Never Again #1: Alhambra Beauty College

It was the winter of 1998, and I was but a wee lad living in Pasadena, and humbly eking out an existence from the rough terrain of medical education, when one of my classmates mentioned to me that she had just had her haircut and she had paid only two dollars. Two dollars? Two dollars? Who ever heard of such a thing. Well, the Alhambra Beauty College lets students cut your hair, as part of the learning process, and for this service you pay only a pittance. As a student whose education relies upon the patience of others, and more particularly their willingness to submit themselves to my inexperienced practice, I immediately liked the idea. Not only am I getting a haircut, I am providing a service, giving back if you will, doing my part to train the hairstylists of tomorrow.

So I went, and it wasn’t the best haircut I had ever received, but it also wasn’t the worst. I grew having my mom cut my hair, and generally maintaining a shaggy mop that covered my eyes at least as much as I could get away with. Even after I graduated from mom-salon, it was always the $9 mall haircut for me, or the barber in college. On and off, over the years since then, I have returned to the Alhambra Beauty College, never with high expectations, but also not with an impending sense of dread. In the last few months I have visited twice, and that is enough for me.

First of all, the price has gone up to four dollars (2 more if you want your hair washed). I know, I know, 6 dollars is still an unparalleled bargain. Or is it? The Vidal Sassoon Academy in Santa Monica also offers student haircuts, and if you have a student ID the cost is only $10. For your $10, you actually get a very good haircut. The instructors manage (some might say micro-manage) the students, and though the experience can drag on for up to three hours, it is a pleasant experience all around, and you walk away looking good. The same cannot be said for the Alhambra Beauty School.

For the $4 you get to hold on to, you give up any sense of well being you feel during the process, and any chance of being able to communicate with your hair-cutter in English. I’m not talking about holding a conversation here. I’m not one of the people who likes to chat while their getting a haircut, quite the opposite. But, I do expect to able to say words like “longer” and “shorter” without having to charade their meanings. It seems to me that if someone were to start cutting hair, those might be the first English words they learn. Apparently this is not always the case.

What I will say, in defense of the Alhambra Beauty school, is that they give a wonderful hair washing. The process usually lasts 15 to 20 minutes and includes a thorough scalp massage. Well worth the $2 fee. The haircut, and the whole haircutting experience may be a mark overpriced at $4. It’s a schlep to get out to Santa Monica to Vidal Sassoon, and using their services may mean I go longer between haircuts, but mark my words: I WILL NEVER GO TO THE ALHAMBRA BEAUTY COLLEGE AGAIN.

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6 Comments

Filed under Never Again

6 responses to “Never Again #1: Alhambra Beauty College

  1. I think this post should be accompanied by a photo.

  2. Peter

    You must have a vendetta against ABC.
    Maybe you should learn some chinese too.

  3. Chuck Bass

    Same thing happened to me and a friend of mine. I lived in Cal State LA dorms for a while so my friend calls me to tag along for a hair cut. He gets this girl that was not only devoid of understanding English, but she was cross-eyed as well (I’m not making this up). I went only for a haircut but the guy didn’t even spray my hair to wet it. So he dragging this comb through my hair while I cringed.

  4. Jess

    You guys think that is bad imagine having to be there everyday as a student. The reason the haircuts are so subpar in my opinion is the complete lack of guidance from the teachers there. It is so horribly run by these Asian non-cosmos who see it more as a business than a school. I truly have nothing against asians at all however just as much if you are not one of them you will be treated unfairly. The passing rate is 53% and I truly feel like going here I sacrificed a decent education which depresses me. Going in I was all pumped up about doing hair and eager to learn but dealing with the impatience and lack of support from the teachers (or at least most of them) I wonder if I made a right choice. I would not get my haircut here for free and yes the haircuts do suck but now you have an explanation as to why they do. If you are considering this as a school and are not Chinese you may want to reconsider and go to your local adult school ABC sucks!

    • Anonymos

      I agree with you. Im a student there at abc. The owner who only cares about making money not the students. Runs the school very poorly. She recently hired a few new teachers who are very good at what they do and are trying to help students and make the school better. But somehow she has a problem with them trying to better the school she is lucky they are still there i wont be surprised if they quit. If you arent asian desent you will get discriminated! thats just it! I think the school needs to promoted to people who can actually speak english and the owner should quit and hand the job to someone who has passion for it and experience she has none!!Cant wait too get out of this place!

  5. Great post. I’d agree that would be a good price lol.

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