Quality Aesthetics Education
Considering the state of poor, inconsistent aesthetics education in many under-graduate schools here in the United States, we feel that it is imperative to offer as much post-graduate advanced education as possible.
The bottom line:A skin specialist (esthetician, nurse, PA, medical professional) requires an advanced understanding of the underlying causes of skin conditions. They should be armed with enough information and training to perform safe, effective, preventative and remedial skin care without placing the skin into a more vulnerable state though poor diagnosis resulting in over-processed skin. Advanced technologies such as light therapies, microcurrent, chemical exfoliation and cosmeceutical systems appear daily at the doorstep of the esthetics and medical industry. They are barely recognized or properly utilized due to lack of understanding and education. It begins with insightful understanding of each skin cell and the biological effects of the new technologies. It also commences with the knowledge of developing correct skin management protocols that encompass the correct modalities.
Consider the following:
The status quo Many states require minimum training in esthetics. It is unnerving enough to realize that many offer a mere 250 hours in esthetics. This scarcely teaches a student how to perform a basic facial with an understanding of how to choose a correct product for their client!
The present picture of education in the U.S. As an educator, I am a proponent of ensuring that we protect the future of this industry through increasing our standards in both admissions and substantial curriculum delivered by qualified teachers and state-of-the-art education facilities. This should begin through an interview process of prospective students so that they are properly qualified as future estheticians. Not everyone qualifies for becoming a nurse, Physician assistant or medical student.
The need for standardization Returning back in history within the U.S., a post World War II war-torn European era brought brilliant skin therapists out of those countries and into North America.
Esthetics requires self-regulating It is a dermal and aesthetic science and one that supports wellness, dermatology, plastic surgeons, and preventative medicine in the areas of pre and post surgical care, skin cancer, anti- aging, and stress reduction. Beauty therapists (estheticians) are viewed and honored in other parts of the world where they are recognized through a worldwide governing body called CIDESCO. This honorarium is barely understood in North America outside of its own circles.
Are our current curriculums supportive enough to meet the demands of this sector of esthetics and spa? And what about skin care manufacturers? A more daunting issue is the fact that skin care manufacturers have bigger challenges on their hands when they are trying to sell their products. That is why education began to appear at trade shows back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It behooved those earlier manufacturers to place emphasis on education if they were ever going to reduce their liability of selling to a poorly educated esthetician or medical skin specialist. It is also why a few leading industry journals were born years ago that brought credentialed and spa experienced writers to provide education in a media format.
Furthermore, while there is always a high level of emphasis on sales in skin care companies, I also can also attest that without education, sales will plummet due to lack of product use knowledge and the science that surrounds it. Nevertheless, the market can be competitive. The esthetician, your customer, can soon be off looking for another product manufacture who offers post-sale support and education. We have to work together and not segment ourselves through competition and poor (or no) education. We have to collectively do business in a more effective and industry-supporting way where everyone is an advocate of the other, especially when sharing education.
How are we going to meet the education needs of a growing industry? It is important that we collaborate with top educators to bring in unbiased education with proven curriculum and methods. It is also imperative that they possess the scientific background and teaching experience to deliver the material accurately and scientifically. And it is important that follow-up with continuing education become part of the plan. Is education profitable? Yes, it CAN be very profitable. Just take a look at the growing number of junior medical colleges who focus on medical careers and who have also placed esthetics in their course offerings. Take a look at the sales of companies who place great emphasis on this aspect of their company.
Perhaps its time for a company with education know-how to partner with leading skin care and education companies to offer a well planned post-graduate curriculum that brings consistency in information. Ultimately, it produces a more congruent, educated group of individuals who love their profession and want to make a difference. The benefits are far reaching and indeed support what is possible for our future.
Alexandra J. Zani is a licensed esthetics instructor in the state of South Carolina. She has been a hands-on esthetician both in private practice and in a medical setting. A former corporate esthetician and product development manager for a leading private label manufacturer, Zani's specialty is in skin aging research, product development and treatment protocols.
She was lead author for Miladys Standard Comprehensive Training for Estheticians, published in 2003, and guest author for the chapter on Peels in Advanced Professional Skin Care Medical Edition, by Peter T. Pugliese, M.D. (2005).