Category Archives: Hair

Brazilian Blowout Settles — So Why Are Stylists Still Getting Sick?


Today I’m over on The Nation Institute‘s Investigative Fund Blog, with a piece about the latest Brazilian Blowout court settlement.

You guys, I am seriously SO OVER this story. By which I mean: I am so over the fact that there is still a story to tell here.

First of all, we’ve known — anecdotally, at least — that keratin hair straightening treatments contain toxic chemicals ever since Siobhan and Alexandra were inspired to write No More Dirty Looks because of their $400 hair disaster.


Filed under Beauty Labor, Career Opportunities, Government Watch, Hair, Health, Ingredients, Press, Products

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Breaking Brazilian Blowout News

1966 Spiegel catalog salon hair dryer

Hey, remember waaay back in 2010 when the supposedly “formaldehyde-free” Brazilian Blowout hair straightening treatment tested positive for — irony alert! — formaldehyde?

Lots of salon workers and customers reported all kinds of unhappy symptoms as a result of working with the product, but of course, the beauty industry had some hairs to split about it, even though their own textbooks and industry spokespeople had said years earlier  that formaldehyde doesn’t belong in beauty products. Ahem.


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Good Morning From Your Local Beauty Industry Spambot

Hey remember last month, in the Pretty Price Check, when I talked about the No! No! Hair Removal System? This is what I said:

No! No! Hair 8800 is the ridiculous name of this DIY hair removal device, voted At-Home Beauty Treatment of the Year by 50,000 consumers in an industry-sponsored survey. I hope everyone pronounces its name with an appropriate level of exclamation-point-indicated excitement. Or is it horror? (via GCI)

Well, look-y who wants to comment on that:

Author : no no hair removal system reviews
URL    :
Whois  :


Filed under Beauty Labor, For Extra Credit, Hair

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On the Subject of Selling Hair

Blond Extensions

This story from last week’s New York Times is still haunting me and it seems like nobody really took much notice, so we better: Poor Russian women are selling their blond hair for around $50 a braid, so you can pay an average of $439 for glorious golden extensions.

This actually made the gray lady’s front page, which surprised me — except for how this piece got top billing there too, so clearly, somebody at the ole NYT has a hair fetish, methinks — because this isn’t quite news. Indian women sell or donate their hair in religious ceremonies all the time, as everyone knows if they saw the Chris Rock movie. In fact, (brunette) hair from Asian countries makes up the majority of the $250 million per year human hair extension market. And the NYT reports that blond women have been selling their hair since the 1960s, only now the demand has substantially increased thanks to extensioned-out stars like Jessica Simpson and my hair crush Blake Lively.

I’m a soft touch when it comes to hair — I cried buckets when Jo sold hers in Little Women — but crowning glory rhetoric aside, doesn’t this whole practice feels like a bad Disney movie in the making? Only instead of Cruella Deville chasing puppies, we’ll have some pretty-yet-plucky blonde (with the Indian chick as her sarcastic sidekick, I mean, it is Disney) running from a cartoon Kevin Paves wielding evil magic scissors, with her spun-gold tresses hidden under a jaunty newsboy cap.

And yet, it’s far more real than that.

So many black women have this lifelong struggle against their natural hair texture, which starts young (check out this awesome news story about a black mom who decided to cut off her extensions after her five-year-old daughter talked about hating her own hair) and never really ends unless they decide to wear it super short once they hit middle age, as Debra J. Dickerson explains over on DoubleX.

Meanwhile, all these Indian, Russian and insert-other-poor-countries-with-great-hair-here women are selling off these pieces of their bodies for grocery money. So their more affluent sisters can achieve cartoonishly long, volumized hair.

Which, by the way, most of us still don’t even realize isn’t real — I just had to break the whole “yes it’s extensions” news about Blake Lively to a good friend last week, and I spent most of last summer in denial myself about the girls on Pretty Little Liars. Like Photoshopping and really good plastic surgery, you can know extensions are out there happening somewhere.. and still not know them when they’re right smack there in front of you, making you feel inadequate about your own hair’s naturally flat top and just-below-the-shoulders stopping point.

In short, human hair extensions make everyone’s hair worth less. While costing you a small fortune. Read more…

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[Spa Stories] Gina’s Hair is Perfectly Warm

If you think back way before your turkey coma set in, you’ll recall that two weeks ago, I kicked off a brand new series round these parts called Spa Stories, where we’re going to share various close encounters of the beauty salon kind. Now I’m back with the next installment, courtesy of reader Gina in Boston, MA. But first, a little clarification, so you can get your submission all ready for me.

What this series will NOT be: A place to rant about the hair stylist who cut three inches when you totally said one. Or the manicurist who filed you square when you clearly indicated oval. Or insert similar tales-of-customer-service-woe here.

What this series WILL be: A place to share how your relationship with beauty (your own or other people’s) evolves when you spend time in a salon or spa. And by “you,” I mean consumers, sure — as you’ll see from Gina in a second. But I’m also talking to you, salon workers. If you read the comments on my Slate story, you’ll see a lot of folks feeling highly anxious about what to tip and why it took me two hours to do all that waxing. It’s one thing for me to keep regaling y’all with Beauty U tip stories, but clearly, I cannot speak for the whole industry! So hair stylists, estheticians, nail techs — I want your stories here.


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[Spa Stories] The $47 Hair Cut

So. You may have noticed that I was a big slacker last week, and failed to Pretty Price Check you on Friday. Instead, I went gallivanting off to the city, drank copious amounts of Prosecco with the lovely Siobhan (who nevertheless got all her blog posts written, hmmph!), did some other things that were much more strictly work-related, sweartogod, and… got a hair cut!

And since it was my first time setting foot in a strange salon as a customer after ten months on the inside, I decided the whole thing was blog-worthy. In fact, I’ve decided that it will be the kick-off post of a brand new Beauty Schooled series (drum roll time) called Spa Stories, where we will report on various close encounters of the beauty salon kind. If you have such a story to share, email me on beautyschooledproject [at] gmail [dot] com. If you have already shared such a story and I have yet to post it, apologies… it will be coming soon!

Back to my hair. Read more…

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So, We Have to Talk About Long Hair

I, umm, kind of don’t want to, because we’ve been talking a LOT about the body image side of things in the past week (especially Fat Talk, Fat Talk Haters, and how I feel about being a little fat now). And I’m ready to get back to Beauty U and some of the other Beauty Things that make up the whole varied mix here at Beauty Schooled.

But first.

Dominique Browning is asking New York Times readers “Why Can’t Middle Aged Women Have Long Hair?Read more…

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[Muddling Through Milady's] Chapter 3: Sanitation & Disinfection — and Formaldehyde, Too.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to subject you to Milady’s somewhat mind-numbing explanations of the three tiers of decontamination that should be used in a salon or spa. (But in case you’re wondering, they are sterilization, disinfection, and sanitation, and I have them down cold.)

Instead, I’m going to be all timely and share this little tidbit, from Milady’s Standard Fundamentals for Estheticians, page 44 (in a red box marked with a big exclamation point, so you know it’s important). Read more…

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Monday Mannequin Mania


Starry Night Mannequin Head

Starry Night. In Mannequin form.


Obviously, anyone who can see my blog header knows I have a thing for mannequin heads. Back at Beauty U, I was constantly jealous of the cosmetology students getting to play with their mannequin heads all the time, because in esthetics, we don’t get mannequins, a fact that I found deeply disappointing. (It’s kind of hard to practice facials on plastic — you need real skin.) I don’t know why I like them so much – I was a big player-with-dolls as a kid and very into cutting my Barbies’ hair and all that, but there is also something super creepy about these life-sized heads with empty eyes.

Whatever the Psych 101 explanation is about me and mannequins, I have now discovered this site and cannot get enough of the awesomeness. Read more…

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[Guest Post] On (Not) Being Transvestite Barbie

photo of transgender barbie

Devoted Beauty Schooled readers know I have a total blog crush on Kate of Eat the Damn Cake. If you don’t know that, you should A) check out her blog, especially the Cake Gallery and B) check out this great post she did for me awhile ago.

But come right on back here, because in lieu of our usual Pretty Price Checking (suspended due to me being off the grid somewhere and thus out of touch on anything Price Check related — update me on what I missed in the comments?), we’ve got Kate guest posting!

And I love this post first because it enabled me to do a Google search on the phrase “Transvestite Barbie” and find you the amazingness featured above. And second because I think a lot of us can relate to Kate’s struggle to look like herself and yet also beautiful in that Big Life Moment special occasion kinda way. It’s really the same struggle we go through daily (look like ourselves, yet also like some approximation of Pretty, whether that was defined by TV, the beauty industry, your women’s studies class, your mom, whatever). But with lots of extra wedding day pressure.

So here’s Kate. She’s handling it all swimmingly.

The salesman in the formal wear department asked me who designed my gown. I couldn’t remember. We were shopping for my mother’s dress for my wedding. She found a gorgeous one. She asked about hair and makeup. What did he recommend? He looked at me. “Well, where is your daughter going?”

I shook my head slowly. “Um,” I said. “I don’t know.” Read more…

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

    Pre-order now!