“I have a deep love of sparkly.”
That sparkly love is driving a reinvention underway inside a former E Pike head shop and Internet cafe. Dr. Jen’s House of Beauty should open its doors in its new home for the first time by late June — just as you start to feel a little blue that another Pride has come and gone.
“It has a strange shape inside and it’s a bit of a challenge working with it,” Dr. Jennifer Dietrich tells CHS about the buildout underway to create her new shop and laboratory at 617 E Pike. “I wanted to make it as sparkly as the other place was. And I wanted a really big lab space!”
CHS first made note of the Pike/Pine mad scientist of cosmetology when we visited her pop-up location inside Retail Therapy earlier this year. Dietrich’s Atomic Cosmetics and Xerion Skin Science lines have become super sexy in the skin care and makeup industry. She has her friends to thank, she says.
“I started the whole thing about five or six years ago when I found out all the expensive shit I was buying was really, really toxic,” Dietrich said. Helping backstage with local burlesque and drag performers also opened Dietrich’s eyes.
“I would see these girls — and what they put on their faces — and I was horrified.”
It doesn’t take a huge leap to figure out what happens when a doctor of biochemistry (PHD, University of Kansas, 2004) works with burlesque performers and drag queens and sees a problem with mass-market makeup. “It’s just emulsion chemistry,” Dietrich said. “I knew how to formulate skin care.”
Dietrich launched her business selling her own formulations in the summer of 2012. “Tested on showgirls, never on animals,” goes the tagline.
The result has been a booming business and growing cachet in the industry just as Seattle personalities like Jinkx Monsoon are pushing drag deeper into the American mainstream. Shoppers from around the world can buy skincare products and lipstick in the same exotic shades worn by Pike/Pine queens from the Dr. Jen site. Most important for Dietrich has been her connection to the performers that helped her hone her craft. This week, the doctor is at the annual Burlesque Hall of Fame convention in Las Vegas to spread the word about her non-toxic creations.
Work on the new Dr. Jen’s House of Beauty continues in her absence. She says customers will be able to see as the products and makeups are formulated on site. The House of Beauty will also have a liquor license to make sure clients coming in for skin care can enjoy a glass of bubbly or two. There will be “more rhinestones,” Dietrich says. “An entire wall.”
“I’ve somehow acquired a large number of drag queens,” Dietrich jokes. “I can tell you what colors work for you but I can’t tell you how to put them on,” she said. “I can hand my clients off to the drag queens — It’s really symbiotic.”
You can learn more at xerionskinscience.com.