Meeting Client Needs

By Judith Culp


The field of esthetics is becoming more competitive even as it is experiencing dramatic growth. Clients read about offered services in every woman’s magazine they pick up. They are far more educated about what to expect than the clients who entered our facilities ten years ago. In the early nineties if an esthetician could do a good deep cleansing facial, a European style facial and a glycolic peel this pretty well covered the anticipated services. Today there is a far wider scope to the clients entering our facilities and a broader range in the services they need. It is the responsibility of the technician to anticipate the need and be prepared to offer services to meet these needs.

Client needs can be categorized into four basic marketing categories. First we have the acne clients. As the body starts hormonal changes the increased estrogen and androgen often trigger acne outbreak. These outbreaks plague as many as 80% of the current population to some level. We have many good professional products and treatments available to us. Non-inflammatory acne responds well to microdermabrasion to exfoliate impacted follicles. Salicylic acid treatments are also excellent at loosening these impactions. Ultrasonic facials literally vibrate loose clogged impactions and have a broader scope of acne categories for which they are appropriate. Enzymes are a wonderful, effective but gentle way to remove dead layers of the stratum corneum.

Most technicians would agree that acne must be approached in a series of treatments for maximum effectiveness and properly used home care is paramount for success. Depending on the treatment and products being used the client may be seen once or twice a week. Home use needs to include some sort of therapeutic product. There are different approaches to topical treatment of acne. Benzoyl peroxide products have been proven to be effective. Retinol derivatives are also effective. Some manufacturers employ a combination therapy that includes use of BPO, retinols, salicylic, glycolic, Tea Tree and other agents scattered throughout the home care products. For many clients this approach gets better results.

Adult hormonally related acne is generally more resistive. It is almost like their acne has developed a strain that is less responsive to traditional products. Find a product line that has the necessary therapeutic protocols and knowledge to assist you in dealing with these issues. Adult acne is emotionally traumatizing and frustrating. The good side of this client’s scenario is that they may be more financially prepared to deal with the needed series of treatments than their teen counterpart.

The second category of clients is the Generation Xer. These knowledgeable and pro-active clients are out to prevent aging. What great client potential we have here. While they may not exhibit severe skin conditions we must work to keep their skin in peak shape. They want products and treatments that will assist them in their goal of preventing the wrinkles their mothers’ had. How do you spot one of these clients? She may well be the 20 something woman who has already started botox injections to prevent frown lines. Supply her with SUN BLOCK, nighttime retinols or other acids and antioxidants.

A third category group is the Rosacea client. Traditionally we have handled these clients with kid gloves. While they do have the sensitive skin we knew they did, there are some new approaches that seem to minimize or redness and pustular activity without causing more irritation. We need to help this client learn to recognize the things that are their own personal triggers – things that cause the condition to be worse. For many clients this includes exposure to heat, sun, extreme cold, wind, spices, alcohol, and caffeine just to name a few.

There are arguments over what causes Rosacea. While the experts continue to discuss this and analyze it look for treatments that actually give results. I try hard not to promote any specific brand or technique in this column but if you have not read of the research by Dr. Peter T. Pugliese on Rosacea, I recommend that you do so. His association between the demodex mite and rosacea has recently been validated by research at a university in England. In a nutshell, he did research based on the theoretical question: what if Rosacea is caused by the migration of the dermodex mite from the scalp onto the face to feed on the active oil glands. Anything that increases the heat on the skin would increase the activity of the mite leading to the stinging and burning some clients’ experience. While some of the population never experiences a problem, those with lighter skin tones may well experience this “curse of the Celts,” and develop a sensitivity that manifests itself in redness and vesicles generally starting in the mid-thirties. Dr. Pugliese went on to look for a way to eradicate the mite from the skin. The resulting professional serum and home care product use rosemary and evening primrose oil. I always caution technicians and clients not to attempt to concoct a product using their essential oils. Too much rosemary and you cause irritation, not reduce it.

The fourth category is the client with maturing skin. Again, we have many treatments in our arsenal and new ones are being developed. We need to constantly be reading to stay aware of new advancements in antioxidants and cosmecutical based products that offer more than “hope in a jar.” We need to get the documentation or find out what testing was done and how (in clinic or independent laboratory.) We need to adopt the medical mindset – the scientific mindset and look for proof of results. This will gain us more respect from the medical community and from our clients. Offer treatments and get results – under promise and over perform. These clients are generally very open to both salon treatments and home care. They are ready to be a part of the team and work to achieve more youthful, healthier looking skin.

With each category that we have discussed we must have a diversity of treatments available to meet the ethnic diversities of the client base. Technicians must be knowledgeable as regards the Fitzpatrick Skin Typing Scale and recognize what treatments are appropriate for each Fitzpatrick Type. The more active melanin there is present in the skin, the higher the risk for hyperpigmentation as the result of any trauma we create on the skin. We must adapt our treatments to respect how these skins respond. Causing irritation or trauma can result in a hyperpigmentation spot that can last up to two years. We need to ask our manufacturers for each treatment they recommend not only what skin conditions it is suitable for but if there are risks or ramifications based on skin tone. The more ethnically diverse our client base the broader the range of treatments we need to be prepared to offer.