6 Tips for Young Beauty Professionals

Throughout the duration of my 8 year career in and out of the Beauty World, and as a loyal client to a few exquisite Beauty Professionals in one of the most industry savvy cities IN THE WORLD, San Francisco -- there are several tips and tricks I've compiled into a short list with hopes of preventing the NEW professionals unnecessary complaints, negative Yelp reviews, and general dissatisfaction with their experience. When I began my career, older professionals were consistently telling me that the only thing that would make me better is EXPERIENCE, and while that is indeed one vital component, these six things would have saved me a lot of grief had someone divulged their tremendous, sometimes candid importance.

1.) Keep conversation light. - I cannot stress this enough. DO NOT OVERSHARE. Just don't.  Sometimes with the RIGHT client it's generally NOT a big deal, but when you're starting out and you don't have a firm grasp on your clientele, you don't yet know who might be best friends with your boss, and especially if you've never had a professional title; the relationship has potential to get uncomfortable quickly. Your clients are there to either a.) relax or b.) put themselves through torture. Your personal life is, seriously, the least of their concerns. Stick to positive topics like their hobbies, local events, music, travel, their love life (if it appears to be a source of comfort) and in general TRY keep the focus solely on them. If they are seeing you to relax (facial/ massage/ pedicure), or if they are on their phone the whole time, chances are likely that they don't want to talk at all and that they'd prefer utter silence. Give that to them.

2.) Do NOT gossip. Ever. - Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be nice and if you have to say something, steer the conversation in a positive direction. It's ALWAYS possible to be kind, to give someone the benefit of the doubt & to help someone have a better day. Do that instead.

3.) Promote yourself and promote others who do what you don't do. - This is the only way you're going to make any money. Truly. If you love what you do, this one will be easy. If you don't know what you love to do just yet, do more of everything until you do. Convince your friends and family to be 'Guinea Pigs'. Go to networking events, beauty conferences and classes (hey, a lot of them are held in AMAZING cities around the world), make FRIENDS with your colleagues and eat, sleep & breath BEAUTY. Surround yourself with like-minded professionals in related industries. Know your competition. Become resourceful for your clients who need references to find a new doctor, dentist, personal trainer, chiropractor, etc. Go have a drink with someone older than you who's been doing what you love to do for years. I'll bet you learn something. Network, network, network. As with most things in life; the more you believe in your abilities, the likelier you are to convince others to do the same,... and tell their friends to make appointments with you. Because YOU'RE THE BEST. 

4.) Continue educating yourself. - I used to think this was optional until I became a master at waxing only to find out that 30-40% of my existing clients now preferred sugaring and threading to waxing because 'their friend Lisa tried it and LOVES it.'. There will ALWAYS be a new trend. Lisa will always be gossiping at brunch. Instead of being rigidly opposed, stay up to date and at least take classes regularly so that you can educate your clients on your professional opinion when they ask about the trends. You might even pick up a new skill in this process that you will someday be known for.

5.) Be smart enough to gauge your own worth and NEVER be late arriving to work. - This is a constant battle in the beauty world for people who have been in the business for less than a year just as much as it is a constant battle for people who have been in the business for 15 years. You are the only one who can determine your worth, but a good rule of thumb that I TRY to follow is that you should be charging people for your time if you've mastered your skill, and your work if you haven't. 

6.) SPECIALIZE. - Stephen Covey said, "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.". I believe him (thanks, Dad). 

#yearofwhy

I like New Years.

I like New Years because it is energizing. Per usual I have spent a significant amount of time, during this holiday season, detoxifying. I've rid my closet and dresser of clothes I no longer wear, my MacBook Pro & iPad of pictures, music, apps and files that are no longer significant to me, my refrigerator of old condiments and my iPhone of numbers that don't need to be dialed anymore. I spent 5 hours cleaning out a storage unit in my hometown that I kept for over 3 years, which was rented right before I moved to San Francisco with the intention of keeping for only 3 months; I came out with a massage table, 1 box of keepsakes(photographs, old diaries, awards, trophees) and 3 pairs of shoes. Oh and an INCREDIBLY CUTE piece of woodwork(a bench) that I inherited from a room-mate in college. I've donated clothing and food. I've deep cleaned my apartment with the help of my amazing sister/roommate/life partner. I've updated all my software and emptied my infinite 'inbox'. I've unsubscribed to junk emails (amazon, nordstrom, rosetta stone, & orbitz for the 60th time). I've spent a lot of time sweating out all of the delectable food and wine I've overindulged in within the past 2 months. 

I like New Years especially, because following the detoxifying process, there is open space to redesign the parts of your life that didn't quite fit. Perhaps the things you held on to during the old year(2013) were useful or meaningful or convenient during one chapter of your life, but not now. Letting go is remarkably progressive in a strange way, because during the initial sadness - the natural urge is to resist, but once you decide to really let go,... it's as if an enormous weight has been lifted. It's easier to move forward because you are quite literally, lighter. 

I like New Years because it is a time to reflect on your experiences and remember the good parts. It's a time to find the good stuff within the bad stuff and emphasize that good stuff! And it's a time to become activated by your own growth, your own bad-assness for surviving another year and hopefully coming out of it better than you had anticipated. It's a chance for a fresh start.

My fresh start includes a theme for 2014. The idea for a theme is inspired by a lovely and dear friend of mine and following her journey this past year, her themed #yearofyes. My theme is also inspired by my intent of raising self-awareness in order to reach several huge life goals that I'm on the brink of. It is motivated by my uninhibited urge to spread time, energy, and emotions thin. Beyond that, my theme is centered around leaning into positivity. It is about purpose, progress and keeping the main thing the main thing. Every time I engage in an activity with hesitance, this theme will act as a reminder.

2014 will be a #yearofwhy. A simple suggestion of reason.

Wishing to you and yours a very happy and prosperous New Year, with SO MUCH love and intent,

-AC

The Gift of Sensitivity

This past Sunday I was faced with a spiritual inquire about 'my gift' and whether or not I've found / am using my gift(s). The bible says in 1 Corinthians 12: 6 - There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Throughout my life I've strived toward compassion and empathy in not only my work but in my personal affairs, often times to an extreme degree of self-sacrifice. When I try to pinpoint the times I've felt most useful and like I was in the element of flow at work and at home it was when I was giving the most I could possibly give; without the expectation of something in return.

There have been many times when I've not received even a fraction of what was given and in some cases my warmth has even (temporarily) backfired. The thing I've recently come to terms with is that I've always had the capacity to endure the negative outcomes, if for no other reason than the positive outcomes weighing in much heavier, more frequent, and in a much more permanent sense. Even the times when I've actually been to the point of questioning every last belief I've ever had about life, God,  relationships and people in general - there has been some not so distant lesson in the forefront just waiting to creep up and give me that "a-ha" moment of clarity and sense of worthwhile. 

For the duration of my entire career in the beauty world I've listened to and felt for my dearest clients and friends who've experienced tremendous heartbreak, trauma and guilt and for that same amount of time I've been able to share with them the joy, happiness and pride that eventually breaks through. I've shared with them my heartbreak, my accomplishments, my inner battles and life experiences in hopes of connecting, relating -- but more often times than not, in hopes of making them feel more normal. This is a gift in itself, but wouldn't be possible if not for sensitivity. The gift of sensitivity is immeasurable and it's something I never want to lose, take for granted, or try to drown out in order to avoid pain. 

Developing a backbone and adding a layer of emotional 'teflon' -- as my sweet Dad puts it, is certainly something that's necessary some of the time, especially when dealing with the (sometimes harsh and unforgiving) public. More importantly though, developing sensitivity, awareness and compassion has never not been worthwhile in some way or another. The bigger question too, as always is: what's the alternative? What truly satisfying and happy life can you live without sensitivity? Without vulnerability? It is so much more difficult to look back and regret not being open when you're still closed and the opportunity for love, for happiness and growth - has passed. 

In conclusion, I encourage you -- whoever may be reading this, to practice sensitivity. Practice kindness. Practice proper SPF. ;)
 -AC 

10 Questions Answered

There is a life-blog that I stumbled upon a few years and visit regularly which recently published an article called "10 Questions You Should Know The Answer To". Given that I have been in kind of a funk with blogging, yet feeling incredibly inspired in my day-to-day life, I thought I would give it a shot and answer those 10 questions here. This is a somewhat personal post on my professional website, I realize, but thanks to an outstandingly lovely woman who I met earlier this year and a recent blog post of hers; I am motivated to become more vulnerable. Especially in my professional life, as vulnerability creates self-awareness which in turn leads to progress. Enjoy! :)

1.  What would make you proud of yourself?

When I think about the things in my life that I am most proud of, it always leads back to a person, a moment, and a small space in time when just by offering a helping hand that lead to incredible change or impact in one person's life; I felt powerful. 

This is what first intrigued me in the beauty industry, and has captivated my interest since. Pride is something I struggled with as a teenager: weight & skin issues., mine always seemed 1,000 times worse than everyone else's. When I think back - all it took was one person's unaltered belief that I was great, beautiful, capable, and extraordinary to start thinking that about myself. Belief is a beautiful thing. Believing in something and someone makes me feel more proud than anything else ever could. The only thing that matters in regards to pride, to me, is faith.

2.  How can you make a positive difference?

Injecting positivity into the people I interact with daily, enduring the negative, finding resolve, maintaining a safe environment for retreat and change for clients, creating warmth in tough situations, putting extra change in parking meters, walking instead of taking taxis to work / appts / friends to reduce my carbon footprint, eating organic, and calling my unyieldingly sweet Grandma Shirley more. :) These are things that come to mind.

I have learned that all of this helps take care of my physical, mental, and emotional well-being which is single-handedly the key toward success in the beauty world. When I help someone else feel beautiful, it's a win-win,... but making a genuine positive difference is impossible when you don't feel positive from within. 

3.  What are you trying to accomplish and why?

Honestly, I don't know how many times a two-year plan has turned into a six-month plan and a one-year plan has turned into a five-year plan etc., in the course of my lifetime. What I do know is that timing IS everything and that when I think about what I'm trying to accomplish long term a few things come to mind: 

COMMUNITY. Earlier today I had a conversation with a client about San Francisco and 'that thing' it has. What is it? Can anyone put it into words, I mean really? I don't think so -- but I desperately ALWAYS want to be a part of whatever the heck this thing is. Forever. 'Nuff said. 

TRAVEL. A whole lot more of it. With someone(s) caring, intelligent and one I can just vibe with. I have done some solo traveling and while, very important at that time, I'm ready for a companion and friend to go on adventures with so that we can laugh, be moved, and remember 'those days' together one day.   

LOVE. When the time is right. The really inconvenient kind that you can feel in every vertebrae, blood vessel, pore, cell,... and it should be noted that I have quite a bit of self-love to accomplish before any of this can happen. Which is the best part, I welcome it. 

4.  What are the roadblocks standing in your way?

I like to think of them as 'challenges'. Each very unique and presenting themselves one by one, day by day.

5.  What’s the next step?

For the past year, I've struggled relentlessly to find steady progression in a place of complacence. Does that make sense? You know that saying "If you judge a fish by it's ability to climb a tree...". Uhhh. :)

The best thing about big success is that it comes one step at a time. I am now beginning a new journey with enough momentum to create lasting progression. A fresh start was all it took. Without risk, without faith, without change, what are we anyways -- and where are we going?

You'll hate what you've lost, but love what you'll find. 

6.  What are your flaws and faults?

If I had to choose one(because there are many), I would choose Blind Optimism. Hands down. I am naturally very forgiving, very understanding and very trusting. To. A. Fault.  

Luckily I was blessed with a solid intuition and a few gems who are there to bring attention to people in the boat punching holes, instead of rowing. Just need to work on actually LISTENING to that killer intuition. 

Putting my faith in God has helped me embrace my flaws and accept them as a part of my becoming. Knowing there is a plan that I can't fathom, and experiencing serendipity daily makes them feel lighter, relevant and purposeful. 

7.  What issues do you need to resolve with yourself?

Patience. 

8.  How are you burdening yourself?

When I think of burden I think of something that is holding me back from becoming who I know I can be. The question in my mind that pops up when a questionable opportunity presents itself is usually "Should I do this with all of my heart, or should I walk away?". I have, more times than I care to admit, kicked a dead horse into the grave.

I'm getting better at determining what kind of juice will fuel me, and whether it's worth the squeeze or not. 

9.  How have you celebrated your progress lately?

A few weeks ago I was talking to my Dad and he said "One thing I always loved about your mother is that she taught me the importance of having something to look forward to.". He's right. My first memories are of her intricately planning the next vacation, the next holiday, the next weekend, or the next meal. Life is meant to be celebrated. Use the good China, jump in the car with no destination and a tank full of gas, open the 1997 bottle of Cab.

I truly believe in celebrating progress as often as possible. Work hard, play harder.

10.  What do you love about your life?

The people that make it so awesomely colorful.

6 Tips to Go and Glow!

As the warmer months approach, I am reminded by my clients (and the condition of their skin when they come in for a treatment) the importance of protection as we indulge in the sweet sunshine. 

Assuming that you have been endlessly lectured about SPF throughout the duration of your life, I would like to spare that and share a few simple facts, tips and tricks I’ve learned throughout my career in regards to properly protecting the largest and most precious, delicate organ; your skin! 

1.) If you have sensitive skin, even if you don’t, and are in the market for a new SPF - always opt for physical(mineral) properties. Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide are the two mineral properties should be listed first in the ingredients on your label. Once applied, these properties become immediately effective and deflect the rays rather than absorb them. Chemical properties, Oxybenzone being the worst, penetrate the skin and act as a sponge to absorb the harmless rays (causing break-outs) along with being hormonally disruptive, they can take up to 20 minutes after applied to be effective, and can sometimes contain cancer - causing free radicals (errr, isn’t that what we’re trying to avoid here?).

2.) You absolutely need a separate layer of sunscreen. The SPF claimed to be present in your moisturizer and / or make-up is not enough, because it is diluted. For example - if the label says SPF 30, it is usually diluted down to an SPF of 10-15, etc. and the properties have a likeliness to be compromised by other ingredients. SPF should always be applied after moisturizer. It can also be applied before AND after make-up. 

3.) Re-apply, re-apply, re-apply! I cannot stress this enough. Every 2-3 hours. 4 hours is too long. Grab a few travel-sized containers, fill them up and place them in your purse, the glove compartment in your car, your office (apply before going out to lunch), and your backpack. Be sure not to store in extreme temperatures and replace every 5-6 months.

4.) Your safest bet against the sun is to wear naturally sun-resistant clothing (hold it up to the sun to see how much light gets through), hats, and sunglasses, in combination with a sunscreen that offers UVA and UVB protection. Bring an umbrella to the beach / park and find shade during peak hours. 

5.) “I’m just going to the office today.”, “I’m only going home after this.”, “I’ll be in the car driving most of the day and my car has tinted windows.”, “It’s almost dark and I’m going straight home.”, “Sunscreen makes me break out.”; these are a few cleverly concocted excuses against SPF I have heard over the years and before applying sunscreen to my clients after treatment. Rays cannot be avoided, my friends! They sneak into your offices (sometimes the UV lights / lamps in your offices can even be harmful!), your houses, your cars, and sometimes the strongest rays emit just before sunset! The most common complaint is that SPF causes break out, which most CHEMICAL properties tend to do. Try to find a physical sunscreen that works for you, and don’t stop trying until you do. 

6.) SPF diet? Did you know that what you eat can also help shield your skin from the sun’s harmful rays? Adding these healthy foods to your diet may help lessen your chances of burning and developing skin cancer. 

•Tomatoes, Watermelon and Berries - antioxidant lycopene reduces your skin’s sensitivity to sunburn. Lycopene also increases with cooking. Tomato paste has much more lycopene than fresh tomatoes.

•Spinach - vitamins in raw spinach give you effective natural sun protection along with slowing your skin’s aging process. Those antioxidants that are loaded in dark greens disperse in your body and destroy free radicals from the sun. Try lightly cooking spinach to maximize the absorption of antioxidant vitamin E and phyto-antioxidants like beta-carotene.

•Sweet Potatoes & Carrots - beta-carotene is a carotenoid that protects skin from sunburn by increasing the strength in pigment. Sweet potatoes are also full of vitamin C, which adds to their effectiveness as an antioxidant. The darker the color of a sweet potato, the higher in concentration it is with beta-carotene.

•Salmon, Trout, Herring and Mackerel - Omega-3’s raise skin’s natural protection while reducing inflammation in the case of too much sun. Overall, omega-3 fatty acids found in fish lower your risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. 

•Green Tea, Black Tea and Coffee - antioxidants called polyphenols which can offer skin protection by working from the inside, out. Research shows that drinking two or more cups of black or green tea a day may decrease the risk of squamous cell carcinoma by 30 percent. Green tea is known to be the more powerful of the two, because it fights damaging rays from the sun to prevent pre-cancerous skin lesions. And for you coffee drinkers—drinking two to five cups a day is said to lower your risk for non-melanomas by up to 17 percent.

•Dark Chocolate derived from real Cocoa - Flavanol protects your skin from burning, this strong antioxidant can reduce reddening after UV exposure and make skin more moist and less scaly. Consuming two ounces of dark chocolate each day is a healthy way to obtain its benefits. Studies have shown that cocoa can make skin up to 25 percent less sun sensitive.

-AC