Things Clients Say—Part II


Editor’s note: The first “Things Clients Say” by Terri Wojak was published in the December 2013 issue of Skin Inc.

“The commercial for this product says it can make me look 20 years younger in a week.”

“I want my skin to look like Kim Kardashian’s skin.”

“I didn’t peel after the last chemical peel I had done—why not?”

“My friend just started selling this miracle product; should I buy it?”

Do any of the above questions sound familiar?

Skin care professionals sometimes have to jump over hurdles to bring helpful information to their clients. As much as estheticians love and are thankful for each and every one of their clients, some of the things they say can be comical and a little frustrating.

With all of the information posted on the Internet from unreliable sources, especially through social networks, it is hard for anyone to differentiate between right and wrong. Here are a few more of the things clients say, along with ways the skin care professional can address those concerns.

“The products you sold me don’t work. It has been a whole week, and I still have acne, wrinkles or dark spots—I want a refund.”

Unrealistic expectations touted by sales people and through endless marketing campaigns often result in overzealous clients thinking they have found the new miracle of youth. This alters perceptions too frequently, and it is the skin care professional’s job to nip it in the bud before it becomes a problem. This is where communication is key. Realistic expectations on possible outcomes must be agreed upon before any sale.

Client communication. Set the expectation before the sale that products must be used as directed for a period of time to see results. Carefully detailing how to use the product and the timeframe it typically takes to gain visible results is vital to maintain happy clients. Remember to under-promise and over-deliver. If you think that a product will take six to eight weeks to show improvement, say eight to 10 weeks. One happy client may tell one person about a good experience, but an unhappy client commonly tells 10 or more about a negative one.

“Thank you for the product recommendations, but I will just buy it on the Internet where it is less expensive.”

Unfortunately, it is not rare for a client to seek out a consultation with a professional, only to look for recommended products at a discount online. The problem is the client often does not know that buying retail elsewhere will affect a spa’s bottom line. This can be frustrating for providers that have taken ample time to thoroughly customize a skin care regimen, only to be told by a client they will purchase it online.

The craze of Internet sales is out of control, with sellers each trying to outdo others by claiming original products with lower price points. Several professional skin care lines do not even allow online sales to support the importance of a professional consultation made by a qualified provider.

Client communication. Simply let the client know that it would be great if she would purchase the products through you, as customizing a regimen to maintain the health of the skin is part of your profession. Educate the client on the possibilities of what can occur when trying to obtain professional products from outside sources. Ask if they would buy medications online. The products could be stored inappropriately or beyond the expiration date. You can guarantee the efficacy of products you sell, but not of those bought elsewhere. There have also been instances where a product sold through resellers was taken out of its packaging and replaced with a basic over-the-counter cream. If it seems too good to be true, it usually is.

“I only go to tanning beds to protect my skin by getting a base tan before my trip or to clear up my acne.”

Unfortunately, many people still believe there is benefit to tanning beds, Clients often think that it is healthy to obtain a base tan to keep their skin from burning while on vacation. In the past, sunburns, and not tans, were considered dangerous, but this is not longer the case. Skin care professionals, of course, know that this logic is not only misguided, but can have detrimental long-term effects. Having a “healthy glow” is never worth the risk of skin cancer. In a 2010 study, researchers found that people who used indoor tanning beds were 75% more likely to develop skin cancer than those who had never tanned indoors.1

Client communication. Explain to the client that a tan is considered a scar on the skin. Although at one time it was believed that sunburns were the only contributors to skin cancer, it is now known than any type of UV exposure can cause damage. If your client is oily or acne prone, inform them that tanning may dry acne immediately, but often creates inflammation that leads to more severe breakouts. The erythema caused from the damaging UV rays in tanning beds may also camouflage breakouts, but this is not the only answer to a clear complexion. Gently point out that most tanning beds are literally a hot bed for bacteria and can even cause them to break out more.

“I want the strongest treatment you have; I want my skin falling on the floor.”

Most estheticians have clients that opt for the most aggressive treatment available and will not take no for an answer. People tend to think that if they do not feel the skin being removed or burning during the treatment, then it must not be working. Of course, this is not true; there are several treatments that will create positive outcomes without producing side effects such as itching, burning, redness and peeling.

Client communication. Discuss how you will address the client’s concerns by promoting healthy skin to deliver the best possible outcomes. Just as someone with heart problems would likely need to be on a clean diet before and after surgery, the same goes for the skin. If a treatment is too aggressive for that skin type, it could cause more harm than good.

Building up skin tolerance to improve individual client concerns can take time, and aggressively treating unprepared skin can cause complications. There is the reason for varying strengths of treatments and products. The goal is to stimulate new and healthy cell growth, and wounds result if the skin is not able to heal the damage done. Always focus on creating a wound response, not a wound.

“I don’t need topical antioxidants because I consume them in my diet, or I purchase supplements at the health food store and apply them to my skin.”

Antioxidants are a must for any skin care regimen to help fight off reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS can occur from several internal and external factors, the most prevalent being sun exposure. It is not just UV rays that skin needs to be protected from, it is also infrared rays, which means skin needs more than just sunscreen to protect it from external stressors.

Even the most complete sunscreens only help protect against up to 55% of UVA-induced free radicals; therefore, it is vital to have another shield of defense.2, So while taking vitamins orally is important, some say that only minimal amounts actually reach the skin after being absorbed by other areas of the body.3

As for the idea of applying oral vitamins topically? It may stem from physician recommendations for applying vitamin E capsules on the skin to care for wounds and prevent scarring. However, there is no evidence showing that vitamin E in this form actually gets into the skin. It more likely acts as a protective barrier for the outermost layer of skin. Vitamin E capsules are meant to be taken orally and absorbed in the stomach acid, and also have a very low pH of 1.0 compared to the skin, which is about 4.5–5.5.

Client communication. Topical antioxidants should be incorporated into each skin care routine for maintenance and protection. Simply explain to the client that formulations are specific to their uses, and applying products topically that are meant to be absorbed internally will likely be ineffective for the skin.

This is also another reason to use a reputable company for products. There are several grades, strengths and varying formulations that could make antioxidants reach the lower levels of skin effectively or those that will become ineffective once opened due to oxidation. An easy comparison: If you wanted a cheeseburger, would you go to a steak restaurant or McDonalds? Enough said.

Always start these sometimes uncomfortable conversations on a positive note. Never insinuate that the client is wrong, even the word “unfortunately” used at the beginning of a sentence can have a negative impact. Focus on how you are going to help them reach their goals through proper education and realistic expectations.

Clear communication is important in any relationship—you must ensure that each client understands the steps necessary to achieve results before beginning any program. Remember, any information given to a client before the appointment is seen as beneficial, but information given after the appointment is most often seen as an excuse.



(Accessed Apr. 24, 2015)


Terri A. Wojak, licensed esthetician of 20 years, is an authority on skin care in a medical setting, education and business. She is director and educator at True U Esthetics, co-author of Mastering Medical Esthetics and author of Aesthetics Exposed: Mastering Skin Care In A Medical Setting and Beyond. She is also a member of the 2014–2015 Skin Inc. Editorial Advisory Board.

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