Probably pretty great!
Most estheticians (a.k.a. esty's) get into the field of esthetics because they have a strong interest in the beauty and skin health industries and desire to turn that interest into a great way to make a living! Esty's generally enjoy helping their clients look and feel great while also improving their own skin health and beauty (let's be honest).
As we know, we may need to evaluate our esty staff members periodically and do a little self-evaluation, as well. It can never hurt! So why don't we spell out what separates the good ones from the great ones, based on my expertise.
1. Great esty's are humble and willing to learn from their mistakes:
First and foremost, let's just all agree that no one likes a "know it all." The greatest esty's are open-minded, ask insightful questions, ask for help, take continuing education classes and seek out a mentor. It is impossible to know it all in this field because it is expanding every minute of the day! It's so exciting to know that as esty's we will never be bored and will always have something new to learn: so be in awe of that fact and try to enjoy every day on the job.
The other important piece: we make mistakes, it's normal. Even the gurus make blunders and it is okay! As my teacher Tracey Byer once said to me, "Liz, we are human first." Thank you for that gem, Tracey, because it is so true! So, all we can do in unfortunate situations where we mess up someone's eyebrows, go a little too deep with a peel or leave a mark during extractions is address it and apologize. It is okay to apologize if a service or product suggestion does not satisfy your client! The ideal thing to do is offer to fix the situation in the best way possible and turn the situation into a positive customer service experience - don't let your ego ruin this opportunity. Remember: it's not always how we handle ourselves in the easy times, it's how we handle ourselves in the difficult times that really count!
2. Great esty's look and act the part:
This is not about any type of stereotype, let's just impart some good tips because you must look the part to do great things in this field! Clients judge us and evaluate our skill level based on how we look…it's not always fair, but it's true. So, it is important for us to look like the type of esty that cares about skin health, beauty and sanitation. This includes having short, clean nails (never any acrylics or other fake nails), a clean uniform, no sun bathing, neat hair, good personal hygiene (check your breath, too) and tasteful make-up. Notice, I did not say you have to have a perfect body or perfect skin because beauty emanates from all sizes and complexions, however, a sunburned esty with bad, smoker's breath is not destined for greatness, so check yourself! Not to mention, the more you look the part of greatness the better you will feel, so pay attention to those details, please.
The other side of this coin: you must act the part of a great esty! Great esty's act graciously, friendly, and warmly with a smile. No client wants to be trapped in a small room with a "Negative Nancy" for an hour! So breathe, leave your worries at home, be prepared for your shift and greet your client by name with a warm smile! This is the service industry, after all, give a great service with a winning attitude! At the end of the day, it's all about the client's experience and how you make them feel, sometimes even more so than how you make them look…so leave a great impression.
3. Great esty's speak well and listen often:
How will a client know that you are a great esty? They will know because you will wow them with your awesome esty vocabulary! It is so important to display your advanced knowledge of the beauty and skin health fields by utilizing the terms that you learned in school. After all, this is what will set an esty apart from the non-esty's in the industry. Always include a thorough skin analysis noting skin type and conditions and don't forget to talk to your clients about their stress levels, water intake, home-care habits, allergies and possible contraindications to products or ingredients, just to name a few. Remember, we are treating the whole person - not just a pretty face, so let them know with your words, that you are a capable and trained professional.
On the other hand, when your client is answering questions, sharing pertinent information or talking about his or her concerns, be sure to be quiet and listen. And for goodness' sake, when clients are speaking do not interrupt them…it is rude! I know, sometimes, we get excited and want to answer questions quickly or interject with a witty come-back, but do not be tempted to do this because it can turn your client off. Your best bet is to listen attentively and repeat back to them the main points that they have communicated to you. That way they will be assured that they have been heard and they can relax and enjoy their treatment.
4. Great Esty's are serious about sanitation:
Over the years I have observed some pretty slimy slip-ups in and out of the treatment room! Though sanitation rules and regulations vary by state, it is important for me to share some simple corrections that can improve your technique and lead you toward greatness.
For starters, great esty's always wash, gel or foam their hands in front of their clients as soon as they enter the treatment room or begin any hands-on procedure. Clients don't care if you have "just washed your hands" before you stepped into the room! Washing hands outside of the treatment room is instantly voided by the fact that you have touched at least one door knob to enter the room and possibly pens, client charts, products, keyboards, phones or your own face or body on your way to the room! So in the name of serious sanitation, clean your hands again - they need it!
Another stomach-turning observation that I see in the spa industry and in the restaurant industry as well, is what I sarcastically call "magic glove syndrome." Magic glove syndrome is the misguided belief that latex or vinyl gloves worn for services are magical self-cleaning second skins that can be worn and forgotten about in terms of proper sanitation. You know you have seen a sandwich maker that handles cash with the same pair of gloves that he or she slices and assembles your turkey sandwich…it's nauseating! Unfortunately, less than great esty's have been known to do the same type of thing: they slap on a brand new pair of gloves then proceed to touch tons of non-sanitized objects in the room (i.e. pens, patient files, cabinet doors, unclean surfaces or even their own noses) and then touch client body parts and sanitized supplies without a second thought (picture a sad emoji, here). So, to turn that frown upside down, great esty's: clean their hands, are aware of what they touch with their gloves and change gloves often if they become contaminated.
Great esty's also make sure product containers and pumps are cleaned in between each service, they always sneeze and cough into their elbows (never into their hands) and they keep personal items out of the treatment rooms. No client wants to walk into a treatment room (sometimes, barely dressed) and see your filthy cell phone (with a camera function, by the way) your coffee mug, sunglasses or a half-eaten greek yogurt - it reeks of cross contamination and less-than-professional work ethic. Lastly, to wrap it up, most great esty's know to never double-dip into a wax pot, use fingers to dispense product from a jar or blow onto hot wax to cool it down…right? Right!
5. Great esty's follow-through:
As we have mentioned before, esty greatness relies a lot on customer service skills. One of the best traits of the greats is the habit of following-through. The task may be big or small, but be sure to stay organized and tie up all of your loose ends. As esty's, we get bombarded with complicated technical questions on a daily basis. Most of the time we have really good answers backed by our education and trainings, but other times we simply have to jot down a note and follow up in a timely manner. Great esty's can graciously admit when something may be outside of the scope of their knowledge, look up an answer and get back to the asker within 48 hours max…by all means, don't ignore or forget to answer great questions.
Another aspect of following-through is making sure you rebook your clients for their next appointment(s), always recommend home-care products to them (because if you don't, someone else will), and conduct follow-up calls after new procedures or product changes. Great follow-through is seen as awesome, caring behavior in the client's eyes and it will win their loyal patronage for years to come.
6. Take great care of yourself!
While caring for others, it is best to fortify our own bodies and minds so that we can perform at our greatest capacity. The greatest esty's out there know their limits on the job, take care to get enough hydration, and get plenty of healthy food and rest. The greats will tell you to take care of your body: stretch, exercise, get regular massage and explore other healing modalities (and barter to get them). Walking or hiking in the fresh air while taking in the glories of nature are great ways to restore your body and mind. Not to mention, keep tabs on what makes you feel awesome and do it as much as you can. When we practice what we preach and set the example of a healthy and beautiful life then we can revel in the great success that will follow!