Category Archives: Muddling Through Milady’s

[2000 Dollar Wedding] Bridal Makeup is Whatever You Want it To Be.

The third and final post in my 2000 Dollar Wedding Guest Post Series is all about bridal makeup: The rules we learned at Beauty U —psst, Beauty U fans: There’s a new Miss Jenny story!—  versus what really happened with me and bridal makeup on my wedding day.

I also get to talk about the awesomeness of my friend Katherine (that would be her, hair-spraying me down, above) who is a very talented makeup artist, just by the by. (She also did Kate of Eat The Damn Cake‘s wedding makeup and was endlessly patient with both of us no-makeup types!)

Because there will be a quiz later, make sure you’ve also read Part 1: Why I Stopped Weighing Myself Before My Wedding and Part 2: Yes Your Teeth Could Be Whiter (But Why?). And check out all the other guest posting awesomeness that is happening over there right now. If any of y’all are wedding planning, 2000 Dollar Wedding is where it’s at for keeping your sanity in check. (Even if your wedding costs way more than $2000. Promise.)

Thanks so much to the wonderful Sara Cotner for including my posts in her maternity leave coverage! (PS. She’s now the proud mama of little Henry J!)


Filed under Guest Post, Makeup, Muddling Through Milady's

[Back to Beauty U] Test Time

Excuse the super short post today — in a few short hours, I’ll be sitting in the nearest official Department of State testing center, number two pencil in hand, poised to multiple choice my way through 100 randomly generated questions about makeup, facials, waxing, and a motley assortment of anatomy, skin histology, chemistry, and electricity that you’re supposed to know in order to become a licensed esthetician. (Even though we are not doctors.)

That’s right. It’s time for the written portion of my esthetics licensing exam. Some of you might remember bold plans to study a Milady’s chapter per week in preparation for this event. Most of you are probably like, “what plans?” Because that sort of petered out by Chapter 3. (Of 21. Oops.) Life and what not.

So I’ve spent a significant portion of the past 48 hours firmly attached to Milady’s and an ever-growing pile of flashcards. And I’m pleased to report that I seem to remember more of that book learning than I expected I would after four months off. But I would not describe my confidence level as bubbling over. It’s basically impossible to insert an entire 600-page textbook (plus a twenty page packet on licensing laws) into your brain on short notice.

Plus, skin lesions all boil down to being red, itchy and probably filled with pus. Which makes it really hard to tell a macule from a papule from a tubercle. And also kind of gross.

So, cross your fingers for me, and all of my Beauty U classmates taking the test today.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a Six Items update. In the meantime, why don’t you go read about Elle bleaching its cover models, the pink princess evolution, and this excellent slideshow about my girl Buffy — vampire slayer/feminist icon/beauty standard redefiner/yes really!  — who turns 30 this week.

Because I have to get back to my flashcards. These skin lesions aren’t going to memorize themselves.



Filed under Back to Beauty U, Muddling Through Milady's

[Government Watch] What’s in a License?

I’m continuing to brush up on my Milady’s, and have also set about reviewing the thick packet of Appearance Enhancement License Laws (that link is a pdf, yo) put together by New York’s Division of Licensing Services, who, when not certifying people like me to give facials and cut hair, also issue licenses for real estate agents, coin processors, armored car guards, and pet cemeteries.

And it occurs to me, in reading over that list, that maybe we want to back up a second here. Continue reading


Filed under Beauty Labor, Government Watch, Muddling Through Milady's

[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. Continue reading


Filed under Muddling Through Milady's

[Muddling Through Milady’s] No More Teachers, But Yes, More (of this) Book.

Screen grab of Milady's About Page

And here you thought we were done with schooling.

I may have gotten my weeknights back, but my esthetics education isn’t quite over. Continue reading


Filed under Muddling Through Milady's

Back to Makeup: You’re Also a Client.

Max Factor cosmetics, Her Majesty's Arcade, Sydney (taken for M.G.M.), c. 1941, by Sam Hood

When I went to The Makeup Show a few weeks ago, I was struck by how expensive the “quality” professional products were — even though we were supposed to be paying professional prices, discounted even further because it was a big trade show.

Then last week, when I was sitting in detention Make-Up Time, and flipping through Milady’s as directed, I came across a few passages that helped me connect those dots. For your reading pleasure:

Page 479:

If you invest in high-quality makeup brushes, you will have them for years.

Page 471:

Quality is important when choosing products and supplies. There is a difference between high-quality makeup and less expensive generic brands. The quality of the products and brushes makes a big difference in how makeup application will go for you, the artist, or for your client — smoothly or not so smoothly.

Page 602:

To be successful selling products and services, you must first be motivated and committed to their value […] Looking the part and practicing your philosophies is a good way to advertise the benefits of healthy skin care.

Most of the estheticians I’ve met own at least a steamer trunk worth of makeup and have bathrooms overflowing with products. There’s a lot of talk about the different deals you can get by repping for companies, or hitting the sales at the local beauty supply stores and really digging through the trade shows. But when I consider the average salaries, I’m just not convinced the math checks out. So, will I sound naive if I now admit that I’m still a little surprised every time I realize that the whole point of beauty school is to teach us to sell products and services?

Duh, says Milady’s on page 602:

To frame the concept of sales positively, the esthetician must first accept that recommending and providing clients with quality skin care products and services is a professional responsibility.

I think a big part of me still wants the whole point to be to help people achieve healthy skin and hair and feel good about themselves. And sure, that’s part of it. All of our teachers say “making clients feel good” is what they like best about their jobs.

But we use products to do that. And we use products ourselves to “advertise the benefits of healthy skin care.” And then we try to sell our clients more products to use at home when we’re done.

To do that, we have to buy what we’re selling. First, by believing it all: The promised benefits of our services, the value of having healthy (read: younger-looking, smooth, blemish-free) skin, the self-esteem boost you’ll get from looking better.

And then by actually buying it all ourselves.

[Photo: “Max Factor cosmetics, Her Majesty’s Arcade, Sydney (Taken for M.G.M.), c. 1941, by Sam Hood” via Flickr.]

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Filed under Beauty Schooled, Career Opportunities, Customer Cult, In Class, milady's, Muddling Through Milady's, week 29

The Man Facial. (Excuse Me: Skin Treatment.)

Photo of a man getting a facial

A quick but — I think you’ll agree — essential detour back to facials, because I just came across these gems in Milady’s Standard Fundamentals for Estheticians.

Let’s start on page 318:

Male clients can be better clients than women in some ways because they are willing to follow suggestions and want a basic, consistent routine. They tend to be loyal customers. Male clients represent 15 to 20 percent of business and this percentage is expected to grow.

Yup. Dudes are more loyal than us fickle, routine-eschewing ladies. Further down:

The challenge is to induce male clients to come to a salon or spa in the first place. Using the term skin treatment rather than facial is perhaps a better way to promote men’s services. One way to attract male clients is to offer special services designed just for them. Make them feel comfortable and tactfully assure them that it is normal for men to seek spa services and practice good skin care habits.

Translation: Calling your spa “This Won’t Make You Gay” will be good for business. (Never mind if you are gay. Milady’s has nothing to say about you.) Continuing over to page 319:

Be sure the products are basic and the routines simple. Men generally do not want highly fragranced, fluffy products. For example, lotions need to be light, without fragrance, highly absorbent and with a matte finish. Most men do not like the greasy feeling of some products.

Because as a female, I adore smelly, shiny, greasy skin care. (Not even sure what a “fluffy” face cream would entail and I am studying to be a professional.) So it’s important that we clarify this. Men are from Mars, remember? They want beauty products that don’t suck. And aren’t called beauty products.

They also like the soapiness and foaminess of soaps, so a foaming cleanser is a good choice. […When performing facials, keep in mind] Most men love steam and the brush machine. Even if a client’s skin is slightly sensitive, he will prefer the assertiveness of a brush and foamy cleanser. A firmer touch and deeper massage are also needed on male skin.

The brush machine, in case I’ve forgotten to explain that to you already, consists of a soft bristled brush hooked up to a motor. When you turn it on, the brush head spins. You rub it all over the client’s face (usually with some sort of scrub) to exfoliate off dead skin cells, and, in the case of your male clients, fulfill their S&M fantasies.

Here I’ve been spending all these months pondering how the beauty industry restricts/talks down to/degrades women (and also people of color) and I have to admit, for the most part, I’ve been completely ignoring the plight of the modern, foamy cleanser-loving, man. Sorry guys. Apparently, beauty is more equal opportunity than I thought, because we’re just as content to reduce you down to a Clueless Caveman in order to make a buck.

Except, as is so often the way, I’d argue that these marketing stereotypes about men also serve to further reinforce stereotypes about women. That we automatically get the need for skin care services by dint of our extra X chromosome. That we love “fluffy” products. That we’re fragile and can’t handle “a deeper massage.”

Oy. I’ll leave you with my absolute favorite line, perhaps in the entire Milady’s oeuvre. It’s so great, you might consider having it put on a t-shirt.

Tubes are more male-friendly than jars.

Of course they are.

[Photo of a man’s facial via Flickr.]


Filed under Beauty Schooled, beauty standards, Facials, In Class, milady's, Muddling Through Milady's, week 22

Esthetics is a Science. See: Skin Transplants.

My 600-hour adventure in esthetics school. Read about the project, or catch up with Weeks 1 and 2.

So, it’s not all trips to the mall and fancy eyelashes, kittens.

Tonight we studied the history of skin care. Oh, those Egyptians and their wacky kohl eye shadow — great for making eyes look larger and brighter if you don’t mind that it’s a not-so-distant cousin of arsenic. Milady’s apparently does not, because that’s all it has to say about that.

We carried on to Science. Because science is really where it’s at, if you ask Milady’s Standard Fundamentals for Estheticians.

Page 10:

Esthetics, from the Greek word aesthetikos (meaning “perceptible to the senses”), is a branch of anatomical science that deals with the overall health and wellbeing of the skin, the largest organ of the human body.

Pages 15-16:

Experts predict that the skin care and medical industries will continue to work closely together to create products and treatments that promote dramatically younger-looking skin. Skin care products will be more potent, will contain both medical and natural ingredients, and will be available in more efficient delivery systems that penetrate deeper into the skin. […] Gene therapies — and even skin transplants for wrinkled skin— are on the horizon as well.

It may be worth noting that Merriam-Webster has a slightly different take on the matter:

Main Entry: aesthetic

Variant(s): also esthetic

Function: noun

Date: 1822

1. a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty, art, and taste and with the creation and appreciation of beauty.

Eh. Philosophy? Science? If you cut us, do we not bleed? We wear white lab coats, too, you know.


PS. Thanks to Nutmeg Knitter —who, in addition to being a great knitter and mom is an actual scientist — for the lovely shout-out and for turning me on to the fantastic Operation Beautiful. Ending Fat Talk? Yes. More of that, please.

[Photo Credit: Flickr]


Filed under Career Opportunities, In Class, milady's, Muddling Through Milady's, week 3

The Lesson is a Sales Pitch, Too.

My 600 hour adventure in esthetics school. Learn more about the project or catch up with Week 1 and the rest of Week 2.



From pages 404-405 of Milady’s Standard Fundamentals for Estheticians:

There is a difference between high-quality (usually more expensive) and less expensive generic brands. The quality of the products and brushes makes a big difference in how makeup application will go [sic] for you, the artist, or for your client — smoothly or not so smoothly.

Explain to clients why they should buy quality makeup and brushes. Why are they better? Is quality going to make a difference on their skin? Will quality products glide on easier and not tug on the delicate eye tissue? Clients will be more satisfied with products that are easier to work with and will discover that quality is worth the extra money.

From page 437:

Good lighting makes a client look good, and clients who look good are more likely to purchase the products you recommend.

From page 447:

In a [makeup] lesson, clients are shown step by step how to apply makeup. These services are more time-consuming and expensive because you are sharing your knowledge. Lessons are a good opportunity to retail products so clients can reproduce the look you create at home.


Just in case anyone is confused about why we’re all here.

[Photo Credits: Makeup Lesson Chart and Bobbi Brown 2008 holiday offer via Daily Moxie]


Filed under In Class, Makeup, milady's, Muddling Through Milady's, week 2