Industry legend Robert Diemer passed away April 9, 2009, from pneumonia and will be missed by all in the industry. It is only appropriate that Skin Inc. magazine dedicates its June Reflections column to this true skin care pioneer and icon’s memory, with heartfelt tributes shared by fellow industry leaders who have been touched by Robert Diemer. We will continue to post new tributes to him. If you would like to post a tribute, please e-mail it to me.
“Robert Diemer, it has been said by many in our industry, is the Father of Esthetics in this country. But what does that mean? It means that, like any doting father, he lovingly and with devoted care taught us, his children, the esthetics and business practices as best as he could in order to make us successful. It means he fought for our place in the world, pushing forward for esthetic licensing throughout the country, getting us into trade shows once dedicated only to hairstylists, bringing the best educators the world had to offer to our classrooms and joining fragmented esthetic associations into one large, powerful group under what is now the EstheticsAmerica committee of the National Cosmetology Association (NCA).
Robert opened doors for us and we followed, not always knowing who opened the door or how hard it was to pry it open, or what expense he paid to let us move forward. Robert never complained. He only saw opportunity for us, his kids. He always referred to us as his kids; his own, his pride and his joy. When one of us suffered, he suffered with us. When one of us became successful, he never mentioned the part he played, only his praise that we were so good at what we were doing and his pride in knowing us. When he got older, he told me it was time for the kids to take over and he stepped back, like any father who knows he’s done the best job he could for his progeny.
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And we are his progeny. Like all progeny, we have gone forward and multiplied. We are on our fourth generation of estheticians since Robert began the path to make esthetics a profession in this country. There are now tens of thousands of us. We help people every day. For Robert, that is his most important legacy.
So, be proud to be one of ‘Robert’s kids,’ for whether or not you knew him, you will always be one of his own. Thank you, Robert, for caring so much, for seeing what we could not and for giving up what you did to make us what we are today. I will always love you.”
Rebecca James Gadberry
Chairman/CEO, YG Labōratories
Instructor, cosmetic sciences, UCLA Extension
“How do I start to share my heartfelt feelings about a man who had such a huge impact on my career in skin and remained my dedicated friend for more than 25 years? All things said, and to be said, about my friend Robert—also known as the Father of Esthetics—is I am numb and sad and still in shock that he is gone. I could share with you Robert’s incredible skin genius, how it was his passion for skin that ignited mine, his dedication to American esthetics, his gentle nature, his love for people, but anyone who knew Robert also knew his soul and this is not news.
Robert unselfishly gave and shared his talent, knowledge and love of the skin care industry, and an entire generation of estheticians now and to come will never know him. This makes me sad. But he left his huge imprint on American skin care, and if you examine who the industry leaders are today, Robert no doubt had a huge influence on all.
He did not have a selfish bone in his body and many times told me how proud he was of all of us. Not long ago, we laughed about all the good times we had in California when he owned Prescription Plus and the American Institute of Esthetics, our horses, times with Gigi, Sundance, trade shows and a whole lifetime of wonderful memories.
Robert, I am going to miss you so much! You are a spirit that will continue to influence me forever. I love you, Robert.”
GlyMed Plus Skin Care
“I am very saddened to hear about Robert’s passing. Robert was certainly a pioneering legend in the esthetic industry. Many well-known contemporary icons in our industry trained with Robert. He believed deeply in education.
I had the pleasure of working with him on numerous committees and boards, including EstheticsAmerica, of which he was the founding chairperson, and also the Esthetics Manufacturers and Distributors Alliance (EMDA). Robert was always kind and supportive to everyone he met, and was always excited to see others succeed, even if they were his competitors. I know I speak for many in our industry when I say he will be greatly missed, both personally and professionally.”
Mark Lees, PhD
Mark Lees Skin Care, Inc.
“It was not a fancy affair, just me holding Robert’s hand and stroking his perfect skin. He took his last breath about 12:28 pm, April 9, 2009, just 20 days before his 66th birthday. He was surrounded by his sister Pat, a fairly new friend named Julie, and me. I knew it was his last breath, I was watching and counting the seconds between the last 10 or 20. They were getting very, very far apart and very shallow. I had been by his side for the 40 hours prior to this moment and was not shocked that the time had come. We had cried and laughed and I had read to him out of his favorite book of late, the Bible.
We had talked about the beginning and the end and all that comes in-between. It was the in-between that always impressed me so much about the Robert M. Diemer whom I knew and loved. He cared so much about so many people, and an industry that had truly loved him back. He was a part of so many people’s dreams, and even more importantly he helped so many succeed. He was truly a one of a kind individual, a mentor and a friend. Many of you were there before 1983, when I came on the scene, and your stories should be shared with as many people as you can get to listen. I will do my best to keep his memory alive also.
I believe the roast we gave Robert during one of the International Esthetics, Cosmetics & Spa Conferences, not too many years ago, will be revisited in our memories as we read these final words about a man that words could not explain, money could not buy, or education could not be better provided. This is the time to sit and listen as your mind and heart remind you of your own fond memories and life-changing stories of a man who loved harder than most, a man who had very few enemies and a whole bunch of people he called family—a family of people who cared about other people, a group of people we call “estheticians.” As we say good-bye to “the Father of the American Esthetician,” we say good-bye to a man that will not be easily forgotten or easily replaced. We will be saying good-bye to a man many of us can call a dear friend. I feel very fortunate to have known Robert and I will always be in his debt for the time and energy he spent on me, teaching me about an industry I can call my own; an industry he taught me to love and people he taught me to care deeply about. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I’ll see you again someday my dear friend, I am sure ...”
Founder International Esthetics, Cosmetics & Spa Conference
“Robert Diemer was known as the Father of American Esthetics by his peers. And he truly was. He was one of the first people to teach skin analysis in the professional skin care industry. His innovative Paramedical Derma-analysis—a system he devised in the 1970s for understanding how the skin functions—was based on scientific assessment. Before Robert, we did beauty facials. With his system, we did results-oriented treatments.
Robert opened the first advanced training center for estheticians in Huntington Beach, California, around 1978. He named it the American Institute of Esthetics because he firmly believed that Americans had the scientific knowledge to turn professional skin care into a results-oriented field.
Robert Diemer was among the first to teach estheticians how to custom-blend their treatments to get real results. He was famous for saying, ‘The skin is a self-cleansing, self-healing and self-regenerating organ.’ He would tell us again and again that no two skins were alike, and that the Paramedical Derma-analysis and the customizing of treatments were the only ways to guarantee results. He preached goals and results, and we listened.
He believed in highly active products, stimulating massage, heat and accurate dermal analysis. When he did a treatment on a student, he would use his techniques and get unbelievable results. And all of us would become believers. Robert achieved results with his hands and a few products that left us in awe.
He was one of the first estheticians to use a hot towel cabinet in the treatment room. Robert believed that hot towels were therapeutic on the skin and he used them constantly. He found the cabinets in a restaurant supply store, and brought the concept into our industry. He was among the first to use infrared lamps to provide heat while the towels were stimulating the blood flow of the skin. He used to say, ‘The fountain of youth is in the bloodstream.’
I could go on and on about all of the firsts from Robert Diemer, but the most memorable part of working with him so closely for the past 25 years was his optimism and love of people. He was kind, loving, considerate and always upbeat. Even as his health began failing, he stayed positive. He saw only the good in people, loved his work, loved his friends and most of all, loved life. I will always miss him.
“What a shock to hear about Robert’s passing. I had the pleasure of meeting Robert after I moved from France when the industry was in its infancy. We regularly lectured at trade shows, which gave us many opportunities to talk, laugh and sometimes console one another when times were challenging. Throughout the years, Robert and I brainstormed about how to help build a sustainable industry and enhance education. Although we were competitors selling skin care products, Robert was foremost a great colleague; I enjoyed his enthusiasm and his focus on the bigger picture: Grow the industry and all will benefit—consumers, estheticians and vendors. Robert laid many bricks building the foundation of our industry and will not be forgotten.”
Business consultant and founder
ATZEN, owned by Universal Companies
“The board of directors, members and executive staff of Cosmetologists Chicago mourn the loss of Robert Diemer. His many years of leading quality skin care educational classes at the Chicago Midwest Beauty Show, now America’s Beauty Show®, provided the foundation from which many of our efforts for skin care professionals grew. His love of the profession, his dedication to skin professionals and his passion for skin care’s future in America will be greatly missed. He was a true legend.”
Cosmetologists Chicago, America’s Beauty Show, America’s Expo for Skin Care and Spa®
“I first met Robert in the 1970s when he traveled for Mark Traynor representing the Traynor makeup line. Robert would come into to my mother’s (Yvonne Berg) skin care studio to do a two-day in-salon makeup promotion. I remember the hours of conversations he would have with my parents in the evening about his dream—of creating a skin care line of products you could mix together for the individual needs of each client. That dream came true when Robert and his partner created Prescription Plus, the first fully customized skin care product line.
What can I say about Robert … he was a dreamer, an artist and a visionary who has forever changed the face of skin care.”
Aesthetics Enrichment Studies