Many clients suffer from acne from the time they are teenagers – some into their mid-thirties and beyond. Aestheticians have the unique position to treat acne and spare many people from the emotional and physical pain that acne can inflict.
Often, the best approach accounts for lifestyle, whole body function, and expertly formulated products tailored to each individual client’s needs, rather than turning to antibiotics or prescription drugs to achieve clear skin, as these often are not long-term solutions and can have adverse long-term effects on physical health.
As treating acne can be a tricky trade, here are 10 of the most important things to know when adding an acne program to a spa business.
TREATING ACNE IS NOT SKIN DEEP
Aestheticians make a huge difference in their clients’ lives. Clear skin is a win-win for aestheticians and clients. Nothing compares to the feeling of clearing a person’s skin. Their physical and emotional transformation is palpable and is not only seen in their external improvement, but in their confidence, as well. Licensed aesthetician Brittany Hagemann of BLH Beauty in San Diego, California explains that “The most rewarding part of treating acne is seeing clients’ self-esteem change as their skin improves.” Her clients “completely change the way they walk, carry themselves, and how they see themselves.” Acne treatment fosters a shared sense of pride and accomplishment between aestheticians and clients, which is invaluable. Another acne specialist, Rebecca Meyers of Elements Skin Care and Acne Clinic in Anchorage, Alaska, tells her experience. “Having acne myself, I understand the disappointment and frustration acne can cause, particularly because most solutions do not work,” she says. “When clients are finally able to clear their skin after struggling for years or trying so many other things with little success, it is amazing and rewarding every single time.”
AN AESTHETICIAN IS A SKIN CARE AND LIFESTYLE COACH
When it comes to acne, there are multiple factors that clients will need to keep in consideration, like consistent treatments and homecare, diet, beauty products, and general lifestyle choices. That is a lot for anyone to take on (especially teenagers) and clients can become discouraged without support. But, with expert guidance and positive reinforcement, clients will be able to implement these changes successfully, as well as feel ownership over their lives and bodies more than they may have before.
FREQUENT VISITS BUILD TRUST
An acne program demands more frequent treatment appointments than an ordinary facial client. This will allow time to assess the client’s progress, which will accelerate the time it takes to clear the skin. Frequent visits enable the professional to see how well the client is responding to homecare, adjusting as needed and answering any questions or concerns the client may have as they become more accustomed to the program. Additionally, once a client’s skin is clear, they are a client for life.
GET READY TO BE A DETECTIVE
Every client is unique, which means not everyone’s skin treatment will be straight-forward. Meyers explains that she “did not realize how challenging treating acne would be, because all cases are different and, a lot of the time, [she has] to be a detective to get to the bottom of what’s causing someone’s breakouts.” Consider this kind of challenge as a positive aspect of the job – deciphering the mystery of various clients will become a secret weapon for a successful business.
NOTE TAKING DOES NOT STOP AFTER SCHOOL
Once a skin care professional begins an acne program with a client, they will need to become a diligent note-taker. Communication is key to a client understanding expectations with their progress, and that communication will build a sense of trust that the acne professional is taking all the necessary steps to getting them clear. All of that is reinforced by detailed note taking – keeping a record of a client’s progress will aid in quicker problem-solving. Clients see the skin care professional as the expert – be ready to fill those shoes.
GET CLIENTS READY FOR THEIR CLOSE-UP
A high-quality before and after picture can do wonders for a business. Taking pictures is a very important step for many reasons. First, it will keep a visual record of their progress. Some take pictures of their clients once a month. Clients inevitably forget what their skin looked like when they came in for their first appointment. After three months of treatments, they will probably be mostly clear, but they will be focused on the few remaining acne lesions. That is when the skin care professional will want to show them the before pictures, so they can actually see how much better their skin looks. Jessica Slorah of Illume Skin Care in Holladay, Utah said, “Many times, clients tell me they had forgotten how severe they were when they started, or they are surprised at how fast they have progressed.” Some clients get quite emotional when they see their before pictures. It is inspiring to see how life changing their results are. The second reason is that the skin care professional might want to use their pictures for marketing purposes. Before and after pictures are an easy and effective way to market acne treatments. Potential clients want to see first-hand that clear skin is possible – there is no denying real results. Remember to have the client sign a separate model release form to obtain their consent for using their pictures. Always be sure to have model release forms available in the chance that a client is willing to have their picture shared on social media, the spa’s website, or literature.
Keeping homecare products well stocked is crucial – the success of clients depends on it. As Meyers states, “Being out of one product here and one product there would affect my clients’ results.” It is not just about being well-stocked for business’ sake, but for the sake of the client’s skin. Acne clients need to know that their skin care professional completely has their back, and that means always having the products they need to reach their goal of clear skin.
SELFIES, SHELFIES, #SKINGOALS… OH MY!
Social media is a practically free tool for business growth and advertisement. This is where before and after photos will really work. As the saying goes, a picture speaks a thousand words. As stated before, sharing relatable before and after photos with a testimonial is an effective, easy way to market a business. Lori Ward of LW Skincare in Rexburg, Idaho has tapped into the curiosity of potential clientele by including photos and videos highlighting the day to day happenings of her business. “[People] want to know what goes on in the treatment room,” she says. “They have a curiosity and they are fascinated with the way we treat acne without Accutane. We showcase the behind the scenes and really take pride in the open culture we’ve created inside our clinic.” Social media is a virtual invitation for prospective clients to not just send a message of inquiry, but also to visit the spa.
ACNE PROGRAMS ARE LUCRATIVE
Antiaging is not the only cash cow in aesthetics. Antiaging is certainly a major concern in skin care, but there will always be a demand for acne treatment. The math is quite simple: acne conditions span from teenage years into older demographics, meaning that there is always going to be a substantial population of acne sufferers. Over 60 million Americans suffer from some form of acne breakout, so there is always someone out there seeking treatment. Additionally, once the acne client is clear, the skin care professional will have their trust to proceed with the treatment of other skin concerns. As they enter their next phase of skin care, the professional will know how to approach concerns (for example, antiaging, sun damage, and so forth) with acne-safe products. The market for acne specialists is far from saturated, and now is the time to make an entry. Not many skin care professionals, including medical professionals, know how to successfully treat acne. A skin care professional could very well be the only acne expert in their town.
REACH OUT TO THE SKIN CARE COMMUNITY
There are many groups on Facebook revolving around the treatment of acne, where the skin care professional can seek out advice or troubleshooting. There is no harm in seeking out a second opinion from a peer, and these forums are an excellent way to do so. Most importantly, the chances that a fellow aesthetician has faced a similar obstacle is quite high, and who better to consult than someone who has addressed a similar situation? More than anything, this provides a wonderful source of support from people who are going through the same motions and may be able to point a professional in the right direction when it comes to running a business, acne program protocol, and customer service. Learning how to treat acne is not an immense learning curve. With the right support, a professional can become successful in a relatively short time. And, just know, even if a consultation is not perfect at first, skin care professionals are likely giving a client way more information and support than a medical professional ever does.
Adding an acne program to a business can feel like quite an undertaking, but with the right tools and guidance, a professional can feel confident that they and their business will benefit. Ward explained that the proof is in the bookkeeping. “[Adding an acne program] has provided a steady financial flow of abundance because we are solving a problem,” she said. “It keeps our books full. Our revenue increased 40 times in less than three years by treating acne.” As Ward said, opening her business to include acne treatments made a positive impact on her business’ financial growth and the influx of clientele.
Before making big moves, make sure to do some independent research on what acne line would work best for the business. Look for a company that offers a fully comprehensive training that includes not just the general training, but helpful information on acne triggers, business tips and examples, professional support, and a full list of commonly used comedogenic ingredients. Unfortunately, the FDA does not closely regulate skin care brands. This means that any brand can tout noncomedogenic on their label without any truth behind it, even if the skin care line is meant to treat acne. Therefore, independent research is absolutely imperative, especially when it comes to acne. Another critical component in an acne line is increments of strengths for each active product. Without these, the skin care professional does not have the latitude of treating a client’s individual needs successfully.
Treating acne will be a rewarding addition to a business in the ways listed above. One of the most important aspects, however, is the relationship between aestheticians and clients. An acne program demands a type of consistency that may not be found in other skin care practices. The skin care professional has to hold their client accountable in a way that is encouraging yet firm. For the client, beginning an acne program is a commitment, but it is important for the aesthetician to understand the lifestyle changes can be difficult for some, especially when it comes to dietary management. With that said, this may become a practice in finding balance with each individual client. Meeting a client halfway will ensure that the professional is just as invested in clearing their skin as they are.
The skin care professional and the client are a team: teamwork really does make the dream work when the dream is clear skin. Acne is painful on many levels, so employ a sensitive, tactful approach to acne clients. Building trust with clients will allow them to be upfront and honest about their lifestyle habits and what they may be experiencing that could be a related factor with their acne. Working through these motions is all part of the treatment process, and an essential part of clearing clients’ skin. Taking the time to gather this type of information will allow a skin care professional to better assess how to proceed with treatment, and ultimately clear the client’s skin. Showing a person suffering with acne the way to clear skin holistically will immeasurably change their life.
Laura Cooksey is a licensed aesthetician, owner, and cofounder of Face Reality Skincare and Acne Clinic. She brings her 28 years of experience in working with acne clients, including medical doctors and celebrities, to educating skin care professionals about safe and effective ways to treat acne. She shares her knowledge through her online course, “Proven Strategies for Treating Acne,” as well as numerous articles and speaking engagements for the skin care industry. pros.facerealityskincare.com