Quality Aesthetics Education

by Alexandra Zani - Esthetics Instructor and Authorby Alexandra Zani - Esthetics Instructor and Author

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.
As an independent educator, my company and its affiliates have taken on this venture very seriously.
I am also inviting others to partner in these endeavors through sponsorship of our education events.Post graduate training should be made available to all those individuals and companies who are serious enough about growing their knowledge in the dermal sciences.

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 same guidelines should hold true for those aspiring to become an esthetician.

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.
Their stories are archived in the legacies they left to future esthetic generations. During the late 1970s, and through the pioneering work of a several visionaries, U.S. esthetic training became part of an arm of education in cosmetology schools. While it was at least a positive move to have a governing body regulate it, skin care has always been far more reaching than just placing it into the confines of institutions of hair design. There were (and are) additionally a few highly credentialed educators who saw the role of the esthetician and wrote the books and are still teaching today.

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.

It is important that we create a unit of standardization at a national level. This hopefully will change with the efforts of a few industrious individuals who are trying to make changes at national and state levels with proposals that support the national standardization and consistency of this industry.  
Additionally, education also begins with trained and qualified teachers who have mastered their subject of esthetics including hands-on experience, the dermal sciences, and skin and spa therapies.
Do we have teacher training facilities for them? Not really.   While medicine is in the realm of treating disease, the past several years has slowly moved newer attitudes in medicine that include programs for prevention. The cost of health care is out of control.  Fifty percent of the North American population also is over fifty and not retiring soon. The demand for looking younger is held high. The medical profession and vice versa are also partnering with professionals from the spa industry and has moved into a new domain called medical spas.

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.

What has certainly been most apparent from 2009 onward is the loss of jobs in the U.S. and the economic issues facing everyone. Many vocational junior colleges, degree colleges and universities are having a surge of increased enrollments. Some have doubled since a year ago.   How much is enough? When it comes to learning, there is no such thing as knowing enough.  Life time learning is what places skin professionals to the top of their profession. One can repeatedly listen to the same information on a certain topic, yet hear it differently each time it is presented again.

An estheticians and teachers zeal for more instruction and experience is what allows them to hear with more educated ears!  Perhaps its time to consider taking a look at why we are resistant to collaborating together.  Is it correct to consider that it is beneficial to hire educators who offer a greater scope of post graduate education that is based on science and knowledge of several modalities of technologies, systems, and correct treatment management?  

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.  

About the Author

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).




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