"Don't take things personally." (and other topics... like these "Syringe Clinics" masquerading as "Medi-Spas" - and more.)
I was just writing in my diary about an incident that happened yesterday between myself and a client. It was developing into a monologue about how the industry I have spent HALF MY LIFE in has changed over the years - dramatically changed - so I thought I'd pull it out of private diary status and blog about it. You're welcome. ;D
What happened was, a client came in for a facial, and as soon as I felt her chin I knew she had gone somewhere else for some other kind of 'treatment' because it was raw and red and I typically frown on 'treatments' that cause that kind of damage to skin, so I avoid them. So I inquired, sort of hoping my instincts were wrong and that maybe her husband was growing a beard and that's what was causing the irritation!
Nope. Right again. Shoot. She excitedly told me about how she did what a friend of hers did and went to a "Medi-Spa" for glycolic peels and was using Retinol at home. Ok, right away I need to clear something up. There is NOTHING SPA about a "Medi-Spa". What they 'should' be called is "Syringe Clinic for the Greedy and Gullible". That's truth in advertising.
Unfortunately, because I am human with an ego and experiences that lead me down the wrong path sometimes, instead of hearing what she was saying, "Nancy, I haven't had the time to take care of myself in a very long time, and now I am finally doing something for myself and I want to excitedly tell you all about it.", what I heard was "Nancy, you aren't good enough to give me RESULTS so I go elsewhere for that - but I LOVE your warm bed and "fluff and buff" frivolous facials - but you are not a serious professional in skin care."
WHOOPS. So I kind of went off on her a bit. My ego was bruised - PLUS I don't actually think strong peels and retinol are the best things for your skin long-term - which is WHY I DON'T OFFER THEM! If I thought microdermabrasion was the fountain of youth, I would have bought the machine way back in the 1990's when the craze first started, but I DON'T! I don't believe STRIP MINING your SKIN is the way to healthy, beautiful skin! It's popular, but so is McDonald's. Just because it's out there and people offer it doesn't mean it's what is best for your skin.
And that's when my ego gets riled up.
WHY ARE YOU COMING TO ME IF YOU AREN'T TAKING/HEEDING MY ADVICE?
I have spent HALF MY LIFE in this industry. I have a bookcase FULL of trade magazines that I read like the Bible; and countless books and videos. I've spent weekends watching webinars on skin biology, trying to keep up with the latest REAL scientific breakthroughs - not the ones Cindy Crawford found in a melon! I drove ELEVEN HOURS ONE WAY to take a weekend class on skin care! And you know what the lady who WORKS ACROSS THE STREET from the school said to me when I said "I bet you've taken EVERY CLASS they offer?" She said, "I DON'T HAVE THE TIME."!!!
I have poured my heart and soul into my work.
So, yes, I "take it personally." Wish I didn't, but at least I care enough to get upset.
One client (and friend), who I had a row with because she stopped using my serum - which was BRINGING HER GREAT RESULTS - in favor of some horrible multi-level marketing gimmick that her 'friend' recommended she use; as we were "passionately discussing" my horror at her new choice, I reminded her of how much I do to make each decision the right decision - the studying I do, the travelling I've done, the time and energy I've put into this career. She said, "Of course you do, that's what ALL professionals have to do in their career - that's nothing special." WELL, honey, yes it IS special! I'm also a client and have gone to countless places for facials and you know what? Most every therapist/cosmetologist/esthetician I've met has not one clue there is anything beyond showing up for work, putting in their hours, and getting their paycheck. Then when the paycheck goes down because no one markets the business, they jump ship and look for another 'job' at another salon. Repeat. 99.99% of all licensed grads STOP LEARNING as soon as they graduate. THAT IS WHY I TAKE THIS SO PERSONALLY.
It's so frustrating to have poured so much of yourself into something you are passionate about only to continue to find so many uphill struggles.
Back when I opened Vanities in the early 1990's the "professional" aspect of this industry was in it's infancy. There have always been skin care products, and a multitude of people selling them. So what made the educated and licensed skin care graduate different from the Mary Kay ladies or the clerk behind the counter? THAT has been our battle from the beginning. And, sadly, we're losing. Frankly, one could say "We've LOST the battle - and the war."
Back then you couldn't get in the door to even speak to a dermatologist about skin care products. Now they are trying to put us out of business because they realized that there is money to be made schlepping products and they are DOCTORS so they should rule everything. WRONG. Derms don't take ONE HOUR of skin care training. ZERO product knowledge. ZERO ingredient knowledge. Just simple greed.
So let's say you went to beauty school, graduated, tested and got your license ... then opened a skin care salon where you needed to not just do services, but offer professional grade products for your clients to keep up their treatment results at home. So you research and scour all your options and settle on what you deem is the best for your clients and their skin. Now you have to sell it. Great. No, not so great. You are now in a sea of skin care products riding the currents along side Estee Lauder, Lancome, L'Oreal, and that's not all ... now there ARE DERMS who are selling skin care products, Dr. Murad, Obagi, etc. ... but wait, there's MORE ... EVERY celebrity wants to sell skin care products, too ... so add Cindy Crawford and Jessica Alba and MADONNA to the list ... but wait, we're not done yet. Don't forget about all the multi-level-marketing mashers like Mary Kay, NERIUM, Nu Skin, Arbonne, that list gets so long I can't even keep up. You think we'd be done, but you'd be wrong. In the 2000's the organic trend came on the scene so now every heath store has skin care. The internet has skin care coming out it's ears (if the internet had ears!). IT'S ABSOLUTELY EVERYWHERE.
So, that leaves me with a question. After spending half my life as "Nancy at Vanities", WHO AM I? Am I the professional I've been trained to be? Or am I just a "facial lady" who slathers creams on people in a dimly lit, soothing environment?
Another question: can you be a professional when even your own industry can't keep it's standards afloat? The company I started with even before I opened my salon, so we're talking late 1980's, was dermalogica. When I first started I didn't have the courage or confidence to launch my own line, but I knew what I would have wanted it to be if I could have: results focused products that worked gently, with plant-based ingredients, and the latest scientific breakthroughs. In the late 80's that line was dermalogica. So instead of standing in front, I chose to stand behind a line and let them lead. It was still an uphill battle because NO ONE had ever heard of this line and still no one understood skin care could be a PROFESSION. In Europe professional skin care was highly thought of, but in the US, it was still a world of cold creams and nothing more.
For nearly 20-years dermalogica and I were, by all accounts except by legal definition, PARTNERS. Jane, it's founder, I held in high esteem and valued her as a mentor. I rode the wave as this small company grew and grew and advanced and advanced. dermalogica's parent company was the IDI - or International Dermal Institute, and as one aspect grew, both parts grew. In the 80's there was only one IDI - it was in Southern California, where Jane was. Then by the time I joined in, there were two: one more in Reston, VA just outside D.C. (and the site of the 22-hour round trip I made just to attend classes there.).
For a long while the ride was exciting and fun. I felt empowered to represent what was truly FOR PROFESSIONALS ONLY. An exclusive line just for us Estheticians and as they are known elsewhere in the world, Beauty Therapists.
THEN THE INTERNET CAME.
The internet ruined everything.
Now instead of a client coming in to see me and taking home the correct products they could just 'go online' and source their "professional" products themselves - and often at such a discounted price I could barely BUY it at those internet prices. So America's love of the quick fix ruled the day - and put most of us out of business.
Jane would always teach that our businesses should be 50% service dollars and 50% RETAIL dollars. So if you paid $100 for a facial, you should buy $100 in products. That's great for business - and great for Jane who sold her products to us! So if you were able to run your business that way and suddenly all your clients who had never heard of a line before you educated them on it were now just 'buying online' - you just lost HALF YOUR BUSINESS INCOME! Not so nice.
Never mind all the while we were preaching the benefits of real PROFESSIONAL skin care, we were still competing with ALL those other lines and the constant hustle of "this is why you need my line and not their line" was quite draining.
Fast forward $200 MILLION DOLLARS later, and sweet Jane (and husband) SOLD their "professional" skin care line to - get this - UNILEVER! "Thanks Jane for stabbing us in the back by allowing internet sales, and now thanks very much for absolutely KILLING any "professional" connotation to your precious dermalogica line." So, the lady who spent HER entire life trying to educate people against using SOAP on their skin sold her company to a SOAP COMPANY. Ah, the irony. Big bucks does strange things to people. Or maybe, she just got tired of the uphill fight, too? That knife still hurts my back, by the way.
Now here I am nearing the final stages of my career and the fight continues. I'm not struggling against the loyal Mary Kay followers as much anymore, and I've given up on trying to outsell the internet. No now my challenge is the syringe clinic (falsely marketed as "Medi-Spa") and the harsh "treatments" they are selling a gullible audience. I get to see the strange bumps a bad filler injection is causing, and listen to the lady who will suffer for months because there is nothing to fix a bad injection. I get to witness a client of mine seeking outside services and see the red irritated face she brings to my table but with no knowledge that what she just did to her skin has created long term damage. She didn't think to ask me first, she trusted a "friend" instead and followed her to the syringe and strip mining clinic. It's beyond frustrating.
In conclusion - if there ever is going to be a conclusion - 26 years ... HALF MY LIFE ... and what has it all meant? That's a question I'm in the process of figuring out.
Thanks for listening.