Q: How long have you been waxing and giving facials?
A: I’ve been an esthetician for five years and I’ve been at my current job for three and a half years.
Q: What kind of training did you have?
A: I went to the Aveda Institute, which is like the Harvard of beauty schools.
Q: And then you are certified?
A: It depends on the state, but in my state you go six months full time, then you take your practical and state boards, and, if you pass, you are licensed by the state. My training was in esthiology science, or esthetics, with an Asian influence, an Ayurvedic-inspired theme, focusing on whole-body well-being.
Q: What inspired you to get into this kind of work?
A: My sister and I had pretty bad skin growing up and my mother would take us places where the estheticians would make us feel really bad about our skin. I wanted to make people like us not feel so bad about themselves.
I would have loved to be a dermatologist, but I didn’t feel I had the math skills to go to medical school.
And I’m not grossed out easily. When my dog had fleas, I was fascinated by it; if someone has a rash, I find it interesting.
Q: What’s your average day like?
A: I do a lot of facials, waxing, and body treatments. I specialize in facials and in problem skin.
Q: Have you ever taken too much hair from someone’s eyebrows or made their eyebrows crooked?
A: Yes, and yes. Everyone has messed up an eyebrow.
I had my first client at 8 a.m. and this person came in at 7:30 p.m. Not that that’s an excuse. But everyone has done it, and they’re lying if they say they haven’t.
You do the best you can. I tweeze a lot. Less is more. I’ve had one or two mishaps, though.
I don’t do the most dramatic high arches. I hate when eyebrows are too skinny. I personally don’t think it’s attractive for a guy to have an arch or be too groomed. I hate when I see guys like—who is it? Richard Grieco? I think, “You’re supposed to have thick eyebrows.” That’s my pet peeve.
Q: Does it ever make you uneasy to wax people in the bikini area?
A: To me, a bikini wax is just hair I need to remove. My friends will ask me to wax them and they ask if I’m uncomfortable, but to me it’s just hair I need to remove.
Q: Have you ever been yelled at?
A: I’ve been talked down to, but 99 percent of the people are nice. They’re all in a bathrobe and they’re all the same to me. I feel I’m equal to them and don’t allow them to intimidate me.
For the most part, people want to chat. Once in a while, they treat you like you’re a service person, and I really don’t like that.
We’re not supposed to talk much and we have a lot of standards; if they ask three questions, I assume that means they want to talk.
The massage therapists get more of that drama and sexual drama. Like, if we are booked in the spa, they go to their hotel rooms and sometimes guys get too fresh. But they can just end the service.
Some European businessmen don’t realize that what they do is clinical and therapeutic. They will say something like “Will you massage my last big toe?” or something like that …
But we’ll ban someone if they misbehave.
I’m very lucky. It’s a good company with great benefits. If someone does go out of line, we can leave the room and a manager will go in and tell that person that their behavior isn’t appropriate. I’m lucky, I work at a high-end place where we won’t put up with the riffraff.
Q: What’s the grossest thing you have to deal with?
A: Well, for the waxing, some people smell, but that doesn’t really bother me.
I guess what really bothers me is when people have a sweating problem—like, if they’re sweating profusely, it’s repulsive, and I put on gloves.
For body treatments or facials, I’m touching them a lot … I feel bad saying this, but we use toners that evaporate into the skin after a certain period of time and I’ll realize: “That’s not the toner.”
Q: But other aspects of giving a facial don’t bother you?
A: I love doing extractions—it’s so satisfying. When you get some good ones out and they come out well …
People come in and they’re like, “Do tons of extractions for me!” and they’ve done it too much already and they’re dried out. There is nothing for me to extract by then. Or, they are so dehydrated that nothing will budge from their pores. It’s like their pores are constipated.
Q: Extractions means popping pimples, right?
A: Kind of. Extractions are removing cellular debris out of the pores. It can be very satisfying, like when you pop bubble wrap, but it’s not so much actually popping. It’s getting the congestion out of people’s pores. Believe me, a lot of people have congested pores.
We even do stuff with electricity—it’s called galvanic. It softens the congestion and makes it come out. And we have “the zapper” for people with bad pimples. It’s an anti-bacteria light that kills bacteria under the skin and helps the pimple heal much more quickly.
Q: Are you ever starstruck by famous people who come to the spa?
A: A little bit, but I don’t get too insane. Honestly, everyone can be considered a VIP at my work for the slightest reason really.
If someone asks me if I’ve seen someone famous, I say, “I can’t confirm or deny it.” They send secret shoppers to test us. It is grounds for firing if we are caught mentioning anyone.
Q: What is the pay like?
A: We get a commission and a small hourly rate. We depend on our tips, though. People think if they forget to tip we don’t notice, but we do. Last year, including tips, commission, and hourly, I made $80,000. But I work very hard, and on weekends. I’ve worked Christmas and New Year’s for the past three years. Initially, I worked in a smaller place, but I had a friend who said they needed someone here on Sundays. With both jobs, I was paid every two weeks, and one day at the new place paid as much as two weeks at the other place.
Q: How much should people tip you?
A: I would say 20 percent. Obviously, if they’re unhappy, they don’t have to tip that much.
At Christmas, people will tip more. They’ll give a bottle of wine or a Starbucks card and I love that.
Q: What is your long-term goal?
A: I really like working where I work. I’m not great with business, so I would need a partner if I saw people on my own. I would like to do more of that, though, do clinical, results-oriented work but also utilize organic/holistic modalities.
Also, my school has had me speak to newer students, and I enjoyed that. I’m definitely interested in educating others.