A beauty therapist, or beautician, is in the business of making people look and feel their best. Nail technicians, hair stylists and estheticians work to satisfy clients on a physical and emotional level. Therapists offer services that range from sculpting nails and coloring hair to smoothing out wrinkles and giving body massages. The savvy therapist, however, understands that part of her job is to make a client feel beautiful on the outside and confident on the inside.
Beauty therapists must have formal training and pass a state-required exam. You can attend a board-certified cosmetology school that offers beauty courses, hands-on training and written and practical tests. Another education option, for those with a high school degree or equivalent, is a vocational or college program. Some states offer a state-accredited apprentice program for students who want to study with a professional cosmetologist working in a salon. This type of program teaches students everything from hair cutting techniques, nail sculpting and color application to salon maintenance and customer satisfaction under the direction of a professional cosmetologist.
Perform Specialized Services
Everything about hair, face and body care is taught in a cosmetology program or at a specialized school, such as one that educates about massage therapy. Facial therapy, which includes waxing, facials and eyebrow care, is given to clients desiring a clear complexion free of unwanted hair. Some beauty therapists are body care specialists who provide massage and cellulite treatments. In addition, beauty therapists can -- and should -- have a cosmetology specialty. For example, a hair stylist cuts all kinds of hair, but may specialize in chemical treatments and braiding for African-American hair. And an esthetician performs facials, but she may also specialize in reducing fine lines and wrinkles with skin resurfacing techniques.
Be the Authority
People come to a beauty therapist for advice. As an industry expert, it's crucial that you stay relevant by attending trade shows, seminars, classes and networking events. This gives you a leg up on styling techniques, newly revealed products and innovative industry practices, such as the latest hair straightening systems or nail care techniques. This relevant, up-to-date industry knowledge also shows clients that you have their best interest in mind, and will only provide services you believe in. For example, your knowledge and experience tells you the client wanting to turn his black hair blond -- for the third time that month -- is making a big mistake. Not only can his hair break off, but it could turn a disastrous color.
Cater to Clients Emotionally
A beauty therapist should have an outgoing personality and enjoy talking to a diverse group of people. It's important to cater to a client's need to look stylish and beautiful and feel heard and understood by someone who is unbiased. According to 15-year veteran hair stylist Kelly Kaplan, who works Red Carpet events and rents a station in an upscale salon in Westlake, California, client appointments are two-fold. "My clients want a current, easy-to-maintain hair style and, sometimes, a therapy session," she says. "I've done my job as a beauty therapist if I've given a great hair cut and accurately read my client's mood."
Follow the Laws
Because beauty therapists work with chemicals and people, they are required by law to follow rules and regulations. Every state sends out inspectors from the board of cosmetology to check out salon conditions and claims made by unsatisfied clients. This visit is also to check for a beauty therapist's visible, up-to-date credential, and to make sure all stations and areas are held to high standard of cleanliness. Violations include reusing non-disinfect-able items, improperly mixing chemicals and failing to label products.
- Safe Beauty Association: Become a Beauty Therapist
- Licensing and Regulation: Cosmetology Administrative Rules
- South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation: Continuing Education
- The National School of Aesthetics: What Is Beauty Therapy?
- Kelly Kaplan; Hair Stylist; Salon Studios II, Westlake, California
Based in Los Angeles, Lisa Finn has been writing professionally for 20 years. Her print and online articles appear in magazines and websites such as "Spa Magazine," "L.A. Parent," "Business," the Famous Footwear blog and many others. She also ghostwrites for mompreneurs and business owners who appear regularly on shows such as Ricki Lake, HGTV, Carson Daly and The Today Show.