Alex Hernandez, lead educator at Face Reality, offers her expert advice on encouraging clients to stay the course with acne treatment.
When acne clients come to estheticians seeking clear skin, they often feel frustrated and defeated by this persistent skin condition. Chances are they have tried everything from drugstore topicals to dermatologist prescribed medications which can give inconsistent results or make their acne worse. All these physical and emotional contributions must be considered when treating acne and to prepare clients for the long haul. As seasoned professionals in acne treatment, here are some of our key strategies to encourage clients to stay the course during acne treatment.
The Acne Life Cycle
As the esthetician, you are the expert in the room. Educating your clients serves two major purposes in acne treatment: first, it builds a foundation for acne clients to truly understand their unique skin needs as an acne prone individual. Defining the difference of acne prone skin from non-acne prone skin at the very beginning will help your client understand that their skin has very specific needs. The second purpose is to set expectations. With myriad products on the market promising a quick, miraculous fix for acne, clients are constantly fed an unrealistic idea of acne treatment.
Even with a holistic approach that accounts for both internal and external acne triggers, breakouts are normal. Acne lesions can take 30 to 90 days to form and eventually surface on the skin. Granted, hormone fluctuations play a major role in breakouts and can make lesions seemingly pop up out of nowhere. But typically, the breakouts your clients are experiencing today have been developing under the surface for some time. This process can be difficult for some clients to grasp and can certainly be a deterrent. When breakouts form after starting acne treatment, the usual client reaction is something to the effect of “I just started these acne products but now I have new breakouts, this line doesn’t work.” Take this as an opportunity to remember the emotional toll that acne has had on your client and remind them that it clearing acne isn’t overnight. Appealing to this frustration and acting as a sounding board for your clients will foster trust that is invaluable when it comes to acne treatment. Taking the time to educate your clients on the process of acne formation may seem tedious, but it is necessary.
New Routine Hang-Ups
Talk to your clients about what really happens when they start a new skincare routine. When your clients are starting a new routine, especially when they’re being introduced to an exfoliant for the first time, their skin may go through an adjustment period. To account for the adjustment period, make sure to choose products that will be effective, but not too powerful. Use an adaptive approach that adjusts over time—working up to more potent products help the skin acclimate to the introduction of ingredients that will eventually clear the skin. You will need to coach your clients through temporary dryness or redness, make sure you stress that it’s temporary.
The biggest concern for clients when they start a new routine isn’t necessarily any redness or dryness, but skin purging. Because everyone’s skin is unique, not everyone will experience purging but it can happen when a client is finally on a thorough exfoliation and hydrating routine. Purging can also happen when a client has never used an AHA or BHA’s before. Like the previous section, take a moment to educate your clients on how these products work with the skin. Practicing a consistent routine won’t just clear up existing breakouts but will prevent breakouts from forming and shorten the lifespan.
Keep Clients Engaged
This might sound simple enough, but we cannot stress enough how important it is to stay in a constant contact with your acne clientele. Providing support by phone or email outside of appointments will establish a strong relationship with clients. Instead of turning to the internet to solve their skin problem, they will turn to you for guidance. Keeping an open line of communication will also help you both get ahead of potential problems that might arise during acne treatment. Perhaps your client is experiencing an inordinate amount of dryness because their serum is too strong, or the weather has been too cold and dry—regular communication will allow you to adjust their routine to account for weather changes (swap lightweight moisturizer for a heavier one) or adjust to a lower serum percentage until their skin can handle the higher.
This all comes back to education; a well-informed client will be more understanding when things like routine adjustments and troubleshooting come up. Like the previous section, setting expectations for clients through education will allow them to have a better understanding of their acne treatment and will allow them to take control of their skin. Another important point to note about open communication is yet again, quite simple. Clients will sometimes fall off the program if they experience a lack of communication from their esthetician. Like any service, people need to be reminded by the service provider that they’re due for an appointment or check-in. Implementing an automated email series of frequently asked questions related to where they are in their treatment plan can go a long way.
Like most endeavors, it takes some preparation and extra effort to succeed. When it comes to acne treatment, there are two people working toward the common goal of clear, healthy skin. Making sure that your client feels prepared and supported throughout the entire process will do a lot of the heavy lifting. Remember that you aren’t just building skin routines and giving facials, but actively guiding clients toward a more confident future and control over their skin.