Student Cosmetology Kit: What Every Cosmetology Student Needs to Get Started



Your student cosmetology kit will be the most important go-to, must-have, guard-with-your-life, never-leave-home-without-it item during your time in cosmetology school, so you will want to make sure it has everything you need to make your journey through cosmetology school—and beyond—a successful one.

Enter Zip:

Cosmetology is an art form and, like any artistic endeavor, you are only as good as the tools you use. As most cosmetologists will tell you, high-quality, precision tools are a worthwhile investment and can last you for years to come. Therefore, taking the time to select high-quality implements for your student cosmetology kit can prove beneficial, not only for use during your time in cosmetology school but also when you embark on your career.

The Essentials of Your Student Cosmetology Kit

A student cosmetology kit is a necessary component of your cosmetology school experience—every student needs one to get started. Many cosmetology schools roll the cost of a student cosmetology kit into tuition, while other schools allow students to purchase a kit as a separate expense. Still, some cosmetology schools offer students the option to hand-select items and build their own student kit based on a list of required items.

It is important to always check with your school’s requirements before striking out on your own to assemble a custom kit.

Even if a student cosmetology kit comes as part of your school tuition, you may also choose to begin adding to the kit as you prepare for your career.

Pre-assembled student cosmetology kits may be purchased from your school or through wholesalers/retailers. You will find a large selection of these kits online:

A basic, pre-assembled student cosmetology kit usually consists of a rolling suitcase or duffel-bag style case. The interior of the case includes pockets and/or drawers that allow you to keep your items organized and readily accessible. If you have plans to purchase a pre-assembled student kit, make sure it includes all of the supplies and tools your school requires. Many schools will recommend specific kits and specific retailers offering kits with all the required items.

Most student kits range in cost between $300 and $500 and include all of the tools and supplies necessary to engage in hands-on activities while in cosmetology school. You will use it to train on mannequins, fellow students– and eventually your clients.

Although the tools in your kit will be somewhat different than the tools for another cosmetology school, generally speaking your kit will likely contain the following essentials:

  • Apron/cape
  • Mannequin heads/hands
  • Blow dryer/diffuser
  • Brushes
  • Clips
  • Coloring caps
  • Combs
  • Curling irons
  • Flat iron
  • Hair dyes
  • Mirror
  • Mixing bowls
  • Perm supplies
  • Razors
  • Scissors
  • Shears
  • Sprays
  • Textbook

Most student kits do not include supplementary items, so you will likely need to purchase all of the necessary extra supplies for your kit on your own. This may include:

  • Hair bleaches
  • Hair samples
  • Hair sprays
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Neck strips
  • Perm kits
  • Plastic gloves
  • Shaving creams

Selecting the Right Tools and Assembling Your Student Cosmetology Kit

More often than not, building a cosmetology kit will cost more than purchasing a pre-assembled kit. Still, many aspiring cosmetologists enjoy custom building their own kit, as it allows them to personally select items and choose tools of better quality

Selecting and building your own student cosmetology kit is an exciting endeavor, allowing you to research and learn more about the best cosmetology tools and supplies and begin building a kit that will last you throughout school and well into your career.

It is important to set a budget beforehand, as building a cosmetology kit can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to well into the thousands of dollars. Your goal will be to find the best quality tools and supplies within your price range.

When considering the budget for your student cosmetology kit, keep in mind that you will also need to purchase supplementary items (gloves, hair spray, lotion, etc.) throughout your time in school.

Here are a few of the essential items in any student or professional’s cosmetology kit:


A pair of professional shears will likely be one of the most important tools in your kit, so you will want to make sure they fit comfortably in your hand and are of a high-quality, ice-tempered stainless steel. Most high-quality shears are ergonomically designed for maximum comfort, and include adjustable tension. If you have difficulty finding a pair of shears that comfortably accommodate your fingers, you may want to consider a pair with removable finger inserts.

Many of the most expensive shears are handmade, featuring special blade grinding technology that ensures minimal resistance. Many are also nickel-free—ideal if you have a sensitivity to nickel.

Make your money go further by looking for shears with a lifetime warranty and lifetime sharpening. Many times, you can save money by purchasing a set, which typically includes cutting shears and thinning shears.

A few examples of well-known shear manufacturers/retailers include:


Brushes and combs can be of varying quality, so selecting the right vent brush, nylon bristle brush, and styling brush is always worth your time. Depending on your cosmetology school requirements, you may need to purchase a number of brushes, including thermal brushes of varying diameters.

The sheer variety of brushes can be quite overwhelming. You will find that many are created for specific types of hair (long, coarse, or thick), made of different materials (wood, plastic, or ceramic) and made with different types of bristles (synthetic, boar, or mixed). Cosmetologists will have differing opinions on which type is the best for which client, so it is always best to research your options.

Most of the time, you will find that purchasing a brush kit with several types of brushes will save you money over buying them separately.

Your cosmetology kit must also contain a number of combs, including:

  • Cutting combs
  • Rat tail combs
  • Wide-tooth combs

Just like brushes, it is best to purchase combs as a set to save money.

Some of the largest brush and comb retailers include:

Cosmetology Case

Your cosmetology case will be an important component of your student cosmetology kit, as you will want something that will keep your valuable tools and supplies secured and organized.

Aluminum, briefcase-style cases, duffel bag-style cases, and rolling, suitcase-style cases facilitate transporting your supplies, while wheeled carts are ideal for organizing your tools in one location. Depending on your personal preference, you may choose a hard-sided or soft-sided case.

When choosing a cosmetology case, make sure it is large enough to hold all of your tools and supplies and has enough room to add to your cosmetology tool collection. Also ensure that it has plenty of compartments/pouches/drawers so that your tools and supplies stay organized and that it locks to prevent any accidents during transport or storage.

You can show your personal style with your cosmetology case, as many retailers offer a wide variety of colors and design.

A number of retailers carry professional cosmetology cases, including:

Hair Styling Tools

Hair styling tools are a must-have component of your cosmetology kit. Hair styling supplies like hairdryers and styling irons can be quite expensive ($100-$400), but most cosmetologists agree that price equates to quality.

Your kit should include a high-quality hair dryer with diffuser, a marcel iron, and a flat iron.

When shopping for a hair dryer, look for features such as:

  • Multiple heat and speed settings
  • Titanium/ceramic grills for even heating
  • Long, flexible cords
  • Lightweight/long-life motor
  • Excellent manufacturer’s warranty
  • Ergonomic handle

When shopping for a flat iron, look for features such:

  • Titanium/ceramic plates
  • Temperature control
  • Lightweight, slim design
  • Excellent manufacturer’s warranty

When shopping for a marcel iron, look for features such as

  • Locking/rotating handle
  • Titanium/gold-plated/ceramic barrel
  • Excellent manufacturer’s warranty

Some of the largest manufacturers/retailers of hair styling tools include:

Manicuring Supplies

If your cosmetology program includes manicuring, you will also want to make sure you have all the necessary manicuring supplies readily available. Your kit should include essential tools such a complete manicuring set, related manicuring tools, and polishes/polish remover.

You will find that purchasing your manicuring supplies as a kit will save you time and money:

Maintaining Your Cosmetology Kit

Because your student cosmetology kit will be used during the course of your cosmetology education and beyond, your goal should always be to maintain your kit and keep it in top-notch condition. Not only will it make your life easier, it will also reflect your level of professionalism and commitment to your cosmetology career.

Infection control and safety is always stressed as part of a cosmetology program, so you will want to inspect your kit on a regular basis, replace any broken, lost, or damaged items, and ensure all of the tools and supplies are cleaned, sanitized, and ready for use.

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