The skin care industry is fiercely competitive, and navigating the ins and outs of client management, business ownership, and maintaining a work-life balance while achieving important goals can be challenging. In this episode of ASCP Esty Talk, Ella and Maggie review an article touting the reasons one esthetician decided the beauty industry was not for her. Tune in to see if any of her reasons resonate (or don’t) with your experience as an esthetic professional and what she could have done to rise above and banish burnout.
ASCP Esty Talk with Maggie Staszcuk and Ella Cressman
Produced by Associated Skin Care Professionals (ASCP) for licensed estheticians, ASCP Esty Talk is a weekly podcast hosted by Maggie Staszcuk and Ella Cressman. We see your passion, innovation, and hard work and are here to support you by providing a platform for networking, advocacy, camaraderie, and education. We aim to inspire you to ask the right questions, find your motivation, and give you the courage to have the professional skin care career you desire.
About Ella Cressman:
Ella Cressman is a licensed esthetician, certified organic formulator, business owner, and absolute ingredient junkie! As an educator, she enjoys empowering other estheticians and industry professionals to understand skin care from an ingredient standpoint rather than a product-specific view.
She has spent many hours researching ingredients, understanding how and where they are sourced, as well as phytochemistry, histological access, and complementary compounds for intentional skin benefits. In addition to running a skin care practice, Cressman founded a comprehensive consulting group, the HHP Collective, and has consulted for several skin care lines, including several successful CBD brands.
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About Maggie Staszcuk:
Maggie has been a licensed esthetician since 2006 and holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Stephens College. She has worked in the spa and med-spa industry and served as an esthetics instructor and a director of education for one of the largest schools in Colorado before coming to ASCP as the Advanced Modality Specialist.
Connect with Maggie Staszcuk:
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About Associated Skin Care Professionals (ASCP):
Associated Skin Care Professionals (ASCP) is the nation’s largest association for skin care professionals and your ONLY all-inclusive source for professional liability insurance, education, community, and career support. For estheticians at every stage of the journey, ASCP is your essential partner. Get in touch with us today if you have any questions or would like to join and become an ASCP member.
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0:00:37.9 EC: Hello and welcome to ASCP Esty Talk. I'm Ella Cressman licensed esthetician, certified organic skincare formulator, and content contributor for Associated Skincare Professionals.
0:00:54.6 Maggie Steciuk: I am Maggie Steciuk, licensed esthetician and ASCP's education program manager.
0:01:01.3 EC: And just in case I still sound a little different I am still recuperating from my fall, my broken leg, but it's pretty close to where I'll be able to walk again. And you know what? I will never take that for a minute again. It's something I cannot believe it, I can't believe how humbling of an experience this has been, so.
0:01:21.3 MS: We Look forward to having you back in the studio, Ella.
0:01:24.6 EC: I know I missed you there. But I do want to still continue our tradition of shouting out. Today I wanna shout out Derma Donis from Aesthetics Lab in Delano, California. Thank you for listening. So he is very excited to be part of the industry and loves our podcast. And also sent me a follow up message to talk about, and he was trolling through the archives and ran across our, two of our podcasts on men in the skincare industry. And so he felt very empowered by listening to those. So, hey Derma Donis, and how powerful of a name is that?
0:02:00.2 MS: It's so powerful. And you know what, we need to do more about men in aesthetics.
0:02:05.4 EC: I think so too. He's killing it. He's excited. He's loving this industry, but that's not always the case. Wouldn't you say, Maggie? There's an opportunity, especially, I think in any industry but we hear some about burnout and fatigue in the aesthetics industry.
0:02:23.1 MS: Yeah, it happens all the time.
0:02:25.3 EC: And you actually sent me an article about one, and I think we should go over it today. Because there are some points that were brought up that I take issue with and there are some things that I agree with. So there's an article that came out in BuzzFeed in January of this year and the article is titled, "You Wanna Know Why My Career As An Aesthetician Didn't Work Out?" This Woman just Got Real About How Toxic The Beauty Industry Can Be And It's A Sad Reality.
0:02:53.6 MS: I think focusing first on that title, it is true that beauty industry can be toxic sometimes, it is inundated with women. Enough said.
0:03:02.1 EC: I think sometimes any industry can be toxic because I have a past history of working with men. Enough said.
0:03:10.3 MS: Okay, all right. Touche.
0:03:12.4 EC: I find women to be a lot easier to work with.
0:03:14.9 MS: Interesting. I'm the opposite. But with all of that said, men and or women, it's hard to be in an industry where everybody is maybe sometimes a little bit cranky about looking their best, how they wanna look, being demanding about those things. And it's a service industry which also is very challenging at the end of the day.
0:03:38.6 EC: I think so too. And I think you are also giving so much to your clients, and then there's something to be said about where you work. Would you agree?
0:03:47.7 MS: Absolutely. Yeah.
0:03:49.0 EC: I think environment is everything and so this article talks about, Destiny Armstrong, is the aesthetician's name that she's a licensed esthetician for a certain amount of years and she stopped practicing last year to pursue a career as a flight attendant. And when I read that and I thought about toxicity, I was like, "That is an interesting choice."
0:04:08.5 MS: I totally had the same thought. I thought, "Oh, that's funny."
0:04:12.4 EC: Yeah. So she went viral on TikTok because she shared her reasons of getting out of this industry. So first I wanna say that I respect everyone's experience and everyone's opinion on matters. But this one in particular struck me strong because she talks about the... And this is what they highlight in this video that the few reasons that she got out. So she says that she's too honest for the industry and that she noted that the goal of many spas in her experience, and I think that's the key point there, is to make as much money as possible with little care or concern about the customer. So the first part of that sentence as a business owner, I would say is a valid goal. Make as much money as possible. The second part of that sentence with little care or concern about the customer is where I take issue with. And again, I wanna honor her experience. But that is the opposite or the antithesis of what we are in the spa industry supposed to be doing. We're supposed to be caring for people.
0:05:09.2 MS: Yeah, I totally agree. And the key point that she makes there is in her experience, and so it sounds like maybe... The place of business she was at was not a right fit for her, number one. And number two, you said it, that is the goal of a business but we are in the industry of caring for people.
0:05:30.1 EC: Let's talk about the reason. So the first scenario that she is saying, she gave two scenarios. The first one she was explaining that she had a woman come into her shop, to her place of business. And she was there because the woman's boyfriend had bought her gift certificate for her facial. So she had problems skin, and in the consultation she reported that she washed her face with dish soap. And so this Destiny's position was, she's breaking out really bad because it's probably because she's using dish soap. And rather than explaining that and telling her what to purchase, how to amend the situation, her manager said, you need to talk her into $2,000 facial package. And that facial package happened to be for anti-aging. So it didn't fit. So this is a young girl, an 18-year-old, washing her face with a dish soap, having problems, probably has a compromised barrier.
0:06:26.3 EC: So Destiny wanted to take a one therapeutic route, and her manager's like, "No, sell her this package." And so that was toxic for her, because obviously, the girl couldn't afford it. So her resolve was to pull her to the side and tell her what to get at the grocery store or at Altar or something. And that was the end of that. So I agree with Destiny that the customer's needs should be primary. I disagree with the manager that the package, a $2,000 anti-aging package is not appropriate here. But there is a little there... Was there nothing there that she could have recommended is there not an in between?
0:07:02.5 MS: Yeah, I think there's a lot of issues that are happening here and it's all about education, education for the client, but also for Destiny. And you're right that the manager maybe could have been in the wrong in attempting to sell this $2,000 facial package to an 18-year-old client, or regardless of age, to a client who's experiencing acne when that package was intended for anti-aging. And you're also right, Destiny should be educating her client about what's best suited for her needs and feel empowered to sell her what the spa has to offer, and not assume what she can or cannot afford. Right?
0:07:39.6 EC: Absolutely. Here's another point. She worked at that place, it appears, I'm assuming, and you know that happens when you assume, I'm assuming that this is the place she used to worked the entirety of her aesthetics career. That's the impression I got. I don't know if you had the same impression. I want to encourage that you need to find the best fit for you. If the business that you're working for, policies are not in alignment with your skincare philosophies, then it's okay to find somewhere that would better align. It's a disservice to you and to the business owner to accept an employment opportunity but not support that business philosophy. So if that business philosophy was an anti-aging business, let's just say, then maybe that wasn't the best fit for that person. And I'm not blaming the boyfriend for getting her certificate, I'm just saying like this kind of goes into her second scenario.
0:08:31.7 EC: I'm setting it up for the second scenario. So another example is that she's, wherever she was working, they had brow services and one of 'em was tint and wax. And the tint and wax can cost about $50 every two weeks, they said. So what she would do is she would show her customers, not her customers, the business customers, how easy it can be to color their own brows at home depending on their situation and what were the best brands to buy. So as an employer she's turning away business to go to something else. If you are your own boss, I don't see a problem with that. If you own your own business and you're like, "Hey, this is my philosophy, you could do this at home and you're gonna come back to me for other services." But if I was her employer I would be furious.
0:09:20.4 MS: Yeah. And I think again, destiny is selling herself out of the business. Whether she is an independent contractor working for herself or she is an employee of a business, she should think of this as her own business and she's trying to build a client following. But if she keeps telling her clients, "You know what? It's okay, actually you can go to Target and buy X, Y, and Z and do this at home for yourself." Why would they ever come back and see her?
0:09:45.1 EC: Right. What's the point? I don't know that she was bought in. You said it right there. Selling herself out of aesthetics. Does she bought into how it works?
0:09:53.5 MS: Yeah. And I have seen new estheticians do this a lot and I think it is, one, assuming what your clients can or cannot afford, not having faith in your ability and afraid to sell.
0:10:08.7 EC: There you go. One fast way to burnout is emoting for other people. So when you're having emotions for other people, that's a lot of energy. And one of those emotions could be apprehension. Someone told me once, you never sell with someone else's wallet in mind. You don't know what their value system is. You can have someone who is perceivably wealthy that doesn't find value in something or someone who's perceivably not wealthy, who would find value in it. So you never sell with cost in mind. You can adjust for that consideration, but you wouldn't sell just for that. You have to sell for function. What are you wanting? What changes are you wanting? How are you gonna meet a goal? And if there needs to be amendments, then you change that way. If you approach retail sales that way and we shouldn't call 'em retail sales, we should call them treatment extensions if you approach retail sales or selling or home care that way, then you are going to constantly encourage your own thought process. And if you're constantly encouraging your own thought process, then you're exercising that muscle. So the burnout of feeling other people's maybe, maybe not emotions, is eliminated.
0:11:24.3 MS: Yeah. And going back to the client who the manager tried to sell this $2,000 package, it's not up to Destiny or it's not up to the aesthetician to say no on behalf of the client. That's up to the client to decide, this package is not right for me.
0:11:38.2 EC: Hold that thought we'll be right back.
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0:13:07.5 EC: Okay, here we go. Let's give back to the podcast.
0:13:11.0 EC: Here's the other problem I have with these exposes, this article but also her choice in saying it on Facebook, it's salacious. It's meant to have people watch it. That's what she's said, I don't remember how many tens of thousands of views that it had. But it's meant to be like, "Oh, I wanna understand what that is." And negativity is contagious. So to that point, she had people commenting on this and one of the comments was, "This is why I'm scared because I'd love to get a facial but by max one item that is really worth it, which is already something I could barely afford." I'd love to get a facial. So this tells me this person has never had a facial or is stopping them from attempting to get a facial because they're anticipating a hard sale at the end of it.
0:13:55.5 MS: Yeah. And it's a silly comment to me because somebody who wants to get a facial and they choose to save up for it, find the means to go and get that facial but they're afraid to because they think somebody's then gonna attempt to sell them this $2,000 package. Again, you have the ability to say no at the end of the day, buy your facial and leave, done.
0:14:16.8 EC: But there is still something to be said for extending the results that they may receive from a facial. So here's another esthetician. They say, "I'm an esthetician and I hate how much we have to push sales." I get that if you get a facial, you can technically afford it but still. So I can empathize with that statement as far as push sales. I kinda feel that they might work for a corporation and feel like there's a sales push because that's the thing but also changing the mindset around sales, retail sales I think is key. What are your thoughts on that? I kind of talked about it earlier, but.
0:14:53.8 MS: Yeah, I agree with you. My very first job out of Aesthetic School was for a corporate company and they pushed sales. We had a quota, and we had to meet that quota every pay period. It was a percentage of our service dollars. And you definitely felt the pressure.
0:15:13.2 EC: What happened if you didn't?
0:15:15.1 MS: Well, that was your job. Your job was on the line.
0:15:17.2 EC: Really?
0:15:17.9 MS: Yeah. I will say though to your comment earlier that estheticians shouldn't view it as sales. We should believe in the work that we're doing, educate our clients about achieving the best results for their skin and that means that they are doing proper quote-unquote home care. And really that's just about washing your face every day and night. And are you using the right products to get the goals that that client told you they wanted when they first walked into your treatment room?
0:15:47.2 EC: I think it sounds like I'm coming down pretty hard on Destiny 'cause I have an opinion, because when I first read this, I felt that opinion. And there was another point that she made in there that like the last straw for her was this... Obviously she felt pressure to sell, sell, sell, sell, sell, sell. And the last straw for her was when they had this salesperson come in to motivate them, like the sales coach. And so if there's anyone that owns a corporation, a franchise, or a series of franchises, I don't know that lingo, hear me now, numbers are gonna be right now. Those like heavy sales, relationships are gonna be longer. The more relationships that you can build, the more sales you're going to get. And if you can somehow translate that to your staff, you're gonna have a better working environment and you're going to have more success.
0:16:44.7 EC: If you're pushing a sale, a package, something that your client or your patient needs, is key. But if you're trying to push something that they don't need just because you have a quota, like Maggie was saying, so that you don't lose your job. I mean, I can imagine the pressure that that would bring. But if you're doing that, you're getting the sale right now, but you're gonna face that same thing next month or next pay period, and then the pay period after that, instead of building of relationship-based business. And I've done this time and time once with my own practice, well, several times with my own practice every time I've moved. [chuckle] And then also as a sales rep, I was a horrible sales rep if you put me next to other sales reps because I would be like, "You don't need that. You don't need that many. Why don't you wait and order that next time?"
0:17:36.8 EC: Because I was more interested in the long-term success of my accounts than I was with the short-term meeting of a quota. And what happened is time and time and time, three times, I was able to build a territory and relationships that followed me later. So I didn't early on meet my goals, thank goodness it was in the probationary period, but I was able to meet and exceed goals later because I had a better business relationship with at that time where my accounts, but then, in my own practice are my clients. So that's what I would say to corporations. Let's take that into consideration and don't hire people who come in just to coach your sales staff on a subject that they may not know. And here's the case for Destiny.
0:18:21.0 EC: So they hire someone, and here's what she reports happened. He then proceeded to recommend, we question our clients by asking them things like... Basically he said that women buy based on emotion not based on logic. So if you do things to trigger their emotions, you'll get yourself a sale. So from that he said, asking them things like, does your body weight skin make you feel bad? And what have you actually done to help yourself? So these questions that are preying on their vulnerabilities to trigger emotions all with the intention of getting a sale. Maggie.
0:18:56.4 MS: I feel like...
0:19:00.1 EC: What the hell?
0:19:00.6 MS: That's a whole another podcast, Ella. I mean, we could dive into that one big time.
0:19:07.3 EC: Yeah. So I'm reading this, I'm like, "Destiny. Oh, okay."
0:19:12.0 MS: Yeah, I mean, there's a lot there to digest. I mean, don't even get me started.
0:19:18.7 EC: I think we should have a follow up on that. But after she said that, I was like, "Okay, there you go. I get it you're gonna have a lot easier time as a flight attendant because you'll be able to smile and kick him off the plane," [chuckle] that was my thought. She does go on to give some advice. She said there's a lot of green flags about the beauty industry too. That was just her experience. And once I read that, I was like, "No wonder she wanted to get out." But there's a few things. So she would've left on a good note. She wants some... Leave some good advice. "A good beauty professional should recommend products based on what you can afford." And I disagree based on what you need. And then you can decide how to afford it. "A good beauty professional creates a plan for you based on your goals, budget and time restraint." I agree, I agree. Those are considerations.
0:20:02.2 MS: True. But again she's mentioning budget. I think she's really hung up on what she thinks her clients can afford and not afford. And I don't think that should factor in. I think it should solely be on what she thinks is going to best suit her client's skincare needs. And that's it.
0:20:19.8 EC: Period dot.
0:20:20.7 MS: End of story.
0:20:23.7 EC: Yeah. And she says something I know you'll agree with too, to your point, she said a good beauty professional should have the desire to get to know you, create a connection with you and remember you. Energy is everything. They should feel open, warm, and inviting. Never judgmental or pushy. It could be your safe space. And with that, I agree.
0:20:40.2 MS: Yeah, I agree too. And I will say one other thing. If you're working at a spa where you do not believe in the products you're selling, you won't be able to sell them. Therefore, it's not the right place for you.
0:20:53.1 EC: A hundred percent. It's not the right fit. So if you don't believe in the products, talk to management, see if they're openings to bringing in products that you would believe in because at the end of the day they want to be successful. And if there's something if you're a great employee and you're a great service provider and there's something that you believe in that a lot of times they'd be open to that for sure.
0:21:15.6 EC: Burnout is something that's interesting and I've got to be honest with you, it's something that I have experienced. I've been on the cusp at many times in my aesthetic profession. And one thing that pulls me back every time is that our industry is so broad that there is something new to learn. And maybe it's a new ingredient, maybe it's a new device, maybe it's a new treatment, maybe it's just a new section of the industry, but there is something new. So before you think about leaving the industry altogether, perhaps think about changing your viewpoint. Look to the left, look to the right, turn around. There is something else here. Maggie, you are also someone who has had many roles in the aesthetic industry and different perspectives. What are your thoughts on that?
0:22:03.1 MS: I agree. Yeah. I mean, broaden your horizons. Like you said, learn something new, whether it's new devices, add to your treatment menu, new products, new ingredients. You can always be educating your client. Maybe that is helping with your burnout, and reignite that passion, whatever it is.
0:22:21.5 EC: Now, listeners, we really wanna hear from you. What are your thoughts on Destiny's take? Do you agree with her decision to leave the industry? Have you ever felt burnout? Be sure to let us know. Slide into our DMs, comment on our social media post, or send us an email at get connected @ascpskincare.com. We want to know all the details. In the meantime, thank you for listening to ASCP Esty Talk. For more information on this episode or for ways to connect with Maggie or myself, or to learn more about ASCP check out the show notes. And stay tuned for the next episode of ASCP Esty Talk.