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Navigating the Obstacles Between Services, Sales and Self

By: Anne Martin
Posted: June 1, 2012, from the June 2012 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
a skin care professional nurturing a client

Studies show that people are happiest when they are in control. Makes sense; after all, control translates to getting what you believe you deserve, and not being at the mercy of another’s whims and behavior.

However, everyday details that are out of your control, such as last-minute cancellations, no-shows, returned checks or disrespectful client behavior, can disrupt the happiness that otherwise might be yours. This, combined with requirements to sell products, a task that, for some skin care professionals, makes for uncomfortable client interactions, can result in professionals who find themselves far from “in control,” and distant from happiness. Rest easy: Clarity lies in committing to the sustainability of your work.

That commitment requires giving excellent facials and caring for—and about—the client; designing innovative and individualized treatment plans, which includes selling products; and setting the ground rules of good client behavior, which means the hard work of actually enforcing boundaries.

Caring for the client

Caring for—and about—clients means establishing trust and fostering a feeling of safety for them while you attend to their skin needs. Along with breezy chats, you hear stories of loss, anxiety and alcohol abuse. You bear witness to a client’s sickness from chemo and radiation, while doing what can be done for her suffering skin. You hear the pain of the acne client, whose life, as much as her face, bears scars. You intuit the fear of the aging client, who dims the bathroom lights before looking into a mirror, avoiding the face she scarcely recognizes, only to glimpse, over her shoulder, at the anonymity of age waiting to silence her voice.

And to think there are those who dismiss the skin care profession as merely pampering, this coming together of intimacy and help called a facial.