Women, and now more men, consult with aesthetics professionals for a variety of different reasons. Some come with specific skin issues like sun damage, rosacea or acne, while others come more for the relaxing and pampering aspect of aesthetic services. Others come to the spa and receive facial treatments and purchase professional products in an effort to not only maintain healthy skin, but also to prevent premature aging and future damage. This last group of clients presents a well of opportunities for long-term relationship building and client retention, as well as for new prevention-oriented services.
It is Easier to Be Ahead of Time than to try to Reverse It
One of the most challenging scenarios is when a client comes for a consultation that already has a skin condition like severe elastosis and wrinkling from sun and environmental damage, rosacea in its advanced (disfiguring) stages, or acne that has already begun to significantly scar. Of course we do the best we can to improve the appearance of the current state of their skin, but often times so much damage has been done that full resolution is only possible with a medical or surgical intervention.
Another challenge is when clients with these advanced skin conditions come with unrealistic expectations of what results they can expect from a treatment, whether it is an acne facial, chemical exfoliation or a laser treatment. Even invasive medical treatments cannot fully repair all conditions or types of damage. Once the client learns this after consulting with an aesthetician/medical skin care professional, or after receiving many treatments without the results he or she was expecting, it is very disheartening.
While we must still be prepared to work with these more advanced clients, we must also realize the importance of catching these conditions before they appear, or before they progress past the point of no return.
Shift Your Target to Include Different Demographics
Many aestheticians and spas primarily target baby boomers and people over age 50 due to several factors including:
- Quantity: It is predicted that by the end of 2012 "America's 50 and older population will reach 100 million"1… and since the oldest members of the baby boomer generation began turning 65 in 2010, the percentage will continue to rise.
- More Disposable Income: Many members of this generation have fewer financial obligations than younger generations. Their children are grown, and many of them own their homes free and clear.
- More Health Conscious: Baby boomers and adults over the age of 50 have more awareness than their parents' generation had of the importance of diet and lifestyle, and how these factors affect longevity. They do not want the quality of their later years limited by poor health and low levels of fitness like the generation of their parents. They want to preserve youth and live not just long, but also happier and healthier lives.
It is important to continue marketing to this demographic for the above reasons, but also to realize that knowledge has the potential to trickle down to younger generations. By providing these clients with tips and strategies on how they can maintain the skin they have and prevent future damage, there is a great chance they will share the information with their friends, as well as their adult or teenage children.
Holistic Preventative Measures
Many skin concerns like acne, rosacea and eczema are linked to internal digestive and cardiovascular issues, as well as systemic fungal infections like Candidiasis. Some simple dietary changes can help resolve these issues. While it is not the aesthetician's job to diagnose, treat or prescribe a specific diet plan for clients, they can certainly share information that is considered to be common knowledge. In the case of acne, for instance, it is often helpful to reduce or eliminate one's intake of sugar and most forms of dairy. It is also helpful to introduce some form of probiotic2 in the form of a supplement, or high quality fermented foods like Greek yogurt, kefir or cultured vegetables. This is information that is now taught in many aesthetic education programs.
It is also well within an aesthetician's scope of practice to recommend healthy lifestyle choices such as physical activity, adequate hydration, stress management, and giving up toxic behaviors such as smoking, drug use, and overuse of alcohol.
Stress, in particular, has been widely studied for how its negative effects on one's mental health and digestive health can cause acne breakouts.3 Stress is also a common trigger for eczema, rosacea and even psoriasis. While it is impossible to completely eliminate stress from one's life, it is possible to partially control its effects on the body. Many simple strategies, such as deep breathing and aromatherapy, can be incorporated into aesthetic treatments, and can also be easily done by the client at home.
The quality of one's diet also has a direct effect on the body's ability to heal from wounds, and can determine how likely or unlikely one is to scar.4 It is important to emphasize the value of nutrient-dense, whole foods rich in vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and antioxidants – especially to teenage and young adult clients (and their parents) who are at the perfect age to develop positive habits and prevent future damage.
In Order to Educate Clients, Aestheticians Must Also Become Educated
While aestheticians are trained on the latest anti-aging and preventative techniques and services in skin care, many do not receive education about other factors that contribute to how the skin ages such as lifestyle and nutrition. Fortunately, continuing education on these topics is easily accessible and widely available. Many professional skin care product manufacturers and distributors, as well as advanced aesthetics schools offer short-term courses and workshop trainings on holistic topics like nutrition, chinese face reading, reflexology and ayurveda. Non-aesthetics institutions like community colleges and holistic health coach training schools offer longer-term continuing education and certification programs on these same topics.
Becoming more educated in the areas of health, nutrition and lifestyle makes aestheticians and spas/salons stand out more among their competitors. It additionally helps clients get faster, more dramatic, and longer lasting results. The increased communication and consultation time also helps to build and nurture better and stronger relationships and levels of trust between the aesthetician and client, which enhances the client's overall experience. All of this is wonderful for client retention and new client referrals.
Of course we are in business to make money, but aestheticians are also in the position of helping people to improve their appearance and the health of their skin. This, in turn, can improve someone's self esteem, his or her level of confidence during interactions with others, and his or her overall quality of life. What a huge opportunity to positively impact someone's life!
Pirkl, James J. "The Demographics of Aging..." Home of Transgenerational Design Matters. James J. Pirkl, 2009. Web. 14 Aug. 2012. http://transgenerational.org/aging/demographics.htm>.
"How to Get Radiant Skin: From Acne to Eczema, Kiss Inflammatory Skin Disorders Goodbye!" Body Ecology. Body Ecology, Inc., 1 Aug. 2012. Web. 14 Aug. 2012. <http://bodyecology.com/articles/how-to-get-radiant-skin-from-acne-to-eczema-kiss-inflammatory-skin-disorders-goodbye>.
Bowe, Whitney P., and Alan C. Logan. "Acne Vulgaris, Probiotics and the Gut-brain-skin Axis - Back to the Future?" Gut Pathogens. BioMed Central, LTD, Part of Springer Science+Business Media, 31 Jan. 2011. Web. 14 Aug. 2012. <http://www.gutpathogens.com/content/3/1/1>.
Pontillo, Rachael C. "Is Your Diet Affecting the Way Your Body Heals?" Holistically Haute: Is Your Diet Affecting the Way Your Body Heals? Holistically Haute, LLC, 8 June 2011. Web. 14 Aug. 2012. <http://www.holisticallyhaute.com/2011/06/is-your-diet-affecting-way-your-body.html>