The Steaming Esthetician

ASCP membership provides vital professional liability insurance to protect you in case of an accident. Having the right team and coverage can make even the hardest situation a lot smoother. Here’s a real-life story of an accident gone wrong.

ASCP member Julia had used her facial steamer on clients almost every day, so she never guessed it would malfunction and spit scalding hot water all over a client during a treatment. Unfortunately, it did. Her client’s neck was burned. At first, Julia didn’t think it was going to be a big deal—the client said she would visit the doctor and Julia’s colleague tried to assure her it would be fine too. One week later, Julia received a letter from the client that said the incident had caused a second-degree burn and she was considering plastic surgery or laser treatment to remove the scar. The client expected Julia to cover the expense. One year later, Julia received a notice from a lawyer informing her that this former client was suing her. The good news—ASCP handled the whole suit.

This is just one example of the accidents that can happen. Some accidents are small, and some are big. Regardless of the size, this ASCP member was covered and didn’t incur any out-of-pocket expenses. Make sure you have the best professional liability insurance and a team to support you so you can get help if you ever go through what Julia went through. 

Here are the top 10 ways to reduce risk to your client and protect your career:

1. Maintain a safe work environmentwoman using hand sanitizer

  • Document regular safety checks
  • Inspect tables and anything that supports your clients
  • Keep floor clear of potential hazards or obstacles
  • Maintain fire extinguishers
  • Clean up spills immediately
  • Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize

2. Routinely check heat sources

  • Unplug heat sources
  • Use battery-operated candles
  • Keep all electronic cords in good condition
  • Know how to use your fire extinguisher

3. Intake, health history, and waiver forms

  • Always require clients to complete a health history form before any treatment, even if they are friends and you feel confident that you already know their history
  • Verbally review all forms with your client to be sure you both understand what is being described or reported
  • Always use consent forms. This instills a sense of responsibility in the mind of the client

4. Always discuss potential risks or contraindications

  • Document and date what you discussed with your client
  • Follow suggested protocol for products and treatment considerations
  • Get proper training
  • Performing a patch test on your client is always a good idea if you are performing a new service or using a new product that may have more aggressive results

5. Keep accurate recordsClient consultation

  • Document each treatment given and list the products used; refer to this prior to your client’s arrival
  • Keep notes on every client visit
  • Keep client records for 5­–7 years in the event of late-filed claims.

6. Always use caution when applying heat

  • This includes steamers, wax, chemical peels, towel warmers, and anything else that can cause the skin to burn

7. Posttreatment precautions

  • Instruct your clients carefully on what they should expect and what they should and shouldn’t do once they leave your treatment room
  • Provide both written and verbal instructions
  • Again, document your instructions

8. Build strong and professional relationships with your clients

  • Strong, communicative relationships with your clients may prevent a client from suing you
  • Set realistic expectations for each treatment and build a treatment plan
  • Ensure privacy through professionalism
  • Never gossip about personal matters or others in the spa with your clients or gossip with fellow colleagues about clients

9. Never practice unsafe procedures

  • Know your state’s scope of practice. States may change or alter scope of practice, so be sure to stay informed. Scope-of-practice standards and regulations can sometimes be confusing; if you are unsure, call your state.  Our members have access to contact information for each state board, and we also list our interpretation of the more advanced modalities by state and whether they appear to be within scope.
  • Never perform unproven or unorthodox treatments or procedures
  • Make sure you have proper training on the services you perform and the products you use

10. When in doubt, refer out

  • If your client asks about a service you are currently not offering due to scope of practice or lack of training, direct them to the proper professional who can perform that service. We recommend setting up a referral plan with a small, trustworthy group of professionals. This will build trust as the skin care authority while ensuring that your client continues to use your services as well.


Smart estheticians realize that being named in a lawsuit is not worth risking your career. Why chance it when excellent protection is so affordable? ASCP offers protection with the industry’s best value in liability coverage for skin care professionals.

Not an ASCP member? Join today and gain access to all the benefits we have to offer to support you and your career including on-demand continuing education videos, ASCP Skin Deep magazine, members-only discounts, business and marketing tools, and more!

Note: The insurance coverage descriptions above are illustrative only. Refer to a copy of the policy for specific coverages, limitations, exclusions, terms, and conditions. The insurance information contained herein is not a part of your insurance policy; it is instead a partial illustration of benefits, conditions, limitations, and exclusions. In the event that there is confusion or conflict between the policy language and any information provided herein, the policy language shall control

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