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The Magic Behind Skin Care

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We have all heard it before: “Lose 40 inches!”, “Better than Botox!” “World’s best serum that will make you look and feel like you are in your twenties again!” Are these false claims? Did you get the results that the product advertised? Did the aesthetician not understand how to use the product correctly? Was the product applied to the wrong skin type? What went wrong? You bought the product in good faith and it didn't live up to the claim. Why not? There are several reasons why we don't get the results from the magic that is promised in the bottle.

Why is it so difficult for aestheticians to find a product line that resonates with what they want to achieve in the treatment room and spa? For many, the first step is establishing what type of business they want to build. Is your focus on relaxation or results? Can you have both? Absolutely! However, it is important to understand that to achieve success you will have to do two things. First, you must have a clear and precise knowledge of the skin. Second, you must learn and understand the ingredients contained in the products you use. Only when you know the skin and understand the ingredients in the products will you be in a position to recommend the proper treatment and home care products. When you have this knowledge, you will best be able to determine the products to choose for your spa.

Skin: The Body’s Wrapper
What is skin? It is the largest organ in the human body. The skin acts as a waterproof barrier that affords protection from invasion by dirt, bacteria, and other harmful substances. Skin also helps regulate body temperature and allows us to have the sense of touch. Without skin, people's muscles, bones, and organs would be hanging out all over the place. Skin holds everything together.
If you are feeling unsure about your knowledge of the nature and functions of the skin, you may consider reviewing your book from school to refresh your memory. That is the crux of the matter. Unfortunately, an article such as this does not allow for extensive discussion of basic principles in skin physiology.
Can you explain the importance of the skin, the largest organ of the body, to your client? As professionals, many of us understand the theory of melanin production and how acne flares up, but does your client? This is where many aestheticians falter. They understand how acne develops or they know that skin comes in various shades, but they don’t really see how using the Fitzpatrick scale can make a difference in the outcome of their treatments. I shudder when I hear this statement, especially if the aesthetician has an interest in chemical peels. They don’t see how the Fitzpatrick scale can help them? Oh, dear!
The Fitzpatrick Classification Scale was developed in 1975 by Harvard Medical School dermatologist, Thomas Fitzpatrick, M.D., Ph.D. The scale classifies a person's complexion and the tolerance of sunlight.

Skin Type

Skin Color



White; very fair; red or blond hair; blue eyes; freckles

Always burns, never tans


White; fair; red or blond hair; blue, hazel, or green eyes

Usually burns, tans with difficulty


Cream white; fair; any eye or hair color; very common

Sometimes mild burn, gradually tans


Brown; typical Mediterranean Caucasian skin

Rarely burns, tans with ease


Dark Brown; mid-eastern skin types

very rarely burns, tans very easily



Never burns, tans very easily

So, how does this relate to chemical peels or other treatments? Roni Parish, aesthetician and owner of The Skin Studio in Loomis, Calif., states that she relies on the Fitzpatrick scale all the time, like second nature. She has several clients that are on a peel regime. She believes that the scale is very good and you must have a clear concept of it in your mind. Once you have classified someone, you then can treat accordingly. It helps you determine who would be more resilient, who would be more sensitive, or who falls in between. Of course, several other factors will come into play. But all in all, she really likes using the scale and especially likes it for requesting some input from other aestheticians or the skin care company with which she deals. It helps you to immediately describe who your client is, and their needs. For example, when making a request for information, she will start by saying, “I have this client, a Fitzpatrick 3, with severe hyperpigmentation…” This is very helpful for the educator on the other end of the call to understand what type of skin your client has and be able to make appropriate recommendations!
Speaking of taking phone calls, aesthetician and Director of Education for Epionce Skin Care, Krista Bourne, often receives calls from aestheticians who have questions on how to treat their clients. When she asks them the type of skin they are treating, she will hear, “Well, I am working on a fair-skinned, redhead...” – What? Not Fitzpatrick type, SKIN type! The difference between skin type and Fitzpatrick type is Aesthetics 101! So before she educates them on product she refreshes them on the importance of the Fitzpatrick scale.
This is one of the keys to success: understanding how the skin functions and the variations imposed on our work by various skin types. Do you use the Wood’s Lamp to assist you in the analysis? This is an excellent tool to assist in seeing what is really happening on the client’s skin. Also, when you have seen client after client and touched and analyzed skin it becomes second nature, like breathing. You can look at clients, even with make-up on, and you will be able to recognize their challenge areas. But it is best if they make an appointment and come in to see you, so that you can take their make-up off and see what that reveals. Sometimes you get excited about seeing what is under the veil of make-up, and can’t wait to help them because you know that you have the answers for their skin success!
Janet McCormick, aesthetician and CIDESCO diplomate, believes that a well developed treatment plan enhances results. The plan should be comprehensive, from pre-conditioning to treatment to post-treatment maintenance. The benefits are that the skin is prepared for the care through pre-conditioning with appropriate products, countering any reactions, and enabling and enhancing the treatments; then after the treatments, it moves right into maintaining the care. Just jumping right into treatments without this plan can cause reactions and damage, and lower results dramatically.

You Have the Plan!
You have mastered analyzing skin, understand the Fitzpatrick scale and how it can help, but how do you chose the right products? I think that is the number one question that I am asked by students and colleagues. How does one go about choosing a product line? There are many reasons why one spa carries product X, another spa carries product Y, and yet both are successful.
I believe one of the reasons that OTC products are popular is because they make it easy for the consumer to understand what they do. I recently overheard a salesperson at the make-up counter at the mall explaining the importance of a skin care regime and the shopper was astutely listening. Later, I went to the salesperson and asked her if she was an aesthetician. She said no; she had always wanted to be one but just hadn’t had the time to attend a school. I encouraged her to do so. Her explanations were so excellent and articulate when asked of how the skin functions and the importance of maintenance. It made me want to purchase all she had to offer to go over!
The point is that many times we are excellent at the process of the facial and proficient at the application, but when it comes to giving examples of how the skin works and why XYZ products are best for the skin condition, we fall short. I have heard some say they feel they should not be selling products. Would a physical trainer spend hours upon hours with his clients working on achieving a hard body only to send them to buy and eat jelly donuts? I think not! So, why would we want to send our clients to the nearest drug store to purchase OTC make-up and products that will clog and irritate the skin? We know that professional products are a major part of the success in clear and improved skin.
But, what if you don’t like the product line with which you are working? Even if you are employed and working with a product line that is not your choice, learn all you can about the line. A professional line is a much better choice than sending them to the local store. Once you learn all you can about the line, then you can truly assist your client with improving their skin.
Diane Buccola, aesthetician and owner of, emphatically says, “Education, education, education. Product knowledge, product knowledge, product knowledge.” Why don't companies figure out that this is a very important component of how aestheticians decide which product lines to use and sell? Learn everything you can about the products and the step-by-step applications of the products that you are working with.
Dr. Jennifer Linder, Dermatologist, Mohs Skin Cancer Surgeon, and PCA SKIN® Chief Scientist, states that all clinicians should make an effort to learn about how and why ingredients work in addition to their benefits. She recommends learning about the disease pathway of acne so you can understand why various ingredients work and you can make better choices regarding daily care regimen recommendations.
While understanding every ingredient can be quite a task, having resources at your fingertips can be very helpful. There are several books that will explain ingredients. When clients come in asking about a specific ingredient and you don’t know right off the top of your head, you can quickly do some research on your own and prepare an answer like an expert! But, you must have the books available!
Don’t get caught up in hype. Do your own research! If it sounds too good to be true - well it just may be. If you are the decision-maker in choosing the products for the spa, you must do your homework. Ask questions and solicit recommendations from other spas that work with the line. Choose products that fit with your treatment goals. Become excellent at skin analysis. The magic in the bottle is only as good as the aesthetician applying it on the skin. Let the products be the magic and you be the genie!

Denise R. Fuller is a Licensed Aesthetician and Beauty Therapist Consultant, Educator, and Author for the aesthetic industry. Fuller is also the CEO of International Spa Importing Specialists. For more information, please contact her at 888-566-4747.

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