Monthly Archives: January 2010

Oils From the Earth. On My Jeans.

My 600-hour adventure in esthetics school. Read about the project or catch up with weeks 1-10.

This, for the uninitiated, is a paraffin foot dip.

At Beauty U, we keep blocks of paraffin wax constantly melting in a warmer, which looks like a large, rectangular crockpot, circa 1978. When someone wants a paraffin dip, we use a disposable plastic cup to scoop out some molten wax and pour it into gallon-size plastic baggies (for feet) or pair of latex gloves (for hands). Then we kneel before the client, carefully lower their appendage into the hot wax and give it a little massage to spread the wax around.

Those are my feet up there so I can tell you that while it looks ridiculous, a paraffin dip feels AWESOME. These days, there aren’t too many beauty treatments that I’m getting excited about — maybe because last week centered around having my face bathed in acid— but I would get this done every day if they let me. It’s heaven on earth if you go through winter with permanently cold hands and feet (like I do), or spent your weekend sanding and stripping wallpaper (like I did) so now your hands feel like sandpaper, because paraffin is warm and toasty and turns your skin to butter. (Oh, and unlike the wax used on your bikini line, hot paraffin wax doesn’t stick to your skin. It just cools down to a Playdoh-like texture that peels right off.)

But paraffin dips are definitely from the department of it’s better to receive than to give. It doesn’t help that tonight is one of those nights when we’re all feeling the pain of stuck-here-till-10-PM. The teachers are squabbling with each other over tests gone missing and scheduling changes. Stephanie’s cats have a tape worm. One of the senior girls is on a tear about the rest of us not remembering to take out the trash. The cosmetology students put their towels in our dryer yet again, so all our sheets and spa wraps come out covered in gummy clumps of hair.

And I go to perform my first-ever paraffin hand dip on Miss Jenny, hold the wax-filled glove at the wrong angle, and do this instead:


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[Beauty, Overheard] A New Feature

From a proud grandmother, pondering whether her granddaughters, ages 9 and 6, are beautiful:

“Sometimes Tabitha looks terrible, sometimes Aurelia looks lovely — it’s really too soon to say.  But you do wonder, what will they be?”

[Have you heard something pretty unbelievable about being pretty? Send your quotes to beautyschooledproject [at] gmail [dot] com and I’ll post ‘em here. Names changed, of course, so scout’s honor for accurate reporting.]

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Pretty Price Check (01.22.10)

The Pretty Price Check: Your Friday round-up of how much we paid for beauty last week.

  • $735: The price of Clive Christian No. 1 Pure Perfume, which Bella Sugar says is the world’s most expensive fragrance — and continue to sell well, despite the recession and its weirdly Renaissance Faire-inspired packaging.
  • 2013: When Europe bans all cosmetic testing on animals. (Nice one, Europe.) Scientists are developing a chip that can be used for cosmetic allergy testing instead of Fluffy. (Via Jezebel.)


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More Thoughts on Chemical Peels.

My 600-hour adventure in esthetics school. Learn about the project or catch up with weeks 1-9.

Stephanie and I are talking about how she did just fine with Monday’s alpha hydroxy acid peel, while I cried like a little tiny girl. For starters, she’s had more experience with peels because one of her best friends is an esthetician who hooks her up at cost, while I was a peel virgin. “I think you do kind of work up to being able to tolerate them,” she says.


Filed under Beauty Labor, Beauty Schooled, Beauty Standards, Ingredients

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(Not) Hooked on a Peeling.

My 600-hour adventure in esthetics school. Learn about the project or catch up with weeks 1-9.

Here’s how Milady’s explains a chemical peel, which is where an esthetician paints your face with glycolic acid (a kind of alpha hydroxy acid derived from sugar cane) to exfoliate away your dead skin cells, from page 384:

These light peels are noninvasive/nonaggressive in nature, and are designed to create an enhancement of the epidermis by working on dead cells, not the dermis, or living tissue. The application of peel skills in your skin care practice will be one of the most exciting and financially rewarding areas of your treatment “bag of tricks.”

And here’s why peels are so beneficial (and exciting and financially rewarding), from page 386:


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Pretty Price Check (01.15.10)

Pretty Price Check: Your Friday round-up of how much we paid for beauty last week.

  • 10: The number of plastic surgery operations that reality TV star Heidi Montag had in a single day, according to her “Addicted to Plastic Surgery” interview with People Magazine. Um, you think? (Via DoubleX.)


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Try the Kool-Aid, It’s Delicious.

An excerpt from our packet on “People Skills:”


1% DIE







I mean, no pressure or anything.

That being said, I’ll admit that I’ve moved on from hair stylists when I felt like I’d lost their attention a bit, and figuring out how to tame my wavy hair was no longer their reason to get out of bed in the morning. Simon Scott says it’s a common problem: Stylists and estheticians give amazing service the first time they see a customer, meaning you walk out feeling like they’ve changed your life. The second time around, they do more or less exactly what made you so happy before — but you’re disappointed because you didn’t get that epiphany moment of “oh my God, why have I been straightening my hair all these years?” And by the third visit, you start to think you’re in a rut and it’s time to move on.


Filed under Beauty Schooled, Career Opportunities, Customer Cult

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Spas — the New Harems?

Hey, remember last week, when I was talking about the weird prostitute vibe that comes up when a female esthetician works on a male client? A new women-only spa is opening in Marrakesh, calling itself Harem. Here, a few tidbits from their press release:

The Harem is a sanctuary for women who yearn for – and appreciate – escapism at its most glorious and unapologetically indulgent and utterly free of self-consciousness.

This is a week of not having to make any wardrobe decisions – each guest is given a djellaba and babouches for the duration of their stay.


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Deconstructing Facials.

My 600-hour adventure in esthetics school. Read about the project or catch up with weeks 1-9.

I think we’re all getting itchy about facials. It feels like we’ve been doing them for 100 weeks (reality: about five) but we have to perform 75 before we graduate, so the empty pages in our blue books (where Miss Jenny signs off on each treatment) seem to mock us as we hurry through yet another cleanse-analyze-exfoliate-extract-massage-mask-tone-moisturize.

And the truth is, I’m extra impatient because I’ve always been sort of dismissive of facials. They just seemed like an absurdly expensive indulgence that didn’t really give you a whole lot of take-home results. I’m still having trouble seeing the much-touted results — after I had Repechage’s Hydra Medic facial last week, everyone raved about how clear my skin became, but as far as I can tell, the three papules and pustules (technical terms, yo) that were there before the facial are still there now.

Even so, I’m kind of giddy when Miss Jenny breaks out the box of Repechage Four Layer Facials. This is because the Four Layer is like the Cadillac of facials. Repechage founder Lydia Sarfati developed it about 30 years ago, and claims that it revolutionized the way we do facials because the four layers of seaweed masks are so much kinder and gentler than so many other facials, which leave you red and raw after as proof that they’re “working,” yet just as (more so? why not?) effective.

Spas pay about $20 per Four Layer in ingredients and charge anywhere from $80 to $150. So you pretty much have to know how to do one because it’s one of the biggest money makers on the spa menu.

Problem there is, they’re wicked hard.

So here’s how it’s supposed to go down: Up above, you can see the Repechage model version of the Four Layer. A seaweed serum, hydrating cream, seaweed mask and mineral mask are all layered on and left to set, and then, in box number five, we have the grand finale, when the mineral mask hardens into a thick shell and you can rock it off your client’s face in one magical piece. The seaweed mask rubberizes underneath, so you peel that off, slap on some more hydrating cream, and show your client their shiny new self.

Here’s how I did:


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Are You Green, Glam and Gorgeous?

Are you 5’5″ or taller?

Between the ages of 18 and 26?

And — wait for it — “NEVER BEEN MARRIED, single, born female, NEVER given birth?”*

Congratulations, because you sound like a fine contestant for the Miss Earth Girls 2010 Pageant. All the pageant organizers need do is add “white and straight” to that list of criteria and we’ll have ourselves a party.

From the Guardian’s Environment Blog:

So, how exactly does a beauty pageant help to protect the environment? The organisers say that by “setting a legacy of beauty and responsibility, the candidates and the reigning beauty queen of Miss Earth uphold the preservation of our environment and continue to campaign for the protection of Mother Earth”. Hmmmm.

Apparently, my letter to the Environmental Movement That Hates Women got lost in the mail.


Are those the Rockettes? No they're environmental activists, silly.


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    The Eating Insinct: Food Culture, Body Image, and Guilt in America by Virginia Sole Smith

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