Here's What You Need to Know to Find the Esthetician of Your Dreams

In this big wide world of skincare, it’s nice to have a trusted friend who can guide you along. Someone who can teach you about your unique complexion, answer questions about natural products, and bless you with home techniques for long-term glow. Who is this magical skin angel you ask? Why your local esthetician. Besides being some of the sweetest and most calming people on the planet, estheticians take pride in helping you love your skin no matter the case—acne, wrinkles, or just wanting to be pampered. But with so many options out there, finding a perfect connection can be tricky.

A quick Google search may send you spinning with questions like: what should I be looking for? How can I tell they’re the real deal? How often should I see them? What if we don’t click? “First things first,” says Gabi Stephan, Holistic Esthetician, and Makeup Artist at Lena Rose Spa. “No two estheticians are the same. You can have two estheticians who graduated from the same school and learned all the same techniques but offer completely different services.”

And looking for an esthetician goes well beyond how they treat your skin. Practitioners should hold a comfortable space for you to openly discuss your skin goals and concerns. They should be full of trust, safety, and compassion. Because this is such a dynamic and exciting search, we asked three lovely estheticians to weigh in.

How to search for an esthetician

Kristen B, Holistic Skin Care Therapist and Esthetician at Woodside Holistic

How do I initially start my search?

A unanimous piece of advice from all three of our esthetician sources say word of mouth is best. Makes sense, right? You already take advice from inner circle friends about dating, work, and movies. If they see an esthetician that they flow with, chances are you will have a similar experience.

The next best bet is hitting up Yelp, which Cecily J. Braden, founder of Beauty Secrets and International Spa Educator does when looking for services during travel. Search for spas, salons, keywords such as “skincare” or the type of facial you want (e.g. gua sha facial) to find independent estheticians in your area. “I always keep in mind that some good reviews may be friends and some bad reviews may be revenge from a disgruntled client that may or may not reflect the true nature of the therapists,” she says. Doing a gut check here is always a good idea.

Another option is working backward. Look for a spa that carries the line of skincare products you currently use. Since you already resonate with the products, you’ll likely resonate with the specialist and environment of the spa. “It also will help with your home care because it’s a product you know works for your skin,” says Cecily. “And you can establish a local resource to make sure you are choosing the products right for your skin type.” Product websites often list spas and salons where they are carried (check out ours!).

After finding a few spas or estheticians, peruse their website and social media accounts. Does the treatment room look relaxing? Do you vibe with their philosophies? Feel happy looking at their before and after photos? “It’s important to find a space that matches your own personal practices,” says Gabi. “Someone who enjoys eating organic and is vegan likely won't enjoy a medical setting for their facial.”

Skincare specalist

Gabi Stephan, Holistic Esthetician and Makeup Artist at Lena Rose Beauty

What specifics do I need to look for?

When researching an esthetician, you want to make sure they are licensed in your state and look for any continuing education or additional certifications they have received since becoming licensed. You can check this on their personal website or through the spa they work for. “The number of hours required and in-school training fluctuates from state-to-state, so it’s important to look at the education they have received after becoming licensed and make sure they are properly trained and certified to perform the services you are interested in receiving,” says Cecily.


Holistic esthetician

Cecily J. Braden, International Spa Educator and founder of Beauty Secrets

Wait, do I go with a medical or a holistic esthetician?

As a rule of thumb, medical estheticians usually use machines, like lasers, and aggressive peels, whereas a holistic esthetician focuses on high-touch, low-tech methods of treatment. And don’t let the term “holistic esthetics” fool you, warns Cecily. “Most people don’t understand a holistic approach is actually medical in its nature since the focus is working to improve the function of the skin through modalities like lymphatic drainage, connective tissue massage, acupressure, acupuncture, or other facial massage techniques rather than topically, which is the focus of a lot of machines used in the medical arena,” she explains.

And if you’re a little confused about the spelling, either “aesthetician” or “esthetician” is acceptable as there is no difference in licensing. Kristen B, Holistic Skin Care Therapist and Esthetician at Woodside Holistic Spa says the former typically works in a medical setting whereas the latter works in spas and salons. Cecily attributes the spelling to the UK where the “a” is primarily used.

Gua sha

Cecily J. Braden, International Spa Educator and founder of Beauty Secrets

I’m seeing all of these unique facials. What are they all about?

“Any services that focus on the underlying health and function of the skin will help with dry, acne-prone, and aging skin,” explains Cecily. For instance, she says a skin care professional that focuses on the lymphatic system to purify the tissue can help cut cost and disappointment down the road from traditional services since a sluggish lymphatic system is a precursor to aging and most skin disorders.

To find out more, look for what continuing education classes an esthetician has received since their license. If you’re searching for a holistic approach to skincare, your philosophy will likely be different from someone who has supplemental education on laser treatments. Instead, you’d want to look for someone who is also a Reiki Master or who has taken classes in gua sha.

Holistic facial

Kristen B, Holistic Skin Care Therapist and Esthetician at Woodside Holistic

Okay, down to the dollars and cents. How much will this run me?

It all depends on your skin care goals and home care practice. “If you do facial massages at home, like gua sha, you will need treatment less frequently,” explains Cecily. “That’s because you are maintaining a healthy flow and exchange of nutrients/wastes, discouraging the build-up of blockages that lead to skin care issues.” She relates skincare to physical fitness: if you want to be healthy, you need to work out more frequently.

“Here in Canada, we have dramatic climate changes and as a starting point, I always recommend people get a facial seasonally,” says Kristen. From there you will collaborate with your trusted esthetician to come up with a plan. Acne patients may need care every 2 weeks for a period of time. Others may need monthly treatment.

Facials can range from an average cost of $75 to $475 depending on where you are located. “My biggest advice is don’t choose based on price,” says Cecily. Budgeting in a facial may seem luxurious and over-the-top to some, but the skin is a gateway to learn about the rest of the body. Finding the right practitioner who can help you navigate that map is worth every penny.

Facial treatment

Gabi Stephan, Holistic Esthetician and Makeup Artist at Lena Rose Beauty

When can I ask them my skin questions?

If you have specific skin-related questions prior to booking, it’s okay to give the esthetician a call or stop by to chat. “Especially if this is your first facial,” says Gabi. In fact, feel free to ask them about themselves, like how they got into the field and what they enjoy about their job. “Most estheticians have a "story" and it can often be reassuring to know they are empathetic,” says Gabi, who connects with her patients about her long journey with cystic acne. “Seeing an esthetician requires a lot of trust and comfort, so any good esthetician will be willing to talk to you ahead of time to make sure you are both on the same page,” she says.

Using expertise from our loving estheticians, your gut, and your internet sleuthing skills you can wave through estheticians who don’t have a passion for skincare and find that magical skin angel you deserve. Even if money is tight, seeing an esthetician just four times a year is worth it to learn proper at-home care and steer you in the right direction. And, oh, did we mention have some fun? Even if your chomping at the bit to find someone who can help with a pressing skin concern, take this opportunity to engage with your town’s skincare stores, spas, and salons. Who knows what friends or goodies they have in store!

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