You’re Just Here to Apply the Product

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.



Filed under Beauty Labor, Beauty Schooled, Career Opportunities, In Class, week 38

7 responses to “You’re Just Here to Apply the Product

  1. Denise

    I work at a spa where most clients prefer the facials to massages! If you work on your face, neck, shoulder and scalp massage techniques that can turn the corner for people.

  2. Stephanie

    Congrats on your impending graduation!

  3. Megan

    Speaking of hair removal, is threading taught at beauty schools? I come from a midsized midwestern city (about half a million people) and have only found one person who offered the service. Now, in my super tiny college town, I haven’t even bothered looking. Since threading causes a lot less irritation than waxing, you would think it’d be much more widespread. My understanding is that threading is a fairly recent import from Indian and middle eastern immigrants (no?). Does it remain on the periphery due to a bias against its origins? Or is it only a matter of time before it’s a standard service offered at salons?

    • Hi Megan,

      I can’t speak for ALL beauty schools, but Beauty U does not offer threading even though it’s a mall staple around here. One teacher has learned how to do the basics (from an Indian friend) but doesn’t consider herself at “eyebrow” level yet. She says it’s much more difficult to learn than waxing, since you’re working hair by hair. I think it does remain outside the mainstream salon world at the moment both due to its difficulty and the cultural issues — but when you consider how hair removal services in general have exploded in the past decade (and how much of that work is performed by minority/immigrant women in many parts of the country), I wouldn’t be surprised to see threading become much more popular in the next 5-10 years.

      There was a big debate in Texas last fall because the state cosmetology board was pushing to require already-working threaders to go to beauty school and become certified — which would of course be an expensive and time-consuming way for them to learn skills they already have (plus skills like facials, waxing, etc that they might not want or need). I see the health and safety case for standardized training and licensing in all of these professions, but I’m not so sure about putting the burden of paying for that training on individual workers, considering how low salaries tend to be in this industry.


  4. Caroline

    I’m excited to see someone comment on threading – I was going to ask about it, because I just heard of it for the first time yesterday. Apparently many of my friends swear by it – including one friend’s twelve-year-old sister, who nags her mother every four weeks to make her an appointment. They say it’s cheaper and less painful than waxing…. I am just still stuck on the sheer number of ways to pay to have your ripped out. And how many people think that’s grand.

  5. Caroline

    **hair** ripped out

  6. Pingback: Check Your Own Pretty Price: What’s Your Beauty No-Fly Zone? | Beauty Schooled

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