No appointment necessary: Star stylists at the Santa Monica College Salon

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The winning entry

Santa Monica College cosmetology student Inga Jargalsaikhan says she didn’t enter the Junior Style Stars hair competition to win.  She just wanted to see what she could do.  Each of the 315 entrants in the national contest received a mannequin and then had to dye, cut, and style the hair, as well as accessorize, along a bridal theme.  A panel of 17 judges handed Inga first place last week: $5k cash, and $50k in prizes.

In her native Mongolia, hair is a far simpler matter than it is for many women in the United States.  “They just wash and comb,” said Inga, who recently dyed her hair a gorgeous, surprisingly natural red (given that her natural hair color is jet black.)  Until she came to SMC, she said she was more interested in the business side of beauty than she was in being a stylist.

The winner, and her mentor (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Studying with instructor Helen LeDonne changed that.  LeDonne is a second-generation stylist who’s led the department at SMC for 14 years.  She says 85 percent of the business of hair is psychology and customer service.  Learning how to interact with people is as key as learning technique, chemistry, electricity.  That’s why the school operates an on-campus salon, open to all.  Eleven bucks for a blow dry and ten bucks for a manicure.   No appointment necessary!

Closed Monday. In the Business building on the campus of SMC. Call for hours: 310-434-4292