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A career in cosmetology is often presented with its most glamorous foot forward. A not-so-glamorous and often overlooked part of working as a cosmetologist is investing in more suitable over more fashionable footwear. When working as a hairstylist, the best footwear is not strictly up to your personal sense of style. Instead, think in terms of high function over high fashion when it comes to workplace safety, work conditions, common occupational ailments and injuries.

Workplace Safety

As a cosmetologist, an even more important factor to consider over fashion is workplace safety. A general industry-wide rule that applies to cosmetologists performing salon services is that no open-toe shoes are allowed. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines, proper footwear in the workplace is required to protect against possible injury to your feet. Not only is it the law, it also makes good sense to comply by wearing shoes that completely cover the entire toe area and top portion of the foot from falling shears, hot tools or chemicals -- which will inevitably happen -- in the salon. That means flip-flops, peep-toe pumps and sandals showing off your freshly done pedicure are out.

Different Shoes for Different Activities

Another aspect to consider when working as a hairdresser is that you will mainly stand behind the styling chair or at the shampoo back bar throughout the entire shift. Cosmetologists are typically standing in the same spot for very long periods, perhaps four to five hours at a time -- even as long as eight to 10 hours in very busy salons -- with limited breaks.

There’s a popular song, “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’”; in this case, you want shoes made for standing. Standing in one spot on a hard floor can quickly turn into torture if you have shoes that lack cushion or insole support. Shoes with some type of cushion material and some sort of platform are much more comfortable for standing for very long periods of time. The platform sole raises your foot a few inches and provides a shock-absorbing barrier between your feet and the floor’s surface. A great choice would be lightweight clogs; a bad choice would be ballerina flats.

Fashion vs. Function

Hairstylists are often hip, trendy individuals who treasure being able to express their creativity through personal style. Since fashion isn’t about being practical or comfortable, the dilemma for the fashionista hairstylist is in finding shoes that are the right combination of suitable for long hours of standing and still stylish.

For women who prefer high heels, podiatrist Erika Schwartz advises choosing shoes with a wider heel and staying under 2 inches. The right shoes won’t crowd and crunch your toes together or cause all of your weight to be shifted onto the balls of your feet causing pressure that leads to corns, callouses and bunions. This rules out pointy shoes and stiletto heels -- or worse yet, pointy-toe, stiletto heels.

Pay Less Now -- Hurt More Later

The best shoes for cosmetologists are well-designed, have high quality craftsmanship and are made from natural materials such as leather. Just as you would invest in good quality, professional styling tools, equally view your footwear as a smart career investment. If you pay less now, you will hurt more later. When doing further research, you'll discover there are more options than you might've first thought existed. Locating suitable, comfortable as well as fashionable footwear is quite possible.

About the Author

Daria Wright

​Daria Wright, is an Emmy Award-winning celebrity hairstylist and licensed cosmetologist based in greater New York City. Her credits include "The Tyra Show" and fashion magazines such as "Lucky," "Essence" and "Glamour." Wright was the owner of a salon for seven years and is the founder and editor-in-chief of the beauty website Hairdo Daily.