Five Things I Learned Working at the International Salon and Spa Expo

by Angela Serratore

1. Whatever You’re Doing To Your Eyebrows Is The Wrong Thing

During one of my three 15-minute breaks, I arrange to take part in a demo for a new kind of eyebrow wax, partly for research purposes and partly because $12 twice a month for the rest of my life adds up to a not-insignificant sum. I sit patiently in the chair while a woman with a headset microphone strokes my face and asks me about my usual eyebrow maintenance routine. Meekly, I tell her I get them threaded when I can afford it and pluck them myself the rest of the time. She looks at me in horror and turns to the crowd of estheticians. “This girl needs our help,” she says. “She needs to see how this product, which I invented, will change the way she thinks about her eyebrows, and when you see it, you’re gonna want to buy it and take it home and change your customers’ lives.”

2. No Industry Is Safe From the Sexual Pun T-Shirt

3. Write Down Your Stupidest Ideas and You Will Become a Millionaire

A quick stroll around the convention center floor turned up tweezers with little flashlights attached (bedazzling optional), round hairbrushes that become curlers with the push of a button, and a glittery lipstick case that can be worn as a brooch. Amid squeals of “Why didn’t I think of that!?” and “That’s sooooooo cuuuuuuuute!” I quietly seethed, certain I’d thought up most of these products in my dorm room after too many Bacardi and Diet Cokes. I vowed to never again shamefully throw away napkins and receipts filled with drunken, scribbled inventions and business plans.

4. Male Models Have Feelings, Too

The booth I worked in was directly across from a company selling hair tools. Like all reasonable sales teams, this group hired a male model to wear a toolbelt and flirt with passersby in hopes of turning those passersby into customers. Bryce, the model, tells me that he wants to get into fitness modeling and maybe acting, though he isn’t really sure yet, and mostly he’s just there to have a good time and meet new people. I’m convinced that Bryce is hitting on me until I remember that he’s getting paid (probably more than I am!) to make me feel that way. As we part ways, Bryce asks what I do.

Bryce: So, what website do you write for?

Me: It’s called The Hairpin? It’s great and funny and kind of for ladies?

Bryce: Oh, for ladies?

Me: Yeah?

Bryce: Is it like Cosmo? Do you want to know my favorite sex position?

[Ed. note: Angela, AND???]

5. Everyone Everywhere is the Same, Forever

“I LOVE YOU TABATHAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!” shrieks a bespectacled, purple-haired young man waiting in line to meet Tabatha Coffey, celebrity hairstylist and star of Tabatha’s Salon Takeover, in which Coffey acts as a Simon Cowell/Supernanny to struggling salons/hairstylists.

“No, really,” he tells me. “Tabatha is a genius and she tells it like it is and I feel so lucky to be in the same room with her, let alone meet her.” I give up on the line after a harried arena employee tells me the wait to meet and have a souvenier photo taken with Coffey will eat up three hours I do not have, and as I offer my spot to a visiting beauty school student from Las Vegas I overhear two girls gossiping about the event.

“I saw Tabatha standing outside the hotel this morning,” one sniffs. “She’s short and looks way old in real life.” Her friend snorts and adds that Coffey “seems totally fake.”

Angela Serratore is a writer based in Los Angeles. She now knows more than any human should about flat irons.

Top photo via Facebook