- What is my philosophy of skin care? Is it corrective, clinical, spa, holistic, alternative, or a combination of one or more?
- Do I plan on specializing? For example, becoming an acne specialist or focusing on aging skin?
- Do I plan on working for myself or do I want and need the security of a fixed schedule, benefits, built-in clients, and all that working for a corporate chain may offer?
- Do I want to use an established product line that has name brand recognition or am I willing to take a chance on a lesser-known brand to distinguish myself?
- Am I looking for an organic or herbal line – something that has more of an alternative flair to it?
- Am I a high technology professional, wanting a brand that will marry well with the latest skin care gadgets?
- Am I leaning towards private label or custom formulating my own line, separating myself from the competition?
- Finally, am I going to play it safe and use the skin care brand(s) I trained with in aesthetics school? Note: Going this route is not necessarily a bad thing. You know the line(s), you have plenty of hands-on experience, and, more often than not, you have built a relationship with one or more company representatives. This could lead to other career opportunities, as many brands often hire from their open accounts knowing they have firsthand knowledge and experience with their company.
With so many choices, you may be wondering what to do next. One piece of advice I can give is to first do your research! I would suggest attending tradeshows, as you will find many companies, be able to take manufacturer and distributor classes, talk to representatives, and even try some products. Many of the companies will sell to you at the shows and have package deals, trial kits, and samples. One word of caution: any company that tells you that they have products for every skin condition you will encounter in the treatment room, suggesting you need to use theirs exclusively, is probably a company you want to think twice about. Not everyone does everything well. You may find one company that has awesome products for acne but may be lacking in their spa department. If you want rockstar chemical peels, you may have to select another company. This is not to say that you have to have 10 different skin care lines. At the end of the day, with trial and error, you will more than likely end up carrying two to three product lines.
Ask around, talk to other aestheticians, and find out what has worked for them. Many are more than willing to share their knowledge. Join online groups to see what the buzz is about regarding the latest and greatest in ingredients and products. And, speaking of tradeshows, if you are unable to attend, you can always go to the show’s website to view their show program. In the index, you will find a list of all of the manufacturers and distributors, along with their contact information.
For those still in touch with your former aesthetics instructor(s), give them a call asking for recommendations. They are a wealth of knowledge and will give sound advice. Start investigating what other aestheticians are using and what they are having success with. It can be a daunting task choosing your signature product line, but doing your homework will payoff.
Always remember, it pays to try before you buy. If at all possible, use some of the products on yourself or someone whom you trust. Beware of large buy-ins, along with companies that may require that you carry the entire line. Keep in mind that you do want to be able to carry enough so that you can provide the best treatments possible. On that note, many companies have specific protocols and it is of the utmost importance that you do not deviate from them. Think on this, if it were your company, you would want aestheticians to commit to the brand, establishing a partnership. If you find that you have fallen in love with a line and there is a bigger commitment than you are comfortable with, sleep on it and, if after 24 hours you still feel the same way, my best advice is to do what you can to make it happen.
At the end of the day, we all want to partner with product companies that will support us in the treatment room, provide marketing materials and samples, and are on the cutting-edge of aesthetics by offering new products and treatment modalities. The bottom line is to choose a company you can grow with.
Denise Gaston is a proud CIDESCO diplomat, licensed aesthetician since 1989, certified clinical aesthetician, and is NCEA certified. Gaston has served as the northern California trainer for Repêchage Skincare and as an aesthetics instructor for Miss Marty’s Hair Academy and C.I.D.E.S.C.O. Institute. She is a former spa owner, having had a private practice for 10 years. Gaston is currently the vice president and director of aesthetics at Fremont Beauty College. She is a reviewer for Milady’s Standard Cosmetology Textbook 2008 Edition; Milady Standard Esthetics: Fundamentals, 11th Edition; and Milady Standard Esthetics: Advanced, 2nd Edition. Gaston also serves as a subject matter expert for the California State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology.