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Convict Cosmetology: Dermalogica’s Prison Rehabilitation Program

Published February 6, 2024
Published February 6, 2024
Dermalogica + CCCF

For ex-prisoners, re-entering society can be challenging. As reported by The New York Times, 60% of those leaving prison are unemployed a year later. For many, this can be due to a lack of vocational skills, as well as isolation caused by societal bias, which makes it harder to maintain a job and, instead, easier to turn back to a life of crime. According to Dr. Stanley Andrisse, Assistant Professor of Endocrinology at Howard University, prisoners who participate in education programs have a 43% lower chance of being reincarcerated than those who do not, evidencing the importance of these initiatives.

The Coffee Creek Correctional Facility (CCCF), based in Oregon, is a successful example of such a project. The program allows incarcerated women to participate in advanced skincare training and learn the necessary skills to become skin therapists or small business owners. Jane Wurwand's Dermalogica has backed the CCCF since 2019 and has helped multiple graduates begin their own skincare businesses and become active entrepreneurs in their communities.

Dermalogica and the CCCF's partnership was established to demonstrate the transformative effects of the professional skincare industry and is based on three goals: the acquisition of life-enhancing skills, the establishment of crucial human connections, and the fostering of communities.

"Dermalogica was born from the belief that when you have a skillset, you can own your future. Having trained skin professionals for over 40 years, we also know that the industry's success is built on human touch and connection," Heather Hickman, Vice President of Education at Dermalogica, tells BeautyMatter. "Our partnership with Coffee Creek is a natural extension of our DNA, showing how professional skincare training provides life-changing opportunities."

The duo recently released a series of videos highlighting prisoners currently enrolled in the program and their achievements. The narrative of human touch, enabled through professional treatments, was consistently referred to throughout the clips, with multiple prisoners explaining that the education program means more to them than just gaining professional skills; it has helped them feel they will be able to connect with people on a deeper level once they reintegrate into public life.

"I didn't know that I had a passion for skincare, but I really do. Being able to touch is a big thing here because we're not usually allowed to do that [in prison]," Coffee Creek training member Kristina states in one video. "It's awkward to give our own families a hug sometimes because it almost feels invasive. Being able to just help people and feel human again through touch is really huge."

Inside the Coffee Creek School of Cosmetology

Throughout the videos, cohort members express their appreciation for their clients, who have allowed them to feel some sense of normality after experiencing years of loneliness during their incarceration.

"I never imagined where I'd be right now, but I'm very grateful for everything. You could be surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of women in prison, and you're still so lonely," adds group member Kim. "You become family with these people, and you're there for their family births and deaths. I just love my job; I couldn't imagine doing anything else."

Other CCCF members expressed that the community built through the program has encouraged them to look forward with a clear vision of the type of work they wish to be involved in once their time has been served. "For me, anything that I do, I have to be able to use when I get out," says an unnamed prisoner. "This is the first time that I've actually done something and completed it. Learning what I'm learning and sharing it with other people, that is hope for my future outside of here."

The CCCF and Dermalogica's collaboration has opened the eyes of several prisoners to job opportunities they had not considered previously. Aveda Arts and the Louisiana Prison Cosmetology Program have also had this impact on incarcerated women. The project, which has had five successful graduates since beginning in 2017, was the brainchild of local judge Trudy White, who went before the Louisiana Board of Cosmetology and proposed that it create a program to teach hairstyling to inmates at Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women (LCIW). The styling course not only teaches untrained prisoners the essential skills they need to obtain a job but also gives those incarcerated with a previously gained cosmetology license the opportunity to teach and build trusted relationships with other prisoners.

"Everyone who comes to test from the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women, be they students or prospective instructors, they're just so prepared," Edwin Neill, President of Aveda Arts & Science Institutes, told BeautyMatter. "I think this program demonstrates how important a vocational license is," he continues, explaining that as a paroled individual, there's a world of difference between telling a prospective employer you learned to style hair in prison and actually wielding a cosmetology license. "If you pass your technical exam and get a certification, I just think that's really important."

Both prisoner education programs provide hope for a brighter future through beauty and cosmetic therapy. Businesses can play a crucial role in the successful reintegration of ex-prisoners into society by giving such employment opportunities. Hiring individuals with a criminal record not only contributes to the reduction of recidivism but also fosters a more inclusive and diverse workforce. By offering jobs to ex-prisoners, businesses contribute to their rehabilitation and empower them to build a stable and law-abiding future. Beyond the social impact, employers may discover a pool of untapped talent and potential in these individuals, bringing unique perspectives and experiences to the workplace. By embracing a commitment to second chances, businesses not only benefit the individuals they employ, but they also contribute positively to the overall community and society while helping the industry grow.


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