By Jessica Kai Curry
Northwest Asian Weekly
Amidst the hustle and bustle of Uwajimaya Village is an oasis of elegance and glamour. Savvy Cosmetics, owned by Harumi Branch, has been operating in the Village for almost 13 years. Just a few steps past the front entrance of the Village, one is greeted by Harumi’s gracious staff, and instantly transported to a health and beauty environment where pampering is inevitable.
Harumi has been an esthetician since 2008, and is now a master esthetician. She is fully certified in all of the services she offers. In permanent makeup, she has the seal of approval from the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals, the largest permanent makeup organization in the world. Harumi jokingly says that she earned her certifications so that “I could use my skills and knowledge on myself.” Yet she clearly takes a heartfelt interest in her work and in her clients. She finds it fulfilling to track a client’s “before” and “after,” as he or she undergoes one of the treatments that Savvy Cosmetics offers, be it waxing or a facial, or something less conventional, such as corrective tattooing or microblading.
Harumi is precise and informative when she describes what a client can have done at Savvy Cosmetics. Her approach is also highly ethical. She warns, for instance, against those in the profession who don’t do their homework, taking two-day courses, then lifting up a needle to apply a pigment, as in the case of microblading, a procedure that has become fashionable lately. Harumi said microblading is closer to tattooing than to esthetics. She has extensive training for every treatment she offers. “I love learning and always try to keep up with the latest industry trends,” she says.
Harumi offers services to men and women, though she admits that men do not come in as often. “A lot of my clients bring in their husbands,” she laughs. In her store, she sells a wide array of men’s and women’s beauty products, including Shiseido and its “top shelf” line, Clé de Peau Beauté, which is sold in only two or three Seattle-area locations.
Carol, a client, says she came to Savvy Cosmetics only after intense research. “All of Harumi’s reviews were stellar,” says Carol. Another characteristic that Carol finds appealing is that Harumi “knows all the science behind [the procedures].” Carol admits that it was frightening at first to sign up for some of the treatments.
“You don’t know what to expect.” But after returning several times, Carol says that Harumi has “opened up possibilities” for her.
As a person grows older, cosmetic changes are not just superficial — they can stimulate profound improvements to one’s self-esteem. In addition to treating skin irregularities — skin tags, broken capillaries, acne, and the like — Harumi can assist with correcting previously done work, such as permanent eyebrows that didn’t come out right, or permanent eyeliner that is changing position with age. She has delved into the deeply personal arena of areola restorative tattooing.
A woman who has undergone a mastectomy due to breast cancer, and who has perhaps had reconstructive surgery afterwards, is often left with reconstructed breasts that do not have nipples or areolas. One can imagine the trauma of withstanding breast cancer, and then being left with what might feel like not just missing parts of one’s body, but missing parts of one’s self. Enter Harumi, who is skilled at applying 3D tattoos to the reconstructed breasts that present a perfect illusion of nipples and areolas. Harumi’s voice becomes hushed and reverent, as she describes a woman that, after the procedure, stood up, looked in the mirror, and said, “I’m normal.”
Savvy Cosmetics takes appointments and walk-ins. Harumi Branch also has a location in Renton, inside of Salon DVine, which primarily offers permanent makeup and is by appointment only.
Jessica Kai can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.