses with no course manuals, ones with very little in them and others that are a black and white photocopies of a photocopy!

A comprehensive full colour illustrated manual acts as your reference guide. Better still, with supporting videos that you can refer back to.

7.     Can you take pictures or film part of the course or demonstration?

Your trainer may be talking you through a presentation or demonstrating an intricate technique. I’ve been on several courses where I wasn’t allowed to take photos of the presentation or film the trainer in action as a way to remember it. Is this value for money?

I offer students a copy of the presentation so they can make their own notes against each slide and I’m happy to be filmed as I work! There’s a caveat though – it’s for personal use and not to be placed on social media!

8.     How quick can I qualify?

There are courses where you can get your certificate in a day and on the day. Others takes longer as they require a mix of face to face tutoring along with independent learning to consolidate your knowledge and understanding.

Don’t be fooled by speed and price. This is not a quick skill to master and it just cannot be done in a day! Your training course and certification is just the start of your lash learning. It’s a journey and you need to make sure that your course provider is there to guide you to flourish rather than flounder.

9.     How big are the class sizes?

You need to know this. You’ll have more time with your tutor in one to one or small class setting. You’ll need it. Imagine that your tutor is demonstrating an intricate technique right in front of a big group gathered around them. Can you really see and take in what they’re doing? You need to be up close so you are right on their shoulder and you may need to see things repeatedly without other eager students trying to do the same and getting in your way.

One to one or very small classes offer that opportunity along with the chance to learn at your own pace and preferred learning style.

10.     Do I have to ‘pass’ the course’ and am I assessed?

Many short courses offer a certificate at the end of the one day session. You may have only applied a lash or two on a training head or model without a degree of supervision, coaching or assessment. Would you now feel confident to treat a member of your family, your best friend or a paying client? Perhaps not and I certainly wasn’t.

It should be necessary to achieve a standard that the training school has set and agreed with their accrediting body.

It should be necessary to achieve a standard that the training school has set and agreed with their accrediting body. If a student is struggling to meet that standard, a good trainer would work with them to devise a realistic development plan that may involve continued practice and an assessment at a later date. A reputable training school will not certify someone who has not reached the required standard and is not ready for it. It puts them, others and the industry at risk.

In some cases, no matter how determined the student and how great the teacher, there are times when a student needs to hear that this is not the career for them as they have yet to demonstrate that they can perform the treatment safely. A good trainer would not shy away from ‘having that conversation’. After all, that training school would be certifying that they’ve trained the student to a competent level to apply lashes using sharp tweezers and adhesive that’s similar to superglue! Would you want that person anywhere near yours? Thought not!

Students are usually assessed by observation and questioning to check their knowledge and understanding during their time with their tutor. Further assessment of skill and knowledge consolidation is often done through independent learning. Many training schools invite students to submit a portfolio of case studies for assessment. Furthermore, I ask students to constantly reflect and consider what went well and why, what didn’t go so well and why and what will they would do differently next time. If you keep practicing this way, you will continuously improve your service. Otherwise, if you do what you have always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got…that’s not self-improvement.

11.    Does the trainer ‘do eyelash extensions’?

If your trainer also services a client base, then they’re using their skills and that’s important. If they keep their professional knowledge and skills up to date by taking courses and networking, they’re likely to be a better tutor.

12.  Are trainers who are award winning lash stylists better?

I think not. These are two very distinct skills. A lash stylist may be a fantastic lasher who’s won a competition or few but that doesn’t make them a fantastic trainer.

13. Should I be guided by word of mouth or reviews?

Reviews and word of mouth recommendations are great but they are not the whole story! I booked my first lash course following on a recommendation and it was awful. I had a very different background to the person who recommended it as they admittedly take things at face value whereas I question everything and want to ensure that facts are facts and not myths! It goes to show how subjective recommendations can be.

14.    Will you get to practice on a model?

There’s a big difference between placing extensions on false lashes fixed to a training head and treating the real thing. The adhesive behaves differently when bonding a plastic extension to a real hair. Also, lashing a real person can be a very daunting experience and it should be done under close supervision to ensure that students are both competent and confident to treat when their trainer isn’t there!

15.  Will students practice on each other?

You need to know if some of your time with your tutor will be spent as a model for other students. Whilst you get to experience what it is like to be treated, and by a ‘newbie’, you’re missing out on practice time and is that what you’ve paid your course fees for?

16.    Would online training suit me better?

Do check whether you can obtain the necessary insurance cover if you complete an online course. They’re an alternative for those who can’t travel to a good trainer or have other demands on their time and want to study that their pace, e.g. around work or childcare. It’s also a way to revisit sections of a course too.

Whilst this is convenient, do ask yourself if you’ll get what you need from it as we all have different learning styles and needs. Face to face training can correct or adjust a wealth of things that will make all the difference between ‘getting it’ or ‘trying your best at it’. You’ll be able to interact with your tutor at the time and they can see what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. With online training, no camera angled demonstration will be as good as someone beside you, guiding you through as you practice. Often, a slight adjustment on the position of the tweezers and the tension can make all the difference!

17.    Will your tutor still be willing to offer advice after you have completed their course?

There will always be queries that crop up that you want to bounce off someone you trust, no matter how experienced you are. Many good training schools offer ongoing advisory support and this is invaluable. Sadly, too many people are turning to social media forums for advice rather than support and I often worry about the implications of this. It’s well-intentioned but not always safe and clean practice that would keep you insured.