Estheticians Are Not Doctors.


Esthetician's Lab Coat from photo

Esthetician's Lab Coat from Wait, what does she remind me of?


At Beauty U, we’re told this all the time. Like, don’t think that you can diagnose a mole as skin cancer. Just suggest your client see her dermatologist for a check-up. And, don’t expect to learn lasers or Botox — those have to be administered by a doctor, or an esthetician working under a doctor with advanced training. (Read: Well beyond the scope of Beauty U.)

Some of the time, I find this reassuring. Anatomy, cosmetic chemistry, skin physiology and basic electricity each get a dedicated chapter in our Milady’s textbook. That adds up to maybe three weeks, tops, that we spent learning straight-up science and they are everybody’s least favorite chapters. Last week I was waiting for a client in the classroom while Miss Lisa and Miss Stacy led the current crop of freshmen through their chemistry chapter (this involves the students reading off a PowerPoint lecture while the teachers interject every now and then with their own knowledge and expertise). When it came time to figure out the difference between a solute and a solvent, everyone got so stumped that we turned to Wikipedia for a better explanation. I’m not saying these women are dumb. They are quite smart. I’m just saying: Med school, it ain’t.

But some of the time, I also find this whole “you’re not as smart as doctors” approach to be pretty patronizing. American Spa posted a story a few weeks ago about an esthetician who spotted a sketchy looking mole after the client’s dermatologist had refused to do anything about it for two years in a row. The mole came off and the verdict was: basal cell carcinoma. Score one, esthetics.

On the other hand, there are these times when we are taught to act like doctors. When we escort a client out after her spa service, for example, we’re supposed to say, “I’d like to see you for another facial in four weeks.”

“It’s like going to the dentist where they just automatically schedule you for your next cleaning in six months,” Miss Susannah explains. “This way, the client just thinks oh, I better rebook now, because she needs to see me again in four weeks.”

Miss Susannah also uses the “I’d like you to do X” phrasing when she retails products, as in “I’d like to see you using a moisturizer with an SPF” or “I’d like to try a night cream, to see if that helps the puffiness under your eyes.” Just like when the doctor says, “I’d like to try a course of antibiotics.”

Except we’re not like the dentist where getting your teeth cleaned every six months has been medically proven to prevent cavities and other oral health issues. And you’re not sick. Getting a facial every four weeks might make your skin look prettier, and be a really nice treat, but it isn’t medically necessary.

Because we’re not doctors. But we are kind of okay with you thinking that we are.


1 Comment

Filed under Beauty Schooled, Career Opportunities, Customer Cult, In Class, week 30

One response to “Estheticians Are Not Doctors.

  1. Hi Virginia,

    I found your blog last night (via Good With Style, I think) and could not stop reading! I blogged about you this morning. Thanks so much for sharing this fascinating little slice of life you’re living!

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