My beauty career has taken me places I never thought I’d go — Lake Cuomo, Ana Nicole Smith’s bush (a Glamour interview that went awry, I can’t) — but over the weekend, I was delighted to find myself at the intersection of Camp Blvd and Drag Avenue, aka judging a massive beauty school competition smack in the middle of Hershey Park, PA. The Future Pro Exposition 2012 was held by Empire Beauty School, the biggest chain of schools in the country (there are like 200 nationwide). Over two insane days at Hershey Lodge, the country’s top 100 students in each category — things like “Female Cut & Style” and “Nail Artistry” — competed to the death to win iPads, fancy flatirons and bragging rights. The competitions were held in an enormous, packed-to-the-gills hall hosted by a deejay playing LMFAO, Pitbull and Flo Rida at ear-splitting decibels (seriously, judges were offered earplugs before the events!). And since individual schools could win school spirit awards, oceans of students showed up in matching outfits and zany wigs, wielding glitter-and-feather bedecked signs and hollering catchy slogans like “WHERE WE FROM? WYOMING HILLS!”
I judged the Ladies Trend Cut category, which meant I observed ten aisles of ten students each, cutting and coloring mannequins. The word “observed” makes it sound less active than it was. Actually, I was weaving up and down the aisles, jotting down notes on my favorites while dodging flying hair and tripping over errant blowdryer wires. A lot of the hairstyles, makeup and nail art were pretty pedestrian, but girls, I have never seen more heart. I met middle aged divorcees, a homeless gay teen, a cancer survivor — all saved by their devotion to their art. By the end of the awards ceremony last night, I was in tears. Everyone in that enormous hall was united by the redemptive powers of beauty. And peroxide. And it was lovely.
What isn’t lovely? Pain meds, migraines and no sleep — which equal terrible, terrible undereye bags and just a general wooziness. Obvi I needed to be at top form this weekend, so I made sure I packed my Neutrogena Ageless Restoratives Instant Eye Reviver ($20). I do not travel without it. This rich cream de-puffs and brightens undereye bags…but the best part is the rollerball applicator. Massaging it along your undereye area increases circulation and wakes up tired eyes. It’s like a quickie facial! The second I get to the hotel, I always stick it in the fridge (the colder, the better). So pampering, so good.