In April, 2014 I wrote a post called The Realities of Being An Esthetician. A few days ago I received the following comment from a reader named Canales to the post:
I wish I read this before I took esthetics school! the more and more I have regrets. I got a job straight out of school. First of all hourly pay was so cheap way less than minimum wage literally a slap in the face. Then I was blindsighted by comission off service they told me I would get a certain amount on my interview but when I started noticing my paychecks had no comission off service they said it was because I had to start bringing in over $600 in service first for it to kick in, which was impossible just starting out with one or two clients sometimes 3 a week. So I really depended on tips. Plus they made me the “body girl” since the other older estheticians didn’t want to break their backs so I never in the 5 months being there got to do a facial on an actual client. Even after talking to my classmates neither of them still to this day have found jobs yet. I quit that spa because it costed me more money to travel and pay a babysitter than to get paid. On top of that what irks me most is putting a lot of hard back breaking effort to please your clients and then you get those clients that don’t tip when you are really depending on it!!!! What a cheap disgrace. It definitley was not worth it for me and now I feel regrets because I have this student esthetics loan to pay off that will take me a few years to pay off and who knows if I will even be doing this further…..
Canales’ comment really stuck with me. I actually couldn’t stop thinking about what she shared. I reread my original post and found that I have a few more thoughts and ideas to share about what it is really like to be an esthetician. I still stand by everything I wrote in the original post. I wish I could say that the negative things I wrote about being an esthetician are no more, but unfortunately nothing has changed in the esthetics world since I wrote my first post on the subject. If you haven’t read the original post I suggest reading it before reading this post since this new post is building on the information in the older post.
I’ll break this new post down into two sections:
- What to think about before you go to esthetics school: is it really for you?
- If you have finished esthetics school and are struggling to make a living I want to share some tips that might make things easier for you.
Things To Consider Before Signing Up For Esthetics School – Is It Right For You?
Before you take the plunge and go to esthetics school I want you to sit down and have a serious conversation with yourself. Why do you really want to be an esthetician? If you read the “About” section of my blog you’ll learn from my story that I obsessed with my own skin long before I decided to become an esthetician. I already had a very personal interest in skincare before deciding to learn to become an esthetician. Once I started esthetics school I realized that I was a huge exception among the students in the school with me in that I actually was super interested in skincare. So many of the women I studied with became estheticians for, well, no real reason. “It sounded interesting”, “I like to pop blackheads”, “school isn’t that expensive”. I have a friend who decided to go to esthetics school because massage school was double the price. She’s a great esthetician, but her path to esthetics wasn’t from a place of passion about skincare. Of course, some of you may be thinking: if something interests me, even a little bit, how will I know if I really like it unless I try it or study it? Very good point. It is true that unless you learn more about a topic/career you’ll never know if it is the right fit for you or not.
If you are wondering if esthetics school is for you or what exactly an esthetician does I suggest doing the following before signing up:
- Ask to spend a day or half a day at the esthetics you are thinking of attending. If they don’t agree go find another school. A good school will let you sit in on classes. Ask the teachers and students any questions you may have about the studies.
- Shadow an esthetician for a day. If you don’t know one ask the school you are thinking of attending for the names and phone numbers of graduates. Google or look up on Facebook local spas, call and ask to come visit. While there are privacy issues when it comes to spa guests perhaps the spa will let you talk to one of their estheticians if they won’t let you shadow her. Invite her out for coffee and ask her to tell you about her esthetics career.
- Ask yourself – can you afford to work part-time and on weekends, at night? If you have young children do you have a support system that allows you to work non-standard hours or will you need to pay for childcare? If you’ll need a pay extra for childcare in order to work as an esthetician ask yourself if it is feasible to do so right now. Perhaps you can go to esthetics school when your children are older and can be left at home alone for longer periods of time. You are going to enjoy your job a lot less if you are constantly worried about who is taking care of your kids and if they are ok.
- Ask yourself – what interests me about skincare? Why do I want to help people care for their skin? Am I willing to do waxing all day long? Are there services that I have no interest in doing that estheticians have to offer? Are you really interested in skincare or does make-up or nails interest you more? Perhaps going to nails school or taking a make-up course are better choices for you.
- Ask yourself – how many job opportunities are there in the area I live in? Can I legally work from home as an esthetician? How far am I willing to commute in order to reach a job?
- Ask yourself – do you need to take out a loan to pay for school? How much will you need to make after school in order to live comfortably and pay back your loan without getting into debt?
Perhaps after thinking about what I’ve written above you’ll realize that being an esthetician isn’t right for you. Or maybe you’ve read everything I wrote and you still know that being an esthetician is the right choice for you. Keep reading to hear some ideas about how to make working as ethetician successful for you.
You’re An Esthetician – Now What?
Firstly, if you are looking for a little career inspiration I suggest reading Lydia Sarfati’s book Success at Your Fingertips. Pay attention to the section in which she writes about how she started her career and how hard she worked. Her book is a great resource, and she’s an inspiration to all estheticians in my opinion.
If you don’t want to give up on your dream of being an esthetician but are finding it hard to find work or have a job that just isn’t doing it for you I would suggest the following:
- What can you do that no one else at your job can do? How can you make yourself indispensable? Can you afford to learn another skill such as nails? Dermaplaning? Eyelash extensions?
- Ask your clients, your friends, your family about which services they would like to try but don’t know where to go to do so. Look around YouTube and on popular websites to see which skincare trends they are talking about. Is there something new in the skincare world that you can learn that no one else around you is doing yet?
- If you can’t afford to pay for more classes I suggest going on YouTube and teaching yourself some new massage techniques via the videos there. Perhaps something like a meridian massage or gua sha? Look for new handheld skincare devices that aren’t expensive but feel great on the skin.
- Think of ways to set yourself apart from every other esthetician at your job. Find a way to stand out at work – come in early, stay late (if you can). Offer to pitch in with something that isn’t in your job description so that your boss sees how much you want to work and succeed. Be a team player. Be positive. People are attracted to positive people.
- Can you rent a room in a hair salon or nail studio? Many people will welcome the idea that they can take care of all their beauty needs in one spot. Just be aware that if you rent a room you’ll have many more expenses than working in a spa. You’ll also be in charge of marketing yourself which is always a challenge.
- Find another part-time job. Finding another part-time job doesn’t mean you are giving up on your dream of being an esthetician. It means you are being realistic. I’m a big fan of Marie Forleo, and she does a great job in this video of explaining why it’s ok to get a day job while still pursuing your dream career. I suggest listening to Marie Forleo, Gabby Bernstein, and Elizabeth Gilbert for inspiration and support about pursuing your dreams. Let me be clear – none of these women are going to talk about esthetics. Instead they can help you sort through emotions, conflicts, and business dilemmas. Maybe you could get another part-time job at a store that sells skincare products? That way you can sell from a real place of knowledge and even perhaps promote the services you can offer customers at your other job.
- Can you find another source of income that involves skincare but isn’t doing facials? Perhaps you really like to write – is there a local paper that will pay you to write about skincare issues? If you are good at sales – can you sell a skincare line from home?
- Are you social media savvy? We have all heard about those people who become overnight sensations because of one photo of Instagram or who make a living from Snapchat. Ok – those people are really an exception, but if you are tuned in to what is going on on social media or technology in general is there a way to make some money off your skincare knowledge? Look to other industries and how they have been successful in social media. Can any of that be applied to the esthetics field if you tweek it a bit?
- Can you legally work from home? Could you set-up a side business at home doing brows and waxing for example. I am mentioning brows and waxing on purpose because it costs little to buy the supplies for these services, but the payoff can be big if you can build a loyal clientele. Start with friends and family and offer them a discount. I used to wax my sister’s brows while she lay on my sofa. Just saying.
- Ask for advice from estheticians who have been in the business longer than you. One of my esthetics “mentors” was about 8 years younger than me, but she had been in the business much longer than me and could offer tips and support. But remember – no matter how much help you may get from others in the end your success falls to you. What are you willing to do in order to make it as an esthetician?
Finally, ask yourself what is your bottom line. How long can you give your new esthetics career a go before you have to throw in the towel because you just can’t afford to live like this anymore? Set a timetable for yourself and check in once a month to see how things are going.
Above all – though I want you to realistic about what it means to work as an esthetician I also want you to be kind to yourself. If you have that esthetics job but can’t make ends meet and need to do something else – don’t beat yourself up about it. Keep yourself in the loop about what is new in the skincare world even if you are no longer working as an esthetician. You never know when that next opportunity will find you.
Please comment below with your experiences as an esthetician. I love to hear back from my readers.
- Ask the Esthy: Opening a Home Business – Skin Inc.
- My post: For My Fellow Estheticians and For Aspiring Estheticians: Resources and Inspiration.
- This article is about the realities of being a yoga teacher but I think it can offer some good insight to estheticians as well: Yoga Teachers are Living the Dream, But Are They Making A Living?
- If you do decide to strike out on your own (either by renting a room in a hair salon for example or opening up a home based business) you’ll need to market yourself. There are a great many online resources that can give you tips about marketing yourself like this article: Marketing for Individual Practitioners.