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Sweatpants & Beauty | Questions You Always Wanted to Ask a Beautician But Were Too Embarrassed

By Charlotte Smith

For Beauticians’ Day, the magical holiday where we celebrate the hairdressers, estheticians, waxers, nail techs, and barbers who keep us looking our best, I’ll be addressing some of the questions our S&C staff have asked as well as some of the most popular questions I hear at work.

“Do estheticians get grossed out by blackheads? I love that they do this for me but it’s kind of gross. But I LOVE that they do it.”

Probably 90% of us love extractions. You know those GIF-sets of super satisfying things to watch? Things being straightened, perfectly symmetrical slices of food, paint being mixed? You know that happy, soothed feeling you get that swells from your heart? Most estheticians feel the same way about extractions. There are a few who find them too gross, or find them a drawback to this business, but most of us love a good ol’ blackhead-filled nose, ripe for the popping.

“How did I go from bushy eyebrows to no eyebrows and what can you do for me?”

Terminal hair, or the darker hair that grows on our scalp, genital areas, and eyebrows (and other facial areas, for many people) will start to thin over time as hormone production starts to decline. It’s a natural part of aging, but vitamins in both diet and brow-growth serums can help, as can a solid lesson from a makeup artist on how to properly fill in your brows. Push come to shove, microblading is a valid option. Unlike the heavy eyebrow tattoos of old, this option tattoos in hair-like strokes to mimic true brow hairs. It’s pricey, but worth it.

“Are estheticians judging me for my sun damage? Because it sounds that way when they inform me of it. And what am I supposed to do NOW?”

There’s not a chance in HELL that we’re judging you, because trust us – unless you have worn SPF 25 every day in your entire existence and have never gotten the slightest bit of tan or burn from the sun, then everyone in existence has sun damage. Sun damage comes with existence, but sun damage also needs to be looked at carefully. It can be harmless freckling or a lethal variant of melanoma. Because of our scope of practice, however, we aren’t exactly allowed to say “hey dude, there’s some cancer amongst your freckles” since that would be diagnosing. What we CAN do, however, is tell you that a) you are a human and thus have sun damage and b) if any of it looks like it should be examined by a dermatologist. What you can do now is a three step process: exfoliate, prevent, and examine. Exfoliate is pretty straightforward! Talk with your esthetician about a good exfoliant for you, based on your skin’s individual needs. Prevent further sun damage by using a sunscreen EVERY DAY. No ifs, ands, or buts. Whether it’s in your daytime moisturizer, a separate step afterward, or your makeup, SPF is crucial for helping prevent sun damage. Finally, examine by getting a yearly checkup with a dermatologist. You’ll have to strip down to your skivvies as they examine every nook and cranny of skin to see what looks normal, what needs to be watched carefully, and what looks suspicious. These are often covered by health insurance, especially if you have a family history of skin problems or other health issues.

“Hormonal changes from medication have given me some weird dark freckles and discolored patches on my face. I’m now off the meds, and the doctor said that the spots would eventually go away (probably), but how do you speed that process along?”

Ahh, hormonal hyperpigmentation. You’ll need to focus your skincare on an exfoliating, brightening regimen that will help cell turnover to get those pigmented cells shedding and your normal cells to the surface. I like a gentler, daily grade exfoliating cleanser along with a toner, a twice weekly mask, serum, and moisturizer (especially one with SPF). Your powerhouse ingredients are gonna be licorice root, vitamin c, mulberry, grape, lactic acid, vitamin a, and glycolic acid. Consult with your esthy for a more through idea of what exactly will work best for you. Regular 4-6 week facials are a huge help, along with some microdermabrasion in there. If after six months of facials and a rigorous home care you still aren’t seeing results, you can try a chemical peel made to even out skin tone.

“I’ve noticed that the older I get, the more women my age look like they’ve had the same hair and makeup since they first learned to do their hair and makeup in the 80’s and 90’s. Is there a way to apply makeup that’s the equivalent of a little black dress? Some things you can do that are guaranteed to never look dated?”

Oof, I need some eye bleach for all the mall bangs and royal blue eye shadow I just saw! There is, thankfully, a way to avoid that. You can go with one of three routes, but they all work great.

  • No Makeup Makeup: Yes, makeup that’s made to look like you aren’t wearing makeup. It accentuates all your best features, helps conceal blemishes and problem areas, and makes you look fresh faced.
  • Grace Kelly: Pull up a color picture of Grace Kelly. If the makeup you’re putting on your face looks like a look she’d approve of, then go for it. Neutral, matte shadows with rosy cheeks and a pink tinted lip. It looks good on EVERYONE.
  • Bold: You know what’s timeless? Some simple black eyeliner and a bold red lip. I swear that a red lip will never ever go out of style. It may take some time to find your shade, but I guarantee you’ll feel awesome. Keep the shadow simple and the blush lighter.

“I always feel like the oldest person in Sephora,  although they always nicely answer my questions. I really want to feel like working with a skin care pro is for everyone, not just those with young, tight skin! Are there suggestions for women over 50?”

Skin care absolutely IS for everyone. As long as you have skin on your body, skin care is for you! And yet, you’re right: most people coming to see us nowadays are those who are trying to prevent aging, or have acne issues. For women over 50, I suggest visiting an esthetician for a consult to re-evaluate your entire skin care. Hormones cause skin to change, and as time goes on your needs will change as well. If you find yourself at 50 using the same cleanser you did at 25 just because it worked 25 years ago, it’s time to reevaluate your skin’s individual needs. Also recommended: lots of water, wear your sunscreen, and get aerobic exercise. The oxygen boost from aerobic exercise does wonders in helping skin!

“Do you have a favorite ‘wives tale’ type treatment that you use for something rather than a modern product?”

I have several, actually! Melaleuca oil, or tea tree oil, is my favorite spot treatment for acne. The antiseptic properties do a great job keeping acne at bay. I love good old-fashioned rosewater or hazel hydrosol for a simple toner, too, especially for those with sensitive skin.

“What are some of your favorite products that are under $15?”

When it comes to bargain prices, I tend to stick with brands rather than individual products. Pacifica, SkinFood, Elf, and Mario Badescu are my favorites in that price range. I tend to stick with cleansers, masks, makeup wipes – basically, the things that get washed off – when shopping these brands. I’d rather invest more in my moisturizer than my cleanser.

“What is the best way/ product to minimize the appearance of large pores?”

First, you should get a facial and see if those large pores aren’t really just clogged pores! You’d be very surprised at how often that happens. After that, it’s a mixture of enough exfoliation and hydration at home paired with regular facials. It takes time, but they’ll go down.

“What are some of your favorite products that can be purchased at a drugstore or grocery store, rather than a makeup counter?”

This is actually a tough question for me, simply because of my stance on typical drugstore beauty products: you buy your food at the grocery store, and your clothes at a clothing store, so why are you buying your skin care somewhere other than a beauty store? That being said, more brands are starting to show up in grocery stores, both legally and illegally. Those professional only products you see lining grocery store shelves are what’s called “diverted product,” meaning that it’s been stolen or bought from a warehouse and diverted away from typical supply lines. Often, this diverted product is expired! So, if you see professional products in your store, be sure to call the company so they know where diverted product is being sold. When it comes to solid, affordable brands that are easier to find, I like Pacifica, Pixi by Petra, Thayers, and Boots Botanics.

“Am I too old for a cat-eye eyeliner– or is that already out of style and WTH should I do instead? Is black eyeliner forever?”

No one’s too old for a cat-eye! It just might need to be slightly modified for your eye shape. Black eyeliner IS forever, yes. Some people do better with dark brown, but not tons.

“What are a few beauty essentials you can’t do without that actually aren’t necessarily beauty products? I’m not wording this right. I’m thinking stuff like tweezers.”

Beauty tools!! Gah, I love this stuff. I use my Clarisonic a few times a week with a deep pore brush head (which I definitely need to replace, thanks for the reminder). My mom bought a high-frequency machine that I ended up with and it’s a lifesaver for my acne prone skin. It’s a wand that helps zap away bacteria and tone the skin. I use a straight pin to separate my lashes after mascara (I know, I know, it’s extra, but it’s so fun), and few things can’t be solved with a duo set of angled and needle tweezers.

“Can you talk about chest care? Suddenly, I have skin there that looks like beef jerky.”

First, your chest does NOT look like beef jerky. Come on, now. Before you do anything else, start this for six weeks: everything you use on your face, sans makeup, use on your neck and chest. Cleansers, mists, serums, moisturizers, all of it. Take a picture at the start of the six weeks and compare it when you’re done. You’ll notice a huge difference! After that, you can see about getting microdermabrasion or chemical peels done to help even out the texture and tone.

“What are some things we should look for when considering an esthetician? Specifically being a person of color?”

Consider several things:

  • Their location. Is it in a good area? Is their facility itself good? Is it sanitary? Is it comfortable?
  • The people. Are there customers waiting there and looking angry, or are they relaxed and simply enjoying their time before their appointment? Are the workers friendly?
  • The products. Ask about the product line when first considering a place! Are they a well reputed line? Do they have products for people with your skin issues? Google the line and your ethnicity to see if there are any conflicts: bleaching agents, harsh detergents, or a company history of exploitation.
  • The esthetician. Are they willing to have a consult with you before you commit to scheduling a facial? Do they have experience working on people of color? Do they understand the specific needs of your skin as a person of color, along with skin condition and type?

Also, it’s a good sign if they’re willing to give you a few different options for both home care and in-office care, depending on time and budget.

“Why do they call them apartments when they are all stuck together?”

Because families live apart in compartmented housing, and – wait, what does this have to do with beauticians?

“How can I moisturize my hair without making it greasy? I only condition the ends, but it’s still so dry!”

Two words: hair oil. A lightweight hair oil on the ends won’t increase sebum production on the scalp, but will help condition the ends. I like pure argan oil for it, since it’s light weight and has no real smell. In the winter I keep it on my ends 24/7, but in the summer, I’ll run it through my ends about an hour before I shower. That way I get the conditioning benefits without my hair being weighed down.

“What’s up with the ‘now that you’re 40 or 50’ lists of things we can’t do anymore? Is there an age limit on beauty?”

Fuck that steaming pile of horseshit. There is no age limit to beauty, and any list that says otherwise can take their pickiness elsewhere. You do you, boo boo.

“HOW CAN I GET MY HAIR TO GROW LONGER?!”

Deep breaths, trims every 6-8 weeks, exfoliate your scalp, deep condition your ends, and biotin or prenatal vitamins. You’re welcome.

“Does waxing actually thin your hair over time or is that a myth to get you in every 6 weeks??”

It does actually thin the hair by causing trauma to the hair follicles. By ripping out the hair by the root, your follicles have a minor freakout. All their hard work just got ripped up! Rather than trying to build a thicker root, they decide to invest less in it this round. That cycle repeats each time you wax, until very little hair grows back, and what hair does grow back is very thin.

“How to avoid bumps after hair removal. Please?”

Like quite a few other things on this list, my answer is exfoliate! A salicylic acid toner works great for this, along with gentle body scrubs. Go with the toner route if your skin is more sensitive.

“How to cover bruises and/or make them fade faster.”

Bruises require industrial strength concealer, setting powder, lots of blending, and time. Making them fade faster is much easier! Cool compresses, aspirin, and Epsom salt baths (especially if you add some lemongrass essential oil) are key to helping the bruising fade.

“That apricot scrub…what makes it so bad and what’s a good alternative?”

That apricot scrub is the stuff of nightmares. It’s filled with walnut shells and corn cob meal in high concentrations, filled with perfume, and any benefit from apricot being in there is lost. The walnut shells in there are such aggressive exfoliants that they can actually accelerate the aging process by over-exfoliating the skin and getting caught IN the skin! Honestly, rubbing sandpaper against your face would be pretty equivalent. A good alternative is just about anything, but one of my favorites is Juice Beauty’s Exfoliating Cleanser for a daily or every-other-day exfoliant. It’s gentle and uses both chemical and physical exfoliants to get the job done.

“Can you make me look like this Photoshopped Pinterest photo of my favorite beauty vlogger in 20 minutes for $20?”

Nope. No way. I might be able to with an hour, more brushes and sponges, and for $75.

 

“I want to go from black, box-dyed hair to pale, bubblegum pink in one day!”

Do you want your hair to melt off your head? No? Then you’ll need to allow a good long time for that transition.

“How do I get rid of my blackheads forever?”

Blackheads are sort of like snot or earwax: while they can be gone temporarily, they’ll always come back. That’s why it’s important to see an esthetician for regular cleaning. Clay masks once a week, good exfoliation, and a deeply hydrating moisturizer make that process much easier!

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Charlotte Smith is an esthetician licensed in Tennessee and Georgia. She’s married to a lumberjack version of Deadpool, is obsessed with huskies, is straight up in quarter-life crisis mode, and loves pretty much anything that could be considered creepy.

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