Dear Scott: I am terrified of going to the hair salon. I have been doing my own color and cutting it myself for a very long time. I would like to have my hair done professionally, but I donít like all the commotion that goes on in beauty parlors. Can you help me get over this anxiety?

Answer: One of the recent and most popular trends today is cocooning, a term coined and predicted by futurist Faith Popcorn in 1991.

In case you were wondering what a futurist is, they are people that systematically predict the future of human society, or life on earth in general, as their specialty.

More and more people, women especially, are choosing to stay at home instead of going out into the world. 9/11 was the beginning of it all. People have been wrapping themselves in a blanket of security by choosing to stay at home for things that would normally take going out into the world.

Online shopping, instead of going to the stores for their purchases, was also predicted by Faith Popcorn as becoming the wave of the future for consumers. Having friends over to socialize instead of dining out and finding creative ways to make money from the comfort of home, instead of going into the typical work environment, were also in the cocooning forecast.

Not listed, but resulting from this phenomenon, consumers are grabbing a box of hair color from the drugstore instead of going to a salon packed full of hairstylists.

In the past, consumers that picked the home job over the salon experience were considered frugal, saving money was the reason that they did it themselves.

In todayís world, the home jobbers are gathering in kitchens with girlfriends to color each othersí hair. Consumers are smooshing color on themselves in front of the bathroom mirror inevitably shooting spots of color on walls and cabinets for another reason. They are buzzing husbands and kids with the clippers, and settling for undesirable results just because they donít want to go into the big salon environment.

The glitz and glamour, an impersonal experience resulting from to many hairdressers that are taught making money is more important that giving a person what they need, isnít what people want anymore. After having countless bad experiences in crowded salons, consumers have decided that staying at home is better than the uncomfortable feeling. Do-it-yourself is rarely about the money anymore.

There is an alternative that you might want to try. In keeping with the ďcocooningĒ concept, I have noticed a trend in hairdressers as a professional group of people.

More and more, stylists are choosing to work alone or with just a few other people. They prefer the intimacy of the small salon for the sake of client confidentially. Small salons can give you back your personal bubble space.

By choosing to stay at home for your hair experience, what is lost in the compromise is the feeling of having a good hair day. Everyone knows that when you start the day off feeling like you look good, chances of it being a good day are much better.

The other thing missing in the kitchen beauticianís establishment is the qualified individual capable of helping you find the things you need in life that only a person that meets a lot of people in town can do. A hairstylist hears it all, from whatís good, to whatís terrible in town.

Your hairdresser will soon become the person that you will share your lifeís catastrophes and help you with advice on anything from what to put in the stew, to how you can get your husband off the couch.

Letís face it; itís just not healthy to stay at home all of the time. Besides, I think the economy is going down because of it. All of the things that people are choosing to stay at home for are all of the things that are considered to be small business.

No matter what anyone says, I still believe that small business is what makes this country great and makes our economy flourish. The dinner out night gives the people necessary to make a restaurant run the income to pay their bills.

The chair you buy at the local furniture store rewards the profit to the people required to run that establishment instead of the online service in another state. This in turn makes it possible for them to spend money in town, all of this filtering down to something like having the money to get their hair done.

So the next time you pass by a mirror and wonder why the color on the bathroom walls looks better than the color on your hair, you may want to think about putting on your shoes and heading to a small salon to have it done instead.

Not only will you keep your personal bubble space, but you will also help the economy by making it possible for us to keep our doors open, so we can spend the money to go to the restaurant that has people working there, keeping our country great. God bless America.

Dear Scott: I have always wanted to be a hairstylist. Can you tell me what it takes to be one?

Answer: Most important, you must love people.

It also takes an eye for what looks good on them. Skill is important, of course, but as a hairdresser you will need to be able to look at someone and after a brief talk about their needs, be able to pick what is going to work. You will ultimately have the finial decision. It will be up to you to get it right. This ability has been called a gift by many.

You also need to be tuff. The hardest part about my job is when a client leaves for someone else. That is where the ďloving peopleĒ part comes in. There is absolutely no way to do what I do for a living and not love people. But what happens is this; you will get attached to them. When a client goes away, for whatever reason, itís going to hurt a little.

Then there is the matter of a license Ė 1,500 hours of time and thousands of dollars at an accredited beauty school to license in the state of South Carolina.

Even the extremely talented individual needs to be educated further. Beauty school is only going to give you the basics. Hair shows, like the New York International Beauty Show, is a must. Attending multiple shows on regular basis to stay in touch is also necessary after licensing. Continuing education is required by the state of South Carolina once a year for license renewal.

Education can get expensive, but you will find a thirst for knowledge and a passion for the art once you get started. To keep up with the best, be prepared to continuously seek new learning possibilities.

Learning from your peers is one of the best ways to get ideas. Try working in a small salon environment first. You may find learning from other hairdressers on the job is easier in a more personal environment.

Scott Terwilliger is an Aiken salon owner and Master Colorist. He can be reached at 803-979-2126 or for questions or comments.