The great inventor Thomas Edison once said, "Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration." This equation is also applicable to success in the skin care industry. Perspiration – in the form of the constant pursuit of knowledge – fuels success and ultimately inspiration.
In this profession we have to stay on top of new, cutting-edge ingredients, product formulations and protocols, as well as marketing tactics, and knowledge of how each of these tools can be used most effectively.
How do skin care professionals obtain the knowledge, and perhaps more importantly, how might it be applied, and what are the right tools?
The Pursuit of Knowledge
After I graduated aesthetic school years ago, I made it my mission to continually seek out opportunities to learn, hone my skills and reinvent my craft, which in turn has kept me inspired. As aestheticians, I believe many of us also take on the role of inventor – constantly creating new ways to solve skin challenges. Knowledge, of course, is essential to this process. Whether through self-education, experimentation or training courses, constant learning will keep you at the forefront of this industry.
Today the options for gaining knowledge are nearly endless. There are tradeshows, industry publications, advanced aesthetic schools, educational symposiums and workshops, and content produced by individual skin care companies. Now it is also just a mouse click away with the onset of webinars, streaming video and other forms of digital content.
Several years ago we started producing webinars, educational blog posts, video demonstrations, and created digital formats of all of our educational content. This trend has enabled professionals from around the globe to obtain knowledge on their own time and typically with little to no expense.
The aesthetic industry is strong in educational support and many dedicated professionals are leading the way for greater understanding and expansion in this field. The level of education has also changed quite drastically. This is in part due to consumer knowledge and the increased demand for producing real results.
The quality of aesthetic schools has also improved, offering advanced and highly targeted training in a number of modalities and fields within the industry. Everyone has a preferred method for receiving information, and now with so many formats of education available, obtaining knowledge in a way that suits your individual needs is easier than ever.
Using Knowledge to Fuel Success
Knowledge not only keeps you on the cutting edge, but you may also find that through research, reading and attending advanced learning courses you will begin to make connections and generate ideas you never thought possible. Knowledge spawns ideas, which spawns innovation – and innovation in skin care will make you a greater asset to your clients.
Consumers are savvy and their awareness of skin care innovations is at an all-time high. Professionals need to keep abreast of what is happening within their industry; otherwise we run the risk of being lost in the game of skin.
In the treatment room, you can utilize advanced education to sharpen a skill in a specific area such as massage, aromatherapy, skin peels, laser and other technologies. Specializing in a particular area and being able to deliver an unforgettable experience will set you apart and keep clients coming back.
For example, learning advanced techniques in the art of massage, such as lymphatic drainage, is valuable for working with clients with acne, fluid retention, or for those who have undergone surgical procedures. By mastering aromatherapy, you will help clients reduce stress, calm the mind, or reenergize, while simultaneously enhancing the experience.
Of course, there are also a few fundamental skills – like extractions and skin analyses – necessary for the treatment room, but these may also be further developed and refined so that you become an expert, or the go-to-professional in those areas.
Every professional must perfect the art of extractions to effectively perform it with ease and little to no trauma to the skin, while still supporting acne and impure skin issues like comedones, pustules and milia. The art of skin analyses is the foundation of success. Learning how to read skin will help you effectively diagnose issues, circumvent complications, create visible results, and ultimately develop a strong consult ability, which leads to life long clients.
Learning advanced modalities, such as the art of skin peels or working with new technologies will definitely take your practice to the next level and set you apart.
Piecing it All Together
Knowledge is power when it comes to boosting retail sales. Understanding ingredients, skin issues and the needs of buyers is essential for building a strong retail business. The retail component is not an afterthought or an add-on. This is the most important part of the skin rejuvenation process as well as maintenance – good daily skin care.
Not only is it essential to have in-depth product knowledge, knowing a few fundamentals in sales, marketing and even the aesthetics of display design, will significantly impact retail sales. There are a number of resources available when it comes to marketing tips and tools. Peruse marketing blogs, industry publications and see if the skin care company you use has any marketing materials or tools.
At the end of the day, however, if clients do not see results from the home care products you recommend they will not become repeat buyers. This is where product knowledge and being adept in skin analyses becomes extremely important.
In the skin care industry, ingredient breakthroughs and technologies coming down the pike are constant. It is vital to not only be knowledgeable of what is available, but also how these tools all work together.
While technique is a major component of effecting change in the skin, the tools are equally essential. Think of the tools as an extension of your hands, where even the most effective formula in the world can be rendered useless – and in some cases dangerous – if they are not combined or administered properly.
By mixing and matching product lines you often forfeit control, congruency, consistency, and the ability to troubleshoot. It is also difficult to truly become savvy in any one particular line when several are used.
Since skin is a reactive mechanism, there are times it will not respond to treatments or daily skin care in the most ideal way. When this occurs, it is difficult to troubleshoot those reactions or responses when skin care lines are mixed. In some cases, certain lines simply do not match up well with others depending on the direction of the treatment. You have to use extreme caution when using active product lines that induce a change in the skin, especially when introducing botanicals and other cosmetic applications to the mix.
Mixing regimens from one line to another may also be confusing to the client – sending the signal that "any" line will do for their skin. Many skin care formula creators develop their line with a general ingredient theme or way in which the products work together synergistically. Similarly, they may develop their protocols to work ideally with their line. When lines are mixed it is difficult to achieve optimum results.
Honing your knowledge on one or two skin care lines that meet the needs of your clients will ultimately help bolster retail sales and develop your expertise.
Enhancing the Tools
In today's market, consumers are demanding more, and rightly so. Skin care professionals must be prepared to meet these demands as well as differentiate themselves from the competition. Knowledge is the gateway to delivering results more effectively and efficiently.
Long gone are the days when facial treatment simply included a cleanse, mask and moisturizer that were more about relaxation than actively making a difference to the skin's appearance and structure. Today, we have at our disposal a bevy of technologies and intelligent ingredients. Knowing how to work with these advancements, and even enhance them, is a must.
You may already be adept in working with some of the time-tested ingredients like retinol, AHAs, enzymes, and vitamins; but there are ways to boost their effects by coupling them with new technologies
For instance, we have known the benefits of retinol for some time and know those benefits are boosted when rendered in a peel application. What is new however is the addition of a tri-peptide, which bolsters the work of the retinol to stimulate the desquamation process, and tone and firm on a deeper level.
We also know how important AHAs are to skin rejuvenation, but the strength is not always compatible with some skin types. Through research we discovered flower acids, aptly called second-generation AHAs because they are much gentler, but still produce a very good peel.
Similarly, new discoveries have been made in the art and science of treatments and using advanced skin care modalities and technologies are no longer just for medical spas and clinical offices. Advanced treatments like skin peels, body peels, microdermabrasion, intense pulse light (IPL), laser, LED light therapy, and radio frequency are now mainstays at most day spas and medical spas, and even among independent practitioners. Now clients are interested in how you will take those treatments to the next level.
A strong knowledge in ingredients and how they work will support you in determining how they may be combined with each other and/or advanced treatments. Why does this matter? Often times it allows us to affect changes in the skin more rapidly, enhance the results, speed recovery time, and help mitigate any negative side effects of certain procedures like hyperpigmentation or excess inflammation.
Of course, client's skin and desired results will also play a role in which skin care ingredients and advanced technologies may be paired, but typically combining modalities with ingredients or products that purport similar results will usually enhance the outcome. This, once again, requires in depth product and ingredient knowledge, and understanding of how to work with active ingredients, and the ability to effectively analyze the skin.
There are near endless ways in which to customize advanced treatments, and the only way to learn which will be most effective for your client is to seek out seminars, webinars, self-experimentation, and examining protocols developed by individual skin care companies. At a glance, a few ingredient and advanced treatment combinations that work well together include:
Microdermabrasion – may be enhanced using ingredients that aim to lighten and gently retexturize and regenerate the skin like kojic acid, L-arbutin, L-arginine and L-mandelic acid. It will also be intensified with combinations of L-lactic and salicylic acid, papain enzyme, and bromelain enzyme, which will further exfoliate keratin and support
Epidermal Leveling (Dermaplaning) – using retinols, glycolic acid and salicylic acid will help accel-
Laser (IPL, Fraxel or Pixel) – enzymes or light peels may be applied as pre-treatments to enhance the skin lightening and resurfacing effects. Skin also recovers much quicker.
LED and Microcurrent – these work wonders with treatments and ingredients that aim to nourish, recharge and hydrate the skin. Certain acid formulas also work well with LED to boost the firming and toning benefits.
Skin Peels – enzymes, AHAs and retinols typically are good pre-treatments and enhance the results. Soothing anti-inflammatories and wound-repair topicals such as epidermal growth factors, amino acids and peptides in the post-treatment process, speed the recovery time.
Whether through self-education, research, professional training, or webinars, I hope this has inspired you to take hold of your future and make an effort to always learn. When you stop learning you become stagnant, and if you ever feel your passion begin to wane, education is one of the best ways to revive it.
By not making the commitment to seek out continued education, you run the risk of being left behind. Besides, clients love to know their aesthetician regularly attends conferences and seminars to bring back new information, products and ideas.
"If we did all of things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves."