My Tips for Having a Successful Career As An Esthetician

Updated 10/14/20 When I started writing this blog back in 2009, my intention was to educate others on how best to care for their own skin by separating facts from fiction. What was revealed to me over time, though, was that many estheticians from around the globe have used my information as continuing education in their own esthetics practices. Because of this, I’ve written posts exclusively for estheticians.

If you’re considering becoming an esthetician or are just getting started in your career, here are some helpful tips for having a successful career in esthetics.

What tips do you have for a new esthetician right out of school?

It is a fact that a large percentage of people who go through the effort and investment of attending and graduating from esthetics school will never end up practicing esthetics or will do so only for a short time. I believe this is because they could not find a job or if they did, the job was not the right fit for them. My advice is to explore every option for employment, but be sure to only apply for a position that best suits your style and personality.

What jobs are out there for estheticians?

What I love about being an esthetician is that there are many options for places of employment. There are day spas, hair salons that have a skin treatment room (this is where I got my start), skincare spas, hotel spas, cruise line spas, medical spas, department store spas associated with a skincare line, resort spas, and more. If you prefer not to be a service provider, there are still many options. You can become a representative for a skincare line that is sold to department stores, medical offices, or spas so you would provide education and training classes to your various accounts, as well as work at trade shows. You can work in a retail environment selling a line at the department store counter (they LOVE hiring estheticians) or other beauty retailers. You can also become an independent contractor and be on-call to work at various spas or even be a freelance esthetician. It is also possible to become an educator and work as a teacher at your local esthetics school. Another option is to become an entrepreneur and develop your own skincare line.

What I love most about a career as an esthetician is that it offers a very flexible schedule. Many places allow part and full-time schedules so if you have another career or have children, this is ideal. I have employed many estheticians who were once full-time and now work part-time after having children. One size does not fit all when it comes to being employed as an esthetician, so be sure to do your research.

How can an esthetician build a clientele?

It truly takes a long, long time to really build up a good, repeat clientele. The reason is that you will not connect with every client, and not every client will connect with you. Being an esthetician is a relationship-based profession. My best tip for this is to mimic their personality. If they are not much of a talker, then don’t talk their ear off. You have to be a chameleon with every client.

Try paying close attention to body language. Asking specific questions on your client intake form that gives you insight into their expectations will go a long way. One of my favorite questions is “What are your goals for today’s visit?” I then provide various options they can check off on the form ranging from “stress relief” to “I want to learn how to care for my skin.” Depending on all that they select, I will make sure to create an experience that gives them exactly what they ask for. I will also discuss their goals during our consultation to make sure I have complete clarity. Having a client leave getting exactly what they wanted will help build the relationship and ensure they will come back to see you again.

Another way to build a clientele is to give out free skin treatments. When you have an empty schedule, your goal is to fill it with clients. And waiting around for them to shell out money for a skin treatment that is often considered a luxury will leave you with an empty room and time on your hands. Make some really nice gift certificates and gift it to your friends, family, and anyone you come in contact with that you feel would be a good fit for you. Let them experience the services you provide at no charge because the more faces you can get your hands on, the more they can spread the word for you. Many of them may love the results and want to come back as a paying client. At the end of the appointment, give them a few of those free gift certificates and ask them to give it to their friends who they think would be a good client for you. Who would not love giving the gift of beautiful skin? Hands down, word of mouth with a referral will trump any other advertising or marketing opportunity. If you work on this strategy long enough, and you give a treatment focused on managing expectations, you will no longer have an empty schedule. I promise.

How can I give the best service possible?

I would like to expand more on the consultation portion of the service because I believe this is so important and often overlooked by many estheticians. The information I gain from asking my clients questions about their skin and having them share their concerns is essential for problem-solving. This is the biggest area of weakness for so many estheticians. They are so focused on giving the actual skin treatment without really knowing what the client’s concerns are. Aside from the questions I mentioned above, here are some others to ask after reviewing their client intake form. I find these really insightful in understanding my client and his/her skin so the best results can be focused on. I love to analyze their skin, and these questions open up great conversations:

  • What are your top three skin concerns in order of priority?
  • Is today a good, bad, or normal skin day for you? (This is important because if they say “this is a really bad day for me”, you need to understand what they personally consider to be bad.)
  • Do you consider yourself to have sensitive skin? Give me specific examples of how your skin acts sensitive? (Everyone will say their skin is sensitive, but you need to know exactly their type of sensitivity.)
  • How oily or dry is your skin?
  • If your skin is dry, do you actually get flaky or is it more of a tightness that you experience?
  • What type of blemishes do you get most often (cysts, pustules, papules, whiteheads/closed comedones)?
  • Where on your face do you get the majority of your blemishes?
  • When it comes to caring for your skin at home, do you like a very simple routine like cleanser and moisturizer or do you like to add in additional products to make a more comprehensive routine?
  • Prior to coming and seeing me, what have you done with your skin both at home or professionally? What kind of results did you get?
  • What are your specific goals for your visit today?

How can I get my clients to reschedule?

It is very challenging to get a client to commit to another appointment so you must give them reasons why they really need to. To do this, you must make a game plan for every clients’ skin at the end of the appointment. Simply saying “It would be great if you could come back in four weeks,” may not yield results with re-booking. You must give them a reason why they should come back. Laying out a specific game plan about what you are going to do to their skin next will be an incentive to come back in. It is for this reason that I often do not do the same treatment again on their second visit. Excitement is created for the next visit with a different focus.

You must also sincerely believe that coming in regularly will give them the results they desire with their skin so you can convince them that it is not just a nicety, but rather a necessity. This means you must practice what you preach. If you are not being the recipient of esthetic services yourself, then it will be harder to re-book your clients.

What is your favorite skin equipment to use on clients?

This is really a personal decision. It depends on what you like, what you feel works well, and what gives your clients the best results. I personally love skin peels, with my favorite being 30% salicylic acid for acne. I also invested in Bio Brasion equipment and are loving the results it gives for discoloration and brightening. (Look at this incredible before and after photo.) I also like using both microcurrent and ultrasound, and always recommend investing in a good quality steam machine. I’m always experimenting with new treatments. I’m like a mad scientist but this is what keeps it exciting! When it comes to the basic tools, I personally have always avoided the big machines that have five or seven functions in them (facial brush, high frequency, steam, etc…). If one function breaks, you have to send the entire machine back to get fixed so I prefer to have all of them separately. Many machines are individual now but the multi-function machines are still used, especially by European estheticians.

How do you select estheticians to work for you? What type of estheticians do employers (or spa managers) look for?

It can be very challenging for new estheticians right out of school to get hired. Yes, they have the energy and excitement and are ready to dive right into their new career, but most employers want people who are experienced and have a clientele they can bring to the practice. For new estheticians, you must be open to all ways to get experience to build your resumé and be more attractive to certain employers. In my company, we first and foremost look for who would be a fit into our culture. To do this, we use a personality profiling survey that allows us to understand an esthetician’s skill set. This takes the guesswork out of knowing what kind of esthetician they will be by how they interact with clients and co-workers. We want an esthetician who is employed with Renée Rouleau Skin Care to have a long, successful career, and understanding their personality from the get-go is essential to determine if they will thrive in our company.

But in general, I would say that managers judge a lot based on what is on a résumé. If someone has a new job every six months, this might be a red flag that they are unstable. Along with a résumé, attach a personalized letter saying why you want to work at that particular place and why you are a good fit. Selling yourself and putting in the extra effort by singing your own praises is a good way to set yourself apart from the other résumés.

Do you have any skincare book recommendations?

I enjoy skincare books by Mark Lees and “Cosmetic Chemistry” by Florence Barrett Hill. Here’s a picture of a few of my favorite books that I posted on Instagram. 

Any final thoughts you would like to share?

Being an esthetician can be an amazing career choice. It most certainly has been for me and my employees. I have been on both sides; working for someone and working for myself and have enjoyed every minute of it. But with anything, it is hard work, dedication, and a commitment to learning and growing—to make you the best esthetician you can be.

I hope you found this post helpful. I have so many estheticians telling me on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook how they have learned more from me than any other source of knowledge, including school, trade shows or their current employer.

Recently, I had the privilege of being interviewed by skincare industry expert Lori Crete. Lori is a licensed esthetician, spa owner and founder of the Esthetician Mentor™, which is a program dedicated to helping other beauty business owners and professionals around the world become more successful and profitable.Though I haven’t used her services personally, I do know people who have and they speak very highly of her expertise. After all, there is limited business support out there for estheticians so it’s a great service that she’s offering. (For continuing education about all things skin, my blog with over 1600 posts is an incredibly popular resource for both consumers and estheticians.) When she reached out to me, she said I was her #1 most requested person to interview. Wow! What an honor. I was happy to chat with her because sharing knowledge is such a huge passion of mine, especially because I have thirty years of hands-on experience as a celebrity esthetician, skincare formulator, spa owner, and skincare expert. Thank you, Lori!

Listen to the full interview with Lori. (Click the play button to the right of my photo.)

Lastly, it’s important that you pronounce the word of your chosen professional correctly. It should sound like es-theh-tish-in not esda-tish-in.

Read: Five Estheticians Rules I Live By

Comments:

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  1. Avatar

    I would state that supervisors judge a great deal dependent on what is on a list of qualifications. I think you are right in the event that somebody has a new position like clockwork, this may be a warning that they are unsteady That’s maybe very effective

    Posted By: Candi Staton  | 

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  2. Avatar

    I am in school for esthetics. I have been in medical sales and radio sales my whole life and am making a career change as I have suffered from skin issues my whole life. I want to be well known in Tulsa ok for really knowing skin issues. While I’m in school should I start a blog and reach out to bloggers in my area offereing free service to gain respect and get folks to know my name or walk into medical spas and ask for additional training while in school or after? I feel like whatever I do I want to blog and use social media. How do I start?

    Posted By: Amber Heller  | 

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      All of that sounds like a good plan. The main thing is just to put into motion anything that will allow your talents to get known in your area.

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

      Reply
  3. Avatar

    Hi Renee! You’re always so inspiring! I’ve been working as an Esthetician for 2 years now and have been loving it! I see estheticians becoming master estheticians. What do you think about this?

    Posted By: Lexi  | 

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      I don’t believe there is one consistent program for a master esthetician, you’ll have to see what it’s all about. But in general, I always think continuing education is great.

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

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  4. Avatar

    Hi Renee,I am a license Esthetician in Los Angeles CA ,I recently graduated,I was looking for job everywhere I didn’t get any not even at waxing,I have pretty good presentation of myself,Nice resume of my skills,polish dressing way,decent looking and well spoken,very positive attitude when in interviews,but nothing worked,I decided to get some savings I have apart and I will rent my own booth in a salon,that is in pretty good place,decent,clean,safe in San fernando valley with good parking space,I don’t have reputation,but I was a sales woman before,I m very outgoing entrepreneur spirit so I present myself good cuz image also says a lot about yourself,but my family is warning me and telling me that it will fail,that I do not have reputation and I will just not make clients that how I will make client,the place is cheap 350 monthly the small booth,I get certificate in micro current in dermalogica,I do make up,micro dermabrasion I have machines ..just needs supplies and products which isn’t a huge investment I will start small…..please you think Im condemn to failure since I do not have clients ????? I trust myself I do have a good marketing plan online but I feel discourage is not easy to build clients take years but if I have the chance to open a place for myself work for myself dont split my earnings with someone else ..why to wait years to build clients while sharing my earnings ?? is for sure that failure ? I know you are not witch to know it but I dont know what to do ?

    Posted By: Claire  | 

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      If you love what you do and you’re willing to work hard at building a client base, then you can certainly be successful. It’s definitely not easy as you know, but just keep pushing forward and it will all work out!

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

      Reply
  5. Avatar

    Hi Renee

    Would u be interested in writing blogs for my Esthetic site. If so, pls let me know what u charge per article u can email me at mdesthetics@hotmail.com

    Posted By: Maria  | 

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    • Avatar

      Thank you so much for thinking of me but unfortunately I’m not entertaining new opportunities as my company is in fast growth mode and am just trying to keep up.

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

      Reply
  6. Avatar

    Hello,

    I am a recent graduate in becoming an Esthetician, but my only concern now is, I feel the Skin Analysis part was taught very minimal for me while in school and I am struggling with what skin type looks like what. I only know very minimal stuff about what i’m looking at, but not 100% confident yet! I was fortunate to have already found a Job in a Spa, but concerned because I do not want to give the wrong advice to my future clients. Any tips if there are any online classes to learn more for this? Or ?

    Thank you!

    Priscilla

    Posted By: Priscilla Nieves  | 

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      I understand your concern. Trade shows are your best bet for additional skin type training, assuming there is a class like that offered at the show. You just have to try your best to seek out skin type information to try and educate yourself.

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

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    Hi Renee-

    I just stumbled across your website and I am so excited I found it! I got my license a few months ago and I want to go into business for myself. I go back and forth thinking I should start marketing and building my brand, or should I be solidifying my product lines I want to use, buying my equipment, etc? What order of steps do you think is more effective? Just need a little direction to get it started. Also- what do you think is the best way to find the products you want to use? Do you think it is better to carry/utilize products that are available to the mass public – like Peter Thomas Roth/Dermalogica? Or is it better to go with brands that generally only professionals have access to like Le Mieux? Thank you so much!!

    Posted By: Holly  | 

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      Hello Holly, I have written a post here about how to open an esthetics business. Good luck!

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

      Reply
  8. Avatar

    Hello Renee,
    First of all, I would like to thank you for all the information you have shared on your website. It is very helpful.
    I am beginning a new career and am scheduled to begin an Aesthetician Course in about a week. I am over 50 and have experienced some minor problems with tennis elbow and carpel tunnel syndrome in the my past. Do you have knowledge of other Aestheticians experiencing these types of physical challenges in their careers? Please advise. Thank you for your prompt response.

    Posted By: Rose  | 

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      Hello Rose, Congratulations about entering the wonderful profession of skin care. You have posed a great question and I only have met one esthetician who seemed to have problems with carpel tunnel. I’m not sure if it was related to the profession or was caused because of something else. I don’t believe this is very common though, as I think I would have heard about it more in the last 25+ years being in this profession.

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

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      • Avatar

        Thank you very much for your reply. I have not experienced problems so far. I look forward to your newsletters and advice.
        Thanks again!
        Rose

        Posted By: Rose  | 

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