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Reflections: The Making of an Esthetician

Melinda Taschetta-Millane June 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

On May 1, Skin Inc. magazine launched its new blog called “The Making of an Esthetician.” However, this is not your typical blog. Here at Allured Publishing, we have the incredible opportunity to follow two different esthetic students—who happen to be current and former Allured employees—from two very different backgrounds and career paths, as they make their way through esthetic school and into the professional spa world.

Sandra Muratore, assistant controller at Allured, and Colleen Buritz, formerly with accounts payable at Allured Publishing, will regularly share their thoughts, concerns, observations, questions and issues in the blog, and we are looking to you, members of the professional spa community, to provide encouragement and advice—plus network with each other—as the two work on learning new techniques and adapt from being corporate-culture girls to being successful estheticians. The stories that they share are both touching and addictive, because both are so passionate about their newly chosen career paths and look forward to each new day at school and all that it brings.

It often is said that “viral marketing,” or good old fashioned word of mouth, is some of the best publicity that any business or venture could hope for. This has proven true for our less-than-a-month-old blog. I’d love to have you check it out for yourself,, and read through the recent trials and tribulations of Sandra and Colleen, as well as the helpful and encouraging comments being left by your peers. To help get you addicted, here are a few excerpts from Sandra and Colleen’s opening introductions:

Something Positive

by: Sandra

April 16, 2008

Hi! My name is Sandra and I’m an esthetic student. I go part-time and I’ve been in school for six months. I also work full-time as the assistant controller for Allured Publishing Corporation and I’ve been there for eight years.

This is my first blog and I’m really excited about it. I hope everyone will enjoy reading about my journey going to esthetic school as much as I will enjoy writing about it. Before I begin, I’d like to thank everyone at Skin Inc. magazine for giving me this opportunity. I think it’s a great idea and I hope to get lots of feedback, as well as help or encourage others just starting out in esthetic school.

So, first off, a little about myself. I just turned 43 last week, I’m engaged to be married—although a date still has not been set!, and I am switching careers mid-life. It was really scary to think about, but I’ve been going through a HUGE adjustment in my life already, so why not add another one? My mom passed away April 15, 2007, and I was feeling really lost. I needed a distraction and something positive to focus on. My mom’s death made me question a lot of things in my life and one of them was my job. I’ve worked in an office since I was 17 and, although I like accounting, I didn’t love it and I really wanted to love my job. I also didn’t want to look at it as just a job. I started to reflect on my life and the things I loved to do, and figured out how I could incorporate that into making a living for myself. The road that led me to esthetics is a long one and, while it would’ve been nice had I made this decision earlier in life, I certainly don’t regret what I did up to this point. I believe that each job you have is a stepping stone to something even better for yourself, and you never know where it’s going to take you. I certainly didn’t, and, although a lot of people were surprised when I told them about my career change, looking back, it does make sense.

From the time I was 7 until I was 16, I wanted to go to cosmetology school. I loved hair and makeup—I couldn’t wait to wear makeup. When I was 10 or 11, I would sneak off to school wearing my mom’s blue eye shadow (it was the ’70s!). When I was a teenager, I practiced putting makeup on my friends and would style their hair. I even put makeup on my younger brother a couple of times and tried styling his hair! But when I was 16 and had the opportunity to go to cosmetology school, I turned it down. Why? Fear.

Science wasn’t my best subject and I had convinced myself that there was a lot of it in the book the school had given me. None of my friends were going and I didn’t want to go by myself. So even though that was it for my cosmetology career, my interest in hair and makeup never stopped.

From there I took office education in school and got a part-time job working in the accounting department for a large company. I was a senior in high school, taking my first accounting class and going to my first “real” job. I went to school in the mornings and then went to work in the afternoons. The next 25 years found me working as a receptionist, secretary, bookkeeper, and finally, assistant controller. I got my associate’s degree in accounting in August 2004, and made the decision not to continue on with my accounting education. I didn’t like any of my accounting classes, and when I told people that, they would ask, “But don’t you do that for a living?” I told them that I liked my job, I just hated the classes. I like working at Allured and have learned so much and not just about accounting. Before I started working here I had never heard the word “esthetician.” I started reading Skin Inc. magazine each month, and I even worked two years at our Face & Body trade show in San Francisco. I also attended our America’s Expo trade show in Chicago every year but one. Working here really exposed me to the world of skin care and I loved it, but the thought of becoming an esthetician still hadn’t crossed my mind.

A couple of weeks after my mom died, I found myself looking online for makeup classes, but everything that came up in my searches had to do with becoming an esthetician. I still didn’t think about doing that, so I put makeup on the backburner. Colleen—my co-blogger, former co-worker and classmate—was getting ready to graduate from college and was talking about going to either cosmetology or esthetic school. We shared a cubicle wall, and during the next few months, talked a lot about it. Colleen checked out all the schools, and would then come back to work and tell me about them.

The more she talked about it, the more I started thinking about it. I put cosmetology out of my mind because of how long I would need to go to school and mostly because of the schedule. I wasn’t sure I could do four nights a week, plus Saturdays and work full-time. I started thinking about esthetics and wondered if I could really do it, but I wasn’t sure about waxing … especially bikini waxing. Plus, I knew there was going to be science involved, and I never did well in that subject. Also, even though it had been three years since I earned my associate’s degree, it still seemed too soon to go back to school. But when Colleen went to check out the school we attend now and told me that their part-time schedule was two nights a week plus Saturdays for one year, I started thinking more seriously about it. And when she came to work one day and said she had made the decision to go to esthetic school, I told her I wanted to go, too.

So here I am, already halfway through school. I was so scared to start, but once I did, I loved it! It was such a good feeling to finally find what I wanted to do with my life. My family and friends even noticed how much happier I seemed. After a really rough year with my mom, it was nice to have something positive going on.

Making My Dream a Reality

by: Colleen

April 16, 2008

On May 27, 2007, I graduated from Elmhurst College in Elmhurst, Illinois, with a bachelor’s degree in English. I started my college career at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, and after two years there, I transferred to Elmhurst. When I was told that I had to declare a major, I went for something I knew best, something I was good at. Reading and writing. No math. I told myself I would figure out what to do with it later, and I really hoped that it would all come together.

Sitting at my commencement ceremony on that sunny afternoon, my head couldn’t have felt more clouded. I had no idea where I was headed next. I had looked at a few beauty schools before I even started college, but I was afraid I was making the wrong decision, and my family encouraged me to get my degree. I sat down with a few beauty school admissions counselors and flipped through the textbooks, trying to picture myself as a stylist cutting hair. Though I was somewhat interested at the time, I decided to put it off until after college. I made the decision that if I still hadn’t forgotten about beauty school after another four years of school, then I would definitely go.

For as long as I can remember, I have always been interested in makeup and skin care because I have struggled with skin issues of my own throughout the years. This great passion of mine led me to explore esthetic schools after graduation, which really just confused me even further. Should I choose cosmetology school where they teach you hair, skin and nails, or should I specialize in esthetics and learn just about the skin? Most people don’t realize what a difficult decision that really is. Part of me wanted to know it all, so I was leaning toward a beautiful cosmetology school that I visited. The admissions advisor was so nice and so excited for me, but part of me was still unsure about what program I should to enroll in.

I remember looking at the styling floor and each individual station, trying to picture myself coloring, cutting and creating styles. I think it scared me because I am not even good with my own hair, so I feared that I would not be good at doing anyone else’s. I even e-mailed and called people who were already working in the beauty industry to get their advice, and they certainly helped, but the decision still needed to be made all on my own. It’s like I was waiting for someone to tell me what to do.

What really helped me was talking with my boyfriend who suggested going for esthetics and specializing in one area and becoming the “best” at what I learned. The more I thought about it, the more I knew that’s what I wanted. Skin care to me is so much more than a facial. It’s about treating someone’s concerns, and making them feel and look even more beautiful than they did when they walked in. It’s an experience that you and your client share; a time for you to really look beyond yourself and care for someone else for an hour or two. It makes you feel really good about yourself knowing you made someone else feel better. I know from experience, when your skin is in its best condition possible, you are in the best mood possible. Guaranteed.

Since I was about 15, I have been a huge product junkie—mostly makeup and skin care products. And I could hardly ever walk out of a bookstore without buying a book about cosmetics. Do you see what this is all leading up to? Esthetic school. That’s right. On Sept. 11, 2007, I began my adventure at yet another school. But this time, I felt like, by the time graduation rolled around, I would have a sense of direction. I would know where I was going. There is nothing I love more than spending a day at a spa or salon and being pampered, so I know I would love to work in a spa or open up one of my own. Although these are just dreams for now, every day, I think of ways about how I can get closer to making this dream a reality.

So please make a point to log on and read “The Making of an Esthetician,” share it with your colleagues and peers, and leave your comments, thoughts and advice. Remember your days of yearning for advice and a bit of insight into this industry, and then pay it forward.

Until Next Time,

Melinda Taschetta-Millane

Editor in chief

Skin Inc. magazine