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Beauty parlours in Surat needs some house cleaning Friday, December 14, 2001

SURAT: Beauty is skin deep. But, mushrooming of beauty parlours with promises to add that 'touch', without any essential prerequisites in absence of any regulatory authority, have left many with scars or experiences difficult to forget for ever.

Boring afternoons coupled with prospects of making money without much of effort have prompted many women in the city to start beauty parlours even in spaces measuring three by three feet in one's residence. But, untrained hands and ill-equipped parlours often turn to be harrowing experiences for many eagerly looking for that skin deep glory.

Take the case of Anita Shah. She was scheduled to visit the beautician a day before her wedding. The agenda was also set. A massage followed by a 'clarifying' face mask to put the glow into her skin which was prone to acne. It was decided that the friendly herbal beautician in the apartment block next door would be given charge of the entire procedure. But at the end of it, rashes had broken out across her face in a purple shade. Being totally naive about make-up, Anita was unaware of the procedure as well as the products, and the result was horrifying, compounded by the fears of the impending marriage.

Says Baljeet Kaur of Aaina Beauty Parlour in the Adajan area, "More women are taking up the profession of a beautician to supplement the income at home. Also, since this is one profession where a bit of talent can take you a long way, that is why many of them take to unscrupulous means and take shortcuts too.

As far as business is concerned, the mushrooming of new beauty parlours has not caused too much of a dent in the business, but most of the parlours this correspondent visited reported a loss of around 30 per cent in business. But, what is more alarming is the lack of awareness regarding products and their quality among the clients. Also, says Baljeet, there are cheaper services available. While facials at her parlour begin from Rs 100 onwards, your neighbourhood parlour will offer you two at the same price.

She too agrees that people have come to her with disfigured skins, but they are too shy to admit that they visited a dubious parlour. Even they do not ask to make it more difficult for the customer either, Baljeet adds.

Nima Sheth, a resident of the Palanpur area, thought she would try out the new beauty parlour which had come up in her neighbourhood. The parlour was run by a lady at her house. Sheth had her eyebrows shaped there, but the experience was very painful as the lady nearly pulled her eyelashes once or twice. She then promptly dropped the idea of getting a facial done.

Most of these neighbourhood parlours call themselves herbal with products that are locally made, and in most cases not herbal at all. The craze for herbal has latched onto most people and getting herbal products at cheap rates is a dream come true for those who cannot afford the standard products.

According to one Vyas, who is into these, most herbal products contain preservatives, hence they are not totally herbal. Also, nail polishes are never herbal. She further informed that all these products have a shelf life of only three years, depending on the manner of storage.

Currently, many dubious products have flooded the market and these are available at a very cheap price. The difference can be made out on closer scrutiny, but most customers are willing to let go of these aspects if they are getting the service at a bit cheaper rate. Recounts Asha Patel, a college student with an interest in cosmetics. Patel's visit to her neighbourhood 'aunty's' parlour never took off because she began to question the lady about the various creams and lotions and the instruments like scissors and blades.

They also throw all caution to the air in terms of safety and hygiene. Vyas says that all napkins are changed with every new person, and all implements like scissors and blades have to be compulsorily sterilised, especially with the threat of AIDS looming larger than life.

Meanwhile, the neighbourhood women and those who conduct home visits with their kits make a living with their so-called herbal products. Till customers sit up and take notice of what is happening to them, stories of facial horrors will continue to make rounds.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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