Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

For My Fellow Estheticians: Our Professional Behavior/Code November 17, 2010

Awhile back I wrote a post about why you should go to an esthetician and how to find a good esthetician.  Prompted by two things I’ve read lately I’ve been thinking about the same subject just with a bit of spin on it.  I started thinking about an esthetician’s behavior while doing his or her job and if there are tried and true standards for how we estheticians should behave on the job.  Though I envisioned this post as a starting off point of discussion for my fellow estheticians, I know that a few other estheticians read this blog, I would love to hear from anyone who has an opinion of this topic.

The first thing that I read that prompted me to think about this topic was a little blurb in the December issue of Lucky magazine.  Now while anyone who regularly reads this blog knows I love Lucky for its fashion advice and loathe its skincare advice I did find the following tip interesting (it was #7 in the article 10 Essential Beauty Tips):

The hairstylist/aesthetician/manicurist who spends her time trashing the job the last person did on you is the hairstylist/aesthetician/manicurist you to replace, stat.  Truly talented people focus on bringing out the best in you, not telling you what’s wrong with you.

Now this is actually beauty advice I can get behind and agree with.  In my opinion, one of the important parts of being a good esthetician is to focus on both the positive and on the client in front of you.  So part of behaving in a professional manner as esthetician is to remain upbeat and to give clients a truly personalized experience.  Even if you think the last esthetician your client saw gave them terrible or incorrect advice you have to be extremely diplomatic about how you present your opinion.

Shortly after reading the above point in Lucky I came across the following article in Les Nouvelles Esthétiques and Spa:  Establish Your Professional Status by Nondy Llewellyn.  In the article the author outlines her view on how an esthetician should behave in order to be successful and also what types of knowledge and steps an esthetician should have or do in order to be a success.  Included in the article is a list of the characteristics of excellent estheticians:

  • Has neat appearance with manicured nails and minimal jewelry
  • Adheres to OSHA, EPA, Universal Precautions, city and state guidelines
  • Wears gloves during services
  • Uses appropriate and professional language
  • Has a spa voice that is pleasant and considerate of quiet surroundings
  • Does not discuss inappropriate subject matter and is sincere
  • Constantly learning and seeking advanced education
  • Stays current with technology and trends
  • Has business cards

I think some of the points above are excellent in particular the ones about following safety and state guidelines, constantly learning, and keeping up-to-date with technology and trends.  I do believe that a professional, neat appearance is a must though I think there should be a lot of leeway about what that means exactly since different spa settings have different ideas of what is appropriate.  I truly believe that individuals should be allowed to express their personality through their clothes, jewelry, hairstyle, etc.  in when they work in a spa setting.

From personal experience I do sometimes find it tough not to veer into inappropriate topics of conversation with my clients.   Two topics that should always be off-limits in a conversation with clients – religion and politics. Believe me – I’ve learned the hard way.  Recently I even had a client tell me something about a recent historical event that I thought was so outrageous I couldn’t believe she thought what she was saying was true.  I quickly changed the topic of discussion and reminded myself again – be careful about what you talk about with clients.

I also struggle with maintaining my spa voice.  Once I start an animated conversation with a client my voice can rise without me even realizing that this is happening.  I have to constantly remind myself to keep my voice down.

I loved the fact that the author of the article mentioned that estheticians need to be sincere.  I think that is of the utmost importance along with being honest.  Don’t oversell anything to your clients – treatment results, product efficiency.  I like to always remember the following:  under sell, over deliver.  And try not to be pushy.  Some estheticians have a quota for the amount of products that they have to sell monthly which puts a lot of pressure of them.  Professional esthetics publications are filled with articles about how to improve your selling ability.  This doesn’t come naturally to a lot us, me included, and can cause an esthetician a lot anxiety.  The experts always tell estheticians – recommend don’t sell – but so many people can see you as pushy anyhow.  It is hard to find that balance, in my opinion.  But your clients will trust you more in the end if you are honest and sincere with them.  You might not sell a lot of extra products or treatments at the beginning, but once you win a client’s trust you will have an easier time selling.  Of course all of that is easier said than done – believe me, I struggle with the above issues a lot.

The one thing I would quibble with in the above list in the statement that estheticians have to always wear gloves.  Of course I always wear gloves while performing waxing services and while doing extractions, but otherwise during a facial I don’t wear gloves.  I constantly disinfect my hands with hand sanitizer throughout a facial.  I think the facial, particularly the massage part of the facial, is much more enjoyable for the client when you do not use gloves.

One more point – we all have bad days and can have a crisis that happens to us outside of work (or unfortunately sometimes at work).  But we can never let that influence how we treat our clients or even let our clients see that we are unhappy.  Estheticians have to check their bad feelings and bad days at the door.  If we want our clients to return to us remaining upbeat and positive is key.  So is being friendly to whomever walks through the door, even to our most annoying client.

I also think estheticians need a few more qualities in order to be successful -namely compassion and empathy.  For example you could have a client who comes in complaining of acne, but their skin really isn’t too bad.   So while you know just how much worse acne can really be, you still need to sympathetic and empathetic towards that client who thinks that their acne is the worse acne ever.  It doesn’t matter what we really think of the condition of their skin.  If they think it is terrible than we need to treat their skin thusly or at the very least never verbally contradict them.  It can be a real balancing act.

That’s are my two cents on the subject.  I would love to hear from my readers about this topic!


Also – some people might enjoy reading this New York Times article.  It relates, though remotely, to the topic above:  Beauty House Calls in the Wee Hours


4 Responses to “For My Fellow Estheticians: Our Professional Behavior/Code”

  1. Pam Says:

    This is an excellent post. I agree with every word you wrote, including maintaining a spa voice (guilty).

  2. Louise Says:

    I am also an esthetician, of two years, and have been reading your blog for the past year. It has been EXTREMELY informative for me, and I often tell my coworkers how wonderful your articles are and encourage them to read your blog. I agree with pretty much everything apart from wearing gloves, yes for waxing, but for facials?? That would feel odd, for me and for the client, I would presume. Where I work we do have a sales quota (a relatively high one) we are “highly encouraged” (I’ll put it that way, to be nice) to meet. I struggle with that also. I went to “skin school” as I am fascinated by skin care and lotions and potions and how they work and why they work (or not) and because I am a nurturing person by nature. Not becuase I am or ever wanted to be a slaes person. I do, however, reconcile that by only ever suggest a client purchases what I truly believe would be a good product for her/him (out of the many producst we sell I probably sell the same six or seven over and over, they are products I really like) and I also know that my clients need to buy skin care products somewhere, They may aswell purchase them from me. I do sometimes wish I didn’t pretty much HAVE to make a product suggestion to each and every client though. I appreciate that sometimes a person wants a facial for relaxation and pampering purposes and maybe hyper sensitive to what a “sales pitch” . .if I sense that, then (between you and me and everyone else reading) I don’t care what my employer wants, I shut up and pamper. Ultimately I want my clients to return, more than I want them to purchase products.

  3. Great post. I am currently enrolled in a medical esthetics and laser program and am interested in hearing more from you.

  4. Lynda Says:

    Any esthetician knows that you come in contact with blood/pus during many extractions. What is the point of wearing gloves during the extraction just to take them off and start touching open skin with your bare hands? Your not only putting yourself at risk but all the other clients you work on. Safety before comfort, always!! Keep gloves on for the entire facial!

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