The Big Three to Protect Your Livelihood
BY ASCP Staff
So often in our everyday lives, we don’t realize that we face risk of some sort. We naturally learn to lessen those risks by using common sense taking some precautions. For example, we use potholders when taking a dish out of a hot oven. We regularly maintain the tires and brakes on our cars. We install fire detectors.
You may not think being an esthetician is a risky business. But a smart skin care professional also takes care to mitigate risks to their livelihood. When it comes to our careers and the risk of losing that career, esties often think of things like proper ergonomics and making sure they know about new modalities, equipment, and product ingredients to make sure their clients keep coming back. But there are far greater risks to your livelihood as an esthetician than an achy back and tired skills.
There are three things that could literally end your career today: the government, a litigious client, and a lack of professional support. How can you alleviate these risks? Here are three non-negotiables that every esthetician needs to do to protect their livelihood and all three are as simple as cleansing your face at night.
1. Operate your business legally.
You are probably thinking, “Well, this is a no-brainer!” But you might be surprised how many estheticians are deviating into illegal practices. We get it . . . state boards are difficult to reach and can be ambiguous when it comes to interpreting state law. You might hang up the phone and still not have a definitive answer if microneedling or dermaplaning is within your scope of practice. Unfortunately, there is no fairy godmother of rules and regulations who will visit you in the night to keep you posted on any changes that effect your scope of practice. It’s time to take this responsibility on yourself. As a licensed skin care professional, you need to know your scope of practice, and operate within those parameters. As I mentioned, it’s not always easy to interpret law, but if you’re in doubt whether you are within scope or not, our advice is, don’t do it! Maybe that state board inspector will never darken your spa doorstep—but if they do, they could suspend (or revoke) your license and shut your business down immediately. There goes your income! And if you do end up injuring a client and they report you to the state board, heaven help you if the service you provided was not within your scope of practice. It’s just not worth the risk.
Also, brush up on your tax laws to make certain whether you are an employee, independent contractor, or a sole proprietor so you won’t have any trouble if the IRS ever audits your tax returns. Be honest when you report tips, and keep your licenses current and your spa compliant with all state board and business bureau/board/community/property rules in your location.
2. Have liability insurance.
It’s striking how many estheticians don’t have personal liability insurance. Unfortunately, this may not be a topic your beauty school covered, but if you haven’t heard, we live in a litigious society. There are no rules as to who can be named in a lawsuit. Anyone can sue anyone, whether it’s right or wrong. One lawsuit can rob you of everything you’ve worked so hard to attain. You can lose your business, your home, your car, and even have future earnings garnished. Even the most seasoned esty can have an “oops” moment and injure a client. Even if your loyal client doesn’t sue, if they rack up $10,000 in medical bills due to a chemical peel burn that has scarred their face, do you think they won’t expect you to pay for it?
Every skin care professional will protect their livelihood with esthetician liability insurance to cover professional, general, and product liability. Even if you work at a reputable spa, it’s a smart idea to have your own individual liability insurance so you know and understand the coverage, and you’re 100-percent certain your career is protected. Many spa policies will not cover you if you are individually named in a lawsuit. Their insurance company is being paid to protect the business name, not you as the solo esthetician.
You might also be surprised how inexpensive liability insurance can be for estheticians, especially when compared to all you may stand to lose if you don’t have insurance. A preferred option would be to find insurance through a professional association that understands skin care and can offer many more resources than “just” insurance. This leads us to the third of the Big Three!
3. Get professional support though an association for just for estheticians.
When you enter the workforce after graduating from beauty school, you kind of feel like you’re going it alone. Even if you work in a spa with other estheticians and massage therapists, most of your time is spent alone in the treatment room with a client. This can make you feel isolated. There is no need to feel this disconnect. You can join a professional association with thousands of members just like you. They share the same passion for skin care, the same hunger for more education on products, treatments, and equipment, the same need for business support, the same successes and trials and tribulations. Every legitimate profession has a professional association in place to represent and provide community to those working within that industry. If you’re not familiar with what an association can provide, listen up! A professional skin care association can provide education on all the latest and greatest trends in skin care, helpful business/marketing resources to build clientele, best practices during and after COVID, and a sense of community. It can also elevate the stature of its members in the clients’ eyes. Associations help stand ground against threats to its members’ careers. Those threats may be deregulation of licensure, and/or protecting your scope of practice. The more the skin care industry provides a united front, the more successful we’ll all be. We’ve all heard it takes a village to raise a child, but it takes a professional association and an entire industry to raise us as professional estheticians!
These three ways to protect your career may seem like no-brainers—and they are—but somehow in the tremendous growth of the skin care industry in the last 10+ years, the message has gotten lost. There are too many estheticians who are not following all the legal rules, working on clients every day without liability insurance protection, and many who are not affiliated with a professional association to support them and raise their credibility with the general public. It’s time to protect your livelihood, and the least we can all do are the easy Big Three.
Did you know that if you join Associated Skin Care Professionals, you will receive comprehensive liability insurance, 200+ hours of cutting-edge educational videos, our member magazine—ASCP Skin Deep, business and marketing tools, and so much more for only $259 per year? Isn’t it time you joined?