In my career as an Aesthetician I have spent a notable amount of time researching the art of facials and questioning my clients about their prior facial experiences. For many of my early years in the industry I rarely treated myself to a facial figuring that I could do that myself, and splurging for the massage instead.

It wasn’t until I had received so much feedback about my facials being the best experience a client had ever had that I decided to find out what was being done (or not done) elsewhere that was so different.

First my research started with my clients. I asked them what they disliked most about their previous facials.  9 times out of 10 they said that the Aesthetician had left them in the room with their mask on by themselves. This was very surprising to me. I had never thought about leaving my clients alone! There is so much that can be done to make your client feel relaxed, comfortable, and at home during the masking section.  Leaving the room is not only bad taste but it is simply lazy!

Next, I went to do my own research. After many facials of which were all equally disappointing in different ways, I came to the conclusion that it is not the fault of the therapist, it has to be the training, or lack thereof. During one of my facials the therapist was using a line that I happened to be very familiar with, so unfortunately for her I was also familiar with how the facial was supposed to be executed. Many times during the facial there were less expensive substitutes used to mix the products and the facial was ineffective and uncomfortable. I realize this falls under the responsibility of the account rep and purchaser for the spa but if it is your choice, never choose a facial that you can’t afford to purchase all of the proper components. There are many options that are less expensive so that you can effectively do the facial. Although this particular therapist never left the room she also never touched anything but my face which leads me to my next point. A facial should come complete with a foot/calf/arm/hand/shoulder/neck and scalp massage. As long as you’re not leaving the room to get a sip of coffee then there should be plenty of time to effectively do any facial with the massage in 50-80min depending on extraction time and facial type. After this facial I received many more, now searching for the perfect facial. I received many that came with a minimal amount of mediocre massage, many that the facial products used were not appropriate for someone of my skin type, and many that the therapists did very little and left the room repeatedly. In this quest I received a few facials that I thought were “nice” but nothing to write home about or tell all my girlfriends, but I appreciated at least that my skin felt better not worse after.

My latest facial experience was by far my worst. I was very excited that my husband had purchased a facial with a self-proclaimed “award winning Aesthetician.” I thought I was finally going to get a great facial! The appointment process was very simple and she appeared very personable over the phone. As I walked into her room the atmosphere was beautiful; it had a very relaxing ambiance with soothing music. She never asked me about my skins behaviors, product usage, or skin concerns; but I chose not to say anything about it. First, the cleansing, but she failed to clean my nose area or my neck, and had no uniform manner in which she performed. During the steaming process, she performed what I can only describe as” petting” my arms and hands; she then moved onto extractions and she did them well, not too painful but effective. After extractions, she moved onto facial massage (I think). She completed a bit of effleurage then did the same tapotment/fulling movement on my face for the longest ten minutes of my life! A facial massage can only last so long even if it is good! She then proceeded to put what I think was a mask over the massage cream and left the room. During this time I took my eye pads off because I am in a strange environment and I am bored; I wanted to look around which is what your clients will do if you leave them to their thoughts. Upon her returning, she decided that during the mask removal it was appropriate to talk about payment and she finished with a very rich moisturizer- again not talking to me about product or future appointments. If this is what it takes to win awards then our standards have been set embarrassingly low.

As I left many thoughts were racing through my head but the one I remember most was “I need to wash my face it feels so dirty and gooey” (Not how your client should feel after a facial). Do not trust your client to know what facial is good for them; you should customize or change the facial completely to fit their needs. If they book a deep hydration oxygen facial and then come in with stage 2 acne do not be afraid to be the specialist that you are and explain the dilemma to them in a professional way. The client will appreciate your honesty and willingness to better their skin. Clients love to be educated.

I am sure many of you are thinking…”I’m not a massage therapist, I am an Aesthetician” or “If they wanted a massage then they should have booked one.” You’re right- you’re not a masseuse- however, it is your job to make your client feel better and to relax her or him. If you have had one good massage then you know what one should feel like. Massage your client like you would like to be massaged and if you have a massage therapist in your facility ask for a quick in-service.

Also, if your client can come to you and get just as good of a massage in their favorite place and leave with beautiful skin to boot, then why do they need to book a massage also? Now they have more money to come see you twice as much! And let’s face it; the best part of the massage is the feet, shoulders, and neck.

In today’s difficult economy we have to set ourselves apart. This not only means providing superior client care and outstanding services but it also means adding value to what you do. If your client knows that you will take care of all aspects of their skin while additionally making them feel like a million bucks then they need not look elsewhere and they will send all of their friends your way.