[Updated] How to make it big as a facialist
For those who enter the beauty industry, being known as the best in the business is the holy grail, but no sector is harder to crack then being a facial specialist.
To make it as a leading facialist who is sought after by clients and A-listers alike, it takes a lot of hard work, patience, drive, a real understanding of anatomy, and, of course, a great deal of entrepreneurial spirit.
To help you on your way up the career ladder, we’ve asked four of the beauty sector’s top facialists to reveal their top tips for making it big and explain what challenges to look out for along the way.
1. Have a USP and stick with it
It takes hard work and dedication to truly make it as a leading facialist, as Lisa Franklin, owner of Clinic Privé in Chelsea, London, explains: “There are so many amazing facialists out there, so it can be difficult to break into the industry. Finding your niche is key.
“A USP or big idea is so important to make you stand out from the crowd. Every clinic can have similar treatments and every skincare line can have similar products, but what makes you and what you do different?
“This should be central to everything you do and should be one of the first things you understand about yourself before beginning – everything stems from this USP.”
2. Continually invest in your craft
The saying is you can never stop learning, and it seems that statement is especially true if you want to make it as a big-time facialist. “Training is key. It doesn't matter if you’ve been in the industry for five minutes or 20 years, training is key to keep innovating, learning, and growing,” explains leading facialist Chelseé Lewis, who has a successful clinic in Mayfair, London and has just launched her first facial oil.
“You must keep current with the latest trends and technologies. Get as much training as you can. If you’re new to the industry, start with your Beauty Therapy qualification to build your foundation with the basic skills, and then do work experience while you’re doing your course to build up your experience of the workplace because there may be a job waiting for you when you qualify.”
She adds: “They say it takes 10 years for you to build your craft and become an expect in your field. During this time, I would recommend applying and working for as many companies as possible to build up your portfolio of experience and knowledge.”
3. Don’t just focus on landing celebrity clients
“If you’re wondering how to make it as a celebrity facialist, then I’m afraid it is an extremely unrealistic goal. It’s like saying how does somebody who plays football become Cristiano Ronaldo? It can happen, but it shouldn’t be your end goal,” says explains Anastasia Achilleos, celebrity facialist and creator of the Anastasia Achilleos Method of Excellence.
“For me, my profile grew organically. I worked on editorial and fashion shoots performing my method on models and it was during this time that there was a huge demand for ‘facial lifting’. Before I knew it, the press started writing about me.
“However, there’s no one set formula for making it. To elevate your career, you must become better at what you do and find new tools to achieve it. If you haven’t learned anything since you qualified, then you will become stagnant.”
Big-name facialist and author Abigail James agrees that landing celebrity clients shouldn’t be your main goal. For her, her A-list clientele happened because of people seeking out her expertise due to her unique approach to treating skin.
“When I first started out in the industry, the word ‘facialist’ didn’t exist. There was just a handful of us – Debbie Thomas, Nichola Joss, Sarah Chapman – who were working in this niche, but all with own our unique selling point,” she says.
“I never set out to treat famous people, that was never my goal. I was just nerdy about being the best I could be, and I was continually training.”
4. Always aim to deliver an exceptional service
To be known as one of the best in the business, then you need to deliver on what you promise every single day. It’s the only way to build a loyal clientele who will return time and time again. “When building a loyal client base, always treat your clients how you would like to be treated,” advises Lewis.
“Treat your client as if each treatment is their first time with you, always giving 100%. Going over and beyond what the client has requested. Most of all you need to listen to the client’s needs and wants. Also, use social media to grow your business and shout about who you are and what you do.”
5. Be mentally prepared when performing treatments
“It’s important to remember that as a therapist you’re directly transferring your energy and feelings into the client during treatment, so they can feel if you’re not mentally in the room,” explains Achilleos.
“For example, if your mind is on something else, like a fight you had with your partner, then you need to become more perceptive and leave your emotional baggage at the door. If you don’t connect with your client, then you’re going to find it tough to make your mark in this industry.”
6. Know your worth and charge it
James says a challenge you might face in the future is validating your price point – and that this is an issue felt by facialists across the entire sector. “There’s new technology and brands coming out all the time, and you want to be able to offer the best service to your clients, so for me as a practitioner, investment is a big cost,” she says.
“If I look at my overheads to do a facial now compared to 10 years ago, it’s off the scale. There are chains of clinics cropping up now that want to sell these services cheap and in volume, so it’s about being able to hold on to your value and integrity.”
She adds: “The service you offer is going to be 100 times better than that mass market rollout, but it will be a challenge holding on to those values while you compete.”
7. Make your facial menu client-centric
“The problem is there isn’t much advanced education for facials on the curriculum to help make therapists better. The industry has kept facial treatments as something that makes money, but the focus has always been on developing massage,” says Achilleos.
“But change is coming. Luxury wellness exists, which it didn’t 18 years ago, and clients are now skin savvy – they know what they want. Until the education improves, look at your menu and update it so it’s results-driven because a traditional facial is no longer good enough.
“Now is the time to change the way you work so you deliver client-centric treatments. Create something transformative but, remember, if you fall short of the expectation then you’ll lose the client.”