Rachel Rowen has the perfect setup. As a solo esthetician, her Ventura, California-based skin care business, Rachel Rowen Perfect Skin, is located in a Victorian house in a beautiful neighborhood where she co-locates with an award-winning hair colorist and precision cutter. Her private treatment studio is enormous and has plenty of room for all of her tools and products. That, along with her incredible ingredient knowledge and skin care training, officially makes her the esthetician who has everything. So it may be hard to believe that less than 20 years ago, she found herself nine weeks pregnant and suddenly paralyzed at the bottom of a mountain embankment after a horrific car crash that eventually became the turning point of her life.
Before the accident, Rowen had completed her undergraduate degree at San Francisco State University in 1988 and became a school teacher to help put her husband through medical school. However, she soon changed careers to focus on skin care. “My husband decided to focus on dermatology, and I was a guinea pig, just like every wife of a medical student. I changed careers, became a medical assistant and opened a medical practice with him. For the greater good of the family, I went into it and fell in love with it.”
It was during this time that the accident happened, leaving Rowen paralyzed and pregnant ... and soon, divorced. “We were married so young, so when the real world hit, he couldn’t handle it, so we divorced,” explains Rowen, who spent a month in the hospital and then was driven by ambulance to her parents house, where she courageously made a choice to persevere. “I knew I had two kids to take care of and was not going to be a victim,” says Rowen, who was already the mother of a 2-year-old who survived the crash with her, and the baby she was pregnant with.
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After a recovery that Rowen credits to active—not stagnant—healing, as well as a titanium rod in her left leg, she recognized that in order to continue her focus on skin care, she needed an esthetics license, even though she had acquired advanced education through the time spent learning with her ex-husband. She obtained her license in 1999 from Lu Ross Academy in Ventura, California, and worked with several dermatologists until injectables became popular in the early 2000s. “I didn’t like it. I prefer regenerative skin care,” explains Rowen, who went on to open her own skin care facility in Ventura that grew to include professionals such as massage therapists, an acupuncturist and a chiropractor. However, in 2009, she had had enough of the supervisory aspects of spa ownership and decided to downsize to her current business in Ventura. “It was the best decision,” she emphasizes.
After this incredible journey, Rowen still doesn’t want to be a victim—and doesn’t work with clients who have victim mentalities, either. “One thing I won’t work with are Eeyores,” she laughs, referring to the downtrodden donkey made famous from A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh storybooks. Rowen has been trained in a wide variety of product lines and works to customize all of her services for her clients, recording their detailed personal and medical histories, and sometimes even requiring that they perform home care for several weeks before having treatments. She works primarily with the SkinCeuticals, jane iredale and Jan Marini Skin Research lines. “An appointment with me is a one-to-three hour journey,” states Rowen. “I do all my pre- and post-work, and it is all customized. I use a multimodality approach, which allows me to work all of the areas in different ways. My philosophy on products is lowest toxicity, highest efficacy.”
She also focuses on the importance of home care, providing everything she uses during her treatments through retail, and encouraging her clients to purchase the full at-home regimen. “It’s a commitment on the clients’ part as far as home care. Eighty percent of skin care is done at home. If clients aren’t doing the proper protocols themselves, then all the treatments that they periodically get aren’t going to last because they’re not maintaining them,” she says.
An avid reader of skin care textbooks, Rowen advises other skin care professionals to similarly seek out knowledge in the field and to think outside of the box. “The only way to do that is to profoundly understand your products, what you’re using and how you’re using them,” she explains. This inspiring esthetician does have it all—and she earned it through hard work and dedication to her craft, and believes that every skin care professional has the capacity to do the same.