A lot of people overlook brows and don’t give them as much credit as they deserve. A beautifully shaped brow can help define and highlight the face. Before going to beauty school, I was guilty of leaving my own brows as an afterthought. Now I realize that professionally shaped brows really pull a whole look together, with or without makeup.
So who is responsible for keeping my brows beautiful and fierce every four weeks? That would be the one and only, Ms. Amanda Poe at CODE Salon.
I recently had the chance to meet up with Amanda, CODE Salon’s Master Brow Architect over a cup of coffee before she started her busy work day. CODE salon is a full-service boutique salon tucked into the heart of the South of Market (SOMA) district on 4th Street, between Folsom and Harrison street in San Francisco. CODE offers a wide range of hair, face and body services using Aveda beauty products.
Amanda is an SFIEC graduate and even worked as an SFIEC Learning Leader for 4+ years before joining CODE last year. I was fortunate to be under her wing during my own time at SFIEC in 2010. Her specialty and passion are brow services: waxing, shaping and tinting. Two years ago, she added Celebrity Brow Artist to her resume when she had the opportunity to work on Adam Lambert‘s brows at her previous salon. In addition to brows, Amanda offers a variety of skin services at CODE. Her most popular service is the Trio Service which includes brow shaping, brow tinting and lash tinting. She also performs customizable facials (45 or 75 minutes), back treatments, full body waxing for both men and women, basic makeup applications, special occasion makeup and private makeup lessons.
Amanda and I spent the morning talking about CODE Salon, why she became a licensed esthetician, how she got her start in the industry, why she loves working on brows so much and her favorite service to give a client. We also discussed our favorite skin care products and geeked out about our own current skin home care routines.
Why did you decide to become an esthetician?
I was working for Peet’s Tea & Coffee for about 7 years. I was working in management and recruiting. I was really successful, but it wasn’t really making my heart sing in terms of what I wanted to do with my career. At the time, I was in my mid 20’s, running a multimillion dollar store, managing a ton of people, working 24/7 and burning out. I decided to take a little time to re-evaluate what I wanted to do with my career and was thinking about what I loved. I realized that on my days off from work, I was either getting my brows done or receiving facials from my esthetician. I started talking to my esthetician about what she did and how she liked it. I never really thought about being able to spend a whole day in the spa and have it as an actual career.
My esthetician really encouraged me to look into schools. I went online and found San Francisco Institute. I knew that because this was going to be a second career for me, I had to be able to go to a place that was going to set me up for success. I also needed to be able to get in and out of school as quickly as possible, while getting a great education and allowing me to be successful in my new career in esthetics.
Within a couple of months, I made the decision to leave Peet’s, take out a student loan and go back to school. It was the best career choice I’ve ever made. I went to the best school, got a great education and even got to work at a spa in Oakland while I was going to school. It was all thanks to my esthetician that I was able to find a career that I really enjoy.
How did you get your start in the skin care industry?
I worked the front desk at a spa in Oakland the whole time I was in school. As soon as I would leave school, I’d go directly to the spa, work the night shift, close up the spa and then go back to school the next morning. It was the same spa my esthetician was working at. I was able to work with my esthetician while getting to watch her work with clients and learn from her. When I graduated from SFIEC and got my license, I was ready to hit the floor at the spa right away. I was really lucky to be able to start working under my esthetician immediately as soon as I got my license. It definitely set me up for success.
Did you know that you always wanted to focus on brows?
I went into esthetics school to be a brow artist. I wanted to be a brow specialist. The first time I sat down to do brows, they weren’t awesome. I thought, “Oh god. What am I going to do? What am I doing? This is not right. How am I not good at this?” Like with anything else in life, it was just a matter of practice, dedication, doing a million brows and getting better and better. But at first, I definitely had that twinge of “Oh my gosh. I’m not going to be able to do what I thought my destiny was.”
Initially at the beginning of my career, I was doing a lot of skin care and some brows. The place I was working at was kind of a more relaxation-oriented spa. It also made me realize that this wasn’t necessarily the avenue I wanted my career to go down. Then I was asked to come back and teach at SFIEC. I was a young esthetician and wasn’t really sure of what career path in esthetics I wanted to take. I knew that teaching at SFIEC was an opportunity too good to pass up in terms of meeting new people, networking and being able to figure out what my esthetics passion was. I became a better brow artist and a better esthetician because I chose to become a teacher at SFIEC.
I was in art school before I went to work for Peet’s so I think that’s how all of this happened. I was going to the Academy of Art. I was a graphic design major, but I realized that I wanted to explore other avenues. I wasn’t able to find what I wanted my canvas to be. That school didn’t really allow you to go into different directions. It was very tracked there. You had to stay within your major. That’s when I decided to take a break work for Peet’s. I realize now later in life that the face has become my canvas. That’s really where I’m able to do my art the best. I’ve always been artistic, but never really found my niche for how I was going to produce the art I wanted to show the world. Now, it’s on the face.
What’s your favorite service to give a client and why?
My favorite service to give is the Trio. The Trio consists of a brow shape, brow tint and a lash tint. Brow shaping alone is amazing. I feel like so many people in this world have a lot of vellus, blonde, translucent hairs mixed in the area surrounding their brows that actually make the shape of their brow. They just can’t see it. When I tint the brows, I’m able to incorporate all of those hairs into the brow. Then the true identity of the brow that I always knew was there shows through and I can then show the client. Sometimes I wish those two services [brow shaping and brow tinting] were automatic. I feel like everybody in the world needs a brow tint. Most people are scared of it because they’ve either had a bad experience with having them being dyed too dark or never truly having a perfect tint.
Lash tinting just makes people feel amazing. You wake up in the morning and your lashes are already dark and look like they have mascara on them, but they don’t and it stays that way all day long. Lash tinting also includes the lower lashes and makes your eye color stand out. Lash tinting gives you the darkness and the length, but it doesn’t give you the volume. So if you’re going to wear mascara, be sure to wear a volumizing formula.
I feel like after a client has the Trio, she leaves the salon feeling really beautiful naturally, without having a ton of makeup on. Her features stand out. She can run out of the house without feeling like she has to put any makeup on. The Trio is the total package.
The Trio takes 30 to 45 minutes. We usually book it for 45 minutes for a first time client and return clients are usually around 30 minutes. A lash tint usually lasts from about 6 to 8 weeks and a brow tint 4 to 6 weeks. I usually do a Trio on the client’s first visit. Then in-between the 8 weeks, just a brow shape. The services will alternate on each client’s visit every 4 weeks.
What are your current, top three favorite skin care products?
#1: CosMedix Opti Crystal chirally correct eye serum
It’s the best eye cream I’ve used ever, EVER!
#2: Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel
It’s my go-to cleanser that I use everyday.
#3: Mark Lees Alphaplex
Using this twice a day, every day helped clear up my acne.
Are you located in or visiting the San Francisco area and are interested in booking a fabulous service with Amanda? Call CODE Salon at 415-624-8340 to book your appointment. Also, visit CODE Salon’s website to view their full menu of hair, face and body services.
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