Category Archives: Tanning

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

Mother-Daughter Tanning is a Thing Now

Vintage Coppertone Tanning Ad

At least, if you go to East Tennessee State, where doctoral student Katie Baker found that 40 percent of women say their first time in a tanning bed happened with mom in tow. For more details, check out this great MSNBC article by health writer Melissa Dahl.

And it’s actually not just Tennessee and not just happening now. I grew up in Connecticut and can remember, round about 8th grade, when one of my girlfriends started tanning with her mom and older sisters. Her mom was driving us home from school one day and explained to me that it was a critical protective measure, so my friend could “develop a base tan” before she started her summer lifeguarding gig and had to face the real sun. You know, the dangerous one.

And we all nodded solemnly and thought she was being such a good mom. Continue reading


Filed under Beauty Labor, Tanning

Pretty Price Check (07.02.10)

The Pretty Price Check: Your Friday round-up of how much we paid for beauty this week.

  • 15: The number of extra pounds that Christina Hendricks is happy to keep around. According to yet another fricking interview with her about how much she loves her body. In Health Magazine this time. A) Of course she loves her body. Look. At. Her. B) Does anyone, ever, want to ask this poor woman questions about, oh I don’t know, acting? Maybe she has a neat hobby or two? (Via DoubleX.)
  • 6: The number of pounds that Health thinks you can lose in seven days. If you are not Christina Hendricks and thus not allowed to enjoy a single ounce of extra weight. Oops. (Also via DoubleX)
  • 10 percent: The amount of the industry-dreaded tan tax, which went into effect yesterday, just in time for your 4th of July glow. Republicans are hopping mad. (Via Alternet.)
  • 25 percent: of women don’t want to leave the house when they’re having a bad hair day. Thank God that’s from a study commissioned by Proctor & Gamble. Bet they’ll know just what to do about it. (Via Modern Salon.)

MUST WATCH: This video where Josie Maran demonstrates her sexy pose. Because I just don’t know what to make of it. Squinty eyes? Keeping your mouth close to your shoulder? Modeling is weird.

MUST READ: No More Dirty Looks: The Truth about Your Beauty Products — and the Ultimate Guide to Safe and Clean Cosmetics. GOOD Features Editor Siobhan O’Connor and her journalist friend Alexandra Spunt had an epiphany over $400 Brazilian Blowouts — and realized that the stinky chemical turning their hair to cornsilk was everybody’s favorite carcinogen, formaldehyde. This book and the related blog do a great job of walking you through all the eco-health issues in your bathroom cabinets and offering safer alternatives (that still work). We like that. We like it a whole lot.

AND FYI: I’ll be taking Monday off from blogging to recover from my fireworks hangover. We’re on Beauty U Summer Break next week (hooray!) so blogging may be a bit spotty for that reason too. But I’ve got a few good posts in the works so do stop by and say hi.


Filed under Beauty Schooled, beauty standards, Hair, Pretty Price Check, Tanning, week 32

Pretty Price Check (06.25.10)

The Pretty Price Check: Your Friday round-up of how much we paid for beauty this week.

photo of women smoking a cigarette in the sun

  • 4.5-9 lbs: The average weight gain you’ll see if you quit smoking. Which is enough to have French women clinging to their Marlboros. (Or whatever fancy French brand of cigarettes they smoke there.) Bleh. (Via Jezebel.)
  • $700: How much this writer spent on eyelash extensions. Hey, she got two-and-a-half months of glory out of them, before starting to look like “a bad drag queen.”
  • 26 percent of tanners who filled out a survey using criteria for alcohol abuse qualified as “addicted” to their UV exposure. I feel like this whole “tanning is addictive” thing is so not news. And yet we keep hearing news about it. So I feel compelled to tell you about it. Because skin damage/cancer continues to be a key way we’re paying for pretty round here. (Via BellaSugar.)*

Must Read: Elizabeth Kissling’s insightful post over on Re:Cycling about the decline in diaphragm use. Hint — it has a lot to do with the increase in Pill sales:

But nearly four of every ten women who use contraceptives are not satisfied with their method, and I hear frequently from young women that they’re pressured at college health centers and physicians’ offices to choose hormonal methods, usually the Pill, over barrier methods such as condoms and diaphragms. Even after negative experiences with the Pill, women are often encouraged to try another brand rather than another method.

*Oh WAIT and on the subject of tanning: (Since I very much hope you are not addicted to it and in fact, protect your skin at least most of the time.) Check out Enviroblog’s Sunscreen Hall of Shame to make sure you’re not wasting your money and skin cells on something that doesn’t do sh*t. Good. You can also get a list of their top-rated sunscreens here. Now go enjoy your sunny summer weekend!

[Photo: “Women Smoking a Cigarette in the Sun.” While being French (Or not). Via Flickr.]

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Filed under Beauty Schooled, beauty standards, Pretty Price Check, Tanning, Week 31

More Thoughts on Skin (This Time, with Cellulite!)

Thank you, wise readers. You made such good points yesterday. And it’s helping me refine my perspective on pimple popping (because, honestly, if you don’t have an informed and nuanced perspective on that, why do we let you vote?). And skin in general.

So here’s a quick and dirty summation of your very valid points: Sometimes we pop pimples for popping’s sake. This is a hygiene issue; who wants to walk around with a pore full of greasy gunk?And it’s just damn satisfying, like popping (kinda gross) bubble wrap. Or picking your nose. And, if you have a lot of painful acne, extracting that crap makes you feel better. Plus there definitely is a space in which women being comfortable examining the less pristine parts of their bodies (even if it’s with an “ew!” response) is a good thing.

So I am not saying that every time you pick at a spot on your face, you’re hating on yourself.

What I am saying is that it can go there. Because again, skin is the site of so much of our body-related angst. Not necessarily in an anatomically correct sense; if you hate your nose, it’s really the shape of your bones and cartilage that you dislike. But when you think of your nose, you think of the skin-covered version, not the bones. This is because skin is how we see our bodies. And that’s why we spend billions of dollars per year trying to make it tighter, softer, smoother, and in some cases, just go away all together.

And at Beauty U, I see skin hatred in action every single day. We look at scars caused by the kind of obsessive picking that goes well beyond hygiene. We see people take tweezers to their zits. We attack them with lancets, which are basically tiny knives and illegal to use for this purpose in many states including mine. And with the high-frequency machine, which uses a buzzing electric current to kill bacteria. Not to mention microdermabrasion, where we scrape at your skin with tiny rocks, or chemical peels, where we paint you with acid to make pimples dry up and other imperfections melt away.

That’s why I say this isn’t always skin care. A lot of the time, this is skin war.

Now for story time:

Besides pimples, Public Enemy #1 in the skin war is, without a doubt, cellulite. I’ve been in the trenches of this battle for the past few weeks because it’s summer now, which means people are planning to show a lot more skin, which means they’re highly anxious about all of their skin from the neck down.

I’ve written before about how much I like body treatments because I like that I can convey a little bit of body acceptance to clients through my touch. It’s a no I don’t have a problem massaging your stomach, stop sucking it in and just breathe already thing.

But now people are coming in for cellulite detox wraps, which is where we massage you for half an hour with a mysterious blend of essential oils, then wrap you bake potato style in the silver heated blankets until you sweat so much you start to shrink. To prove this shrinkage, we measure your arm, waist, hips and thighs before and after. We could be more exact — sometimes I forget the precise spot I measured in the beginning and worry that skews the results, if I pick a place on your thigh, for example, that is just naturally thinner than where I clocked your before measurement. But even accounting for that margin of error, I have seen people lose an inch or two. (No it’s not permanent. I suppose it’s what people call water weight, though I think that’s kind of a make-y up term. But think the kind of weight wrestlers drop when they work out in those crazy plastic suits right before a match.)

Even though the word cellulite is right there in the treatment’s title, I’m less convinced that our massage or your excessive sweating does anything for erasing or even improving the appearance of your thigh dimples. But that’s what people come in hoping to see, and the placebo effect is a powerful thing.

“I look so much more toned now!” says Client Ten, a tiny blond waitress (who tips me $11, because waitresses get tipping).

“That bloat is gone, thank God!” says Client Eleven, another tiny blond women who spends most of the wrap talking to me about her volunteer work at her church. And tips $9. (Cellulite wraps cost $47 at Beauty U.)

I’ve noticed that tiny people are often the ones who go for the wrap, maybe because losing just an inch doesn’t sound worth it if you’re bigger? And as much as we promote the wrap as relaxing and restorative and all that, it is one of our most hardcore services, so you have to be convinced that losing an inch is worth some suffering. You can’t move much under the heavy blankets. Plastic sticks to you everywhere because we wrap you in a plastic sheet (think big garbage bag) before we put the blankets on.

And you get really, really, really hot. Not ooh I’m in a sauna or a hot tub hot, this feels so good. More like, wow, I’m sitting in a pool of my own sweat while wrapped in garbage bags and it’s starting to smell that way.

Which at first, people crave. 10 minutes in, without fail, every client tells me they’re not sweating enough and maybe we need to turn the heat up because they really, really want this to work so they can lose an inch before their beach vacation/hot date/regular Tuesday activities. I tell them to sit tight, the heat is on all the way. And 15 minutes in, they start to feel it. And proceed to slowly lose their minds.

Some people enter a sort of trance-like state, halfway between awake and sleeping. Others talk to keep themselves going and I hear about medical problems, angry teenage children, unsupportive spouses, mothers who call too much or not enough. They share a lot in the cellulite wrap, and I can’t tell if it’s because lying there in the hot and the dark feels like some kind of confessional or because they’ve gotten so delirious they don’t know what they’re saying.

All I’m saying is, it’s a lot to endure in order to cinch some skin. But cellulite wrap disciples are devoted to it. Client Twelve comes rushing in, asking if we can cut the massage short and get right to the heat because she has to be at a wake by 7 pm. It turns out that her thirteen-year-old daughter’s friend just died in a car accident. Before you judge her (because the implications of keeping your cellulite wrap appointment on the day your daughter has to go see her friend in a funeral home are pretty bleak) let me explain that she just has to get the wrap done because she’s going on a girl’s weekend to the Jersey Shore but she also has to get to the wake because the girls’ weekend means she’s missing the funeral the next day.

Okay now you can judge her.

Actually don’t; she’s a very nice person and I think just caught so blindsided by the tragedy that she’s having trouble processing the idea that life needs to stop for a minute for something so horrible. There are times when we feel so out of control that I guess knowing you can at least take an inch off your hips before you have to get into a bikini is comforting.

Or something.

Meanwhile, Stephanie brings in her airbrush gun so we can practice spray tanning each other. Which I bring up because it is also about skin and cellulite too, since the primary reason for tanning is to make pasty, dimpled flesh look more toned. As estheticians, we’re supposed to be very anti-tanning yet very pro-attractive-skin, so you can see our dilemma and how the invention of the professional spray tan has really helped us out.

Except again, the results are often imagined. Stephanie sprays Meg while we all stand around saying things like, “it’s subtle but you’ve got a really nice glow!” and “it’s good it’s so light because I hate those orange tans.” Then Stephanie starts on me and Miss Stacy realizes we’ve been holding the gun all wrong. Suddenly brown spray shoots out and turns my legs a deep, toasty orange and we realized that Meg hadn’t gotten any color at all, except that which we wanted to see.

Long story short, spray tanning with an airbrush gun is very tricky and I ended up several patchy shades of orange and brown and my original fishbelly white and now look like I have a mild case of vitiligo. Plus it smells gross and you sneeze brown for the next day because you inhale so much crap.

But my cellulite is a lot less noticeable since it’s underneath all that brown paint.

And if you’ll let me conclude by officially beat this whole war metaphor to death: Maybe the biggest problem with Violence Towards Skin is that at least half the time, when we declare victory, nothing has actually changed.

Tip Jar Total: I’ve made a total of $30 in cellulite wrap tips so far, making it definitely one of the most lucrative Beauty U spa offerings, and bringing the grand tip total up for $90.


Filed under Beauty Labor, Beauty Schooled, beauty standards, Body Treatments, Chemical Peels, Facials, In Class, Tanning, Tip Jar

Pretty Price Check (05.21.10)

The Pretty Price Check: Your Friday round-up of how much we paid for beauty this week.

Photo of a woman using a vacuum cleaner as a hair dryer

  • 37 percent: How much more likely you are to develop an early form of liver cirrhosis if you dye your hair (compared to women who go au naturel) says a new study published in the international gastroenterology journal The Gut. (Via The StyleList.)
  • 18: The new minimum age for tanning beds in New York State, if the “Teen Tanning Ban” passes. (Via Shine.) Poor (hopefully skin cancer-free) teens. There’s always beet tanning, lovelies. Yes for real.
  • 100% certified wind power is what Aveda is using to manufacture all their products these days. They’re also doing great on the charitable donations and the recycled packaging front. How’s about taking out some toxic chemicals, my friends? (Via what I am pretty sure is just a press release on Technorati)
  • 6 lightening creams contained mercury (out of a sample of 50) in a recent Chicago Tribune investigation. Wow, the list of reasons not to use those just keeps getting longer. (Via BellaSugar.)

Favorite New Blog: Before You Were Hot. “Because every swan was once an ugly duckling.” I know, I know — you might think that a site where people post photos of themselves during their awkward years (braces, bad bangs, and all) wouldn’t jive with my whole “love yourself the way you are” ethos. Um, you would be wrong. Braces and bad bangs are hilarious. Not taking our appearances so damn seriously is a Very Good Thing.

And, as creators Anne and Melissa say on their about page: “This is all in good spirits, like ‘we were all in this awkward phase together.'” Love, love, love.

[Photo: “A Vacuum Used as a Hair Dryer” via Flickr where all the other info is in German, so I can tell you nothing more.]


Filed under Beauty Schooled, beauty standards, Hair, Ingredients, Pretty Price Check, products, Tanning, week 27

[Government Watch] On the Matters of Tanning and Toxins.

I admit to being fully impatient with anyone who thinks a tax on tanning salons is a bad idea. Of course, thus far, that group is mainly limited to tanning salon owners (shock) who feel their “one little industry” is getting stuck with the country’s entire health care reform tab (via Jezebel). What’s more surprising: The fact that they aren’t getting much support from the rest of the beauty industry on this one. Before embarking on this here project, I tended to think of the beauty industry as one big, pretty battleship. But it’s actually made up of several different and sometimes warring factions, and tanning salons are to estheticians kind of the way reality TV stars are to um… the cast of Gossip Girl. By which I mean, they’re both guilty pleasures, but at least Leighton and Blake and the rest have to try to act.

“A big part of our job is to promote good health,” says Miss Jenny. “I think it’s irresponsible for any esthetician to go to a tanning salon or even tan regularly during the summer.” She’s not against a healthy “I spend time outdoors” glow, mind you, but you best be wearing and reapplying your SPF all day long.

And the tanning industry is hopping mad about the way the rest of the beauty industrial complex is treating them, because twist! The new 10 percent tanning tax really came about as a replacement for the 5 percent tax on Botox and other cosmetic surgical procedures, which was soundly squashed by the beauty industry and feminists alike. I’m still working through how I feel about that one. Claiming it’s discrimination to tax Botox when women need it to compete in today’s tough job market? Issuing statements about access to expensive, elective surgeries when so many Americans don’t have access to health care at all? Are we really doing that, NOW? And yet! There’s that pesky issue of abortions and birth control not getting covered, while male vanity drugs like Viagra slipped through the cracks.

So I guess you can’t blame the tanning industry for being cranky with Big(ger) Beauty. From StyleList:

Vice President of the International Smart Tan Alliance Joe Levy told NBC Philadelphia: “In creating the bill Rep. Maloney and Dent [the Congresswoman and Congressman who started the bill] have been duped by the cosmetics industry, chosen to ignore the latest research of UV light and have sided with cosmetic companies who seek to keep all of America out of the sun and covered with sunscreen.”

Duping you into preventing cancer? By telling you to wear sunscreen?! Yup, that sounds like the cosmetics industry all right. Oh wait, except it doesn’t, since potential carcinogens are among most cosmetic manufacturers’ very most favorite product ingredients. And extra sales tax on those wouldn’t do us much good, since beauty brands aren’t required to tell you when they’re using toxic ingredients.

At least for now: Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) is calling for an overhaul of our federal toxic chemical law, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The current TSCA doesn’t require any manufacturers to disclose dangerous ingredients or do any pre-market safety testing on chemicals before they stick them in all the consumer goods (makeup included) that you bring into your house and put on your body every darn day. If you think greater scrutiny sounds like a good idea, go here to email your senator on behalf of the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families Campaign, a coalition of non-profits and advocacy groups working to get a new bill passed.

It’ll be an uphill battle against Big Beauty and all its industry friends (cleaning products? furniture? food? Check, check and check), so do spread the word. And let’s hope that grouchy tanning salon owners don’t hog all the media’s attention when it comes to stories on just exactly who the beauty industry is throwing under the bus.

What do you think? Does a tanning tax make sense? Would you like to see more regulation on which chemicals are allowed in consumer goods? Do tell.

[Photo: Tanning Beds For Sale Online. Good to know.]


Filed under Beauty Schooled, Government Watch, Happenings, Ingredients, products, Tanning, week 15