For Estheticians: How to Open Your Own Skin Care Business

So many estheticians I meet who are just starting their careers will tell me their dream is to open their own skin care practice someday. As someone who has owned their own skin care company for 24 years (five while in Boston and now 18 in Dallas), I know a thing or two about how to go about doing this.

I want to start my own skin care business, how do I go about doing this? 

This is a challenging decision to make and one that you should give a lot of thought to. First of all, you have to make sure that you are opening up a business for the right reasons and this is not just for your love and passion for helping people improve their skin. You have to be someone who does not mind working seven days a week (because especially for the first year or two, it is going to be needed) and you enjoy the challenge of running all aspects of a business. Giving skin treatments is the easy and fun part, getting a business up and running is the hard part. Aside from being a service provider giving facial treatments, you also have to continually wear your business hat to get the word out there that you exist. In addition, you have to be your own bookkeeper (this means worrying about having enough money to pay your bills), order and manage inventory, negotiate a lease with your landlord, deal with liability insurance companies, keep your facility clean, maintain your equipment and so much more. If you also choose to hire employees, you then have to do payroll and also make sure all of their needs are taken care of. As I have always looked at it, you work for your employees and it is your job to make sure they have a nice, supportive work environment, the education and tools they need to be successful, and maintain a busy schedule with clients.

Also, before you ever venture out on your own, you must have a significant client base because the #1 difficulty all estheticians will face is getting new clients and getting existing clients to come in regularly. If you are working somewhere now, and plan for your clients to follow you when you start your own practice, not all will. It is just the nature of moving to a new location. Anticipate that you will have some clients who will not come with you, even if they tell you they will. Most people will tell you what you want to hear and not always be honest, as they don’t want to hurt your feelings. So be sure that now is the right time to branch out on your own.

What skin care products do you recommend I use in my skin care practice?

My best recommendation is to attend a trade show and look at all the lines available. The products that exhibit at esthetics trade shows cater to estheticians and have a true understanding of what it takes for you to have a successful career. Choose a line that is extensive and has something for everyone. You may consider having more than one line to give you a variety to recommend to your clients so all skin types are addressed. As I’m sure you’ve discovered, most skin care lines still cater to very limited types of skin like dry, normal, and oily. Once you choose a product line (or lines), look for ones that have a lot of training and support. It is essential to your success that you have a company behind you that really wants to see you succeed. Also, talk with other estheticians and see what lines they have had success with.

While we consistently get requests from estheticians and beauty retailers wanting to sell our line, this is simply a direction my company and I have chosen not to go at this time. I want my company focused on skin and I just feel like the minute we start having our products sold at other places, then the focus becomes all about sales. I’m sure there is a way to balance that but for now, I want to stay true to what got me into this profession in the first place.

How do you balance owning a business while also being a service provider?

This is very challenging, especially when you are starting out. For the first 10 years of owning my own business, I saw clients 5-6 days a week. Certainly the first few years, I could not afford to not take clients as the revenue I generated went to pay the bills. When I was not scheduled with clients, I would still be working on the business. I knew I had to focus on growing the business, or it would not survive. This is why running a business is a seven day a week job. Once everything was stable, I slowly cut back my time spent with clients in the treatment room to focus on product development and other aspects of running the company. My best advice before you ever decide to step away from the room and give all of the responsibility of giving skin treatments to your estheticians (assuming you have employees) is to have a really good understanding of your financials. Have someone help you with this if this is not your area of expertise, which for most estheticians like myself, it is not.

What do you attribute to the success of Renee Rouleau Skin Care?

This is a question I get asked often and my answer is simple. I am a hard worker who dedicates most waking hours to my company. Success is not magic. It is the result of putting in the time along with having a good, well thought out strategy that is continually being tweaked. Coming up with good ideas is the easy part, making the time to execute those good ideas is the hard part. I have always been less talk and all action. As the Nike motto says, “Just do it” and I do. I also believe in treating people well and staying true to my values.

Any other tips for opening a business?

Build it and they will NOT come.
I’ve always said if I wrote a book, this would be the name of it. Many people focus on their new business and all that will be offered and then wonder why they aren’t getting sales once they open their doors. It’s because you must spend adequate time on figuring out how to get people to know who you are and how fabulous you are! Same with the web, you may launch a fabulous and beautiful website, but if no one knows you are there, what good is it? Marketing, networking and risk-taking are the keys to success. Don’t be afraid to promote yourself. Read books, ask for help, and work like crazy to spread the good word.

Depending on the business, PR is crucial.
I’ve never done any advertising and have always focused on public relations (editorial mentions.) Traditional paid advertising is you saying how good you are. Editorial features in magazines is when someone else says how good you are giving you tremendous credibility. For years I did my own PR, pitching my products and services to editors of magazines and producers of TV shows. Now, I have a publicist who handles it for me, but my business has been built on this very one thing. There are many great books on how to do it, it’s really not that hard. Discover the power of publicity. It’s priceless.

Don’t be afraid to take risks. There will always be naysayer’s.
I think being a risk-taker is something that you are inherently born with. It’s a confidence that allows you to stick your neck out and if you get knocked down, you don’t crawl in a hole, but you keep on going. Entrepreneurs are notorious for having this trait. Go with it and don’t let people tell you you’re wrong. My gut and my instinct has always been my guiding light and it’s rarely let me down.

It’s easier to fix the leaks in the hose then it is to get more water.
Don’t forget to pay attention to your day to day operations. Sometimes it’s easy to focus on getting new business and customers, but you might be overlooking the internal operations that may not be maximizing opportunities for business. Is the receptionist friendly and saying the right things on the phone when customers call? Are you asking your existing customers for referrals and giving them incentive to spread the word about you? Are there areas where you can cut costs? There are a lot of things you can do to run your business more efficiently and effectively, so make sure to closely analyze these things.

Make sure to develop and maintain business relationships/friendships.
People like to help people they like. Friends like to help friends succeed. For so many years I went it alone to promote and build my business, but there is only one of me and only so much I can do. When you have friends that support your success, they can help spread the word for you. But you have to remember to ask them for their help. Make it a priority to network, attend events and do lunches. It will pay off.

Focus on your strengths, delegate your weaknesses.
As an entrepreneur, we are required to wear many hats. We are the plumber, the bill payer, the bank depositer, the supply getter, the marketer, the promoter, the trainer, the manager and the list goes on and on. There are only 24 hours in a day to get your work done, and often things are left neglected which can negatively impact a business. And certainly you can’t be good at everything. I learned long ago to delegate what I’m not as efficient at, and focus on, not only what I’m good at, but what I like to do. Make list of all of the things you must do in a given day/week/month. Separate them into two columns. What you like, what you don’t like. Delegate out the items you don’t like to do.

Treat your employees well. Accept them for who they are and who they are not.
There will never be someone just like you, that thinks like you, that makes the exact decisions that you will. And the sooner you accept this, the better off you’ll be. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses and it’s better to spend your time enhancing your employees strengths, rather than trying to make them into something they will just never be. And don’t forget to give lots of praise and recognition. They’ll love you for it, and they’ll be loyal to you if they are happy.

Read more of my best business advice.

Read: My Tips for Having a Successful Career As An Esthetician

Read: What Is the Best Esthetician School to Attend?

Read: Five Esthetician Rules I Live By

Which skin care products are best for your skin? Take our Skin Type Quiz and get products recommended.

Need expert advice from a licensed esthetician? Schedule My Skin Prescription to get personalized advice in person, over the phone or via Skype or Facetime.

For more expert skin advice, check out the blog. Also sign up for our skin tip e-newsletter, follow Renée Rouleau on Twitter and Instagram and join the discussion on our Facebook page. You’ll be your own skin care expert in no time.

Disclaimer: Content found on and, including text, images, audio, or other formats were created for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website or blog.


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  1. Hello Renee,

    I changed careers at the age of 46 and received my license a little over a year ago. I have yet to find a job (wondering if it has to do with my age), but had a previous business in beauty retail. I have heard it is better to work somewhere and gain experience than to delve into your own business first. I would love and appreciate your thoughts on this 🙂 Thank you in advance!

    Posted By: Karen  | 

    • Hi Karen, Your age doesn’t matter, I believe it all has to do with passion and a desire to be the best in your field. With that being said, I always recommend working for someone else to get experience. Essentially, you’re getting paid to learn. Good luck!

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

  2. Hey renee , im 17 years old, i know your website because of demi lovato 😀 (i saw her post in instagram about ur products) since then ive been reading about your post of being an esthetician. i’m thinking about going to esthetics school but im still not sure because im afraid of that i wont get any job when i graduated. i discovered my passion about skincare when i was 12 years old but i never really put a thought of being an esthetics .. now im in college and my friends always asked me what acne medication they should use and even until now, i helped some of my friends cured their acne and I recommend them stuffs that would treat their acnes. i myself love treating my skin especially with Natural mask such as cinnamon. you are a successful esthetician and entrepreneur renee do u mind giving me advice ? because im really not sure what i should do and honestly im scared that i wont be able to have jobs after i graduate like what u said in the Pros and Cons of esthetician.

    Posted By: Jessica  | 

    • Hello Jessica, I have a lot of great posts especially for estheticians here. Being passionate and persistent are two good traits to have in this field. There are many opportunities for estheticians. I think you should be able to find something.

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

  3. Hi Renee
    Im in Australia, I am 48 and would love to start my career by opening a facials clinic from home. I have brought up four beautiful children who are not all grown up and have given my time to my family and husbands busy building business, but I am very excited for my future as a beautician from home. I have studied at various colleges in beauty and have a diploma in this area too.
    My question is to ask you about self confidence when you first start out, did you have the confidence and passion that you would be successful?

    Dale Bea

    Posted By: Dale Bea  | 

    • Hello Dale, That’s a great question. Whenever you’re new to any profession, confidence comes in time. It comes when you get more experience combined with positive feedback from clients. You mentioned passion, and it all starts there. For me, I never really thought whether or not I’d be successful, I simply loved what I was doing so much that it took over all my thoughts. Hope that helps!

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

  4. Great advice Renee, thank you for posting this and helping your fellow estheticians! That says a lot about the kind of person you are. I also listened to your podcast with Lori Crete, thank you for all the tips there as well. As a relatively new esthetician, the advice on your website is very helpful as well.

    Posted By: Stacey  | 

    • Thank you so much, Stacey. Best of luck to you!

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

  5. Thank you so much for your expertise. I have been working for fifteen years in a World renowned resort and spa. Unfortunately my hands can not handle the back to back treatments ant longer. I am looking into opening a small one room office to start of and want to get certification in Oncology Esthethics. I have come across a lot of cancer survivors in my years. Do you have any suggestions or helpful words of advices?

    Posted By: Kimberly Angst  | 

    • Hi Kimberly, I was recently interviewed about how to have a successful career as an esthetician. It’s got a lot of helpful tips. You can listen to it here. Best of luck to you!

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

  6. I am very eager for micro needling .do you have any additional information to help me ?

    Posted By: Gela  | 

    • It’s not a service that we offer so I can’t advise. Sorry!

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

  7. Hello Renee,
    I am a recent graduate from esthetics school and I’m interested in starting my own business. I’m just not exactly sure on how to get started.

    Posted By: China Collins  | 

    • Other than my tips I recommended above, I’m not sure what else to tell you other than to go pick up a book on starting a small business. I’m sure there are tons of them out there that give helpful advice. As for how I started, I just jumped in and figured it out.

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

  8. Hi Renee,
    I really need your advice in my situation.
    From my earlier life I have that dream to be a doctor in the dermatology, as I love so much to deal with the skin. However, without serious thinking of my inner voice, I studied IT “Information Technology” as my bachelor degree.During that I was passionate to have a regular visit to my doctor specialist in dermatology just because I’m so caring for my skin. Since that I’ve that knowledge about the formulation of many creams and what ingredients that benefit or harm the skin, the bad usage of some creams or lotions and what is the best product for my skin, so many things. Not only that but also I’ had in that time a large storage for my crams and lotions, and also a folder to record every leaflet of any product after throwing it, so I can return to the folder if I need to remember anything about that product. Then after finishing my bachelor degree I started again to think of my first dream being a dermatologist.But because it is being late to start studying medicine and also I didn’t have that initiative to start my dream, so jumped to another field of science for my master degree. Now I’m approaching to graduate from my master “just couple of months”, and I still really thinking so much about the skincare. I’ve searched in many website to find a way to achieve my dream without studying medicine in the dermatology but also working in a filed of the skincare.I found some online fundamental courses for this matter. Luckily I also see your blog which giving me that hope to achieve my goal.
    Can you please advice me from where I can begin to work and have my own business in skin care products.
    I’m sorry if my post is so long, but I want to give you my background and also how am passionate to work in the skincare.
    The English is not my tongue language, maybe you will notice that 🙂
    Thank you Renee for this blog.

    Posted By: Ema  | 

  9. Hey Renee, just happen to stumble across your site and I have a few questions. I have had my esthetician licenses for about 5 years and haven’t been able to find a job because of lack of experience so now I am just working a job to pay the bills but I would like to get my foot in the door some where and this is a dream job to me but I can’t seem to catch a break. I also am more interested makeup as well any tips advice I just recently went back to school for business management in hopes that that would help me but I’m not so sure please help any advice I’d greatly appreciate. How to get started? anything…

    Posted By: Bre  | 

    • Hi Bre, I’m not sure what else to suggest other than just keep at it. You might have to be willing to move to a different area if you’re not finding a job where you are. There is no magic secret for having a successful career but what I know is persistence and hard work can often pay off. Have you read all of my esthetician posts? I have some more great tips here

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

  10. Hi Renee,

    Thank you for your insightful information here! I am 48 and have decided to change careers. After being in marketing & advertising for 20+ years, I’ve decided to go back to school and get licensed as an esthetician. Once I am licensed, my goal is to start my own skincare business (in Orange County, Califonria). But before I do that, I expect to put a year or two in learning the ropes of the business — what works, what doesn’t work and really develop an excellent set of skincare skills. I believe my age is an asset and my experience in the business world will be helpful in my new adventure! As our population ages and individuals look for less invasive ways of having a youthful appearance, I think this is a great time to break into the skincare business. My hope is to be as successful as you! Thank you again for your post!

    Warm regards,

    Dianne H.
    Orange County, CA

    Posted By: Dianne  | 

    • Sounds like a great plan, Dianne. Best of luck to you!

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

    • Dianne, I am right there with you! I am your age and halfway through esthetician school after a career in film production. It’s amazing to find something out there that has no limits in the things you can do and age is not only accepted, but can be an asset! Good luck to you:)

      Posted By: Nicole  | 


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