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Mary Zatarain, The Right Face, Hammond, Louisiana

By: Cathy Christensen
Posted: May 30, 2008, from the June 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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Her proposal did not go over well with the board, and soon the media picked up on the story, identifying Zatarain and her followers as The Lipstick Brigade. After a campaign that ran her ragged, the bill initially failed in 1979, but then passed in 1980. “We got esthetician licenses separate, schools separate ... you could teach as an esthetician and practice as one and not be a hairdresser. The fact that I came out of that in one piece was amazing,” she says.

After that, her business continued, as well as her involvement with training for the Neill Corporation. Zatarain decided to step back when her sons were growing up and focus more on the skin care aspect of her career. She currently works with a dermatologist in New Orleans and maintains The Right Face in Hammond. With regard to the increased visibility of esthetics in medical settings, Zatarain thinks it’s a good thing. “It’s made a major turn. I think it’s for the best. The overall awareness ... people know what an esthetician is and dermatologists have figured out that it enhances their practice to have an esthetician on board.”

And, like all of the people in New Orleans, her life was altered by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. After escaping the storm in Hot Springs, Arkansas, she turned on news coverage of the disaster and saw her own business literally under water. “We were located right where the canal broke,” she says. “I went back the following February and it was so depressing. It was an incredible emotional drama, and I don’t think it’s ever going to go away. That’s just one of the crosses you bear forever.”

But balancing the weight of that cross is the joy Zatarain has found in her accidental career. “I love what I do. My clients have become part of my family,” she says, and she notes that, as long as she’s healthy, she’ll still be working in skin care. She is even considering returning to teaching.

And although she didn’t really get to utilize her foreign languages degree to its fullest, she doesn’t regret getting it. “I think I am proof that what you get from college is not necessarily the degree, but it teaches you how to learn,” she says. This ability has allowed Zatarain to grab onto life and live it to its fullest; something she continues to do.