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Home Everything you needed to know about Skin Consultations – and it’s got nothing to do with the Skin!

Everything you needed to know about Skin Consultations – and it’s got nothing to do with the Skin!

Over the past few months, I have been all over New Zealand doing a series of seminars in Skin 101. An integral aspect of my message is the importance of conducting a thorough skin analysis for clients as part of the retail sales process. The obvious connection is that by telling and showing the customer what the condition of their skin is like, then they will want to buy the products you recommend to improve it. However, I believe that by conducting a skin analysis you are actually doing and saying a whole lot more.

Let me explain…

Become an expert.

Beauty therapists are experts in the skin. There are very few people in your community that know more about the condition and care of the skin than you do. Certainly, we know that our customers don’t. They don’t know the difference between dry or dehydrated skin, what is healthy oil flow or not, they have no idea what is causing their acne and they turn to us for help. This makes you an expert. One of the easiest ways to demonstrate your expertise is to conduct a full diagnostic skin analysis. It immediately places you in a position of expertise and control. You have the perfect opportunity to display your knowledge and confidently educate your client. Firstly, with what you see and secondly with what you determine they need. Your clients are far more inclined to listen to your recommendations if they are confident you know what you are doing. The skin consultation phase of their visit gives you an opportunity to display your professionalism. That’s why confident, well-trained therapists have no trouble recommending retail products to their clients. Their clients actually trust their expertise.


Conducting an Analysis of the Skin

1 – Homework

One of the disciplines that experienced therapists have a habit of doing daily, is the task of doing homework on their clients. Much can be gleaned about a client’s skin just by looking at what products they have purchased, what treatments they have had and how often they visit the salon. Notes about a client’s skin from previous visits or suggestions made to the client at their last consultation can assist greatly in preparing for a customer’s skin consultation. Doing homework means that you recommend products that they do not already have. Reminders about products that should be running out can be made, reiteration of past suggestions can be reinforced and clues as to what to look for in a client’s skin condition can be found. All this can be achieved easily just by looking closely at the client’s history. The therapist can have thought through their suggestions and mentally prepared for each client, they can prepare their treatment rooms with appropriate products and equipment and they can learn about the products they will be recommending even before their client enters the salon. This gives therapists a focus for each client, which in turn enables the consultation to be conducted with the confidence of an expert.

2 – Ask your client about their concerns

Even though you have done your homework on your clients, it is important to ask them what their concerns are about their skin. My favourite question is:

If you could change one thing about your skin, what would it be? It is a direct question that will usually result in the client telling you their greatest concerns. I have often heard therapists ask the more general question of:

“Do you have any concerns regarding your skin?” Only to be told:

“No, not really.”

The real reason for asking such questions is to listen carefully to the answer and then show off your expertise by digging deeper with further probing questions to isolate either the exact concern or what might be causing the problem. I encourage therapists to write down notes to show the client that they really are listening and really do care.

3 – Look at the skin

If ever there was an area of training every therapist should constantly be practising, then diagnostic skin analysis is it! It is the key to determining client treatments and home care, effectively providing the client with the best result possible. For this reason, I ask therapists to map out the face and draw what they see on this map. Many clients have a better understanding of the technical terms such as pigmentation, dehydration, couperose, rosacea, lipids, epidermis and the like, if they can see it represented on paper. It makes the condition seem more real. Remember when looking at the skin to look for the areas of concern that the client mentioned.

I love skin scanners and the latest technology in photographic and video imaging because the client can see exactly what you see and can easily identify what you are talking about. But a Woods Lamp or even a Maggi Lamp in the hands of a skilled therapist can still provide the perfect opportunity to show off their expertise.

4 – Today’s Treatment

I have considered not having facials with names on a pricelist because this places the choice of treatment in the hands of the customer who rarely knows what their true skin condition is. How can they choose the most appropriate treatment when they cannot accurately assess their own skin? Surely, treatments should only be decided upon after a consultation and discussion about what would be best for each individual’s skin condition. For this reason, I ask therapists to be open to suggesting a change of treatment if it is not the most appropriate for that client’s skin type. Of course, there are constraints such as price and the amount of time allotted to that treatment when it was booked. However, in most cases, there is plenty of flexibility available for an experienced therapist to suggest changes to bookings. This is also the perfect opportunity to upsell the treatment.

5 – A Programme of Treatments

For the vast majority of our clients, they will never get a noticeable result with just one treatment. As experts, we need to educate our clients about a plan or programme of treatments to best treat their concerns. This requires two important factors. First, the programme must contain a series of treatments that will complement each other, building on the effects of the previous treatments and the home care routine the client follows. Secondly, each treatment on the programme must be spaced to maximise its effect on the client. Whoever decided that facials should be four weeks apart must have only had one client! It makes sense that every client will require different time frames between treatments depending on their skin condition and the type of facial they are having. By booking clients on programmes, there are no problems with rebooking and customers are less likely to try another salon’s services.

6 – Write out a Home Care Prescription

As vital as checking their skin and booking a programme of treatments is the issue of home care. The only way our clients are going to get results is to see a therapist regularly and to use salon exclusive home care products. By prescribing home care products as a part of the skin consultation you are connecting the ongoing treatment that is done at home with their salon treatments. Write down the order they should use their products both in the morning and at night. Include the names of these products and any special application instructions. Don’t forget less regular products such as exfoliants and masques as well. Whenever I write out a prescription for home care, I imagine that I am writing it for a fifteen-year-old. That way I keep it simple and easy to follow. Watch as your clients start to tell you what they need to buy next, because you took the time to write them a prescription of home care products at their consultation.


The practice of conducting a skin consultation is the perfect opportunity to show off your salon’s best point of difference – Your expertise. As you can see it opens up numerous possibilities to display staff talent and knowledge, can be the best retail sales environment and is ideal for up-selling treatments to additional or more expensive services. Make sure your customers get this sort of expert attention and watch your salon profits grow!

Paul Carbis is widely recognised as one of the world’s foremost experts in the area of operating profitable beauty salons. He is invited around the world to speak at expos and conferences addressing salon owners and therapists with his highly entertaining, yet always educational seminars. Working with many of the major product brands around the world as well as mentoring salon owners and facilitating in – salon staff training, Paul provides a unique perspective on how successful salons are run. Click here to Contact Paul for your next staff training