Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

The Realities of Being An Esthetician – Part II November 28, 2016

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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:

  1. What to think about before you go to esthetics school: is it really for you?
  2. 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.

Further Reading:

 

esthetician-affirmations

 

The Realities of Being an Esthetician April 2, 2014

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I’ve written different posts about being an esthetician before, but frankly I never posted anything downright negative about the realities of being an esthetician.  I don’t want this post to be negative; I want this post to be real. I got thinking about this post since a few weeks ago when a friend of mine asked me via Facebook why I became an esthetician and if I thought it would be a good profession for her to perhaps consider.  The last week I received the following blog update from celebrity esthetician Renee Rouleau about being an esthetician, and then today I read this.

The “about” section of my blog already explains why I became an esthetician so I won’t go over all of that again here.  Instead I want to focus on the realities of being an esthetician – both the good and the bad.  Let’s start with the not so great things about being an esthetician.  You finish esthetics school excited to start working. You can’t wait to help people feel great about themselves by improving their skin or teaching them how to properly apply make-up or make them feel good by removing unwanted body hair and then reality hits. It can be very hard to find a job after finishing esthetics school since you have no experience and everyone wants to hire someone with experience.  Additionally, finding the right job for you as an esthetician well that is something that sometimes feels impossible.  Simply put – this isn’t an easy profession to break into and it isn’t an easy profession to succeed in.  Estheticians have to be ready to work nights and weekends, to put up with jobs that only pay you per service and have no benefits, to feel pressure to sell products to clients even if you don’t think they need products or they can’t afford them because if you don’t sell what is considered enough product you get harassed by your manager, and to even, in some cases, have the cost of the products you use during treatments deducted from the pay you receive for the service you  just performed.  These are all standard employment practices for estheticians.  So instead you think it would be better to work for yourself – great, right? Where are your clients going to come from?  Are you good at marketing?  Do you have the budget to properly market yourself and to buy all the products and equipment you need to work independently?  And you are still working nights and weekends even when you are self-employed.  And did I mention that you won’t be getting rich being an esthetician?  This isn’t a very high paying profession for the most part (the celebrity esthetician you see quoted in magazines are few in number).   And are you ready for no-show clients?  Late clients?  Rude clients?  Let’s be frank – being an esthetician means being part of an industry that requires hard work, long hours, and paying your dues.  There really isn’t any overnight success to becoming a successful esthetician.  If you want to succeed in this profession you have to love it and put up with a lot in the process.

I had a number of teachers at esthetics school and each of them was very different from the other.  Despite their differences one of the things I appreciated about each of my teachers was their honesty about what it was really like to work as an esthetician since all my teachers worked and taught.  One teacher in particularly was a bit of a “Debbie Downer” when it came to the realities of working at a day spa, but in retrospect her honesty, though brutal at times, was helpful.  For instance I still haven’t forgotten how she told us how much she hated doing facials for pregnant women (when an esthetician has a pregnant client we always lift the head of the bed up so the client is pretty much sitting instead of lying and then you end up doing most of the facial while standing) because of how tiring it was for her stand during an entire facial.  Because of my teachers’ honesty I finished esthetics school knowing that working as an esthetician wasn’t going to be a bed of roses and believe me that is what I found out.  As a matter of fact the worst job I ever had, hands down, was one esthetician job that I had not so long after finishing esthetics school.  I’m about to turn 39 and I’ve been working since I was 16, and have held a lot of jobs in many work environments in two different countries, so believe me when I say that if that job was the worst one I’ve ever had it really was.

I mentioned Renee Rouleau’s blog post, My Tips For Having a Successful Career As An Esthetician on the mark, others irked me greatly.  Some of the good things from her post include the following:

What tips do you have for a new esthetician right out of school?

It is a fact that a large percentage of people who go through the effort and investment of attending and graduating from esthetics school will never end up practicing esthetics or will do so for a short time. I believe this is because they could not find a job or if they did, the job was not the right fit for them. My advice is to explore every option for employment, but be sure to only apply for a position that best suits your style and personality.

This is very true.  Also a lot of esthetics students give up on an esthetics career after school because full-time, well-paying employment as an esthetician is very hard to come by, and they simply cannot support themselves and/or their families working only as an esthetician.

Some of things I don’t entirely agree with from the post:

What jobs are out there for estheticians?

What I love about being an esthetician is that there are many options for places of employment. There are day spas, hair salons that have a skin treatment room (this is where I got my start), skin care spas (like the two I have in Dallas), hotel spas, cruise line spas, medical spas, department store spas associated with a skin care line and resort spas. If you prefer not to be a service provider, there are still many options. You can become a representative for a skin care line that is sold to department stores, medical offices, or spas so you would provide education and training classes to your various accounts, as well as work at trade shows. You can work in a retail environment selling a line at the department store counter (they LOVE hiring estheticians) or other beauty retailers. You can also become an independent contractor and be on-call to work at various spas or even be a freelance esthetician. It is also possible to become an educator and work as a teacher at your local esthetics school. Another option is to become an entrepreneur and develop your own skin care line.

All of the above are valid career paths for estheticians but take the time to think about those jobs.  They are not, by any stretch of the imagination, easy job options.  Being an independent contractor or a freelance esthetician usually means uncertain hours which means uncertain pay and of course no benefits or job security.  How many people can live like that?  If you have a family there is just no way you can support your children with a job like that.  Becoming a skincare line rep is good for someone who is great at sales and doesn’t want to spend their days in the same place, but once again this is a difficult job were you are usually met by a lot of rejection and your salary is mostly (or entirely) paid by commissions.  Lastly, how fabulous to be able to develop your own skincare line, right?  But realistically who has the money for that?

And now for the part of the post that really got me steamed:

I love that a career as an esthetician offers a very flexible schedule. Many places offer both part and full-time schedules so if you have another career or have children, this is ideal. I have employed many estheticians who were once full-time and now work part-time after having children.

Has Rouleau ever had a part-time job?  Does she realize how little a part-time esthetics job actually pays?  And even if you work part-time as an esthetician I can guarantee that you will be asked to work nights and weekends.  Now if you’re a parent – what do you do about childcare?  Finding and then paying for the right babysitter or daycare is one of the hardest things any parent faces.  And of course if you are working part-time forget about getting any benefits with your job.

And now for the great part of the post:

How can an esthetician build a clientele?

It truly takes a long, long time to really build up a good, repeat clientele. The reason is because you will not connect with every client, and not every client will connect with you. Being an esthetician is a relationship-based profession. My best tip for this is to mimic their personality. If they are not much of a talker, then don’t talk their ear off. You have to be a chameleon with every client.

Try paying close attention to body language. Asking specific questions on your client intake form that gives you insight into their expectations will go a long way. One of my favorite questions is “What are you goals for today’s visit?” I then provide various options they can check off on the form ranging from “stress relief” to “I want to learn how to care for my skin.” Depending on all that they select, I will make sure to create an experience that gives them exactly what they ask for. I will also discuss their goals during our consultation to make sure I have complete clarity. Having a client leave getting exactly what they wanted will help build the relationship and ensure they will come back to see you again.

In my opinion this advice is spot-on.  It isn’t always easy to meet clients needs and expectations.  Every esthetician eventually has the experience of thinking that they just bonded with a client and gave them a great facial only to hear back something negative from the client in the end.  It always helps to remember that even if you did give a client the greatest facial of her life she just might not be happy and a lot of time it has nothing at all to do with you.  Not everyone is going to like you.  Period.

Rouleau’s advice continues:

Another way to build a clientele is to give out free skin treatments. When you have an empty schedule, your goal is to fill it with clients. And waiting around for them to shell out money for a skin treatment that is often considered a luxury will leave you with an empty room and time on your hands. Make some really nice gift certificates and gift it to your friends, family, and anyone you come in contact with that you feel would be a good fit for you. Let them experience the services you provide at no charge because the more faces you can get your hands on, the more they can spread the word for you. Many of them may love the results and want to come back as a paying client. At the end of the appointment, give them a few of those free gift certificates and ask them to give it to their friends who they think would be a good client for you. Who would not love giving the gift of beautiful skin? Hands down, word of mouth with a referral will trump any other advertising or marketing opportunity. If you work this strategy long enough, and you give a treatment focused on managing expectations, you will no longer have an empty schedule. I promise.

I do agree that the best possible way to get clients is through word of mouth but giving away services isn’t always the answer to getting more clients, in my opinion.  In my experience once people receive a service for free they do not want to pay for it ever and they rarely refer their friends.  If you give away too many services you are simply losing a lot of money; esthetics products are expensive even with your esthetician discount.  I would recommend instead to give certain services at a discount and to sell products at a discounted rate to a select group of people who hopefully will spread the word about what a great esthetician you are.  Be careful who is in that group.  Unfortunately a lot of people will be more than happy to take advantage of your generosity.

Rouleau’s blog post continues with some more solid advice for the aspiring or struggling esthetician.  It is definitely worth reading even if, like me, you don’t agree with everything she has to say.

So I will readily admit that up until now this post hasn’t been entirely positive.  Of course there are lots of things that I love about being an esthetician- for instance, meeting new and interesting people, getting to know my clients on a personal level (I’ve met some amazing people through my work as an esthetician),  and feeling that I have had a positive impact on people’s lives through helping them care for their skin.  I always wanted to be part of a profession that would allow me to continue to learn and being an esthetician certainly is such a profession – there is always something new and interesting to learn as an esthetician in a variety of related fields from cosmetic science, to dermatology, and make-up innovations.  A lot of the ways I educate myself is through blogs and online magazines (on the right hand side of my blog you’ll find links to my favorite publications, blogs, etc.) and there are numerous courses that estheticians can take.  The problem is that these course usually cost money, a lot of money sometimes, but if you feel that you can eventually make that money back by providing a different or new service to your clients than investing in a course is important.

Another thing I like about being an esthetician are my fellow estheticians.  In my experience nasty estheticians are the exception not the rule.  Most estheticians are more than happy to share tips, ideas, and expertise with their fellow estheticians.  Estheticians truly help one another and to boot we are generally just a nice bunch of people.  There are also numerous groups on Linked In where estheticians help one another so even if you work solo you can be part of a network of estheticians.

I’ve been fortunate to have found a few mentors since becoming an esthetician.  The doctor I worked for in Chicago encouraged me and supported me immensely while I worked for her; she also took a leap of faith with me since I didn’t have much actual esthetics job experience when I applied to work for her.  She gave me a chance which was priceless.  Lately I’ve been encouraged by the advice I am receiving via email from estheticians in the oncology esthetics field in the US about how to market this important branch of esthetics in Israel.

If you are considering becoming an esthetician I encourage you to spend a day shadowing an esthetician to see what she really does during her work day.  In my opinion you really need to have a very strong passion for skincare and beauty in order to last in this profession.  Lastly, look before you leap.  As I already explained this isn’t an easy profession to break into and succeed in so be well aware of the challenges before you sign-up for esthetics school.

I wrote a part 2 to this post:  The Realities of Being An Esthetician: Part II

Resources and My Related Posts:

 

Reading Roundup March 17, 2014

It’s time for me to once again share a whole bunch of skincare and beauty related article that I thought you my readers would enjoy:

And now for a few articles for my fellow estheticians (and anyone else for that matter):

Happy Reading!

Image from http://www.theguardian.com

 

Check This Out: What I’ve Been Reading January 30, 2014

Lately I’ve read quite a number of interesting skincare related articles so I thought I would share them with my readers.

First up I wanted to talk about a website not an article, actually.  Caroline Hirons is a well-known esthetician in the UK.  I had actually looked at her website quite some time ago, but I recently rediscovered it through a tip from my loyal reader Rae (be sure to check out Rae’s blog Scatterbraintures!).  There is a lot of skincare information on this website.  I recommend reading the “cheat sheets”  (found on the right side of the home page) for solid, practical skincare advice.  If you do not live in England, I don’t, her product recommendations are not very relevant unfortunately.  While I do think that most of the skincare information that Hirons shares is great, there two things in particular that I disagree with her on.  The first is that Hirons keeps bashing products that contain mineral oil.  I wrote a long post in my blog about how mineral oil isn’t bad for the skin. If you haven’t already read my post (Why Does Mineral Oil Have Such A Bad Reputation?) please give it a look in order to get another perspective on this controversial skincare ingredient.  Secondly, Hirons seems to be a mission against foam cleansers (she claims they are needlessly drying and strip the skin).  I happen to disagree with this opinion as well.  I currently use a foam cleanser and do not find it drying at all.  So as with all skincare advice though I really do think that Hirons has mostly great skincare advice to share, be sure to keep an open mind and don’t think that everything she writes is true.

Now on to the articles I want to share:

If you’ve read any interesting skincare related articles lately please share links below!

Image from awesome-desktop.com

 

Looking Forward after Looking Back: 2013 Summary December 31, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — askanesthetician @ 7:30 am
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Peace & Love

Since today is the last day of 2013 it’s that time of the year:  the time for my annual end of the year blog summary!  Wordpress sent me their annual report with their end of the year statistics about my blog: which posts were most popular, how readers found my blog, which posts received the most comments, etc., etc.  Though I always enjoy looking at my official WordPress statistics, this year I decided I wanted to do my own year end summary, something a little more personal.  I thought I would share links to my favorite posts from this year.  (At the end of this post I will share a few statistics from the WordPress report)

2013 has been a significant year for me professionally.  I started working for myself from home; I am now my own boss.  (For more information about my business please visit my website www.hanahtetro.com.  The site is in both English and Hebrew)  Being my own boss is both exhilarating and scary at times, but I am excited by the challenge and look forward to building my skincare business and helping people love their skin.

I have to admit that I wrote fewer blog posts this year than I have in previous years.  Sometimes my skincare information muse seemed to leave me as the events of my life rushed around me this year.  I found it hard to find the time to write posts.   The posts I am listing below as my favorites from this past year maybe didn’t get the most views or comments, but I learned a lot by researching and writing the posts or just enjoyed sharing the information in the posts with my readers.

My favorite posts from this past year can be divided into a few categories:

Skin Conditions and Diseases:

Skincare From A Scientific Perspective (Or At Least I Tried to Present It as Such):

Obsessions or Skincare Issues and Products That I Keep Writing About:

New Features and Topics:

According to WordPress my most popular posts (those that got the most views) were all posts I wrote in previous years which WordPress says is good since that means my writing has staying power.  Thank you WordPress🙂.  Pinterest and Facebook, as in previous years, were the top referring sites to my blog, and my blog readers came from a total of 194 countries.

I want to thank all my readers from this past year and all those people who took time to write comments and ask me questions either here on my blog or via my Facebook page.  I love hearing from my readers all over the world!  Please keep your comments and questions coming.

I thought I would end this post with a little inspiration from Nelson Mandela.  Wishing everyone a very happy and healthy 2014!

Nelson Mandela

Quotes all found on Pinterest

 

For My Fellow Estheticians and For Aspiring Estheticians: Resources and Inspiration July 31, 2013

Spa day cake

No matter what industry you are in you know how important it is to keep improving and learning.  Everyone experiences burn out sometimes and needs inspiration in order to keep doing their best.  I’ve been thinking about these themes lately are they pertain to being an esthetician and thought I would share some articles, a book, and a website recommendation with my readers.  I know that quite a few estheticians read my blog (which makes me very happy) and aspiring estheticians as well.  Even if you aren’t an esthetician I hope that you’ll find this post helpful as well.

Book Recommendation

I just completed reading Lydia Sarfati’s book Success at Your Fingertips: How to Succeed in the Skin Care Business and am so happy that I got a chance to read this book!  Sarfati is the founder and president of the skincare line Repechage and an experienced esthetics professional.  She started her career as an esthetician and now owns Repechage and spas; she is also a spa industry consultant.  This book shares  invaluable experience, expertise, and advice for all estheticians – from those just beginning their career to those who have been treating skin for a long time.  Sarfati outlines how to start your own successful business, how to hire and manage employees (as a spa employee myself I thought this chapter was great since so many spas mismanage their employees), how to achieve retail goals, how to market yourself and your spa, and lastly how to balance your work life with your personal life.  This book did a great job at touching on all the important issues that estheticians have to deal with while being very readable and relatable.  If you are thinking of starting your own spa business this book is a must read, and even if you work for someone else at the moment you’ll find valuable tips in this book about how to succeed as an esthetician.  Even if you don’t work in the esthetics field I think her advice can be very helpful.  The chapter about managing employees can certainly help all bosses, no matter what profession they are in.  Highly recommended!

Though this book has nothing to do with skincare lately I’ve been reminded how important our words are and which words we choose to use (or not to use in a lot of cases).  Those thoughts made me reread an old favorite called Togue Fu! .  Knowing how to communicate with our clients (and our managers and our coworkers) correctly makes us much better estheticians.  As a matter of fact, without good communications skills it doesn’t matter how much skincare knowledge we have as estheticians we just won’t succeed.  So if you feel like you need some help in the communication department I definitely recommend reading this book.

Recommended Blog 

If you are thinking about becoming an esthetician or have just finished esthetics school it can be hard to find real-life information about your chosen field.  Looking for a job, especially when you still don’t have experience, can seem overwhelming at times.  Recently I discovered the blog My Life as an Esthetician which provides readers with very valuable information about being an esthetician such as resume advice and possible career paths   once you have your license.  It is well worth checking out.

Recommended Reading

Skin Inc. has published a number of interesting articles lately on how to maintain and manage your client base:

Recommended Resource

I’m a little late to the game with recommending the following website/forum, Skin Care Professionals, but I’m very glad I finally found it.  I follow a few esthetician groups on Linked In and find them very helpful as a way to connect and learn from my fellow estheticians and this website provides another way to connect with your fellow estheticians.  Once your membership with the site is approved you can post and respond to questions in the forum section. Many times as esthetician we work solo or only with a few other estheticians so having a way to “talk” with other estheticians can be invaluable and career enriching.  I always tell people that one of the reasons I love being an esthetician is that estheticians, for the most part, are friendly and helpful to one another, always willing to dispense tips and advice to one another.

I hope this post has both inspired and helped my fellow estheticians and all other readers as well.  Wishing everyone lots of career success and happiness!

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What Are Free Radicals? April 23, 2013

I’ve written about the importance of incorporating a cream or serum with antioxidants into your daily skincare routine in this blog before (see the list below of my related posts), but when I came across the following information about free radicals I thought I should address the subject of antioxidants from a different angle.  That angle, of course, would be to address the issue of free radicals more in-depth.

In their book Physiology of the Skin Drs. Draelos and Pugliese devote an entire chapter (chapter 8) to the subject of free radicals and the skin (those words also happen to be the title of the chapter).  I want to highlight some of the more accessible parts of the chapter (page 163):

A free radical is any atom or molecule that has one or more unpaired electrons and is capable of independent existence.  Oxygen, then, is a free radical.  In fact, oxygen is a diradical, which means it has two unpaired electrons.

Here, simplified, is the secret of the free radical – one or more unpaired electrons in a molecule or atom that can exist independently, and can react actively with other nearby molecules to alter or destroy them.  An example will make this concept more graphic and easier to remember.

Water contains hydrogen and oxygen.  It is a very simple molecule, and is written in chemical notation as either H2O or HOH.  The hydrogen atoms exactly balance the electronic charges in the oxygen atom to give us one molecule of water.  If only one molecule of hydrogen would react with the oxygen molecule, a free radical would exist, the deadly hydroxyl radical ·OH.  The little dot to the left of the “OH” formula means it is a free radical.  This ·OH is called the hydroxyl radical and is a very nasty free radical because it reacts immediately with any molecule adjacent to it to alter or destroy it.  It is a blessing that oxygen does not react with hydrogen in this manner to form hydroxyl radicals because life would be impossible if it did.

The chapter goes into great detail about oxygen – its chemistry, the molecule itself, the process and repercussions of oxidation, and oxidative stress.  On page 171 there is a graph that clearly shows how free radicals affect cells by damaging DNA, nerves, and all body tissues.  According to the book “it is the oxygen that you breathe which ultimately destroys your body”.

At the end of chapter eight in their book the doctors discuss a few specific ways free radicals specifically impact the skin and how to combat these subsequent skin problems.  The skin issues discussed are: skin inflammation, photo-damaged skin (sun damage), and aging skin.  For example when it comes to skin inflammation the doctors explain (page 177):

Any inflammatory response will involve free radical formation – no ifs, ands or buts.  If you see a red area that is tender and hot, it is inflamed and seething with free radical activity.  Superoxide radical, hydrogen peroxide, and hydroxyl radical will be there.  Iron will react with the superoxide and peroxide to form hydroxyl radicals, and produce great tissue destruction.

In her book Simple Skin Beauty Dr. Ellen Marmur explains, in easier to understand terms, how the sun damages our DNA and how the sun produces free radicals (page 138 in the hardcover copy):

Free radicals may sound like some kind of rock band, but they are toxic by-products in the body.  To make a very long and complex scientific phenomenon short, this is how they are produced through UV damage to cell’s DNA.

A photon (the sun’s laser beam) zaps through the cell membrane and cytoplasm, through the nuclear membrane (the safe, womb-like center of the cell), and hits the DNA.  Imagine DNA as being like two pieces of spaghetti laid parallel, with crosshatches all the way along like a ladder, then rolled up and twisted like an intricately knotted cuff link.  When a photon burns a hole into the DNA knot, it starts to unravel and the two sides of the ladder begin opening up.  The immune system immediately sends out enzymes to fix the problem.  (Enzymes are proteins that act as workers in the body, fixing damage by causing chemical reactions.)  One enzyme comes in and gobbles up the damaged portion; then it creates a new DNA rung to fix that ladder.  Another enzyme double-checks it, another seals it together, and another wraps it up into a nice, perfect knot again.  All these chemical reactions done to reconstruct damaged DNA give off toxic oxygen by-products, or free radicals.  Oxygen can be stable, with two electrons in its orbit, or, if it has only one electron (as free radicals do), it’s on fire – trying to steal an electron from another molecule in order to become stable.  An unstable oxygen molecule races around like a toddler with a pair of scissors or a Tasmanian devil, causing destruction to anything it its path until it runs out of energy.  Antioxidants quench and destroy that toxic free radical.

Suggestions for combating these free radical induced skin problems include the use of sunscreens with antioxidants in them, taking multiple vitamins daily, using Retin-A, getting regular exercise, and avoiding stress.  Of course all those tips not only will help your skin stay healthy but your body as well.  Just keep the following in mind when it comes to skincare products, antioxidants, and combating free radical damage:

Any client with aging skin should be approached with the fact that treatment is a lifelong reality.  There are no easy fixes and no miracle products.  It takes time to age, and time to restore the skin to normal.  Good and effective anti-aging products address the free radical problem by containing antioxidants at levels that prove they work.  Do not buy a product that has not been tested for antioxidant activity.  Beware of products that have antioxidants listed at the end of the ingredients; they are low in concentration and are useless.  …

In addition, do not smoke cigarettes; they produce an alarming amount of free oxygen radicals that damage both the lungs and the skin.  Avoid sun exposure as much as is practical.  Use sunscreens that provide both UVA and UVB photoprotection whether working indoors or outdoors.  Increase dietary intake of fruits and vegetables at each meal, remembering to eat them freshly picked and raw to optimize nutritional content.  Unripened and preserved fruits and vegetables do not have the antioxidant levels found in fresh vine ripened varieties.

(Physiology of the Skin, pages 178 – 179)

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I haven’t read this book yet, but it turns out that there is a whole book devoted to the subject of antioxidants and skin aptly titled Antioxidants and the Skin.

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