‘A really big thing now’: Rochester estheticians share how online skin care trends affect their work

West End Salon and MedSpa Medical Esthetician Breanna Williams on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023, at West End Salon and MedSpa in Rochester.

Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

ROCHESTER — Skin care content is having its moment on TikTok and Instagram, and local estheticians are feeling the internet’s influence.

“Skin care is a really big thing now,” said Madelyn Holst, an advanced practice esthetician at Ageless Esthetics in Rochester. “People want to start taking better care of their skin, I feel like, ever since COVID.”

Skin care content has become a boon for creators on social media, with trends like skin cycling — a specific skin care regimen — and slugging — using an ointment like petroleum jelly to “seal in” nighttime skin care products — entering the national news cycle. Advice about acne, sunburns and smile lines can be found online from content creators and even estheticians and dermatologists themselves.

That barrage of content (and the online advertising that comes along with it) has had noticeable impacts. Angie Johannes, director of surgical services at Winona Health, said visits for her dermatologist colleagues have always been in high demand.

“What I can tell you is I think people are much more aware than they used to be, you know, even five, 10 years ago,” Johannes said. “We’ve noticed that individuals are more interested in acne control now than maybe they were 10-plus years ago.”

As for estheticians, licensed professionals who can perform cosmetic treatments like facials, waxing and lash extensions, the types of clients they see and the services they ask for have changed in the past few years.

“I have people that are asking to start Botox at 21 years old, stuff like that,” said Breanna Williams, a medical esthetician at West End Salon and MedSpa in Rochester. “The treatment base is going a lot younger, I feel.”

Pandemic screen time and skin care

The skin care trend started to gain traction in 2020, when many people began working from home. Michelle Branch, an esthetician at Branch Out Day Spa in Rochester, said her business had to close for 12 weeks at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We had opened up in the downtown location six days prior to COVID shutdown,” said Branch. “And then when we came back, downtown had essentially no traffic flow.”

West End Salon and MedSpa A private entrance is seen for the Skin Bar on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023, at West End Salon and MedSpa in Rochester.

Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

As more time passed and Branch Out Day Spa moved to Cedarwood Plaza, Branch said client traffic began to pick up in 2021 and 2022.

During that stay-at-home period, Williams said people were on social media more often, leading to that rise in skin care content creation and curiosity. Frequent video calls where a person is able to look at their face more often than they normally would, too, may have also played into the increased interest in skin care.

“I think that people sat home on social media so much during COVID,” Williams said. “When you’re not worried about what your hair looks like, all of a sudden you’re like, ‘Oh, what can I care about next?'”

For clients who did seek out treatments during the height of the pandemic, many came in for mask-related acne issues, said Holst.

“Wearing the masks and stuff, a lot of people’s skin changed,” Holst said. “Especially nurses, because they’re still wearing masks throughout the day.”

For those who needed to see a dermatologist, Johannes said Winona Health’s dermatology department offered its full range of care throughout the pandemic.

“We had to re-evaluate our infection control practices. We had to develop COVID screening protocols. We had to make sure that our patients knew that we were there to serve their needs, but also in the best way possible to prevent any infections,” Johannes said. “We would provide the service and, depending on what was the area of service. We would have them wear their mask or not wear their mask.”

“People are willing to spend a little bit more money”

Now, estheticians are picking up on the popularity of skin care content on TikTok and Instagram, especially among younger people.

“I even have some teenagers that are coming in,” Williams said. “My younger clients, it’s kind of funny because they’ll come in here and tell me what they’re using at home, like ‘Oh, I saw it on TikTok.'”

Holst is also seeing younger clients now as compared to before the pandemic. She said more clients in their 20s are coming in for skin care consultations, regular facials and even injected treatments like Botox and dermal fillers offered by her nurse injection specialist colleagues.

“Usually, we had more of an older (clientele), but now it’s kind of younger,” Holst said. “I think the TikTok trend is kind of getting the younger audience coming in.”

The types of services requested by clients has shifted as well. Williams said clients are now more willing to spend more money on longer-term, more effective treatments. As a medical esthetician under the supervision of a doctor, Williams provides minimally invasive procedures such as Botox injection and skin tightening treatments on top of facials, waxing and lash lifts.

“Your basic facial, those are great, right? But those are more (for) relaxation, and people are willing to spend a little bit more money for a HydraFacial because they know that’s a deeper clean, something you can’t do at home,” Williams said, referencing a treatment that uses a suction wand to cleanse and remove impurities from the skin. “I feel like I went from doing a lot more body waxing and facial waxing and the relaxation massage facials to laser hair removal and HydraFacials and just like that deeper, more treatment-based things.”

However, Branch is experiencing something different when it comes to her clients. While exfoliating chemical peels have become popular at Branch Out Day Spa, Branch said she thinks more people are trying new products and treatments without consulting an esthetician or dermatologist.

“I think a lot of people are doing stuff at home on their own, until they no longer can fix a problem, then they come in to us,” Branch said. “We haven’t seen a decrease in our lash clients only because most of them can’t do those by themselves.”

Whether someone’s looking for at-home skin care products or specific treatments, Williams said many of her clients have learned more about specific skin care ingredients and how to use them.

“I feel like a lot of my clients are more aware of the ingredients,” Williams said. “Knowing like what salicylic acid or glycolic acid (is). … My 25- to 35-year-old clients are pulling out words and I’m like, ‘Dang, girl, you know what you’re talking about.’ I feel like that’s more common now that it was before — before, it was ‘Just give me a night cream,’ or ‘Just give me a day cream.'”

There are other pros to having skin care in vogue, such as heightened awareness of sun damage and using sunscreen, Williams noted. But there are some drawbacks. For example, Branch said just because a product is popular online doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a good fit for your skin.

“I’m glad you’re using a cleanser, I’m glad you’re using that sunscreen, great,” Branch said. “However, it might not be the right one for them.”

Branch said it’s worth visiting an esthetician to talk about what products work best for a client’s skin type and concerns rather than experimenting.

“We get consultations all the time,” said Williams, adding those conversations can be as simple as figuring out a good daily skin care regimen for that client. With the right products and consistent use, she said, skin care can be a long-term investment.

“You can’t stop your hair from turning gray,” Williams said, “but you can stop wrinkles from coming.”

West End Salon and MedSpa One of the rooms in the Skin Bar on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023, at West End Salon and MedSpa in Rochester.

Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

West End Salon and MedSpa Medical Esthetician Breanna Williams on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023, at West End Salon and MedSpa in Rochester.

Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

Dené K. Dryden

Dené K. Dryden is the Post Bulletin’s region reporter, covering the greater Rochester area. Before joining the Post Bulletin in 2022, she attended Kansas State University and served as an editor for the student newspaper, the Kansas State Collegian, and news director for Wildcat 91.9, K-State’s student radio station. Readers can reach Dené at ddryden@postbulletin.com.

That barrage of content (and the online advertising that comes along with it) has had noticeable impacts. Angie Johannes, director of surgical services at Winona Health, said visits for her dermatologist colleagues have always been in high demand.

Source: https://www.postbulletin.com/health/a-really-big-thing-now-rochester-estheticians-share-how-online-skin-care-trends-affect-their-work

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