The Frustrated Esthetician

On SpaBizBoard this week, I asked the question “What is your biggest frustration about today’s esthetics?” I got some really good answers from the senior estheticians. They — like me — have been around long enough to have seen some dramatic changes which definitely have produced frustration among estheticians. Today I will discuss one in particular and I will probably write a separate blog about at least one other.

FRUSTRATION #1:  Consumers’ unrealistic expectations about anti-aging options.

Unfortunately, with the plethora of ads on TV, radio, magazines, billboards, etc., consumers are confused and more often than not (always?) misled regarding their best “anti-aging” options. They see ads for one-size-fits-all “magic” products with scientific-sounding ingredients being marketed by celebrities who in reality are airbrushed, nipped and tucked to perfection. Consumers don’t understand that without an in-person skin analysis by a trained and licensed skin care professional, in a treatment room, utilizing his or her esthetic training, tools and equipment, it is impossible to determine which skin care products and home care protocols are best for optimum skin health and to achieve the client’s preferred results. Not only that, odds are very high that that the consumer will actually accelerate aging by using products and equipment that are too aggressive or just plain wrong for the skin condition, or they will harm their skin by using products with low-quality ingredients (which, unless you are a trained pro, you won’t know what those ingredients are). 

One step up from drug store, grocery store and MLM (multi-level-marketing, aka home parties) products are the department store brands. Those products can be pricey and are sold over-the-counter by sales clerks. It’s true, once in a while you might find an esthetician selling products at the department store counter, but here again, there is no complete intake process and detailed skin analysis in a professional setting. Anyone who has ever had an actual facial by a really well-trained and licensed esthetician knows our intake process. It is very different than a salesperson looking at a person’s skin in a department store. Sales clerks are simply not qualified to pronounce specific ingredients as the best choice to achieve the preferred results.

At the other end of the anti-aging spectrum are the ads for various surgical procedures, lasers and injectibles. I am certainly not saying these are bad alternatives, but consumers often go from washing their face with bar soap directly to surgical remedies.

And therein lies the problem.

There is an entire buffet of skin care options offered by today’s licensed estheticians. Gone are the days of the “Fluff & Puff” “Steam & Cream” facials. But sadly consumers don’t really understand what Estheticians do and how much benefit we can offer. Estheticians don’t advertise on TV or in magazines. We don’t put signs on busses and billboards. We worked really hard to get our Esthetician license and it definitely wasn’t just so we could sell skin care products. There is a synergy between what Estheticians do for you in our treatment rooms and how we guide you in your home care regimens.

And I also believe that consumers don’t realize that our professional products are very high-quality and in most cases are more results-oriented and much less expensive than department store brands. We buy our professional products directly from the manufacturer. We take the company’s Product Knowledge training, which means we know the company, we know what ingredients are in the products, we know of any contraindications for our clients, we know how best to use the products in our treatment room and most importantly, we know how to evaluate the skin and recommend the right products for our clients.

Another thing consumers need to understand is that their skin will continually change throughout their life based upon all sorts of variables such as environment, stress, hormones, weather, nutrition, health, age, sun exposure, medications, etc. This is why estheticians encourage their clients to come in for regular facials so that if any adjustments need to be made, we can not only address any current issues during a facial, but we can also recommend adjustments to your home care protocols when it is time for replenishment of home care products.

Really great estheticians are always learning about new products, new tools, new equipment and services for various skin conditions that we may encounter. Things keep changing and it is our job to stay up with those changes. We regularly attend trade shows, we take classes, we read trade magazines. We do all of this so our clients don’t have to. We do it so they can rely on us. It’s our job to know your skin and to know our products really well. And we’re good at it.

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