JAIME: Welcome to Outgrowth: A Slice of Pro Beauty with your hosts Jaime Schrabeck.
ASHLEY: And Ashley Gregory Hackett. If we could take away anything from the past year, it’s that not all info is good info. How can we reliably assess what is accurate and what is questionable?
JAIME: We can start by considering the source. Let’s grow together.
ASHLEY: Hi, Jaime, how are you this week?
JAIME: I’m doing well, you, Ashley?
ASHLEY: Same. I am excited to delve into this topic with you because it’s something that we’ve needed to cover for a long time
JAIME: Every time I open up my email inbox, I’m reminded of this topic.
ASHLEY: And you send it to me, and we trade barbs about it, and discuss why we’re at this point in the industry, and what we can do about it to hopefully course correct.
JAIME: We don’t even have to seek out this information. It just comes to us through the publications that we subscribe to.
ASHLEY: Just like the rest of the beauty industry, our trade publications have been going through a time of transition. However, this is an issue that has plagued us far before coronavirus.
JAIME: I would’ve thought with all those transitions, it would have given the new editors a chance to reassess what it is that they produce and who they source for their information in order to give their readers a better quality experience.
ASHLEY: And we’re talking, of course, about beauty industry media perpetuating myths, putting out misinformation, and directing us as beauty professionals to potentially do the wrong thing.
JAIME: It’s so frustrating because in order to get the attention of the editors, you have to know who they are and to understand that the writers who are contributing these articles may or may not have any experience whatsoever in the beauty industry other than writing about it.
ASHLEY: I think we can all remember last November when there was a bit of a hullabaloo around the New York Times and a style piece that was written about the end of the manicure. We rallied together at least as a nail industry to discuss how this was really ill timed, but also filled with a lot of misinformation. That is a frustration, I think, that’s universal in the professional beauty industry is that consumer beauty content is often wrong or picks up on trends that aren’t really actually happening. Does anybody remember fur nails from a few years ago? So coupled with the fact that we’re out here trying to inform and teach our clients, they’re getting incorrect info from their beauty magazines. And unfortunately, in a lot of cases, we’re getting incorrect info from ours as well.
JAIME: Lest we think it’s only publications, there are other sources of that information. I had a client more recently ask me about repairing a toenail with a water-soluble gel as recommended by the American Cancer Society.
ASHLEY: Oh, great. Well I’ll just buy a pot of that and add it to my service menu.
JAIME: Well, you know, growing up, obviously we don’t start as professionals, we’re first consumers of beauty products and of beauty media. And for decades, we’d see the same recycled recommendations like, and again, because nails were my interest and is my licensure, the idea that after polishing my nails, I’m going to plunge them into a bowl of ice water to make them dry faster. I mean, things like that get repeated over and over and over again, and we laugh at that now, but for how long was that out there in the public?
ASHLEY: And for me, there really is no difference between what you would call an old wives’ tale and some of the myths and theories that are being perpetuated by beauty media now. One of the biggest issues I have with this is that if you peel back the onion a little bit, you’ll see that in most cases, the staff that works for these publications, and for these blogs, and for these influencers, they’re not necessarily trained in the beauty profession. It’s more of a, I majored in journalism, and now I have this job, and now I’m learning on the fly, which we’ve all done, faking it till you make it a little bit. But when there’s scope of practice questions, keeping your license, putting it in danger, doing something that potentially puts your client in danger, just to create a catchy grabby headline, that’s where I start to go, hmm. I think we could do a little better.
JAIME: We could do a lot better. I would agree. And some of this stuff seems harmless and silly. The example I gave of using the ice water to dry your nail polish comes to mind, but some of it can be outright dangerous in that it’s perpetuating information that could get you in trouble or that just points out how little we apply common sense or and what little scientific knowledge we do have to the information we’re being presented.
ASHLEY: And seeing it in print further legitimizes it to me and I think to others that this is something that exists. So whether it be an advanced certification that doesn’t really exist for your license type or in your state, or something that is well beyond the scope of practice for your license type where you live that pushes you into non-compliance, these are things that if you pick up any issue of any of our trade magazines, you will find an example of this. Now we can lay blame in lots of different places, but instead of focusing on the negative here, I want to flip the script a little bit and talk about how we can empower ourselves to be more critical thinkers and question some of the information that we’re being fed through either print media, social media, or beyond.
JAIME: We have to apply the same standards, no matter who the intended audience is and the source, because I have seen just as many falsehoods, misleading statements, outright, I don’t even know what to call it at this point, because some of it could be considered marketing spin, but it goes way beyond that, I’ve seen just as much of that in our trade publications as I have in consumer media.
ASHLEY: And I guess it’s a symptom of a more fundamental discord if you look at just the state of the world right now, and the fact that information has become weaponized, and facts, unfortunately, don’t really hold the weight that they always have in history. There’s things that are, you would have considered long settled that are still up for debate. And whether you want to get into the Dunning-Kruger effect, or you want to talk about the Facebook-ification of arguments, it really comes down to where did you get your information? Is it, I’m making air quotes, “they told me” kind of a situation or is it repeating something that you heard online that you’ve just taken on board as fact? It’s one of those things where you have to turn inward and think about and reassess really, almost everything, you know. And wonder, where did I get this information in the first place? Was the source credible? And how can I ensure that I’m doing the work really behind this to make sure that I’m repeating, and teaching, and sharing correct information as well. If you’ve ever been in a beauty Facebook group, you know exactly what I’m talking about when I say people are just repeating bad information because they have personally themselves accepted it as fact.
JAIME: That’s so true. I spent many years as a student, as I know you have as well, and I like to approach these topics as if I were the one writing the article. If I were writing on this particular subject, where would I go to source the information?
ASHLEY: I still remember the days of the card catalog, and the encyclopedia, and everything before the internet, and then thankfully towards the end of my high school career, well the beginning I would say, we have the internet and all of that. But the democratization of information has led to things seeming to hold as much weight as actual proven facts through scientific method or what have you. Now we’re seeing things presented in a way that is so legitimate that it’s really hard to tell sometimes if the information we’re being given is correct or could potentially put us or our clients in danger of either creating liability or creating a situation of non-compliance. I know in California, you have this all of the time and one of our Insiders and previous guests on a couple weeks ago episode where we talked about Amazon salon, Wendy, deals with this in her esthetician group to have things that are just outside of the scope of your license type, but because everybody does it, it seems like, well, majority rules. We should just be able to add this to our scope of practice.
JAIME: Either everybody does it, or manufacturers offer courses and then distribute certificates as if that somehow legitimizes the practice. Going back to this idea of who’s expert, like who is a credible source, it floors me when we see, for example, an article having to deal with the topic of a product and it’s chemistry, but none of the people cited in the article or actually chemists.
ASHLEY: Sure. Right. It becomes hard to discern between what is a piece of journalism where things have been independently fact checked or confirmed beyond the first-party source and into a framework by which marketing language is shared and an advertiser is kind of gassed up by featuring their new item, or product, or line, or service, or class, or whatever it might be. It’s hard to tell. And I think that a lot of us can get duped. I actually did an online exercise of can you spot the fake social media account based on all these different attributes. And I spend so much time on social media, Jaime, as you know, analyzing it, and looking for trends, and ways that I can help other beauty pros grow their businesses, and I had a really hard time being able to discern between who is a real person and who is an actual bot sharing misinformation. And so if we can’t do that on something so simple as who is real and who isn’t, I can see how we all struggle with determining if information we’re given is good just because it comes from a source that we think has been credible in the past, so why not believe what they’re saying now?
JAIME: Perhaps 75 to 95% of what they say is accurate and it’s just that bit of information that slips through that doesn’t meet a standard, but we’re talking about organizations and individuals who are described as being content creators. And the expectation that we produce content, how do we maintain quality when consumers are demanding so much volume of content?
ASHLEY: I think just based on the fact that it is a volume game and a numbers game that there are going to be pieces of content that are just going to be fluffy, and inconsequential, and full of repeating the things that we have accepted to be fact like your ice water example, or keeping your nail polish in the refrigerator, or that henna is somehow a more natural hair dye, or that you can tint your brows with a box of Just for Men. Like there’s so many falsehoods out there, or the fact that like YouTube has created this whole subgenre of semi-experts where they’re not professional, but they’ve DIYed enough that they’ve had some success and now they want to share what they know. And again, it comes back to when information is democratized, it is imperative that we really look at everything with a critical eye and think about what is the end goal here, right? When it comes to a lot of what we see in trade media, it all comes down to you’re being sold something, whether it’s packaged as an informational piece, or a technique training, or whatever, the end goal is to get you to purchase a product.
JAIME: Absolutely. And that’s one of the first things that I look for is when I read something, because generally speaking, I absorb this information through reading and not through watching videos, but when I do read something, the first thing I’m looking for is a name, a person to whom this writing is attributed to. And oftentimes there is not a name. It’s just put out there and so I’m thinking, hmm, sounds like a press release that’s just been reproduced.
ASHLEY: Which makes it more palatable, right? If you were to put it up against another small feature piece, you don’t want it to just run as is. You have to add some filler language and make it seem like a feature or an actual article, which I completely understand. But if the audience again is just accepting it as, well, it’s in this magazine, so it must be true, that’s where we get into, I guess, a bit of danger, especially when it comes to things that when these publications are platforming salons that are non-compliant, or salons that are misclassifying their labor, or valuing aesthetics of a space over the ergonomics of not breaking your service technicians’ bodies, it becomes dangerous because it just gets accepted. And then if that practice is accepted, then the next one is, and the next one, and it creates this environment of numbness around what’s right and what’s wrong.
JAIME: That’s what’s going to hurt us in the long run because I don’t know how we could be taken seriously when our industry accepts this information as truth when someone coming from outside the industry with particular expertise could just debunk it very easily, particularly around things having to do with science and actually legal issues.
ASHLEY: So how can we as consumers of information point out or figure out or determine if something is worthwhile or not?
JAIME: Oh my goodness. I mean, when you, when you read something and it strikes you as being something that you’d want to do more research on, I think you should do that. I mean, you should definitely compare it to what others are saying about it, but even then, that’s not a good enough check because we know how these things get repeated as if they were fact and that not all of this content is being created based on independent research that’s validated with any kinds of, it’s not like you’re producing a bibliography or a list of resources where you’re citing your sources.
ASHLEY: I think something that you’ve also mentioned in the past that I definitely adhere to is coming from the education side of things, when we’re at shows and we see what classes are on offer, or we refer back to previous years, and look at the show guide, and discuss the topics that were important maybe a couple of years ago,
and thinking about what will be important in a few years. To me. I think there’s a lot of value in learning from someone who has done it themselves and can show a proven track record of success, especially when it comes to things like salon operations, social media, just anything they’re teaching. Have they proven and shown in their own personal careers that this is advice that they have followed? This is a blueprint that they have constructed and it has created their own success therefore, they want to teach it to you as opposed to using a terrible example here, but I have 300 Instagram followers, and now I want to share how you can too grow your Instagram following. You know, it’s a lot of do as I say, don’t do as I do out there. And I think that’s also a really good place to start. That if we vet our sources that way, we can also separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.
JAIME: The legitimacy that comes from being on a platform, whether that platform is being cited in a newsletter, or teaching a class at a trade show, or getting publicity through the press just like turning on the news, I think there’s so much to be said for that exposure, that it’s very hard that if we did find something objectionable for the pushback or the questioning to get even close to the reach that the initial report got.
ASHLEY: Yeah, that’s the challenge. I mean I’m not sure that it’s a good use of energy to try to delegitimize or rebut some of the information that’s out there because you, in most cases, we’ll just be shouting into the wind. But for me, when I’m given a piece of information, I think about what’s the point, right? Who is the target audience, but most importantly, who gains from this information? Who gains by trying to get me to change my behavior, whether it’s as a salon owner or as an independent beauty pro? If I were to bring in product line A or bring on and start charging for a technique B, who gains in this? Overall, yes, I might gain in the short term because I bring in more clients because I offer this exclusive service or whatever, but knowing at the core of it, it’s the distributor, the manufacturer, the supplier who gains overall, it helps me, again, separate some of the good info from the bad, because almost all of this involves money, right, at its core. If I’m being sold to, you know. We’re also good at being able to say, oh, the girl I haven’t spoken to since high school who shows up in my Facebook messages and wants to reconnect in order to make sure that she could tell me about a great business opportunity she has. That sets off alarm bells for everybody, I would say. On the flip side of that, why don’t the alarm bells sound when you’re being taught something or certified in something that you can’t actually do in your state?
JAIME: All it takes is asking someone who knows. I mean I think that’s part of the reason why we feature so many experts who have not really had exposure in the beauty industry. It’s because these are the individuals who have the information we need to evaluate the information that’s actually presented within our industry. And if we don’t look outside and look beyond the same names that we see repeated often, then we’re never going to really be able to judge for ourselves what’s worth pursuing, what’s not worth our time at all.
ASHLEY: So would you say we could empower ourselves by knowing what our state allows, just kind of as a baseline?
JAIME: You would think that would be something we’d understand from the very beginning of beauty school, but that is one of the biggest areas that frustrates me because as we are trying to protect licensure, the fact that we’re trained and that we’re accountable to the rules and regulations of our various states, it’s really hard to defend that when you have so many of us who are doing things that openly defy that, and they explain it away by saying, well, I didn’t know. Like, well, how did you not know? It’s all available there on the state board’s website and you should have known it. You should have learned it while you were in beauty school.
ASHLEY: It’s tough because the information seems to be so readily available by just asking someone else, right? Running to a forum where we know there are other beauty professionals, like social media, or at a show, or whatever, and just taking what that person says as the truth or the correct answer when in fact it may be the complete opposite of what we should be doing. So I know it can be a bit intimidating to try to sort through the information, especially because most state websites are difficult to navigate. They’re not exactly forthcoming with the correct information front and center. But maybe we could link to something in the show notes as a resource to help everybody find their state board website, or at least where to start, but preparing for this episode and thinking about this great topic that you suggested, I thought about really at its core, we want to have a shiny, pretty magazine to flip through. We want to read a colorful, exciting blog. We are drawn to the aesthetics of a beautiful photo or a reel that catches our attention. To me, it seems like the goal of trade beauty media right now is putting the aspirational ahead of the accurate at every possible turn.
JAIME: Ashley, it’s like we’re sitting in the same room and you’re looking at me as I’m jotting down notes because I just wrote down inspirational and aspirational on my little notepad. And I think that is so true because it glosses over the fundamentals of our industry and it’s because the fundamentals aren’t sexy. They’re not shiny. We talk about things existing in a gray area. And whenever I hear that phrase, immediately alarm bells go off because it’s only gray if you haven’t read. Like if you don’t understand, it’s gray.
ASHLEY: I think that coming from nails, you know, nail art is what is grabby. Coming from hair, the balayage and the fantasy colors, that’s what everybody likes to look at. It’s, it’s a snack, right? It’s, it’s eye candy. Coming from aesthetics, it’s the things that get the biggest, boldest results as opposed to daily maintenance and care of your skin, right? It’s the huge volume sets of lashes that are pink, and purple, and ombre. Those are the things that excite us maybe as creatives, because they’re outside the norm, and they challenge us, and you’re right. It’s not sexy. It’s not shiny. It’s not grabby. But when we prioritize the aspirational and the high calorie kind of sugar of our industry over the fundamentals, it’s saying that the fundamentals are a given. That we should just know the basics because that’s what we were taught in school. And everybody has been prepared to hit the ground running no matter what state you’re in or school you go to, that you have a good handle on the basics. And now this is how you can be an artist at play. But you and I know, and everybody listening to this knows, that that is not the case. The fundamentals, and the foundationals, and the basics are not a given. And if we completely disregard and scrap those in favor of the things that are fluffy, and exciting, and attention grabbing, we are doing ourselves, and our industry, and our clients, at the end of the day, a huge disservice.
JAIME: I could not agree more, Ashley. I think you’ve summarized that perfectly. There is that assumption that somehow that foundational knowledge is something we get through in the first 50 hours of beauty school, you know, and onto the good stuff. And likewise, as we consume information, rarely is our attention drawn to the information that we need, the information that will keep us compliant, that will update us on how we operate our businesses, and how we interact and transact in the larger world as business people. That’s really frustrating to me. I, I do express a lot of frustration because normally speaking, it doesn’t come to someone’s attention until they get into trouble for it.
ASHLEY: Yeah, I was just going to say that we don’t place a value on all of the things you mentioned until it goes wrong, or it becomes a sticking point, or the thing that keeps us from expanding, or the thing that has done irreparable damage to our credit, or our good standing with our state, or our license, or whatever that might be. Just because we can shrug and say, well, I didn’t know. It’s not a good enough excuse. And I say this as a person who spent most of my time in nail school ignoring the fundamentals, ignoring the foundationals, and focusing on nail art because at the time that’s what excited me the most. That’s what pushed me into this career. I wish I could go back and just shake myself out of that because the foundations of our industry are something that I’ve had to really put in the time afterwards to be able to do a pink and white, and to lay acrylic, and to make sure the nail under the nail art wasn’t lumpy, and bumpy, and scary. So I don’t, again, I don’t want to be negative. I don’t want to be doom and gloom, but I think that moving forward, it is incumbent upon us all as beauty professionals to just consider the source and consider the validity of the information that we’re being fed. Because at the end of the day, an influencer, a brand, a distributor, a magazine, they’re not the ones in your salon being held accountable to the decisions you’ve made based on potentially bad information.
JAIME: So true. I think that what I’m going to start doing, because I have tried as much as I possibly can to approach this subject behind the scenes, by providing some guidance, advice, whatever you want to call it. Just those questions that pop up in my mind. And I think what I am going to start doing, and I actually have started doing, is verbalizing that and posting about it when I see this kind of misinformation. If it’s a matter of opinion, I’m not going to challenge that. A matter of opinion, that doesn’t affect me, doesn’t impact me. It’s not going to negatively affect anybody else, but when it’s a matter of fact, then I think it’s incumbent upon anyone who knows better to say something.
ASHLEY: And we can all do better in order to know better. I think that that takes minimal effort to just not accept everything at face value and question. I mean, I encourage everybody to question the information given. Question the information in this podcast. I have no problem with that and I know you don’t either because we have done the research and a lot of this is our opinion of course. But I think that we both take our responsibility to the industry really seriously in using our platform to make sure that the info we’re sharing is as accurate as we can possibly run down by consulting the experts and doing as much research as we can to ensure we’re not just parroting bad behavior and poor advice. I would really love to hear from some of our listeners on this to just maybe learn from them what they learned that they had taken at face value before that they realized wasn’t actually the case and had to course correct, or something that they know that’s out there that keeps getting repeated and should be corrected. We’d love to share that on our Instagram or discuss it in a future episode because I think however we can signal boost good information, we should absolutely do so.
JAIME: I think that’s an excellent idea. I would hope that we would get that kind of feedback because I do acknowledge my bias. My bias is that I pay attention to information that focuses on nails when it comes to technique and products. And then anything having to do with compliance because I do own and operate a salon and I have employees. So that information gets my attention and having individuals in our industry who have their own specialties, I know they have examples of things that they see that just really irks them, just their pet peeves, I’m sure.
ASHLEY: It’s almost as if we could create a database of pet peeves and myths, like your nails need to breathe, and gel ruins your nails, and purple shampoo will cure everything. Well, I know we could go for hours and hours on this topic, but I, again, want to reach out to the listeners and ask them to please sound off. Let us know what you’re thinking and feeling about this topic. We’d love to engage with you. One of the perfect ways to do that is to follow us and comment on recent episodes like this one on Instagram at @outgrowthpodcast.
JAIME: If you’re enjoying Outgrowth, please leave us a review on Apple podcasts with one click. Just visit bit.ly/outgrowthpodcast.
ASHLEY: Fabulous. Here’s to great information and considering the source.
JAIME: Back to my inbox I go, Ashley.
ASHLEY: All right. Okay. Until next week everybody, be smart.
JAIME: Be safe.