Exasperated with my local Ulta

It’s no secret that I do most of my beauty shopping online. With the exception of things that require matching (foundation), I prefer to shop online.

Sometimes, I’ll get perks that I can only redeem in store, so I take the time to go – my Ulta is within 3 minutes of my office, so it isn’t a terrible hassle (plus, they carry my holy grail dry shampoo). In the order in which I received my Philosophy Fresh Cream perfume, I received a voucher to get a Benefit Air Patrol BB Cream Eyelid Primer. “Cool,” I thought. “I can run it through the primer gauntlet and hopefully write a fruitful post.”

Exasperated with my local Ulta - unable to redeem voucher for Benefit Air Patrol

The voucher states:

“Beauty Bonus! Visit your nearest Benefit Brow Bar inside Ulta to receive a complimentary Air Patrol makeupper. Plus, enjoy a Free* deluxe mini with your Benefit product purchase!”

Pretty fair – that means it is a true freebie, no purchase necessary, and that there is another deluxe mini you can get if you spend whatever Benefit’s minimum is. I went in, the Benefit employee was busy doing some brows. Neither wishing to interrupt her nor wishing to wait 20 minutes, I did the rest of my shopping and headed to the register. I presented the cashier with the voucher, thinking that they’d have those up front just like every other GWP/freebie. She glances at it for half a moment and says, “You didn’t spend enough with Benefit…” and hands it back to me.

I take it from her, hold it up and read the entirety slowly to her, out loud. This isn’t the first time I’ve had something like this happen at Ulta. “Ohhhh…” she says, followed with a cluck of her tongue. “I don’t think we have that yet.”

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Do Your Research

I feel like I’ve been extra-cynical and/or critical on the blog lately. It’s weird, because I don’t feel any more of either in my daily life; usually those things tend to coincide.

A vlogger I follow published a comparison video between the Clarisonic Mia and the Foreo Luna (made by the people who make the Issa and the Moda). I was interested, because I hadn’t really seen much in the way of a comparison between the two (but I also hadn’t really looked).

So I watch, and by the end of the video, I’m facepalming. The video was sponsored (which is fine, in and of itself) and the personality was clearly in favor of the Luna (again, fine). What wasn’t fine? Her utter lack of any kind of knowledge about one of the two products she was, “comparing.”

I hesitate to even call it a comparison because to suggest that it was would imply that she actually knew the properties of the Clarisonic. What the content creator shows and suggests is a Clarisonic Mia is in fact a Clarisonic Plus; she did not seem to have much experience with the device itself. While she knew that the Clarisonic she was holding (again, Clarisonic PLUS) used a charging cradle (which could be inconvenient), she insisted it had only one speed. Well yes, the actual Clarisonic Mia only features one speed…but she did not have a Mia. Her device ought to have three speeds, in fact – so did she never use the device she’s decrying? Did she just search Google for, “Clarisonic Mia,” and read (some of) a chart of its features?

Do Your Research - Clarisonic Plus, left; Clarisonic Mia, right.

For your reference, good reader – on the left is a Clarisonic Plus, and the right is a classic Clarisonic Mia. I own a Clarisonic Mia 2.

Among other things, she seemed convinced that it spun.

Not a single device made by Clarisonic spins.

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Landing the Makeup Sale

If there’s anything I abhor, it is the overabundant use of BS as a tool to drive sales. Be it marketing that promises miracles or a salesperson desperate to meet their quota (commissioned or not), there are just some things that should be left alone.

Namely? False flattery. It doesn’t matter what is being sold, but since this is a beauty blog, let’s talk about the use of BS to land a makeup sale.

I’m a regular face in my local Sephora. Sometimes I’m browsing what new stuff they have, sometimes I’m buying, sometimes I’m getting a sample before committing to a product. If they don’t know my name, they at least know my face and recognize me.

There’s one employee, though… I haven’t had this issue with any of the other employees. We pleasantly chat without awkwardness – we talk about product and technique and YouTube and weekend plans (and it all happens way more comfortably and naturally than that time I got my hair cut).

The particular associate is friendly, energetic, and personable… but trying entirely too hard to make me feel warm and fuzzy, to butter me up to buy product. Yes, I have done my time in retail. I get it – you have sales goals to meet! Landing this makeup sale or upselling directly impacts your store’s labor budget which translates to hours for you and your teammates. You want me to feel good because customers who feel good tend to spend more money. There’s a way to build a positive relationship and leave a lasting good impression without bombarding me with false flattery.

It feels insincere. And I can tell. Why?

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The Problem with Photoshop

There’s a lot of chatter in the beauty realm. Some positive, uplifting, and fantastic. Some catty, hateful, and rude. Others are debate-worthy, but fall on neither side of the spectrum. One hot debate topic in this realm is whether or not it using Photoshop or other image editing techniques on beauty photos is acceptable.

The way I see it, there are two sides to this coin.

For example:

If you’re an amazing makeup artist or Instagram superstar and you do this stunning glitter double-wing (or whatever). It’s your best work!

but you happened to have the misfortune of a blemish appearing just above your brow or on your cheekbone. Something. Something, “bad,” something not aesthetically pleasing that would potentially (well, definitely, with as nasty as people can be) distract and draw negative attention from your awesome eye look. Concealer can only get you so far with it, and in a close-up shot to show the detail of your wing, there’s no hiding it by hand.

So you shop it out so the focus is on badass glitter double-wing, not on your unfortunate blemish. I believe this is fine.

Also, if you do a look but in your photography the colors aren’t ringing true-to-real-life in the image – maybe you have a cerulean that’s pulling cobalt, I don’t know. Maybe it was an issue with the light, maybe it’s just a hard color to capture. I also think it is acceptable to attempt to restore color to what it looks like in real life, though I do think it would be wise to leave a note on a photo retouched this way mentioning that.

It’s a trust thing.

On the other hand…

If you are someone who is, “selling,” their makeup skills (artists, people making tutorials, etc) it isn’t appropriate “fix,” your mistakes with Photoshop or other image editing. If your eyeliner or lipstick application is jumpy, you should fix or redo it with your hands and brushes…not with a mouse.

If you did a shoddy job blending your foundation when the photo is a skin-focus photo, it is not appropriate to slap a little Gaussian Blur on there to help you out. If you aren’t satisfied with the job you did, you need to do it over. Or, if you picked the wrong color foundation – it isn’t cool wave your magical Photoshop wand so it matches.

You will see this in other circumstances, too – people in makeup communities using blurs and Instagram filters before asking for application advice or constructive criticism. It’s like, “Well, I’d be happy to give you advice but your photo has been shopped to hell and back so I can’t tell what’s real and what’s ‘shop.”

Other examples you often run into are hairdressers, “enhancing,” the results color jobs.

Basically, if you’re saying, “Look at my makeup/makeup artistry or haircolor applciation,” you should give an accurate representation. Relying on Photoshop does not challenge you to learn and grow as a makeup artist (or hairdresser).

If you are relying on digital enhancement of your work, you are misrepresenting your skillset.

AND you are doing your clientele (or prospects) a disservice by providing unrealistic expectations of what can be achieved.

No hate on Photoshop itself, graphic artists, etc. To be sure – retouching photos is an art in and of itself. I just think if you are sharing, “Look at this flawless makeup I did on my client with rosacea,” you better have achieved that flawless canvas with a brush or sponge rather than a computer, otherwise you are lying.

Bottom Line

It boils down to the intention of your photos. It’s one thing to remove distractions so your work can be appreciated, or to return things to real-life color accuracy. It’s another to misrepresent your work.

As for me? I correct the lighting in the pictures I have shared because I live in an apartment with cave-like lighting but ONLY when I need to. At some point, if I had the skills, I could see myself shopping out some scars I have just because they aren’t the point of most of my makeup photos. You can bet your paycheck that if I made a, “how to cover scars,” tutorial that I wouldn’t be shopping out my damn scars and being like, “LOL, basically, I just dot Maybelline Instant Age Rewind on them and tap out with my ring finger – it’s that simple tee-hee!”

How do you feel about the use of image editing in the beauty world?

Wanted: A Hairstylist

My hair needs are not complex. I don’t change my mind every twenty minutes. I don’t want to go blue-black one day and then be lifted to platinum blonde two months later. I don’t abuse my hair with heat, and when I do use heat, I use protectants. I don’t subject my hair to a gauntlet of DIY chemical voodoo (with the exception of my DIY hair glaze treatment, which hasn’t been done in a year – but I’ll be doing it soon!).

At Home DIY Hair Glaze Before and AfterMy fabulous hair, circa Spring 2014.
I miss the length, but contending with it was intense!

I am not one of those people who walks into a salon for a haircut and goes, “Well I want a trim, but also a change but don’t want to sacrifice length!” This, I’m sure, is an obnoxious thing to hear from clients. Most of the time, I DO just want a trim – and can demonstrate both verbally (ie, “two inches!”) and physically (with my hands) what I want. I bring pictures, but not 200. I don’t, “fight,” my hairstylist in the chair by moving when she needs me to be still, or tilting my head when she needs it straight. I don’t creepily keep my eyes open during shampoos. I never use my phone in the chair (that might change if I had a lengthy service like color or perming).

I try to be a good client, or, at least, as good as I can be based on my general knowledge of what annoys stylists.

Ulta Salon Haircut

And yet it is so unbelievably hard to find a stylist worth a damn! It’s been six months since my last cut, and the disappointing cut I got at Ulta has grown out a bit. I didn’t want to return there yet (and definitely not to that hairstylist), so I went elsewhere.

What I wanted from the service:

  • Approximately an inch off the longest lengths.
  • General tidying of everything else (don’t cut old layers back in); nip the ends to clean them up.
  • Even out anything that is uneven.
  • At the very front, add subtle layers with the shortest at the shoulder.

This is not an involved haircut whatsoever. Although she asked what I wanted, she did not confirm her understanding or do any kind of thorough consultation. She didn’t ask what I normally do with my hair, if it has been chemically treated, etc. nor did she give me the opportunity to speak up about it – and she didn’t touch it, either, to get a feel for its texture. But you better believe she didn’t fail to ask me if I wanted to buy product!

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