Judging and training hairdressers on the world stage

Siobhan Loos, Richards' Creative and Advanced Design educator and WorldSkills hairdressing judge. Regina’s Siobhan Loos knows hair.

So much so, in fact, that she’s recognized both nationally and internationally as a hairdressing expert.

Loos is a member of the prestigious WorldSkills Team Canada.

That has taken her to competitions all over Canada, as well as London, England and Leipzig, Germany both training and judging hairdressers.

“We have two sets of judges,” she explained.

One set of judges oversees the creative process “to make sure everything is going OK,” and the other set judges the finished work.

“In Canada, I’m part of the first set, because I am usually training a student and would recognize their work,” Loos said. “But when I go international, I’m the other a final (judge).

Judging on the world stage is a major commitment.

“It can be exhausting,” Loos admitted. “You are up at 5:30 a.m., and you are not back until 8:30 p.m. And you are going the whole time.”

After 10 days at this hectic pace, Loos said she was glad to be storm-stayed in a hotel in Toronto for two days on her way back to Regina following her most recent judging experience overseas in Leipzig.

Loos has made a lifelong commitment to the art of hairdressing.

“I have been a hairstylist all my life,” the 47-year-old instructor at Richard’s Beauty College and Esthetics said. “I have been teaching for about 18 years … I teach colour theory and an advanced design class.”

“I really enjoy it,” Loos said. “I like working with students.”

Not all students at the beauty college are cut out for the demanding and expensive hair competitions.

“There’s always just a certain percentage that come through that have that passion,” Loos said.

Not only do they need the skills, competitors need stamina.

“It’s mentally and physically exhausting,” Loos said.

Competitors need to be disciplined. Preparing for competitions involves an incredible amount of repetitiveness, she pointed out. “You have to practise, practise, practise. There’s no way around it … You have to repeat the same thing over and over again.

Time management is crucial. Stylists must break down the timing of creating their hairstyle, so they can get through all the steps necessary to accomplish what they need to within the allotted time period, which is typically three to four hours. That includes doing a technical cut, applying a colour and strategically placed foils, as well as styling the hair.

Not only does participating in hairdressing competitions involve a major time commitment, there’s a substantial financial commitment involved, as well.

“It’s thousands of dollars,” Loos said, adding that sponsorships help cover some costs.

To create a fair playing field, “high quality mannequin heads” are used, rather than live models, she explained.

They don’t come cheap. Male mannequin heads average $250 to $300, while female heads average $130 to $200, and upwards. Male mannequin heads tend to be more expensive because the heads are larger and a lot have full beards, Loos said. Competition mannequin heads feature glass eyes with eyelashes, and the ears are designed so earrings can be put on.

Competition mannequin heads can only be used once. “And you can’t just have two or three mannequins,” Loos pointed out. “You need dozens of mannequin heads to practise on.”

Hairdressing competitions provide an ideal opportunity to hone skills. Competitors need to stay abreast of new technology, continuously challenge their own creativity, and be aware of new, modern looks, she said. And that benefits salons in the long-run.

Regina definitely has the talent to participate on the world stage, Loos insisted.

“Just because we are a little smaller city doesn’t mean we are any less styling,” she said. “We go out of our way to be creative and give back.”

“Regina has a very, very good foundation when it comes to fashion and hair,” Loos said. “We are right in there with the big cities.”

Story: Irene Seiberling, Leader Post

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