Category Archives: Beauty Labor

My Morning Beauty Routine… Exposed!

No More Dirty Looks Morning Beauty Routine Exposed Virginia Sole-Smith

Ahem. I’m getting back to the business of beauty today — yes, straight up, old-fashioned, beauty as in beauty products! By visiting over on No More Dirty Looks, where they’ve been doing this fun series grilling people about their beauty routines and posting all of the details. It’s weirdly addictive and fascinating to read how other people cleanse themselves (dry brushing? this is apparently a thing we’re doing now?), so naturally, I assume you’ll be equally fascinated to read such details about moi.

Especially if you’ve been Beauty Schooling for awhile now, and recall when I first took stock of my beauty labor before and during beauty school. (Need a refresher? You can find those posts here, here, here and here.) Consider this the one year post-beauty school look… in some ways I’ve become a ginormous slacker again (makeup!) but some changes (money spent on skincare products!) definitely stuck.

Oh and why yes, that is Audrey Hepburn pictured above because Siobhan asked me who my beauty icon was, and well, that’d be her.

Except of course then I had to get all weird and explain to Siobhan that when I say beauty icon, I don’t mean “person I want to look like,” because hello, restrictive beauty standards and broadening the definition and all that jazz… I more mean, “person I really enjoy looking at and thus, am very happy existed so we can enjoy her beauty.” And poor Siobhan was like, “Right, I just wanted to run a fun old movie star picture, so…”

Sigh.

Note to self: Sometimes, the soap can just stay in the box. Except — ha! — I don’t even use soap, as you’ll learn when you go read about my whole morning routine here.

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Filed under Beauty Labor, Guest Post

Check Your Own Pretty Price: What’s Your Beauty No-Fly Zone?

Retro Beauty Salon

Over on XOJane, Rachel McPadden says she will never get a pedicure because they completely creep her out.

What I don’t want is someone banished beneath me, scrubbing, dremel-ing and cursing my pompous American feet while I iPhone my pals and read up on celebrity babies. Although damn, I love celebrity babies and would die without my phone.

Ah yes. I feel her, because I wrote this story and it sorta changed my life. (See: This here blog.) But I still get pedicures. Um, a lot. Not to mention, I’ve now been on the business end of all sorts of undignified beauty work. And I don’t push for anyone to give up these beauty rituals — I mostly just want you to make more eye contact, be friendly, and tip really super well. Bonus if you’ve also put some thought into why you’re getting said beauty work and feel good about your choices.

Also, maybe don’t sit on your iPhone while they work on you. That is just bad manners. Would you sit on your iPhone at the dentist? That’s what I thought.

But it got me thinking about how there are a few beauty things that I will not do, the way Rachel will not do pedicures. And that’s cool. Here’s my list:

  • Facials. Because after ten months at Beauty U, I just don’t think they work. They are lovely for taking a nap while someone pets your face, but I don’t want to pay for that.
  • Hair dye. Because I did this whole fake blonde thing in college and I’m still not over it. Plus, carcinogens. 

Check Your Own Pretty Price: Are there any spa/salon services that you just won’t do? And if so, why not? Are you worried they’re too exploitative, uncomfortable with the beauty standard, freaked about chemicals or just cheap? We’re not judging. It’s just interesting. So go! 

[Photo: Typical Hungarian 05 by Huldero via Flickr.]

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Filed under Beauty Labor, Check Your Own Pretty Price, Chemical Peels, Facials, Hair, Nails

Bring On the Beauty Start-Ups?

Beauty Salon For Rent Main Street USA Virginia Sole-Smith

A few weeks ago, Inc.com listed beauty salons as one of the best start-up businesses for 2011.

According to AnythingResearch.com, the cosmetology and barber schools (that educate salon-entrepreneur-hopefuls) grew at 29 percent last year, and nail salons grew at 9 percent. Inc.com’s reporting shows an industry with a low barrier to entry for salons and barber shops. Pair that with a recent resurgence in barbershop nostalgia—and with a return to beauty-service spending by consumers—and it’s a perfect storm for rapid growth in the salon and beauty industry. Bring on the beauty start-ups.

Well. Let’s take a look at that, shall we?

I suppose, by some measures, the $10,000 and 4 to 12 months it costs to get through beauty school add up to a “low barrier to entry.” For sure, it’s not medical school. But neither is the average post-graduation income ($9 to $15 per hour) anywhere close to what doctors make.

The statistics that Inc.com forgot to factor in to their analysis are ones that I learned my second month in at Beauty U from Simon Scott: Beauty salons have the second highest failure rate of any business. And 80 percent of students who graduate beauty school leave the industry after five years.

So let’s look again at the numbers that have Inc.com in a lather about beauty start-up potential. Beauty schools grew at a rate of almost 30 percent last year. Nail salons — as in, the places of business where beauty school graduates can actually earn a living — grew at less than 10 percent.

Trade schools always thrive during a recession (or a post-recession, if that’s what we’re in now) because if you’re out of a job, quickly retraining to qualify to do something else makes some kind of sense. Unless that “something else” is a job paying not much better than minimum wage for a business that’s likely to fail.

On my post-Beauty U road trip last summer, I saw beauty salons and barber shops on practically every corner of the Midwest. I did not see a lot of customers in them. I did see a lot of “For Rent” and “For Sale” signs.

Meanwhile, my Beauty U friends are having varying degrees of success in the business. A few of my classmates have landed part-time spa jobs. Most are still working the non-beauty-industry jobs they had when they arrived at Beauty U. One of my former teachers is now working at Sephora, while another is doing office temp work. That’s not exactly the rocket ship success that beauty school admission officers like to promise, or the “recession-proof career” that the beauty industry trade groups brag about.

It might not cost much to start up a beauty business. But to keep it going? That’s another question entirely.

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Filed under Beauty Labor, Beauty Schooled, Beauty U, Career Opportunities

[Never Say Diet] The Diet Report

iVillage Never Say Diet Consumer Reports Diet Report Virginia Sole-Smith

Consumer Reports just rated a bunch of commercial diet plans like Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers. They based their grades on how much weight participants lose and whether the diet is nutritionally balanced. But I want to know why they don’t factor body image into that equation.

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Filed under Beauty Labor, Never Say Diet

[Never Say Diet] Be Nice to Your Before Body

Never Say Diet Be Nice to Your Before Body Virginia Sole-Smith

I’m talking about how Before & After Photos mess with your head — and disconnect you from your Always Body today on Never Say Diet.

One quick note. [And a warning! This might be triggering for some folk. Skip it and go read today’s post if that’s the case for you.] Otherwise, keep on reading… Continue reading

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Filed under Beauty Labor, beauty standards, Never Say Diet

Three Things You Need to Know to Be a Good Salon Client

Beauty Schooled The Beheld Virginia Sole-Smith Be a Good Salon Client

And you thought yesterday was awesome, what with me talking all about beauty and feminism and the sisterhood of the Brazilian. (Are we making that a thing yet? C’mon!) Today I’m over on The Beheld again, talking about the three things you need to know to be a good salon client.

Hint: One of them is so important, it gets it’s own page on Beauty Schooled, up where it says Tipping Point in the header.

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Filed under Beauty Labor, Beauty Schooled, Career Opportunities, Cross Posts, Spa Stories, Tanning

Beauty Schooled on The Beheld!

Virginia Sole-Smith Q&A on The Beheld

My new blog friend Autumn Whitefield-Madrano writes an awesome and thoughtful blog called The Beheld, which you should already know about because I link to it allll the time in the Price Check and on Twitter.

So there was much hopping about with excitement when Autumn asked to interview me for The Beheld about the Beauty U project and other beauty-related matters. Check it out here.

Also we coined the phrase “Sisterhood of the Brazilian,” which is going to be huge. I’m pretty sure.

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Filed under Back to Beauty U, Beauty Labor, Beauty Schooled, beauty standards, Career Opportunities, Tip Jar