What I've Learned in 7 Years as an Esthetician

Tiffanie Orr

Hello my friend!
I'm so happy you're here. I am SO excited to finally put my thoughts in writing and share with you what fuels my passion as an esthetician and the reason for my WHY. 
From a young age, I've always had a slightly bossy edge, yet enough compassion to nurture and serve on a more intimate level. And I've always been a girly girl So it comes as no surprise that I play all things beauty for a living, while getting to be my own boss. Lets start at the beginning though...
It's 2011 and I've been working at the local hospital as an emergency room tech (the front desk person who also does nurse aid duties) for 5 1/2 years and I am BURNT. At first I loved this job, but 12 hour night shifts left me feeling very drained. And unless I wanted to go to nursing school, this job had no real future for me. I knew I had to go back to school for something, but what?! Traditional college was not my scene (been there done that). I was looking for something where I could go to school for a year or less, then get to work as quick as possible. I was dreaming! I would literally scour the internet in the wee hours of the morning toward the end of my shift looking for programs within a 150 mile radius (Salmon, ID is in the middle of nowhere). I happened upon the Austin Kade Academy website. A beauty school in Idaho Falls, ID that was starting a brand new Esthetics Program. YES! This was it! I thought back to my first facial was when I was 18 years old, and the religious practice of applying an eye cream that that first skincare treatment had taught me. I could totally do skincare!! The thought ignited a fire within me that has yet to burn out. I applied, started and finished the program before the end of 2011. 
It's now 2019, and I have been operating my own skincare business, Sweet Cheeks Waxing & Skincare in the heart of Salmon, Idaho for over 7 years. I absolutely LOVE what I do and sometimes pinch myself that my path led me to this career. I always say, it doesn't feel like work, and that to me is having a successful career. 
I have learned some lessons along the way, some good and some not so good. But each one has paved my path and helped me grow, both as a person and a business owner. 
Not everyone is your customer
My esthetician career has seen 3 pregnancies and maternity leaves, as well as countless vacations and time off. When I first opened my shop and started to build my clientele, I put my nose to the ground and worked my ass off. I worked anytime a client requested. Late evenings, weekends, early mornings, you name it. And while I wouldn't do anything differently, if I had continued down that path I would have experienced that inevitable burnout most service oriented careers eventually see. I am a people pleaser by nature. And in order to earn a paycheck I had to please the people who were willing to pay me. I had to get tough and learn to say NO. And that was really hard. But when I started to respect my time and energy, my clients followed suite.
I used to worry incessantly about taking time off too. After my first son Jack was born, I think I was back to work within 4 weeks. I worried and fretted if I was gone for too long, people would find someone else to wax their eyebrows and take care of their skin and I would never see them again. Fast forward to when my third baby was born. I took a solid 3 months of time off, and when I did finally return to work I eased myself slowly back into a schedule. I can't tell you what a huge difference that was for my mental state. Not only was I listening to my own needs, but by this point I had realized that my clients come to me for ME. They come and get waxed or relax with a facial because they trust me and want my services. 
My small little town of 3500 people (give or take) has seen the addition of 4 estheticians in the last 7 years, including myself. Salmon employed one licensed esthetician named LaRae for years and years and years, technically before skincare was particularly trendy. LaRae is the kindest, most hard working lady I have ever met and I look up to her tremendously. I was the 2nd esthetician on the seen in Salmon, followed by 3 others over the years. I truly believe in my heart that the more the merrier. There is plenty of business for ALL of us to go around, even in our tiny little town. There's truly a clientele for everyone.
All in all, I've lost some clients here and there over the years for various reasons. Either my scheduling or unavailability was a factor, or ladies would move their services to a different esthetician in town. Maybe they like their style better, and that is perfectly OK.
Skincare fads come and go
I have some pretty strict principles I follow, and most of them go back to the basics of skincare. A lot of them are self-explanatory, such as sanitation practices, good manners, a relaxing atmosphere, sun protection ALWAYS, etc. But I have seen some very crazy trends that are an esthetician's nightmare. Coconut oil as a face moisturizer (coconut oil is straight up comedogenic which means it creates a barrier on the skin and will clog your pores). Peel off charcoal masques that literally rip the hair and skin off your face when removed. Or those dreaded micro needling rollers used at home that spread bacteria and leave jagged microscopic tears in the skin (yikes!). My advice, if there's something new on the horizon that you're curious to try, always visit a reliable esthetician first. She/he can point you in the right direction and help you develop the correct skincare routine for you and your skin. Also please note, amazon prime is not a reliable source to purchase skincare products, and YouTube beauty bloggers don't necessarily know what they are talking about (keep in mind a lot of times companies pay YouTubers to advertise their product, resulting in a biased review or demonstration). 
Sometimes we mess up
I remember every single time I've messed up in the treatment room (thankfully I can count on one hand the times). 
My first "mistake" wasn't necessarily a mess-up, but it was traumatic enough for both me and my client to remember. I was still in esthetics school and  had to perform my very first Brazilian wax on a very pregnant first time waxer. I was green, she had never been waxed, and neither one of us knew what we were getting into. Let's just say it was extremely painful, embarrassing, and my instructor had to intervene and take over. I still think about that poor girl to this day. I'm sure her labor pains weren't even as bad as that encounter in the wax room! The silver lining here was I learned a lot of technique about waxing that day that probably would have taken YEARS to master. 
About 4 months into my own practice, I waxed a young blonde girl's brows and basically took the ends of her eyebrows clean off. She was incredibly gracious about it and was able to laugh it off (at least in my presence) and we were able to move past the incident. She was very young, so within 6 weeks her brows grew back fully (phew!) and I still wax her gorgeous brows to this day. Lesson learned: pay attention, use technique with every face shape, and be honest and up front with your client if a mistake is ever made. 
Then there was one particularly hot summer day and I was giving a regular client a facial and she had an allergic reaction. This one was a bit out of my hands, but it still can happen. I remained calm, followed protocol and removed the product immediately, applied cold compresses until the swelling came down, all while keeping my client calm. Luckily she had a very mild reaction, so we were able to target exactly what made her react and focus on what not to do at her next treatment. 
This goes back to the old saying, we learn from our mistakes. And not to say mistakes should be made often or at all, especially when it comes to your skin and body. But always keep in mind, your esthetician is human. Your hair stylist is human. Your dentist, doctor, mechanic, etc are all HUMAN. We overbook ourselves, we have scheduling mishaps, we run out of retail product, we get tired, our kids get sick and we have to close, we get sick and we have to stay home. But at the end of the day, we work to serve. I love my clients and they keep me going and keep me growing.
Until next time, remember to love yourself and wear your sunscreen.

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