Saturday, March 13, 2010

Fashion and Beauty Tips for the New Nurse

I'm constantly asked by Faithful Minions, "Jo, how in hell do you do such a demanding job while remaining a paragon of beauty and style? The rest of us grovel in the dust at your feet, wearing worn-out, ill-fitting Landau scrubs, or stand in a huddled group in the parking garage, waiting for the vision of loveliness and grace that is you to bless us with a look."

It's not easy. Gliding in a lightly-scented cloud of gorgeousness takes *work*. But, because I am just that good, I'm going to share some of my secrets with you, my FMs of the female persuasion (or the male FMs with long hair and a yen for MAC cosmetics).

Fashion and Beauty Tip The First: Get scrubs that fit. Nothing is worse, when you're trying to resuscitate a patient, than having your pants rip (or worse, fall down, happened to a friend of mine, true story, and we still give him hell about it). VPLs are never good and are a sign you should go up a size. If you're new to the scrubs-buying game, go to your local scrub outfitter and try on about six different brands until you find the one that works for you. After that, buy in bulk.

Fashion and Beauty Tip The Second: Keep your hair out of the way. Second only to ripped pants is the sudden sinking feeling when you realize that you've dipped your luxurious locks in a puddle of piddle or poo. My hair is mid-back-length and I wear it (variously) in a bun, a braid, or a loose pony tail that I can be sure won't flop over my shoulder.

Fashion and Beauty Tip The Third: Good shoes, good shoes, good shoes. Cute is an option if you're lucky; if you're not, pop those paws into something supportive and well-fitting. Avoid marketed-to-nurses cheap-ass shoes and go for the Birkenstocks, the MBTs, the Danskos. You're on your feet for twelve hours, and you only get one pair of feet.

Corollary to The Third Tip: Take care of your feet. Pare down callouses with reasonable frequency, keep those nails short, and use plenty of lotion after your shower. Corns and bunions should be dealt with by a reputable professional, not by you with a razor blade.

Fashion and Beauty Tip The Fourth: Take care of your hands. Dry skin and cracked cuticles aren't just crappy-looking; they're avenues for nasty skin infections. You could spot a WWI nurse back in the day because of the scarred, twisted nature of her hands; they got infections in their hands from a combination of cracked skin and nasty bugs. Don't let this happen to you.

Corollary to The Fourth Tip: The posessor of the most beautiful hands I've ever seen is also one of the least self-conscious people I know. If *he* can do it, so can you. No excuses.

Fashion and Beauty Tip The Fifth: If you wear makeup, please do so with skill and aplomb. And not too much. Once upon a time, I worked with a woman who wore crazy hair, tons of paint, and bright-red claws to work. (She did GYN exams, for Frog's sake.) Do not be like her. If you look like Siouxie Sioux, even the brain-damaged folks on the unit won't want you near them. I wear concealer, mascara, light-brown eyeshadow, and draw my eyebrows in before I go off to Sunnydale, and that's plenty.

This tip goes for perfume as well. Normally I am not a fan of perfume on nurses, though I'll make the occasional exception for something that smells clean or citrusy. Let's be sure, though, that somebody else can only smell it on you when they're on top of you (so to speak) and that you're not asphyxiating the people a block away.

Fashion and Beauty Tip The Final, And I Can't Believe I'm Having To Say This:


You should be clean. Your scrubs should be clean. Your fucking shoes should not have fucking grass stains on them or dog shit on the soles or be all beat-up and raggy looking (I'm looking at you, Vinnie). Your hair, for God's sake, should not be greasy. You should not roll into work at six ack emma wearing the remains of last night's makeup. Lab coats (if you wear one) should be relatively white and free of stains, cigarette burns, and the remains of a burger from two weeks ago (I'm looking at you, Doctor Skippy).

If you're one of the unfortunate few who still has to wear whites, invest in a good color-safe bleach, some Borax washing soda, and a good hot-water detergent. Use those regularly. Chlorine bleach will yellow your whites and make the fabric weaker. See ripped pants, above.

And unless you poop rainbows and fart cotton candy, you should be wearing antiperspirant. Don't give me that crap about how sweating is natural and beautiful. Yes, sweating is natural and beautiful, but not at work. There's never an excuse for looming over a patient with pitted-out, stinking, stained scrubs. If you sweat *that much*--and I do--wear a T-shirt under your scrub top and seek out clinical-strength antiperspirants. It took me years to find a roll on (Mitchum unscented, by the way) that would keep me from knocking my patients over with my funk. Yeah, my armpits are probably going to peel off in the next ten years, but it's worth it not to have to put non-rebreather masks on everyone I come into contact with.

Oh, and brush. your. fucking. teeth.

Thank you, and good night. Enjoy being just as bright and shiny a special snowflake diamond as I am, and be sure you carry a little vial of smelling salts for those who are knocked out by your physical attractiveness.


messymimi said...

I will have to read the part about cleanliness to #2 Son, the 14 year boy, who thinks it is fun to knock people over with his man stink (his words).

After watching my father wear scrubs and a lab coat his whole life, I agree with your assessments.

Yes, especially, to going easy on the scent. If it is a nice scent, you don't need to marinate in it.

Jo said...

Mimi, tell your son from me (a woman who used to be 14) that there is nothing on the planet worse than 14-year-old boy stink. It is not *man* stink; it is horrendous.

Clean boy is much less offensive and will get him made fun of less. Eventually, he might even get a date.

Albinoblackbear said...

A big "hear hear!!" to all of your Beauty Tips.

If I may be so bold, I'd like to also add my 2 cents...

Do NOT have heavily bejeweled hands. Nothing gives me heebies more than a nurse with two multi-gem rings on each finger. *Shudder*. Hello MRSA fashion-how are you?

And if you want to keep those nice legs of yours, start wearing support stockings now--before it's too late. I couldn't believe how much better my pegs felt once I started wearing them on those lovely 12h shifts.

Love your blog!!


P.S Thanks for the props a few posts back! :)

An Open Heart said...

It's funny how people have to be told this stuff, but they do. I'm going to school to become a med assistant and the people I'm going to school with have no concept of how to present themselves. And, the do not appear to care!

Thanks for the tips.

Anonymous said...

As a prospective nursing student, I thank you! Though I do look like Siouxsie... It's probably about time to start growing out my mohawk and to stop buying stock in eyeliner eh?

Penny Mitchell said...

I have to put in a plug for Certain Dri.

I use it in the summer...I put it on before bed, and then after showering in the morning I can easily get away with a quick swipe of Something Normal People Use and my pits are unable to laugh it into oblivion, as they are wont to do. I do this the most in the summer because A.) It's hot. Duh. B.) I can wear sleeveless things without crusting a solid quarter inch of white crap on my clothes. The quick swipe that doesn't gunk up my clothes is not nearly sufficient without the Certain Dri at night.

Do NOT use Certain Dri on freshly washed skin, and a TEENY bit goes a long way. If you layer it on, you, you won't even have to wait until morning to curse my name; you'll be doing it in about 10 minutes. A lot of people can get away with using it just a couple nights a week. It's easy to overdo it, but if you can experiment and find the right amount, this stuff is a GODSEND.

In order:

1. distilled water
2. vinegar
3. Normal person antiperspirant
4. Mitchum roll-on
5. Battery acid
6. nuclear waste
7. Certain Dri

You've been warned.

Anonymous said...

I'll never leave my hair in a ponytail again:) I sure wouldn't want my hair dipped in anything lol ...
Great post :)

City Girl Marj said...

Great tips! It's sad how many healthcare professionals I've seen who look like they just rolled out of bed. Patients who are having surgery are scared enough as it is. If we look like we take care of ourselves, then patients will be more likely to believe that we can take care of them!

Anonymous said...

Awesome tips. Have you got any specific ones for boy nurses? I'm about to start nursing school and I am collecting as much advice as I can.

Anonymous said...

Dear Nurse Jo,

Thank you thank you thank you! I don't want to go back to the old days of uniform checks in the morning, but we should be aware of how we present ourselves. I want to recommend the blog, beautytipsforministers; she gives advice to clergy and helps them avoid frump. I have commented often that we needed one for nurses!And it was you all this time! (I graduate in 54 days!)

RehabNurse said...


So happy with the well-fit scrubs comment.

I should not see crack all the time when you bend over, girly. We do not repair refrigerators here!

I'd really like to say that somedays...

Anonymous said...

wrinkled scrubs are the worst!

I use to own a pair of clogs until one of them became a projectile as I ran to prevent a crazy patient from self extubating///

Anonymous said...

oops. almost forgot: breath mints!! I have mints and I like to offer one to the person I either give or receive report. Nothing like receiving report from someone with dragon breath...

Just a little snarky said...

I use a deoderant that is a crystal something. It's hard to find in stores so Google it. It also lasts 24 hours, not 8. It actually kills the bacteria, it doesn't mask the stink.

The stick lasts 10-15 years and costs $10-15us. Not bad for $1 per year, eh?

Here is the one I have:

Just a little snarky said...

Forgot to add, to use the crystal, get it wet, then rub under arm.

Unknown said...

I love it too funny and true

Unknown said...

I love it too funny and true