Award-winning author and all-around delightful person Catriona McPherson is our Guest Chick  today, and we’re thrilled to have her. Take it away, Catriona!

Catriona: I’ve always loved giving my heroines jobs. One was a picker for an online grocery-service (doing other people’s shopping – a nosey-parker’s dream come true). One worked at a free clothing project for a church. Oh the glamour! One got a job cleaning caravans (= US trailers) at the seaside.

But the heroine of HOUSE.TREE.PERSON. has my favourite fictitious job yet. She’s a beauty therapist in a psychiatric hospital, helping people with activities of daily living (aka ADLs) in the area of personal grooming and self-care.

Or she should be. An excess of empathy leads her to more make-overs and massages than she really has time for. Why not, eh? Why not give a fictional catatonic woman a pedicure? Why not give a fictional girl with histrionic personality disorder a better hair-do?  The real world is stuffed to its scalp with unsolvable problems. It’s nice to be able to fix a few things in fiction.

But how – you ask – did I do the research?

And the answer is that I’ve been researching this book for decades: valiantly sitting in vibrating armchairs while someone rubs my feet with hot stones; selflessly lying on warmed beds while someone dyes my eyebrows and lashes; leafing industriously through People magazine for two hours at a stretch while my “born blonde but a lot has happened since” hair is cooking. Not to mention aroma-therapeutic facials, herbal back massages, individual false lash applications, make-up sessions before big parties and . . . two bikini waxes.

One bikini wax happened because I had no comprehension of how painful it was. The second one happened because I had blocked out how painful it was. When I looked down and saw the hot wax glinting in my gusset, I remembered. If there had been any other way to remove the stuff, I’d have paid double to make it happen. There wasn’t. My third bikini wax won’t be necessary. When hell freezes over, who’ll be wearing a thong?

Not that I’d say I’m high-maintenance. I go bare-faced and cactus-legged about my business if I feel like it. Gone are the days when women got up at five to make themselves fake before breakfast and rushed home to make themselves even faker before dinner, all on the quiet, in case Mr Right jumped and dropped his pipe at the sight of a pale lip or a greasy follicle.

Much more recently gone are the days when women could pretend that any of this grooming and fakery was a chore. The internet has busted our story wide-open. We are blown out of the water, the petal-floating, lavender scented, salt-ionized bowl of warm water in which our digits were soaking.

We love it! And not just love the results. We love the daft names for pointless stuff, and the plinky-plonky music; we love the reverent attention to miniscule minutiae and the dead slow pace. The whole process is the last word in soothing. Going to the beautician’s is just really lazy yoga.

And here’s how the bust happened. Dastardly Youtube is the culprit. Over the last couple of years, Youtube has exploded with videos of  . . . wait for it . . . spa role-plays. That’s right: videos of between five and fifty (yes, really) minutes’ length where a Youtuber acts out eyelash dying, back massage, haircuts and even waxing to the viewer, who gets the attention, plinky-plonky music, daft names for unnecessary products and pretty much the whole shebang. Except dyed lashes, a relaxed back, good hair or shiny waxed bits.

Google it if you don’t believe me.  “Warm Spring Make-up” is a thirty-seven minute make-over video by a Youtube star named “Latte”: mesmerisingly beautiful, with the voice of an angel and – if you’re asking me – barking mad.

Latte from TouTube (3)

She also does eye tests, ear cleaning, wound-care and hair-styling. But she’s strangely compelling in her absolute sincerity. And she’s not alone.

I think I’ll stick with actual treatments at real-life salons and spas. But, like I said, I’m busted!  How about you – do you kinda sorta quite like the “chore” of beauty? I know for a fact now it’s not just me.


Catriona McPherson is the multi-award-winning and best-selling author of the Dandy Gilver detective series, set in the 1930s in her native Scotland. HOUSE.TREE.PERSON (Midnight Ink, US, 8th Sept) is her sixth contemporary stand-alone suspense novel. Catriona is a past-president of Sisters in Crime and is next year’s Malice Toastmaster. She will be groomed to within an inch of her life!

25 thoughts on “Busted!

  1. Got a perm once, fried my scalp. Did my eyebrows once, was red for days after cussing in pain. Nope. No more beauty treatments for me. I’m too old for that crap. I have enough natural old age pain. Not foolish enough to self-inflict any. Not gonna happen. Even if my kids ever marry, they take me as is at their wedding. Not in this lifetime.
    Now if I had a gun pointed at me, we might talk. Naw, I’d twist it out of their hand. Nope. Not gonna do it. Ever again.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh, the sacrifices we make for research, right?

    I get my hair colored and one of the main reasons I don’t do it myself any longer is I don’t want to deal with the fuss and mess. I want to sit in a chair, have someone else apply the goop, get my scalp massaged, be offered a latte, and walk out two hours later with the grays gone and feeling fabulous.

    I like manicures for the same reason, but I can’t often justify the expense. But as soon as the kids are out of private school…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. My hair colour is a midlife crisis right there on my head. I looked at the photos of my 40th birthday party looking for my blonde hair, realised I was one of the brown blobs, and have been platinum ever since.


  3. Okay so I googled the video and watched a bit. I have never ever heard of this before and I’m…fascinated. But like in the way that you’re fascinated by a car wreck. But hey, not mad at her finding her niche in this world!

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Fun post, Catriona! I think you’re onto something here. For me, the enjoyment isn’t so much about the “beauty” aspect as the “sitting still for some quantity of time” aspect. That seems like such a luxury in itself! Off to book a pedicure….

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Catriona, you are my hero: a martyr to her art. Honestly, I got a 90 minute facial every month for maybe 20 years until my favorite aesthetician quit her job and then it just wasn’t the same. Now I get a chin wax when I leave the state to come to a convention. Otherwise, it’s just me and the tweezers at stop signs.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. Catriona, you’re a hoot! *Lazy yoga* sums it up pretty well! I have to admit my eyes roll back in my head just a little when my pedicurist gives me a foot massage. But it’s good for my circulation, right?

    Liked by 3 people

  7. LOVE this post, Catriona! Glad that most of the research was painless! (I snort-laughed at “gusset.”)

    Will cop to adoring a good pedicure but getting my wild curls cut is always far more stressful than relaxing (you’d be surprised at how many people can screw up this simple request > “I’d like my hair cut the same length all around. Yes. The same length. No, I don’t want it angled. No, I don’t want it texturized. No, I don’t want it undercut. No, I don’t want bangs. Just the same length, please. All. The. Way. Around.”)

    PS this is so very, very true (you are a wise woman indeed): “The real world is stuffed to its scalp with unsolvable problems. It’s nice to be able to fix a few things in fiction.” ❤

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Catriona, I honestly had not realized how much I’ve been missing. I will be a new woman by next spring’s Malice, I swear. (And hope I’ll have another book written by then also, but if not you’ll all understand why.)

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Thank you for not leaving me completely hanging here – some of you have sort of admitted to liking the chance to sit and do nothing. I don’t have manis, btw – because you can’t read while your hands are in bowls of water!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I had this wonderful spa treatment in Las Vegas part of which, after the massage by a large, no-nonsense Teutonic woman, was a bath in a brass bathtub with rose petals floating on top. I was too short for the tub, so I kept slipping underwater! But the best part was being loofahed within an inch of my life at the end — my skin has never been so soft!


  11. Haha what a great post!

    I’m super lazy when it comes to everyday beauty routines (I almost never wear makeup to work and only blow dry my hair for special occasions), but there are a few things I’m willing to splurge on: getting my eyebrows done (every 3 weeks), a decent haircut (twice a year), and a no-chip mani – regular pedi (once a month).

    Since I rarely wear makeup, my brow game needs to be on point if I don’t want to look a hot mess. I don’t trust myself enough to do my own brows, so I’m happy to fork over the $10 (including tip!) to get them done.

    A decent haircut where they shampoo your hair is something I became addicted to when I lived in S. Korea and that head massage is everything. Again, since I don’t spend much time on hair and makeup, making sure my hair is healthy is important.

    Lastly, I love foot massages and think feet are gross (unless well taken care of), so the pedi is indulging in my weirdness. The no-chip mani is a recent addition thanks to the wonders of GroupOn ❤


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