It was with this burning question that I set out to explore the International Beauty Show at the Jacob Javits Convention Center where over 550 top beauty industry companies showcased the hottest products and trends for Spring 2002.
According to Advanstar Communications, producer and manager of this years IBS show, there are 242,264 salons in the USA taking in approximately $52.5 billion dollars a year in revenue. If beauty lies within us then why are Americans spending so much money on products in search of beauty? I was determined to find an answer.
But first I had to pass through swarms of people who were fixated on rock star-looking hairstylists performing choreographed shows a la Chippendale. To the delight of the crowds these hair gurus danced and snipped at the locks of their models "Edward Scissorhand" style. I was shocked by what I saw and I believe it is my civic duty to warn you that it may be time to leave the country. Why? BIG HAIR is back in a big way.
Fear no more about being caught without your face on because permanent makeup is now available for the couch potato in all of us. The technique is called cosmetic tattooing and it's a process that deposits colored pigment into the upper reticular layer of the dermis. You can get permanent lip color, eyeliner, brows as well as camouflage scars, hair loss and compensate for a myriad of other medical conditions.
Kate Ciampi, Executive Director of the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals says this industry is growing rapidly. She advised carefully checking the credentials of the technician and the reputation of the spa before having any procedure done. It cost between $300 and $800 a treatment, which explains the line of drooling ladies I witnessed waiting their turn for a free demonstration. For more information visit www.spcp.org. This procedure is permanent. You only have one face so please make sure it's in good hands.
I was now officially ready to SPAhhhhhhhh. First stop, The Alpha. This machine looks like a cross between a coffin and one of those racing cars that you see speeding around the track at the Indy 500. It will do just about everything to and for you, from weight loss to anti-aging to vibratory massage. You can be fully clothed or totally naked. It may be time to dismiss your significant other and give one of these a try.
I was about to exit the show feeling a bit smug that I had successfully resisted the lure of beauty treatments until I met Danielle Tsoklis, International Director of Education for Silhouet-Tone (USA) Ltd. She was holding an Epidermabrasion demonstration and she invited me to experience the procedure firsthand. Danielle is French and, as you know, French accents make everything sound good so I folded. She carefully protected my eyes and cleansed my skin thoroughly describing the process step by step.
It was now time for the Silhouet-Tone machine, a powerful electronic vacuum compressor, which propels mineral crystals known as corundum onto the surface of the skin. My face was being resurfaced. It took two go-rounds but the process was quick and painless and very similar in concept to refinishing wooden floors. I did see an improvement, especially where my skin tones were uneven due to sun damage.
I was extremely grateful that I didn't need a coat of polyurethane.
I looked in the mirror at my resurfaced skin and out to the sea of smiling faces on that showroom floor and it seemed that everyone had a kind of youthful glow. Perhaps it was the journey, the exploration that allowed our inner child to play, which in turn unleashed the inner beauty.