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7 Odd Beauty Jobs You Never Knew Existed

We bet you've never heard of these fascinating, under-the-radar ways to work in beauty
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Mortuary Makeup Artist
Elizabeth Isaacson, licensed funeral director and embalmer

What she does: As a funeral director, Isaacson wears many hats -- one of which involves applying cosmetics to the deceased. This includes anything from a natural application to full reconstruction in cases of trauma.

How she started: "I began working at a funeral home when I was 17 with the goal of becoming a funeral director. I went on to receive my degree in mortuary science and have worked in the industry since."

Weirdest part of the job: "When a family brings in the deceased's own makeup. I've seen some pretty scary stuff -- wild colors, things that are so old they should be in a museum and colors that are so wrong for that person you wonder how they wore them without anyone saying anything."

Hardest part of the job: "You can spend hours working on someone trying to get them to look just right, and then you proudly display them to their family, who tells you they look great but are planning to keep the casket closed."

Best part of the job: "Helping others in a time of need and making people look their best. Many times a deceased person has been sick or in a nursing home for a long time, and the process of embalming and applying makeup is a huge transformation. When you haven't been "fixed up" in a long time it can be very refreshing for your family to see you looking like yourself again, which helps with the healing process."

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Professional Lice Remover
Amy Goldreyer, owner and founder of Hair Whisperers, a lice removal company

What she does: As a professional "delouser," Goldreyer makes house calls to eradicate lice from children's heads at the request of their parents. It's a pain-staking process than often takes four to five hours.

How she started: "My son got lice in kindergarten, and I worked on him and his friends -- and I actually liked finding the lice and removing them, and I was good at it. I realized that this could be a business. I invested $200 in brochures and it took off. That was 15 years ago."

Weirdest part of the job: "Sometimes, we have repeat customers who we know don't have lice. They just like the treatment, and I can't blame them -- it's basically hours of someone brushing your hair. Other times there are people who refuse to accept that they don't have lice -- almost like a mental illness."

Hardest part of the job: "Convincing people the lice have been fully removed. They comb their hair with a lice comb, and those combs are so fine that they pick up a lot of stuff in hair -- sand, dirt, shampoo, hairspray, even hair dye deposit. One time someone sent me a picture of a bug they found in their hair claiming it was lice -- it was a bug, but it was actually a carpet beetle. Another hard part is making sure the lice don't transfer to me or my workers. We wear bandanas and are careful not to touch our heads, but I still tell my employees to keep a lice comb in their shower for occasional checks."

Best part of the job: "People are always so happy to see me, so it's nice to be able to help them. I'm often at someone's home for so long we sit down to a meal together."

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Permanent Makeup Tattoo Artist
Dominique Bossavy, micro-color infusion specialist

What she does: Bossavy specializes in correcting scars or other abnormalities with permanent makeup. For instance, she tattoos areolas on women who have undergone mastectomies and fixes skin discolorations on burn victims.

How she started: "I had my lips done in Paris and it was terrible. I wanted to find someone to fix it, and that is where I found my mentor. She mentioned that I would be great at her job because I paid attention to detail. I liked the idea, and she offered me a two-year internship. At first, I was really excited, but then I realized that we had different ideals of beauty. Her clients left looking too fake for my taste. I loved the concept but hated the unnatural results. Each time a beautiful woman came in, I wanted to whisper, "run away." So I developed a more natural way to perform permanent cosmetic enhancements."

Weirdest part of the job: "Once I had a woman come in who often makes the tabloids for her botched and over-the-top plastic surgery. When I recognized her, I knew I couldn't take her on as a client -- she was beyond repair. I politely explained that I didn't have the right technique and that she would not be happy with my work. She left screaming that I wasted her day. That was the oddest experience."

Best part of the job: "Seeing my clients blossom with an instant boost of confidence is the best part of my job. Once I was coloring in a burn survivor's facial scars, and I accidentally discovered that not only was it changing the color of the skin, it was making the burn scar corrugation smoother, and it released the contraction from the scar tissue. My client was able to open her mouth without the pulling on the lower eyes, which was really exciting."

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Face Feeler
Judy Heylmun, sensory scientist

What she does: As a sensory scientist and president of Fore Sense + One, a research company focused on the sensory experience of personal care items, Heylmun evaluates how products smell, look, feel, taste and sound -- which, yes, sometimes means she literally has to feel other people's skin. She works with companies to understand everything from how wine hits the taste buds to how well a body lotion rubs into the skin.

How she started: "Sensory evaluation is a newer field. When I first started, people usually fell into it through studying nutrition or even teaching. I applied for a position at Life Savers right out of college and learned from the ground up.".

Weirdest part of the job: Sensory scientists want every perspective, even if it's not necessarily their target audience. "Asking a panel of men to try lipstick is weird," she says. "Also, talking to people about the performance of personal products, like feminine hygiene products or certain creams and jellies."

Hardest part of the job: "Testing products that are used for skin care on the intended user and having to feel their legs after they shave or put on moisturizer."

Best part of the job: "Getting to try new products before they hit the market. I also love when our research completely changes the way a client views the experience their product provides."

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Gruesome Special Effects Makeup Expert
Emily Katz, TV makeup artist

What she does: Katz specializes in recreating wounds and burns and has lent her talents to TV shows like "Lost," "24" and "Diagnosis Murder."

How she started: "I have a background that equipped me to create the more gruesome looks of my career: I started as a painter with some sculpting experience, and I was also pre-med, so I've been around a lot of medical situations. Pooling these skills and training at the hands of some of the best makeup masters in the country really allowed me to hone my ability."

Weirdest part of the job: Being a makeup artist doesn't mean just making up a pretty face, says Katz. "I worked on the first BBC movie made in America, "Crazy for a Kiss." I had to do bedsores on elderly actors, and you know where those are. It was hilarious at times!"

Hardest part of the job: "You're entering someone's personal space for an extended time, and it's an odd kind of intimacy. It can be fun and silly or extraordinarily awkward. Part of the job is wiping sweat, wiping noses, taking care of blemishes -- things a parent does."

Best part of the job: "Making the ladies of "Lost" still look beautiful while they were covered with tan, burn and dirt products. We had to make it look like they were literally stranded on an island. I was honored to receive an Elle Beauty Genius Award for that work."

When you think of people who work in the beauty industry, all things glamorous and gorgeous come to mind. But the beauty industry isn't all perfectly pouty lips and tanned, toned bodies. When it comes to the job market, "beauty" is a loosely defined term that can encompass everything from mimicking grotesque wounds, to picking bugs out of hair to getting up close and personal with a stranger's naked body, and these professions prove it. We're turning the spotlight on the less-celebrated beauty jobs that you never hear about -- and they're definitely not boring.
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