[Muddling through Milady’s] Chapter 2: Your Professional Image

From Milady’s Standard Fundamentals for Estheticians, page 21:

If you do not look good, your clients may assume that you cannot make them look good.

Forget all the decoding and analyzing we like to do of the beauty industry’s secret messages. It really is that simple.

So what does Milady’s think I need to do, in order to look good to make my clients look good? Here’s a collection of the chapter’s best tips. (I’m editing only so the verb tenses match up — Milady’s plays it fast and loose with grammar rules sometimes.) I’d enjoy it if you could play an episode of Oprah (like maybe this one where Serena Williams gives her a pedicure? And yes I will have more thoughts on that later). Or maybe you can hear Baz Luhrmann’s “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)” graduation day hit from 1999 playing in the background while you read this. It’s chock full of these kinds of profound life lessons.

  • [Shampoo and condition] your hair as required to keep it fresh and clean (for most people this means every day).
  • Do not share your personal problems with your clients or tell other people the concerns they may share with you.
  • [Brush and floss] your teeth, as well as using a mouthwash or breath mints throughout the day as needed.
  • Count to ten and think before you speak.
  • Take care of hangnails immediately. Keep your hands and feet well moisturized.
  • A clean, natural approach is generally best when applying makeup.
  • Reward yourself with a special treat for work well done and time managed efficiently. Your reward might be a fruit smoothie, a movie with friends, or any other enjoyable activity.
  • [Maintain] a cooperative attitude in all situations.
  • Wear clean undergarments every day and keep them out of view. Underwear elastic peeking out of your pants or exposed bra straps are inconsistent with a professional image.
  • Good posture conveys an image of confidence and can prevent fatigue and other physical problems.
  • Socks or hosiery should be free of runs and harmonize with your attire.

By the way, I skipped over the really simple stuff, like, ah, showering. Why does this textbook assume that people training to join the business of looking good might be fuzzy in areas like hygiene and basic manners? I have no idea, but I think it’s in the same vein as Beauty U banning water bottles and treating make-up hours like detention. No matter how professionalized this industry wants to seem, the PTB retain the view that their students are all somehow one cigarette away from being Beauty School Drop-Outs.

What is clear:

Many salon and spa managers consider appearance and poise to be just as important for success as technical knowledge and skills.

And on that note, I’m off to harmonize my socks with the rest of my attire.



Filed under Muddling Through Milady's

7 responses to “[Muddling through Milady’s] Chapter 2: Your Professional Image

  1. anne

    I agree. And yes, it’s that simple.

    Anyone who is performing some kind of beauty treatment on me should look like he/she knows how to take care of themselves first.

    I LOVED the “sunscreen” video!

  2. Sam

    Reminds me of ‘Personal Presentation’ class at the beginning of the year at Beauty School , where we got told pearls of wisdom like:
    -“Shower daily”
    -“Wear deodorant”
    -“Brush your teeth”

  3. miss-trixie

    Wow…most of those pearls of wisdom are right up there with telling surgeons to wash their hands before starting an operation. How amazingly patronizing! My favorite is the one suggesting you treat yourself once in a while, as if you need permission from a textbook to do that. (And to make sure to treat yourself with *enjoyable* activities, as opposed to…unenjoyable activities, I guess??…one would hope that part is implied.)

    • Elise

      @miss-trixie: surgeons, sure: everyone is watching them scrub in. But you may (or may not be!) shocked at how many health care professionals straight up forget to wash their hands before patient contact.
      And Virginia, don’t feel *too* bad about the semi-patronizing language of the personal appearance advice. We got almost the exact same thing in nursing school (sadly, minus the advice to treat ourselves to a movie!) Weren’t allowed to wear cardigans or hoodies over our woefully thin poly-blend scrubs – only an oversized labcoat that made me jealous of the Clinique counter gals.

      • Elise — so interesting to hear that about nursing school! I guess there’s a play-to-the-lowest-common-denominator logic, where, they have to make sure everyone knows that stuff (to ensure a general standard of hygiene, safety, etc) and so they just have to say it. Which I get.

        But it does make me sad how often Beauty U policies and the Milady’s textbooks seem to start from “first assume your students are morons,” rather than “first assume your students are competent as human beings.” And it’s a shame to hear nursing school employs some of the same teaching techniques!

  4. knb

    i’ll even one up the book… if you do a good job on me, i will buy YOU a fruit smoothie!

  5. Dani

    You’d be shocked at how people in the wellness industry tend to neglect them(our)selves. I’m in massage school, and have encountered many people who smelled like two days ago, and wore funky, dirty socks that looked just plain nasty. But I never skipped a shower for hands-on anything, and this is coming from a former dormer in college…Even when you assume people are morons, somebody out there just won’t get it or care.

    When you take care of others, you also forget the little things that once made yourself happy. Still no excuse for icky socks.

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