Ever considered becoming an esthetician? For many, working all day in a spa or salon with relaxing music playing and pleasantly scented candles burning in the background sounds like a dream.
But the reality of being an esthetician is quite different from what most people think!
It can be an extremely rewarding job and is a passion for a lot of people, but it’s by no means without its challenges. There are certain rules that estheticians must follow if they want to stay employed, and even a couple of practices that might be acceptable in other industries but are totally forbidden for them.
Before we delve into all that, let’s look at the basics: an esthetician is a professional who specializes in the beautification of the skin. They perform a variety of cosmetic skin treatments, including facials, superficial chemical peels, other body treatments, and waxing.
While not medical doctors, they also might perform medical laser treatments to permanently remove hair or rejuvenate the skin. Estheticians mainly find work in day spas, resort spas, and salons, but there are also other professional moves they can make, such as starting their own line of skincare products.
Keep reading to find out what 14 rules estheticians must follow, and 6 things they are not allowed to do.
20 They Have To Start At The Bottom Of The Food Chain
Being an esthetician is similar to many other jobs in that you have to start from the bottom and work your way up. Trip Savvy points out that when you start working at a spa, your wants and needs are low on the priority list compared to other employees.
The estheticians who have been there longer will get preference over which shifts they’d like, and they’ll pick the busier days, which means you’ll get stuck with fewer clients. At best, that means a more boring day and at worst, if your pay happens to be commission-based, it means less money.
19 Being On Call Is A Reality
In many cases, estheticians have to say goodbye to the traditional 9-5 lifestyle. Most of the work comes in when clients aren’t working themselves, which is usually at night or on the weekends. But in the beginning, new estheticians aren’t guaranteed those busy shifts. It’s also not guaranteed that you will have set hours.
According to Trip Savvy, some spas put their estheticians on call, and they have to be available in case a client comes in and requests their services. But they don’t get compensated just for being on call, which is kind of the worst of both worlds.
18 They Must Set Themselves Apart From The Competition
Celebrity Esthetician and Skincare Expert Renée Rouleau describes the life of an esthetician in detail on her blog, listing the pros and cons of the job. She believes that it’s crucial that aspiring estheticians set themselves apart from the crowd because there is a lot of competition out there. If they don’t find a way to stand out, chances are they won’t be able to make much money.
“For example, at Renée Rouleau skin care spas, we offer facials, chemical peels, lifting treatments and acne treatments—only,” she writes (via Renée Rouleau). “Instead of offering everything to everyone, we want to offer a few types of services and be THE BEST at them.”
17 Sometimes They’re Required To Bring In Their Own Clientele
There are many routes of work for estheticians, but many people are most familiar with day spas and salons. According to Rouleau, working in a place like this can come with the added challenge of needing to bring in your own clientele, rather than relying on the client list that’s already at the spa or salon.
What makes this aspect of the job so challenging is that finding clients can seem impossible, especially for new estheticians. “The reason is because you won’t “connect” with every client and not every client comes in regularly,” explains Rouleau. “If you want immediate gratification in getting your schedule booked with requests, this is no easy task.”
16 They Must Be Prepared For Economic Downturns
Few people are still able to financially prosper when there’s an economic downturn, but estheticians are among those who are affected the most. The beauty and cosmetic industry is a luxury for many rather than a necessity. So when things are tight and spending decreases in society as a whole, beauty services are often the first to go.
Many estheticians find that their businesses are severely affected when the economy experiences downturns and slow periods. Of course, there will still be those clients who need their facials (and can afford them), but overall, it’s even harder to find work and clients during these periods.
15 They Might Have To Learn To Use A Range Of Machines
There are unlimited potential tasks that come with being an esthetician. While some might look at skincare professionals rubbing serums into people’s faces and think their job is easy, the reality is some who work in the industry have to learn how to use a range of machines to keep up with demand.
In addition to giving facials, waxing, and performing body treatments, an esthetician might have to work with IPL and laser machines to rejuvenate the skin or permanently remove hair. When you’re working with lasers and clients, especially in sensitive areas, there’s a whole new level of pressure to avoid making mistakes!
14 They Must Solve Skin Problems On Their Own
Rouleau reveals on her blog that it can be especially tough for estheticians who are just starting out because there’s not always a huge amount of support for them. Not every salon and day spa has an on-site trainer or experienced esthetician on hand, so if you run into problems at work, you often have to deal with them on your own.
“ … often times you’re left on our own to figure it out—with no support,” explains Rouleau. “Especially as a new esthetician, it can take you a good year to get truly comfortable working with the various skin types, and it is important to be able to ask questions as they arise."
13 There Is Pressure To Cross-Sell
An esthetician’s duties don’t stop at performing the skincare and beauty treatments. Especially if they’re working in a salon or office that belongs to somebody else, they often face a lot of pressure to cross-sell, whether they believe the client needs new products or not.
Ask An Aesthetician confesses that there was “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 [confronted] 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.”
12 They Stand For Entire Facials When Working With Pregnant Women
An esthetician’s job isn’t always easy, and at times, it can be incredibly physically demanding. While they’re mostly on their feet throughout the day, they do normally get relief during facials that run for an hour or longer, since they get to sit down during the process.
According to Ask and Esthetician, that’s not the case when the client is pregnant, however: “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.” Sounds pretty tiring!
11 Waxing Is A Must For Success
Although there is a range of areas in which an esthetician can focus, the one skill that is thought to be essential for success for most in the industry is waxing. It’s not easy to find success in this job, so most aspiring estheticians do whatever they can to get ahead, and learning how to wax is a key skill, whether they enjoy doing it or not.
On an Indeed forum, several practicing estheticians admitted that waxing is like the “backbone” of the industry, and that’s mainly because hair grows back, so this is the best specialty in which to find clients who will become regulars.
10 They Have To Sterilize And Clean All Equipment Prior To Use
This one is good news for those of us who seek out the services of estheticians! One of the most essential parts of any skin care professional’s job is sterilizing all equipment that is used, and cleaning it thoroughly, before and after it’s used on a client. Keeping up good hygiene practices is non-negotiable in this sort of industry. If clients were to contract any sort of infection or suffer any ailment related to lack of cleanliness, the esthetician and the business could be facing serious repercussions.
Other daily tasks in this job include conversing with clients and discussing their needs, as well as sending out appointment reminders and ordering supplies.
9 There’s A Lot Of Training Involved
If an esthetician is successful, there’s a good chance that they’ll end up training the next generation of estheticians one day. Trip Savvy points out that there is a lot of training involved for anyone aspiring to get their foot in this industry.
The specific requirements vary from state to state, but the majority demand that estheticians complete 600 to 1,000 hours of training. If you’re going to school full time, that can take around four to six months to complete, while part time would take between nine and 12 months. Once they complete their studies, aspiring estheticians must pass the state licensing exam.
8 They Must Be Realistic About The Pay
Seasoned estheticians advise those aspiring to find success in the industry to be realistic about the pay. While some esthetics schools claim that their graduates make around $50,000 a year, this seems to be the exception rather than the rule, and most students should expect to end up making a lot less than that.
In 2015, skin care specialists made a median wage of $14.47 an hour. The lowest-paid 10 percent made less than $8.80 an hour while the highest-paid made more than $29.49 an hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But the good news is the field is growing, and there should be an increase in job availability in the coming years.
7 They Must Understand That Most People Don’t Last As Estheticians
The sad but realistic fact to grasp for wannabe estheticians is that the majority of those who come into this business just don’t last. According to Rouleau, this happens because many estheticians straight out of school don’t know what kind of work they want to do and end up doing something that is not feasible over the long term, whether it’s because they don’t enjoy it or because it doesn’t make them enough money.
“This is why it is so important to figure out what kind of pay structure works best for you and what kind of environment you would like to work in,” advises Rouleau.
6 Forbidden: Letting Their Personal Lives Affect Their Work
When you’re an esthetician, you have to be on at all times, and there is no such thing as having a bad day. In other words, you can’t let your clients see that you might be in a bad mood. Even if you’re performing your treatments correctly, their experience is affected if you are grumpy or short with them.
So estheticians aren’t allowed to let their personal lives affect their performance at work. “No matter what is going on in your personal life,” says Rouleau, “you must always present yourself in a friendly and professional matter at all times—and this can be challenging.”
5 Forbidden: Chewing Gum
In some ways, being an esthetician is just like being back at school again. There are strict rules which must be followed, and one is that there is generally no gum allowed. This can end up looking unprofessional and again hindering the overall experience of the client.
Estheticians also have to worry about the condition of their breath, because their faces are literally inches away from their clients while they’re working on them. Many opt for breath mints instead of gum and avoid certain foods the day of and even the night before treatment. No tuna fish sandwiches or garlic allowed!
4 Forbidden: Wearing Perfume
Since estheticians are generally required to smell nice, you might think that wearing perfume is required. But according to Rouleau, it’s the opposite. Because everyone has different tastes, you could end up wearing a scent that smells amazing to you but is offensive to your client. It happens—sandalwood, for example, is heaven for some and sickening for others.
“No one wants to be distracted with a strong perfume smell, but certainly washing daily with a neutral-scented body gel is crucial for good hygiene,” she writes. “Also, there is nothing worse than having your esthetician smell like smoke so refraining from that is a must.”
3 Forbidden: Long, Colored Nails
Estheticians are thought of as beauty gurus in a way, but while hairdressers should always wear trendy hairstyles and makeup artists should always have their makeup on point, an esthetician might be forbidden from wearing long or colored nails, even if they’re in fashion. This is especially true if they work in an up-market spa.
“While I love all the dark and bright polishes that are in style these days, I avoid wearing them when I know I will be taking clients,” says Rouleau. “Because it is important to keep a professional appearance while wearing my white clinical lab coat, I choose to wear a neutral color nail polish (such as a pale pink) to maintain a professional image.”
2 Forbidden: Talking Clients’ Ears Off
While they have to be on all the time and can never let their bad moods affect them while they’re with clients, estheticians also have to worry about becoming too friendly. In many cases, they are asked to avoid talking too much to clients, even though they are supposed to be good listeners.
For the most part, people think of beauty treatments, such as facials, as an experience that is supposed to be relaxing. And if they feel like vegging out and not saying much during the session, having an esthetician who won’t stop talking can be very annoying. Therefore, keeping somewhat mum is a must!
1 Forbidden: Losing Track Of Time
When you’re seeing clients all day, it’s super important to stay on schedule. Even just being a few minutes late in the morning can set off a chain that makes you unacceptably late by the end of the day. Sometimes estheticians can run behind schedule, for example, if they have a client who has in-depth needs, but they try to avoid this at all costs.
Rouleau writes that when she has a client who comes in late, she shortens their session so she ends up finishing on time, or else she’ll be behind for the entire day and it’s not fair to the rest of her clients.
Sources: Renée Rouleau, Trip Savvy, Ask An Esthetician, Indeed