Wednesday, October 27, 2010


How many of you remember that old Oil of Olay commercial with the beautiful woman saying, “I’m not gonna grow old gracefully. I’m gonna fight it every step of the way!!”

Why do I remember that commercial? It was so long ago… but somehow it seared a place in my mind and whenever I hear the phrase “grow old gracefully” I think of that woman and her proud determination. 

I wonder if she knew anything about free radicals. I mean, I’ve heard of free radicals for years, but I never actually understood how they speed up our aging process until last week at beauty school.

For those of you who don’t know the deal with free radicals, here’s the skinny - - in simple terms.

Free radicals are a like that girl in high school that always gave you the “heebie-jeebies” when she got around your boyfriend. Sure, she played the super-cool, fun loving flirty gal. She even had a boyfriend of her own. But one guy just didn’t seem to be enough. The truth was, given the chance, she’d love to add your man to her collection.

Ok, maybe I went a little too far with that analogy, but it does help paint the picture of free radicals.


Free radicals are mutant molecules that can live even though they're short one electron. The only problem is that electrons like to live in pairs. So free radicals goes around wreaking havoc and stealing electrons from stable molecules. After the once stable molecule is robbed of its electron, it continues the process of looking for an electron to steal from another stable molecule.  This cycle is very destructive, and it’s been found to be a primary culprit in speeding up the aging process. More specifically for the skin, this process causes the collagen cells in our skin to bond incorrectly, and they begin to break down. When collagen breaks down, skin becomes thinner and wrinkles begin to form.

Where do these free radicals come from? Well, they’re actually developed in the body. Higher numbers of free radicals are produced from cigarette smoke, car exhaust, too much time in the sun, and even fumes that we breathe. They can be produced as the result of many environmental factors, so it’s impossible to eliminate them all - - the key is control and defense.  


So, if free radicals are the enemy to the aging process, there has to be a hero, right? The Superman in this story is ANTIOXIDANTS. <wild applause>

Antioxidants like Vitamins A & C can actually keep free radicals from stealing electrons from stable molecules. They fill in the gap by donating electrons to free radicals, and antioxidants don’t become unstable when they bond with free radicals, so the destructive cycle is stopped.


Well, there are lots of things you can do – internally and externally. You can make sure that the moisturizers and cleansers that you use on your skin everyday are high in antioxidants. Great products have high concentrates of antioxidants like Vitamin C and E and Grape Seed Oil.Take a look at the ingredients in your cleansers and moisturizers. If they’re absent of antioxidants, you need to look for new ones.  I’ll be honest, in many cases the good products aren’t cheap. Many drug store brands don't have significant amounts of antioxidants, even when they advertise that they contain them. There are also lots of recipes on the web for you to make your own high antioxidant cleansers and moisturizers (just pay attention to storage, they spoil quickly). Don't forget about eating food that are high in antioxidants (like fruits, veggies and green tea).  It’s never too late to take on the Oil of Olay philosophy on aging. 

Gettin’ Beauty Schooled,


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It Rained Men!!

Hallelujah! It was the Christian Music Awards after all.

I was privileged to be a makeup artist at the Christian Music Awards this year - - and it rained men on me.

The first musician walked into the hair and makeup room. He looked to be about 16, was tall and thin, and had lots of freckles. He pulled off his cap to reveal bright red hair. Everyone stopped in their tracks and waited for direction from the lead in the hair/makeup room. A few of us glanced at each other as if to say, “Who wants to take him?”

I stuck my hand in the air and motioned him over. He plopped into my chair and pulled his hat across his knee. Then he said, “I don’t know about this.” 

I let out a snicker and told him not to worry. He smiled as I swatched the side of his face to find the best color for him.

He was the first of my “masculine makeup” for the night. As it turns out, I would have 8 more men follow behind him in my chair. It became a bit of a running joke. When a man came in for makeup and I was available, he was guided to my chair. After applying makeup to about four gentlemen in a row, the lead in the room came to my chair and asked if I would do stage makeup for Jason Crabb in his dressing room. Jason was being honored as male artist of the year.  <gulp>

An hour later, I was finishing the powder on a young girl who had absolutely flawless skin. I kept telling her she didn’t need me or my fancy foundations. I felt a tap on my shoulder and our lead said, “Jason decided to come to you to make things easier. He’s over there.” One of the other girls took over to finish the makeup on my porcelain doll and I walked over to greet Jason.
Jason Crabb
Jason was an absolute delight. The newer musicians in the room couldn’t help themselves. They kept coming up and share their stories of how his music had touched their lives. Jason asked if I could pause his makeup application two different times – once when three little girls came in to talk with him, and another time to hug a woman that shared her story of being bed-ridden for months and drawing hope from his music.      

Once I finished Jason’s makeup I got to do makeup for the master of ceremonies and comedian, Broderick Rice.  Then came members of the band, The Reel.
Broderick Rice, MC
Curtis of "The Reel"

Kevin of "The Reel"

Here’s the thing you discover while doing makeup at shows.  When someone sits in your makeup chair, your job is obvious. You’re supposed to make them look their very best, and you're expected to do it quickly. But, as much as you look to enhance the outside, you inevitably can’t help but examine the inside of the artist as well. You’re exposed to bits and pieces of them that are typically reserved for the “inner circle” - - things that are revealed in casual conversation or overheard. Live shows aren't a carousel ride. They're intense. They squeeze most people. And what happens when things are squeezed? Well, what lies inside usually comes out - beautiful or not.

It didn’t take long to realize how each of these men had found success. They are authentic representations of what they believe - - they weren’t pretentious, stuffy, or holier than thou. AND they were there to rock your face off (in Jesus name).            

I was humbled to work on some of the faces that God is using to share His story.

Gettin’ Beauty Schooled,

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hot Stones Facials... What You Don't Know.

This pic has nothing to do with hot stone facials. I just thought you'd
get a kick out of seeing me in our gauze oatmeal mask. We all think
 it has kind of a Leatherface meets Jason quality about it. 

I dipped my thumb and first two fingers in the “crock pot” to pull out a couple of stones. As soon as I touched the piping hot water I jerked my hand back and remembered that I should be using tongs. After I retrieved two stones from the pot, I quickly laid them on the facial bed at the sides of Beth’s head. 

“Ok, Beth. Just tell me if these stone are too hot.”

“Don't worry. I will.”

I LOVE giving facials. I think it’s about as relaxing for me as it is for the person receiving. Everything in my facial world has been going fabulously - - then enter, the hot stone facial.

Learning to incorporate hot stones into your facial is one of our objectives at NBU. We also add them to our “back facials” (which by the way are absolutely heavenly… I’ve had the embarrassment of waking up on two occasions to wipe away drool.)

While hot stones sound divine, you really can’t imagine what the esthetician is doing behind your head to make this serene feeling a reality. The key to not burning yourself (or the client) when you’re using hot stones is to keep the stones moving and keep “flipping” them on the surface of the skin. I vividly remember Ms. Kelly pausing when she was demonstrating the hot stone facial for us. With squinted eyes, she looked at each of us and gave us this warning, “Lots of people... drop their rocks.”
So, allow me to paint a picture for you – you’re grasping two very hot, smooth rocks and trying to continuously flip them while keeping them in contact with your client’s skin - - oh yeah, did I mention that your client’s face and shoulders are coated in about ¼ cup of grape seed oil?

I felt so clumsy giving Beth a hot stone facial last night. I visualized one false move and the hot oily stone shooting out of my hand, across the clinic floor, and shattering one of our mag lamps.  

The reality? Beth fell asleep three times during her facial, which is the ultimate “pat on the back” in the esthetician world (other than a fat tip, of course). When I finally removed Beth’s head wrap, she let out a deep sigh. “I’ll get up in a minute,” she said. I knew what that meant….

“That’s fine” I said. “Just take your time.”

I stood up and began to clean up my supplies. When I walked away a slow motion smile came across my face. Oh yeah… I rocked that hot stone facial  - no pun intended of course. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The LASH EFFECT - - My Drug of Choice

Applying false eyelashes is a fairly regular service we offer at NBU (especially on the weekends). If you’ve never tried false eyelashes, you’ve got to do it at least once. There’s a transformation that instantly happens when you takes a set of “whispies” and glue them to your lash line. You go from feeling mundane to magnificent… vanilla to rocky road… from run of the mill to Marilyn M.

Yesterday we had our first formal instruction on applying false eyelash strips. All but one of us had used false eyelashes before, so we insisted that Molly (the lash newbie) go first. We decided to take it easy on her and offer her the "demi" style, which is slightly smaller than the lengthy "whispies" style of lash. Molly fluttered and fluttered during the application until we all thought she might go airborne, but in the end, the lashes delivered that notorious, intoxicating effect and she could not stop looking at herself in the mirror and batting her baby browns.
What followed was probably one of the funniest memories I’ve had at NBU. We applied lashes for the next 45 minutes. Well, about 15 minutes was actual lash application, and the other 30 minutes was spent laughing hysterically at the results of our applications. At one point the corner of my upper and lower lashes on my left eye were glued together, which had us all in stitches for at least two minutes. Between the globs of glue and Molly's repetitive mistake of calling whispies “whispers” - - it was a night to remember.

As I left NBU wearing my lashes, I submitted to the rockstar confidence that long eyelashes give to us women. I dare say that the lashes may have even changed my stride as I walked to my car. Yes.... me and my lashes were ready for a night on the town! But... since it was already 10PM and a school night, the practical side of me decided to go home and go to bed instead. Turning Nashville into Lashville will just have to wait until the weekend.

Gettin’ Beauty Schooled,

PS -  Apparently my husband received a "contact high" from my lashing out. Today he walked past my office and said, "So, when are you gonna wear lashes again?" I'm telling you ladies... try 'em!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Winner of the Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick!

Thanks to everyone who entered! If you didn't walk away with the prize this time, don't worry... I'm already working on the prize for our next giveaway (Lord, help me... there are so many gorgeous things coming out for the holidays).

Thanks for sharing in the fun with me!

And the winner is....

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Received Someone's New Shimmer Brick Today!

To enter to win it, click here for info!  I'll draw the winner in TWO DAYS! Your chances right now are ONE in EIGHTEEN!

Good Luck!

Gettin' Beauty Schooled,

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Extraction: an act of removing something from a hostile area to a secure location (or in aesthetics, popping a zit/removing a blackhead)

I get a seriously sick satisfaction out of doing extractions.  It might be wrong, but if it is, I don’t wanna be right. Maybe it’s because my mother always told me that you should never squeeze a pimple. Maybe it’s because there really is a learned skill behind performing extractions. Maybe I just like seeing the nasty contents of a zit come out and knowing that I’ve brought it to a new stage -- a stage that speeds healing.

There’s quite a bit of scheming/strategizing that occurs before an extraction in our class. It looks kinda like a huddle on a football field. It’s me, my teacher, and my classmates, all huddled around a facial bed going over the play. Miss Kelly will say, “Ok, here’s what were going to do with this one. First, we’re gonna do some exfoliatation. Then, we’re gonna put her under the steamer for about 7 minutes. Then,  Rita’s gonna add some scaling fluid to that spot on her nose…..”
I’ve started using words like papules and pustules.

Before beauty school, popping a zit was simple. It was like Nike, you Just Do It. Not anymore - there are all kinds of things to consider now. In what direction does the pore lie? What is the best side of the extractor to use? What would cause the least amount of trauma to the skin? Sometimes the right decision is to lance it (create a tiny incision at the bottom of the pimple) to get the guck out. Other times, the best decision might be to just stop for the day and return tomorrow to see if your efforts have “come to fruition”. There are some times when you just have to pause and ask yourself… is this pimple ready for extraction? or am I just tearing the room apart to find the tiny spider that escaped behind the desk when I tried to grab it? You get the idea.

The most important thing to remember with extractions is to NEVER force anything. When I think of the drastic and terrible things I’ve done to my face over the years, it makes me cringe. If I only could have learned some of this years ago!

When you DO manage to execute an extraction perfectly, there is a tremendous satisfaction. You can stand tall from your ergonomically correct aesthetician stool and hold your extractor high (with gloved hands, of course). You can say, “Yes! I have performed a successful extraction, and that was some nasty stuff!”
Side note: Don't let extractions scare you. Most people want them included in their facial, but it is totally acceptable for you to ask your aesthetician not to do them. We sincerely have no problems leaving that part out. (Although, I will say that it’s a no-brainer to let them take care of blackheads… most of them are so easily extracted after steaming.)

Gettin’ Beauty Schooled,


Monday, October 11, 2010

Color Correctors - this ain't your grandma's concealer.

Some women are blessed with big, bright, circle-free eyes.

At the other end of the spectrum is me. I could sleep for 15 hours straight and still wake up with bluish/purple half-moons under my eyes. I also have two small blue veins that you can see through the skin right under my left eye. They've honestly never bothered me, but they clearly bother other people. I can't tell you how many times I've had someone lick their thumb and try to rub them off my face. Gross, right? Needless to say, I invest in a good concealer.
Whether you've inherited under-eye circles from a dear relative, or you’ve just had a few late nights combined with too many early mornings, you probably understand the value of a good concealer as well. Know what else is standing in the “willing and able” line? The understated COLOR CORRECTOR. I don’t know why people don’t teach us more about color correctors. They really are a great secret.

 Let me explain.

When I started classes at Nashvegas Beauty U, I started dissecting the color wheel. There is SO much that you can learn from the wheel, so let’s stick to ONE concept for now.

Here’s a picture of a simple color wheel.
The basic color wheel.
The first thing you can learn from the color wheel is this - - when you mix two colors that sit across from each other on the color wheel, you’ll get a NEUTRALIZING effect. What does this mean for makeup? Well, if you have purplish dark shades on your face (under eye circles), the colors yellow/orange will help neutralize them (purple and yellow are opposite on the color wheel). If you have red shades on your face (blemishes, rosacea, redness due to hormonal changes), then green will help neutralize them (red and green are opposite on the color wheel). Get it?

Now, here’s where color correctors come in.
A color corrector with apricot, lavender, green, and orange.
The primary purpose of a color corrector is to neutralize unwanted colors on the face. Why is this better than just using a concealer alone? Well, when you use a concealer, you just have to pile on enough until things are covered… and sometimes it ends up not looking the way you intended (like cakey or a strange gray color). With correctors, you pick the counteracting color and put it on first - - then it actually diffuses and neutralizes the unwanted color. It’s kind of like those old air freshener commercials. You can spray a ton of the flowery smelling air freshener and end up with a floral/fishy stink, or you can use the spray that neutralizes the scent. Make sense?

The most commonly used color correctors are yellow (apricot), lavender, and green (although there are other colors as well). I know - - it sounds intimidating, but hang with me. Don’t freak out when you see them in the container.  You’ll blend them into the skin, and then apply a little concealer on top.  Here’s a summary of key colors:
  • Yellow (called apricot) neutralizes bluish/purplish tones
  • Green neutralizes red/pink tones (blemishes, rosacea)
  • Lavender neutralizes and brightens yellow tones (also good for sun damage spots)  
Finding the right color corrector for yourself can be a bit of a science project, but when you do…. WOW. The best way to find the corrector you need is to start with the science behind the color wheel. What color do you want to cover? Red tones? Bluish tones? Look at the color wheel and decide what color will counteract it. Now you just need a few minutes at the makeup counter. The right combo of corrector and concealer is different from person to person.

If you still feel a little unsure about using a corrector, start by figuring out the undertone in your concealer. Is it yellow? pink? You'd be so surprised at the difference the undertone can make. If it's a pink undertone, and you're trying to cover blue/purple circles, consider moving to a yellow undertoned concealer.

Here's to ending the "I need a siesta" look!
Good luck!

Gettin’ Beauty Schooled,


Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Whole Ball of Wax

This week I was introduced to the amazing world of waxing. Well, I use the word “introduced” very loosely. The truth is, I’m no stranger to waxing. I’ve been waxed, I’ve waxed other people, and I’ve bravely waxed myself at times over the years. I’ve just never encountered formal waxing education (which basically means I’ve had a million “ah-ha!” moments this week as I’ve discovered all the things I’ve done wrong over the years).

Your waxing education at Nashvegas Beauty U begins with an intro to waxing video. We broke this up and watched it over a period of two days, since it was over four hours long in totality. The video’s demonstrator is none other than the Wax Queen herself, Lori Nestore. The name of the video - The Whole Ball of Wax.  
Most people have never had the pleasure of witnessing Lori’s waxing skills. It’s a shame, because she not only epitomizes the stereotype of a no-nonsense, get the job done, type A personality, but she also has a sort-of dry humor about waxing that could only be developed after years of experience and a resume that includes every waxable body part you can imagine (and some you can’t imagine).  Lori says random things like, “don’t be prissy with the wax!” and “you just have to give it a good, firm rub, that’s all”.  Occasionally, she’ll pull up a strip and hold it out for the camera to see and state one word…. “hair”. With a straight face and no shame, Lori has no problem describing her waxing models as “wolly mammoths” or “beasts”. We couldn’t but help admire her and be appalled at the same time.  
The two most memorable demos that Lori provides are at the very end of the four hour video. Lori performs a female Brazilian, and the increasingly popular BROzilian. As with some of my previous posts, I won’t go into detail on the BROzilian. Goggle it if you must, but be prepared for some uncensored search results. I’ll try to keep my blog as “PG” as I can!

Even though Lori’s approach was no-nonsense and direct, I loved it. Waxing isn’t fun for anyone – the giver or the receiver. BUT the satisfaction after a wax is felt by both parties. And as crazy as it sounds, there’s a unique bond that is formed between the waxee and the waxer. Professional waxers never talk about how much hair someone had, where it was, or disclose details about their clients to anyone. It’s just an understanding. Nobody is judged for how much body hair they have - - I mean seriously, the reality is, man or woman, everybody’s got some hair they’d like to remove.

The Whole Ball of Wax has already made me a better waxer. My classmates have pegged me as #2 in the class for waxing, only surpassed by the spreading techniques of my classmate, Beth. (Who by the way has an unfair advantage over me because her mother is an avid baker and made 100 cakes every Christmas which Beth had to ice every year when she was growing up.)  
I’ll close this blog with a message from the Wax Queen. Lori concludes her four hour video with a note of encouragement and these words, “Do as I say, AND do as I do. And one day, perhaps you too can be a Wax Queen.”

Gettin’ Beauty Schooled,
PS - Check out these pics from a classmate's leg wax. These tiny red bumps are typical right after a wax. See in the second pic there were gone 12 hours later! 6 weeks of no shaving for her now!
Right after her leg wax.
12 hours after her leg wax.

Don't forget to "register" to win my Breast Cancer Awareness Month giveaway... see here for details!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What's in a $700 Beauty School Kit Anyway?

Getting your beauty school kit feels a lot like Christmas. It’s exciting. In general, you kinda know what’s coming to you, but the details are still a bit of a mystery. As an aesthetics student at Nashvegas Beauty U, you receive two boxes of goodies, two textbooks, and a Dan (see my previous post about Dan) for $700.

The First Box

We received our first box on the first night of school. I was thrilled. I had been told by a cosmo (cosmetology student) that we wouldn’t get a kit for about two weeks. She said, “They hold on to your kit so you’ll keep coming for a while.” (My thought? I just committed to >$8,000 for this gig, so short of having some kind of Jack Bauer level chemical mishap at NBU, there’s very little they could do to keep me away.)

So, I agree. The packaging isn't very sexy --  but the products are fantastic.
The first box included professional sized Dermalogica brand products for our skin. This makes sense. Good marketing would tell you that the students need to be using the products that NBU uses and sells in with their skin care services. I’m normally that stone hard client that goes into a spa for a facial and doesn’t want to hear BOO about how I need to spend an extra $35 on your breakthrough take home cleanser. 

Turns out, their masterful plan worked. Now that I’ve used these products for almost four weeks (and learned way too much about premature aging), I’ve transformed into someone that won’t entertain the thought of going to sleep without my 3 essential steps – double cleanse, exfoliate, and moisturize. 

The good part = my skin has changed significantly for the better in four weeks.
The bad part = now I’m beginning to face the reality that at some point I will run out of these amazing products (which my student loan so kindly purchased for me). I’m sure the Dermalogica Sales Rep is somewhere wringing her hands and cackling as she thinks of all the newly addicted NBU aesthetics students.

The Second Box

The second box was definitely the more exciting, but much of it contained supplies, which was a little disappointing, because… well, supplies run out. Yes, yes, I know things like swabs, gloves, and makeup applicators are necessary for aesthetics. So again – it’s a little reminiscent of opening the all too necessary 10-pack of socks at Christmas.

Here are a few of the more exciting things:
pro makeup

more makeup

pro brushes

a set of the sharpest tweezers I've ever seen

The Books

  • Milady’s  Standard Esthetics Fundamentals (Fitting name for a beauty school book, right? All of us in the class have had a little fun saying “Milady’s” in our best English accent.)
  • “The book” by Dermalogica

The Dan

Then there’s my Dan. I won’t go into details here. You can check out my previous post about the Dan. Since I’m approaching week four and I’ve pretty well mastered the facial basics, Dan doesn’t seem very practical any longer. In fact, I’m beginning to think of alternate uses for Dan:

  • Severed body man laying in the yard to scare the trick or treaters? 
  • Ebay?
  • Perhaps the next Adventures of a Beauty School Giveaway gift? 

Alternate uses for Dan are welcomed!

Gettin’ Beauty Schooled,

Friday, October 1, 2010

Win FREE Artistry Makeup for Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. 
Breast cancer has been a thorn in the side of my family for as long as I can remember. This year is particularly important to me, because my sister, Christine is battling her second round with breast cancer. Christine is only 38 years old, which sounds unbelievable, until you hear that she had her first round with breast cancer at 26. She beat it then, and we’re no less motivated to lay the smack down on some BC today.   
Christine with her son Matthew post chemo after her first
 win against breast cancer 11 years ago.
In honor of Christine, and all the women and families fighting breast cancer, Adventures of a Beauty School Drop-In is giving away the NEW Bobbi Brown Pink Ribbon Collection Shimmer Brick to one of our super-fantastic readers! (If I could cue the glow from heaven and angelic singing, it would happen right about now.)
When it comes to makeup artists, it doesn’t get any better than Bobbi Brown - - and Shimmer Bricks are a Bobbi Brown exclusive. These bricks are handmade in Italy. They have five bars of luxe, pearlized pigment and are perfect for giving blushed cheeks a gorgeous glow (or even a shimmer highlight over the brow bone… oh yeah... work it, girl... ). 

The Shimmer Brick is a $38 value, but one will be free to our lucky winner and mailed to any U.S. address from the beauty school drop-in!

So, here are the details that will get your name thrown into the shimmer pot:
  1. You’ll need to “share” this post (the contest) on your Facebook page.
  2. After you’ve shared the post on your wall, you have to go to the Adventures of a Beauty School Drop-In Facebook page and leave a comment telling me that you’ve posted it. Simply, “Hey Rita! I posted!” will suffice (see my sample comment on Facebook if you’re confused).  HINT: You have to “like” us in order to leave a comment!
You can enter October 1 – October 15. I WILL DRAW THE WINNER ON OCTOBER 16.

** GET THIS! ** If you want to increase your chances of winning, you can “share” this post up to two times through October 15th. Simply follow steps one and two a second time next week! Good luck, everyone!   
Me and Chris"tiney" (Yes, I do look like a giant next to her).
 Breast Cancer Fighters in My Family
Christine (sister)
Nina (Mom)
Alice (Aunt)
Josie (Grandmother)
Freda (Cousin – In Memory)
Margie (Cousin)
Thelma (Cousin)
Geneva (Cousin)
Myrtle (Cousin)
Lucille (Cousin)
Feel free to show some love to the breast cancer fighters among your family and friends in a comment! 
NOTE: If you’re not our winner, you can always head to the Bobbi Brown website and purchase your own Pink Ribbon Collection Shimmer Brick. For the month of October, Bobbi will ship it free AND they’ll be donating $35,000 from sales to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. 

Gettin' Beauty Schooled,