Photographed by Maria Del Rio.
Whether you’ve had acne since your prepubescent days, or you just noticed yet another wrinkle that you swear wasn’t there yesterday, your skin has and always will need constant care. But, accumulating an arsenal of skin-care products that could rival the inventory at Sephora isn’t the solution. Products can temporarily fix our problems, but can also cause adverse effects or have no effect at all. And, it can be a frustrating, seemingly endless cycle of testing to find what works for you. That’s why the first step to any skin-care regimen is simply understanding your skin. And, lucky for us, there are professionals who can help with that.
Aestheticians will weed through the hundreds of products claiming to give you the “best skin of your life." But more importantly, they work with you to create a routine that will fit your life — and budget — for skin that is healthy and beautiful.
An aesthetician is a licensed skin-care professional who performs minimally invasive treatments like facials and exfoliation to improve and maintain your skin. Their aim is to provide you with the knowledge and tools to achieve long-lasting results. Finding the right aesthetician will require more than just a simple Google search, though. So, we’ve enlisted Madison Tran, one of the top general aestheticians at Clarins Skin Spa to show us what we should look for.
“I can recommend you get a facial every four to six weeks, but you have to take care of your skin every day,” says Tran. “What a facial will do for you is set you on the right path, but understanding your skin will help you maintain the results.”
There are two types of aestheticians to consider when you start your search: general aesthetician typically works at spas and performs routine procedures, and medical aestheticians work closely with dermatologists and perform more invasive procedures like chemical peels; they also work closely with patients in treatment or recovery, like burn victims. Both types of aestheticians require the same licensing. If you are dealing with a skin abnormality, disorder, or a severe skin reaction, you will want to see a dermatologist instead.
Photographed by Maria Del Rio.
So, as for what to expect? General aestheticians will start with a skin analysis or consultation on your first visit. Depending on the aesthetician, you will fill out a questionnaire, or they will simply talk to you about your skin. “The skin-care consultation is crucial,” says Tran. “The aesthetician needs to understand what your objectives and concerns are, and analyze your skin to make a customized approach that will achieve the best results.”
Tran adds, “I focus my skin analysis more towards the beginning of the treatment, but I also need your objectives and your preferences.”
An aesthetician should discuss your current at-home skin-care regimen and what products you’re using before they perform any treatment. You should also inform them of any allergies, what procedures you’ve had done before, and your preferences; for example, what sort of pressure do you like during a facial? During a consultation you should give the aesthetician as much information as possible to ensure the products or procedures they use and recommend don’t irritate your skin. This also applies to makeup. Tran likes to conduct skin assessments first, with your makeup on, and then without, to see how your skin behaves in both conditions.
When visiting the spa or office of an aesthetician, notice the appearance of the establishment. Is it a clean, relaxing environment? It’s important, Tran says, to also look for a license that is displayed openly in the aesthetician’s office. “You want to be in the hands of a competent person.” Look at the products that are used during your treatment and being sold for retail. Are they high-quality, reputable brands that you can trust?
You should also pay attention to the appearance and demeanor of the aesthetician. Do they make you feel comfortable and relaxed? Do they answer all of your questions and communicate to you what they are doing during treatment? While a good aesthetician will ask you plenty of questions on your first visit, it’s also important for you to ask a few of your own. Have they had a lot of experience performing various procedures? How long have they worked at that particular establishment? Ask them questions on various treatments, especially those you plan on having done. They should know what you’re talking about and be able to explain it to you as well.
The easiest way to start your search is by asking your friends for recommendations. But, if you decide to look on the web first, check out review sites like Yelp! (not all comments are genuine, so take each review with a grain of salt). Be sure to check your state’s Board of Cosmetology to see if there are any complaints made against the aesthetician you’re considering or the establishment they work in. If you have a skin-care brand that you trust, check to see if they have affiliated spas, like Clarins, Bliss, L’Occitane, and Kiehls, to name a few.
Regardless of how you find them, your aesthetician should ultimately make you feel safe and comfortable. Everyone’s skin is different, and until they invent an end-all be-all product to help with all of our individual problems, it's nice to know that there are pros out there to make our skin-care journey just a little easier.
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