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Welcome to part two of finding the esthetician who is going to keep you and your skin happy and healthy. In part 1 we tackled how to go from a blank slate of recommendations to narrowing our options until we’re ready to meet people in person. This brings us here: the consultation.
A successful consultation should be a two-way conversation with certain topics taking front and center:
This may seem like a “duh” request to ask of the person you’re trusting with your face, but you’d be surprised how many unlicensed (and therefore untrained) self-professing facialists there are. If they don’t have their license in a public place, it is 100% within your right to ask if you can see a copy. No license, no touchie.
Beyond being licensed, you should ask about their specialties or any advanced training they’ve received. To maintain a license in Ohio (which is what I can speak to as it’s where I am licensed) you only need 8 hours of additional education every 24 months to renew your license and most of those hours are sanitization & safety and state laws. It’s important to keep up to date on those topics but the best estheticians will continue seeking out education on their own to expand their training in products, protocols, techniques, modalities, and cutting edge sciences/technologies. Ask if they have a portfolio of their certifications –again if they aren’t already on display.
Their understanding of their scope of practice.
Scope of practice is a fancy way of saying what a person can or cannot do under the law with their license(s). As an example, I am within my scope to perform extractions with lancets but not perform microneedling as it punctures beyond the stratum corneum. Each state has its own rules and licenses do not carry over from state to state.
Now, you don’t have to read the law and quiz a potential esthetician to see if they pass. They should be knowledgeable and comfortable discussing what they can do to help you, and where they would refer you to someone who has the proper training in another field. Claiming to be an expert in skin treatments AND nutrition AND diseases AND cosmetic formulation AND safety regulations AND AND AND should be a massive red flag! Those are all unique areas of study that require extensive learning before someone has earned the title of Expert. Anyone can call themselves an expert, but that doesn’t make it true.
Their menu & products.
While they shouldn’t be claiming to know everything about creating products from raw ingredients to final formulation, they should be able to navigate the products they use in their treatment room seamlessly. They are doing chemistry on your skin and you want them to know which ingredients they’re using, at what strength, in what order, and how to respond if (heaven forbid) anything went wrong! You should be able to ask questions and be put at ease that you are in good hands with a custom experience tailored to you on the day and not a one-size-fits-some facial.
Also, do they sell retail? This can create a bias towards or against brands and is something to consider. Personally, unless a client’s product at home is harming them I will not pressure them to replace it to buy my alternative. I want them to get their money’s worth by using up what they have then contact me for my recommendation. If what I offer meets their needs, then great; it’s a win/win for us both. But I never overpromise to make a sale and happily refer other brands if it’s best for my client. A good way to gauge if you’re feeling pressured is to ask yourself if they use fear to elicit a response from you (or your wallet).
Is it clean? What’s the scent? Does the atmosphere feel relaxing? Do you feel welcomed and cared for? If you see a lack of attention to the treatment room, don’t expect them to have impeccible attention for your skin. Remember you are paying for this service and if you get bad vibes off the space, you have every right to leave.
Your health history.
A reputable professional will need to know about any of your medical concerns, prior treatments, or allergies as they all impact your safety. This information should be recorded on their confidential intake form and be consulted before every treatment to ensure there are no changes or updates. Going over any potential side effects to treatment should be done before you’re even on the table -not to scare you- but so you can make an informed decision. The whole body is connected and we cannot treat parts in isolation from others without impact.
Your home care.
Knowing the products you use and how you use them will greatly inform what your skin needs. But it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Knowing how much sleep you get, how much alcohol you consume, or how stressed you are will also help them paint a clearer picture of how they can come alongside you to support your skin –whether that’s with treatments, product recommendations, or tips on how the skin is affected by lifestyle.
Your concerns and goals.
Each person is different, and they’re going to have varying expectations for the investment they make in their skincare. Some people value convenience and don’t want to faff about with a multi-step routine while other people find it a crucial lengthy part of their day to refocus and unwind. A good esthetician will listen to your words and help you achieve your goals. I think a great esthetician will hear your concerns, draw from their repertoire of knowledge and experience to treat your skin, and have you leaving feeling lighter and brighter about everything from your skin to your soul. They should be honest about the timeline it may take to achieve your goals (Rome wasn’t built in a day and time is the most important skincare ingredient), but you should never feel like every session ends with the topic being the next thing you need to do to “fix” your appearance.
Case in point: If you’ve followed me for a while, you know acne has been one of my biggest concerns with my skin. After several rollercoaster years of trying to heal it, I finally had some success and told a professional how excited I was! Her response was a flat statement that now we could start chemical peels to deal with my scarring. At that moment I didn’t want a plan for the next “wrong” thing; I wanted someone to celebrate my milestone with me. You deserve to be celebrated too. Find someone with the intelligence and training to help you, combined with the compassion and encouragement to build you up along the way!
Trust your intuition and if you have a sense that something simply isn’t right then by all means find someone else. You’re not signing a blood contract with your esthetician but the hope is that it will bloom into a long-term relationship and you want things to start off on the right foot.
To wrap up this mini-series, my next post will be on the topic of maintaining a fabulous connection with your esthetician once you’ve found him or her. Think of it as a “now you’ve found them, how do you keep them” column. Until then, I hope you’re having a great day!