3 Types of Learning

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We all attain a baseline knowledge and skills required via our initial training to become licensed and qualified estheticians. Once we start working on clients, we may begin to realize where we need to expand on our existing knowledge and skill set. They may ask us questions about specific ingredients, stubborn skin conditions or you may be wondering how to get more clients to book with you. Whether you’re looking to update existing knowledge or branch out into a specialist field, ongoing education is a must.

What’s Important

Experienced industry professionals share their thoughts on why ongoing education is vital to your career success.

“Typically, I take courses to enhance my knowledge of skin care and application of new or more innovative tools and ingredients. However, I found myself during the pandemic wanting more business knowledge and application of more sophisticated ideas, methods and strategies for growing my personal brand, as well as my overall performance as a practitioner. My motivation is simple—increase my knowledge, increase my value. As part of my personal brand, my mission statement is “to provide my spa guests with the highest levels of service, education, empowerment and passion” through the performance of my treatments, and that cannot be done without the additional information and expertise acquired via advanced education.”

-Liliana Aranda, L.E., CMLD, owner of Faces by Liliana and Atelier Liliana

“Taking my continuous professional development seriously, I want to ensure I am up to date with all current thinking and techniques, so that my clients receive the very best care from me. Then, they can achieve the results they crave that will keep them returning time and time again. It’s important to choose a training provider with a proven track record and experience to ensure what I will be learning is credible and will help to boost my business and revenue. Online learning has stepped up a gear in the past 18 months, and many training providers have embraced new ways to ensure effective learning that can be refreshed time and time again without needing to leave home, giving versatility and flexibility for ongoing learning.”

-Matt Taylor, brand and education manager of Eve Taylor in the U.K.

“It’s important to me that the tutor is experienced and has a good amount of knowledge. I can then concentrate on the subject to enhance my skills to benefit my business and my clients. My newly gained skills allow my clients to enjoy a variety of treatments or enhancement to the treatments they already love, keeping the experience fresh for them (and me). The benefits to my business are clear; I’m booked up over four weeks in advance, sometimes more. The biggest thing for me is that I keep my knowledge relevant and up to date within this fast-paced industry.”

-Nicola Coffield, beauty and holistic therapist and college lecturer at Perth College in Scotland.

Now we’ve established the multiple benefits of ongoing education, let’s look at how you can create a road map to take you on this journey. In the U.S. and U.K., many estheticians are solo or self-employed, so they are responsible for their own learning, skills and career enrichment. They have to identify their own needs, decide how to achieve these goals, find learning resources and chart their progress.

Your Learning Style

We learn things from the outside world through our senses, mainly through what we see, hear or touch. This is known as the VAK learning style model and can help you determine your dominant learning style.1 Knowing your preferred learning style will help you select the most efficient methods of learning for you.

Read the learning style descriptions provided here. If you still can’t decide what type of learner you are, complete an assessment at www.educationplanner.org/students/self-assessments/learning-styles.shtml.

Remember we use all visual, kinetic and auditory styles, but we may favor one learning style more than another and is often easier and more enjoyable to use this style for you.

The Visual Learner

The visual learner learns by seeing things. You like to take in information by reading and through diagrams and pictures. You prefer to see rather than listen. Color, diagrams and pictures help you stay interested.

You usually take detailed notes in lectures, tutorials and meetings.

Visual learning tips. You will take in spoken information better if it’s accompanied by visual aids. Video is a great learning tool for you. Online video courses, webinars, reading books, online articles and trade mags, in-person classes and trade shows are well suited to visual learning. Use color; color code, highlight, circle and underline in your notes.

Auditory Learner

The auditory learner learns by actively hearing and listening. You are likely to be good at remembering conversations and the words to songs. You prefer to listen to instructions than read them and may not take notes. You get very distracted by noise and may read slowly. You may find complicated diagrams difficult to interpret.

Auditory learning tips. Online video courses, podcasts, in-person classes and trade shows will work for you. You’ll take in info better if it is accompanied with audio. Try reading out loud the info you want to take in.

Talking through new concepts and ideas with a group and attending Q&A sessions will be productive learning activities for you. Consider live webinars.

The Kinetic Learner

The kinetic learner learns by touch. It is also known as a tactile learner. You learn by touching and doing.

You prefer to build, touch and draw, rather than listen and watch. Remember you can reinforce your own learning by practicing a skill as soon as you’ve seen it being demonstrated, because you remember things best when you have done them yourself.

Kinetic learning tips. You like to try something for yourself. Hands-on classes are ideal for kinetic learners. Visiting trade shows also gives the tactile experience. Training that includes examples and case studies to explain concepts will be easier. Move while you study. This could be as simple as shaking a foot. It can help you stay focused. Typing can also help reinforce learning.

Self-assessment

With so many aspects of the industry to learn, study and practice, it is a good idea to self-assess where you currently are before deciding where to invest your energy and efforts. See, Esthetic Skills Assessment for the key categories. Please note this list is not extensive. Add or remove subject topics to make it personalized for you and remember scope of practice will vary depending on your location.

Once you’ve established the areas where improvement is needed, decide on the best source of training for you. It may not be one source but several, which often leads to a wider and deeper understanding of the subject.

In addition to this form of self-assessment, simply jotting down client’s questions throughout the day can highlight areas where your knowledge could be improved.2

Superficial vs. Profound Knowledge

In the world of education, knowledge exists at many different levels. We will look at two ends of the spectrum: superficial knowledge and profound knowledge.3

As the name would suggest, superficial knowledge is knowing only the surface of a subject. This is the type of learning where we are memorizing info for a test and subsequently soon forgotten. An example as it relates to our industry would be memorizing the layers of the epidermis.

Profound knowledge is having a deeper understanding of the subject which is retained long term. An example would be understanding the physiological changes that occur at each layer of the epidermis, how long the cells take to turnover and renew. How the epidermis responds to internal and external environmental factors. The important roles and functions of each skin layer. This is obviously a deeper understanding than merely reciting the names of the epidermal layers.

Both superficial and profound knowledge have a place. Superficial knowledge may be acquired by reading a couple of articles on a subject. This may be enough to give you a basic understanding, which may be needed to answer client’s questions. Later, this knowledge can then be used to build a deeper understanding if you then read a book on the subject. Next, you may decide to take a class on the subject. As you can see, this is building up your knowledge base. Once you start applying this knowledge to real life clients, you will begin to gain experience and wisdom, leading to profound knowledge.

A Lifelong Pursuit

Years ago, two friends of mine co-owned a day spa. One friend signed up for every course she heard about and signed her partner up to attend too. But her business partner wasn’t happy with this, as she didn’t feel she had fully integrated her new skills yet. She felt she was becoming a jack of all trades and master of none. Give yourself time, be patient and realize this is no race to the finish line because there isn’t one.

Learning is a lifelong pursuit; you’ll never reach the end. Even now after almost 40 years in the industry, I find, the more I learn about a subject, the more I realize how little I know!

Choose Learning Resources

Naturally, we all have different levels of income, available time and location could influence our choice of educational resources. The most commonly used methods are: webinars, online courses, podcasts, books, online articles, in-person classes, trade magazines and trade shows.

Coaches and mentors can give you a more personalized educational plan by troubleshooting and then provide you with valuable business skills, hands-on skills and more, depending on their area of expertise.

Professional organizations not only provide us with insurance, but they also provide a wealth of knowledge in many different formats from articles to webinars to online educational summits.

Chart your Progress

Set a date for when you want to have completed your task, mark the date in your calendar then revisit your self-assessment list. This could be done on a weekly, monthly or three-monthly basis depending on your personal circumstances regarding how much time you have to commit to your education. Educators often provide encouragement and congratulations when we have achieved our goal. If you are taking the self-directed learning route, remember to celebrate every victory you achieve.


Gaynor Farmer-Katics is passionate about teaching estheticians how to refine their touch by increasing their repertoire of massage techniques. With almost 40 years of industry experience as an esthetician, massage therapist and educator, her business Enhanced Touch offers both online and in-person training. Find out more at www.enhanced-touch.com.

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