Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Flaky Reputation of the Beauty Industry

On the first day of beauty school at NBU, my teacher shared this statement. “If you want be in the top 30% of this industry, you just have to do one thing - be on time and ready to work.” I was baffled... and at the same time, my gut told me that I was already incredibly aware of Miss Kellie’s point.

Nobody at NBU wants to say it out loud. After all, beauty schools are notorious for building a culture that tells young students that they will never have to be concerned about losing their jobs, and that they'll spend the rest of their lives experiencing the bliss that is their dream - a fabulous career in the beauty industry. I’ve been in the real world for a while now, and I have a hard time not calling things as I see them.  I try to be very thoughtful about the discussions I have at school, but the other night, I could hold it in no longer. I poised myself and before I knew it I opened my mouth and said, “Miss Kellie, why do you think that so many people consider people in the beauty industry to be flaky?”

I looked around the room and everyone had a half-smile across their face - - even the licensed cosmetologist in my class seemed interested in Miss Kellie's response (it's beauty school.... the drama flows like Barbicide).
Miss Kellie put forth her best effort at turning the question into an opportunity for a progressive, energy boosting discussion. “Well, what do you think about that?” she asked. 

The fact is, I don’t know how the stigma began, but I won't deny that it exists - - I won't even deny that there are many examples to support it. I will say this - the perception of a group of girls, sitting around, chewing gum with their mouths open, while filing their finger nails and gossipping couldn't be more inaccurate for my part time life at NBU. On any given night, I run from the wax station to a facial bed to do lash tinting to a makeup application, and I pray I get 10 minutes somewhere in between to eat the microwavable soup I brought for my dinner. 

So, here's the only real conclusion I can draw. Consumers should expect no less from a beauty professional than you do from other services that you purchase. Just because someone's profession is in the "creative" or "artsy" category doesn't mean that they get to offer flighty or flaky service. There are too many professionals out there that are serious about their careers in the beauty industry (and maybe a little action will help the industry get a much needed reputation overhaul).

On a side note, my question did make for an interesting and culturally incorrect discussion in our class that night. As I said, in beauty school, everybody loves a good scandal. 

Gettin’ Beauty Schooled,


Wednesday, November 17, 2010



A few weeks ago we began studying advanced exfoliants at NBU.  And no, I'm not talking about that ancient St. Ives Apricot Scrub that people STILL list on their client forms. Advanced exfoliants actually have a chemical reaction on the skin that causes exfoliation.  
The ever popular St. Ives Apricot Scrub. 
Because people react differently to chemicals on the skin, you start new clients out with non-aggressive levels of chemicals, and you ask them about their “tingle factor” throughout the procedure. Asking about tingle factors is like another way of saying, “so, just how much more of this can you take?” - - except, it’s much nicer. It usually goes like this – “Mrs. Smith, On a scale of one to ten, ten being the most uncomfortable, what’s your tingle factor?”

You ask this question about every two minutes during a procedure. If the client’s tingle factor ever reaches 7, then it’s time to remove the chemical.


After learning the theory on advanced exfoliants, we each selected one to try out ourselves.  I picked an exfloliant that acts a bit like a mini-chemical peel, and since we had an odd number of students that night, two of my classmates doubled up to give me my exfoliant treatment. Maggie applied it to my face, and Tracey sat beside me and observed.  

I felt nothing…. for about 30 seconds.

Being the control freak that I am, I decided to let Maggie know. I quietly whispered, “Hey. Ask me about my tingle factor.” Maggie was seated behind my head and leaned over displaying a smile. “Ok. Rita, what’s your tingle factor?”

Hmmmm… I was starting to feel something more. I smiled back and said, “Oh… I’d say about a three.”

About 45 more seconds passed. I knew it wasn’t time for Maggie and Tracey to ask again about my tingle factor, but since I was feeling a little more “tingle”, I prompted Maggie again.  “Hey, Maggie, I think you may need to ask me about my tingle factor again.” She looked down at me and said, “Why? Are you ok?”

Suddenly my tingle factor went from 3/4 to about a 6. I replied and said, “Yeah. I’m about a 6 tingle… I think… I’m not sure. Maybe we should just go ahead and take it off, since this is my first chemical.”

There were no objections or questions from Maggie. She immediately wet her hands and began to properly remove the product with a cleanse. As soon as her hands rubbed across my face, it lit up like a Christmas tree.  I knew I was a 7 or above. “Seven”, I said without hesitation. “I’m a seven now. Definitely a seven.” Even though she was upside down, I could see that Maggie was beginning to move faster with her cleanse. Tracey actually reached for my hand as if she were my Lamaze partner and we were going to start breathing together.  

Miss Kellie walked by as she was supervising and said, “How are things going? What’s your tingle factor, Rita?” At this point, my nerves got the best of me and I played out the next few minutes in my head. I would stand up, run to the bathroom like a crazy person, throw water on my face, and look in the mirror to discover that my skin was peeling off like a lizard. I was speechless, so I closed my eyes and held up my response on my hands – five fingers on one hand and three fingers on the other. I was an eight. I was sure of it. Miss Kellie smiled, “Ok, Maggie is cleansing it off now.”

We all laugh about this adventure now. I know Miss Kellie wasn’t being insensitive to my number 8 tingle factor. She was just more experienced - - she’s seen many nervous newbies use chemicals and overreact. If you subtract the nerves and the drama, in hindsite, my tingle factor was really probably only a proud 4.

I woke up the next morning and my cheeks and forehead were a little pink. Over the next two days the smoothest skin began to reveal itself. My pores looked so much smaller and my face looked brighter and toned.

Monday evening when I sat down in our classroom my conversation with Miss Kellie held great conviction. It started something like this - “So, just how often can I have one of those exfoliant treatments?”

Gettin' Beauty Schooled, 

Monday, November 15, 2010


Here we go - -a makeup brand you'll want to know about - - FACE atelier.

I’ll be the first to say that mineral foundations have failed me. I know I’m not in my twenties anymore, but you can’t blame me if I still want to try to look like I am. Powdery mineral make up has a flaw that is so hard for me to get over - - by hour three it sinks into every line and pore in my skin.

Debbie Bondar must have had me in mind when she developed her brand, which specializes in foundation – FACE atelier. It was originally dubbed as makeup for “mature skin” - - but now everyone wants a piece of this action!
The size of the FACE atelier sample container.

FACE is a Canadian based company that is now sold across the globe. There are a couple of things that I find fabulous about FACE:
  • The silicone based foundation – it acts like a primer & foundation in one. FACE’s silicone molecules float on the skin, so it’s designed not to crease. It’s described as a "breathable second skin".  
  • FACE has NO SPF. I know…. I know… some people would say that is a bad thing. BUT hear me out on this one. Have you ever had a picture made of yourself and looked at it afterwards and had ghost face? You know what I’m talking about… your face comes across much paler than the rest of your body – UGH! Ever wonder what causes that? It’s the SPF. Our skin actually absorbs the flash of a camera, but SPF reflects it, so when someone takes a pic, if you’re wearing SPF in your makeup, it sends the reflection of the flash back to the photographer and it is captured in the picture - - and you’re stuck with ghost face. Not the case with FACE!
  • You can order $1 samples from FACE!! This is so awesome. FACE has TONS of samples that you can try on their website. You can order eye shadow pigments, foundation, concealer, and lipsticks, all in $1 samples. (And let me tell you, I’ve ordered EVERY pigment they have… and they are NOT stingy with their samples… see my pics below).
A sample of translucent powder by FACE (in my own container).

A sample of Ultra Foundation by FACE - already used twice.
 (This is how you will receive it).

This is how much pigment I received from four of my samples!
 (show here in my own kit storage container).

The sample I received of FACE's concealer
(called camouflage on their site).
While FACE is still a young brand, they've made their presence known in the makeup scene. They’ve already hooked celebrities  like Fergie and Lady GaGa, and they’re the official makeup sponsor for Madonna’s current tour. So, if you’re looking for a new foundation, or just want to make sure that you don’t have “ghost face” in your holiday pictures, give FACE atelier a try.

Gettin’ Beauty Schooled,


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

2 Months Down - Reflections of My Beauty Education to Date

It’s been almost nine weeks since I began my beauty school adventures. The past two months of my life have triggered a mix of feelings about the beauty industry,  but have brought great fun and a multitude of hilarious “discoveries” for me - -like the time we were practicing makeup techniques on the dim clinic floor. Once we returned to our bright classroom we discovered that Maggie had coated me with enough blush to embarrass Tammy Faye (we blamed it on the 80’s music we were listening to at the time). There was also the first time we practiced eyebrow tinting. We weren’t very precise with our application of the dye, and I ended up looking like Bert from Sesame Street.

In reflection, here’s an inventory of stuff I’ve learned over the past eight weeks:

  • European Facial
  • Lash and brow tinting
  • Brow arching
  • Waxing – everything from brows to arms to armpits (yes, armpits), to legs and bikini
  • Makeup application – eyes, lips, cheeks, contouring, and corrective makeup
  • Face vacuuming (yes, it is exactly what it sounds like)
  • Rotary brushes and skin scrubber machines
  • Galvanic current and high frequency for acne (“zapping” zits)
  • Advanced exfoliants (mini chemical peels)
  • Strips and tab lash application (one of my faves)
  • Sanitation procedures (not one of my faves, but necessary)
  • Back treatments
  • Hand rescue treatments
  • Skin analysis and mapping
  • Extractions

And here’s a list of the stuff that is still to go:

  • Microdermabrasion
  • Chemical Peels
  • Airbrush Makeup/Tanning
  • Skin Diseases
  • pH Testing
  • Nutrition for the Skin
  • Aromatherapy
  • Facial Acupressure
  • Advanced Lymphatic Drainage
  • Body Wraps

Only about 7 more months to go…  and I’m sure there will be many, many more “discoveries” made. Let’s just pray they involve aromatherapy and not chemical peels.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the ride so far…

Gettin’ Beauty Schooled,


Thursday, November 4, 2010

“And Milady wants you to know…"

Whenever we have theory class Miss. Kellie always has a clever way of emphasizing content that will be on our state board exam. She always says, “And Milady wants you to know that…”

Remember Milady? It’s my textbook - -  “Milady’s Standard Esthetics Fundamentals.”

Over the past few weeks I’ve discovered that Milady must think most of us esthetics students have a lot of learning to do. In fact, I'm beginning to think that Milady believes that none of us have ever held a job before. I'm not sure she even gives us credit for remembering to shower every day. Regardless, Milady tickles my funny bone with her words of wisdom - - and it’s clear that she takes the term “fundamental” literally.
"Pitching in wherever help is needed is part of being a team player."
Here are a few gems that our class has found humorous since day one of reading the Milady’s textbook:
  • Personal hygiene includes bathing and showering, brushing and flossing your teeth, and using underarm deodorant.
  • Dress for success. Specifically, Milady says that we should wear clean underwear, and that undergarments should be out of view. “Underwear elastic peeking out of your pants, exposed bra straps, and bare midriff are inconsistent with a professional image.”
  • Dangling jewelry is hazardous to your clients.
  • Reward yourself with a special treat for work well done and time managed efficiently. Your reward might be a fruit smoothie, a movie with friends, or any other enjoyable activity.
  • Socks and hosiery should be free of runs and should harmonize with your attire.
  • Unless an esthetician is also a licensed dermatologist, he or she cannot prescribe medication.
  • Remember the appointment is about the client and her skin, and you are an esthetician, not a counselor.
Milady has a way with sharing her knowledge, yes? Thank God. I’ve always struggled with trying to decide if clients enjoy it when my long necklaces graze across their forehead during a facial. And that sock thing? I mean, it's the age old question - harmonize them with your attire or not?  And knowing that I can’t write prescription drugs for my clients? Now what am I gonna do with 100 prescription pads I ordered online under "Dr. Rita, SkinCare Diva Extraordinaire" ? 

Ok. Enough silliness... I’m off to reward myself with a fruit smoothie. Thanks, Milady!

Gettin’ Beauty Schooled,

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Three Secrets to Blending Eye Color Like A PRO!

“MUDDY” – The reference used when you blend two, three, or even four different eyeshadows and end up with a HOT (muddy) MESS.

Have you ever tried to use all of the colors in an eyeshadow trio or quad, and ended up with a muddy grayish/bluish disaster?  Yes, you have… we all have. In our defense, sometimes it’s not our fault. Sometimes, you can legitimately blame the texture and “blendability” of a bad eyeshadow. Other times, however… as hard as it is to admit, it's user error. Either way, the “muddy” end result is pretty frustrating (especially if you needed to be out the door ten minutes ago).

Here are a few tips that I’ve learned about blending. They’ve already saved me a ton of frustration, and you’ll find that the more you practice them, the smoother your blending will go (and the more you’ll want to experiment!).    
  1. When you start to practice blending, try to use two colors that are beside each other on the color wheel. These colors will automatically blend easier and complement each other. This, my friend - will improve your blending confidence.
  2. Practice blending by using this beginner technique – apply each color where you want them on your eye (without blending). Now take your brush and take a little of each color that you want to blend and blend them together on the back of your hand - - not directly on the eye. Take the mix of the two colors from the back of your hand and apply the blended color right between the two colors on your eye. With a few strokes, you’ll have a very pretty transition from one color to the next, and this will help eliminate the urge to over blend.
  3. When you’re trying to perfect your blend, try to keep your brush strokes going in one direction. This will help keep you from the “furious blend” (crazy back and forth strokes with your brush) that end up looking like gray-brown blah.

Colors sitting next to each other on
the color wheel will blend more easily.
Add unblended color
Blend both colors on back of hand

Apply the blended color between the two for a subtle fade from one
color to the next without overblending.
Remember that the goal of blending is to eliminate the imaginary line that shows where two different shades meet. It should be subtle and gentle - - if you end up with neither color being identifiable,  just stop. Something has gone wrong. Take a deep breath, pull out that silicone based eye makeup remover and hit the reset button.
Now get a few bright colors and impress yourself with your mad blending skills!

Gettin’  Beauty Schooled,