I think everyone in upstate New York must be on vacation, because there is an absolute dearth of customers at Beauty U right now. Which is kinda sad, because Meg and I graduate next week — next week, people!!! — and we’re trying furiously to fill up all the blanks in our blue books. I’m particularly lacking in the lip/chin wax department. In theory, I’d have ten finished by graduation, but I’m stuck at five… and with our usual rotating cast of old lady clients off at the beach or whatever, there’s a serious lack of chin hair in my life right now.
So anyway, we’re sitting around on the waxing table in the client-less spa, watching Sofia, one of the junior girls, glitter up her eyes in the makeup mirror. I’m studying for the written part of the final, or at least, holding my review book open in front of me. Meg is going over her signature book with Miss Stacy, who, at this point, we’re just calling Stacy. (Like all of the night teachers since Miss Jenny left, she’s actually a little younger than us.)
“We’re really low on body treatments,” Meg says, paging through her book. I think it’s because they’re so cumbersome and time consuming, with the slathering on of mud/seaweed/oil, wrapping of heated blankets, and showering. And then — the grossest part — cleaning out the shower that your client has left it covered in mud or seaweed. Sometimes with her seaweed-covered disposable thong left balled up in the corner. Yeah. You can see why we avoid them.
“Not for nothing, but you don’t even need those,” Miss Stacy says. “Clients never want them. I’ve done maybe one since I graduated from here.”
Meg asks if it’s really just all European facials, all the time, out in the Real Spa World. “Pretty much that and waxing,” says Miss Stacy and everyone sighs. Waxing can be fun; there’s definitely something oddly satisfying about a strip covered with row after row of leg hair. But then there’s the whole inflicting pain piece, which isn’t so fun. And the high potential for your client’s skin to freak out, get red, or bleed.
“That’s just how it works,” says Miss Stacy. “People need waxing done. Or they’re coming for a facial because it comes as part of a package or they have a gift certificate to use up. They don’t want to be upsold to something fancier. To be honest, they’d rather get a massage.”
Which, to be clear, we do not know how to do. Massage is a whole other license in our state, requiring another 1000 hours of training. “You’re not massage therapists,” Miss Lisa told us over and over during body treatments. “You’re just here to apply product.”
So here we are, so close to finishing our 600 hours — and we’re about to be licensed for a profession that revolves around removing hair and washing people’s faces. Which are services that they’ll either view as a necessary evil (waxing) or an unnecessary add-on (facials and beyond).
When I get home, I dig out the recruiting brochure that Beauty U gave me, all those months ago: “As a beauty expert, you will know how to renew the skin and make the face and skin look radiant,” it says. “Such services are in great demand and command premium prices.”
Last week, I watched Stacy take a client’s completely bushy, shapeless eyebrow to a beautiful, gently curving arch. Say what you will about the point of eyebrow shaping — the woman is genius at it. She works quickly and with complete focus. No hair escapes her. The client is always thrilled. She is indeed a “beauty expert.” And her spa charges $15 for the privilege of her services.
I think she keeps about seven bucks.