Once again, the pandemic has really thrown us all for a loop, so much so that it has caused many therapists to rethink their futures in hair, beauty and aesthetics and consider leaving the industry in search for one with more job security. This in addition to our constant evolutions towards online services, the creation of new industry groups like ABIC, and us all taking the time to improve our education and reconsider our offerings, has caused many of us to ask the question – what does the future hold for our industry?
Skin, science, and education
For a while now, we’ve been seeing an upward curve in consumer awareness of skincare and modalities, and in turn, more practitioners are wanting to specialise in skin. For this reason we believe the age of the Dermal Clinician is about to take off, so we consulted Jennifer Byrne, Chairperson of the ASDC and Clinical Coordinator of Dermal Science at Victoria University. “I think the pandemic has highlighted a change and adaptation in consumers as well as the beauty industry. The pivot to at-home skincare routines and DIY beauty services has meant there is a bigger focus than ever before on being able to provide education to clients based on thorough understanding of skin biology and even how to manage common dermatological disorders.”
“These changes in consumer awareness and demand for non-surgical ‘advanced’ treatments has seen a very rapid growth in demand for further Bachelor (AQF7) level qualifications in Dermal Science and Aesthetics. Many beauty therapists continue to make the transition to becoming Dermal Clinicians and it will be exciting to see a new allied health profession grow and receive increased recognition. There are certainly many connections between beauty, wellness (prevention), health and ageing well. Skin health is something that many in the health community (allied health and health professions) are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of the early detection, prevention and management of skin conditions before they become chronic or problematic and a burden to the healthcare system. This is the nexus where the Dermal Clinician is positioned as an allied health professional.”
It seems others agree with this concept of specialising in a certain area, though it won’t just apply to skin and dermal. As a leader in education and a frequent visitor to some of the world’s best spas, hotels and salons, Alex Zotos of Elly Lukas was also an obvious brain for us to pick. “One trend I’m noticing is the growth of the individual practitioner where single service specialists are gaining a lot of momentum, running their own business, sharing salon space, and becoming more entrepreneurial,” says Alex. “Clients are requesting specialist practitioners for specific treatments.”
April Brodie agrees with these predictions, telling us “I can see shared work space evolving – more salons will look at the rent-a-chair model if the staffing shortage continues, or renting single rooms. I can see more segmentation and specialisation, but also collaboration with like-minded professionals. I think spa-cations will boom due to clients looking for retreats and spa vacations because we can’t travel. Wellness will become even more incredibly important, extending to sleep therapy, TCM, etc.”
Home salons, fix-ups, and leadership
We posed the question ‘what does our industry’s future hold?’ to you, our community, and these are the general sentiments on what we can expect to see over the foreseeable future.
- More fix-up jobs, particularly for cosmetic tattooing, likely due to a decrease in the value of education and a rise in self-taught therapists. Unfortunately, this is resulting in highly trained and skilled therapists feeling undervalued. Practitioners are calling out for a return to recognising training and education, for pay to reflect this, and for treatment prices to reflect this as well.
- Some speculate that under-educated therapists may be driven by the rising price of education, with some courses costing $2-5k for just a few hours.
- Specialisation is a big one – more practitioners peeling off to focus on a particular treatment or category that they are passionate about, and as a result, less one-stop-shops that do it all.
- A rise in home salons. Many practitioners are seeking more freedoms in their schedules and work-life balance. Landlords are also reportedly making it increasingly difficult to negotiate lease terms and rent prices continue to skyrocket. This means less bricks and mortar salons and clinics, and cheaper services for clients as the operator’s overheads are reduced.
- A few believe we’re going to head away from exfoliating altogether, including peels and AHAs.
- Increased incidence of skin damage for our clients due to self-prescribing and home devices. While this has been happening for a while, particularly with home skin pens and DIY micro devices, lockdowns have further exacerbated this as our clients can’t come to see us and they can get desperate. Many predict we will have more clients with injuries or imaired barriers that we will have to remedy, pairing back their treatments and homecare to more gentle, healing alternatives.
- Some think that modern clients want more than just a beauty service, and that a blend of visible results and wellness is the way to go, giving clients something extra from their experience.
- Leadership instead of management may be a way to combat the dwindling numbers of therapists applying for roles. Learning how to provide better opportunities for staff to be happy on the job and nurture and develop their skills and passions may be the new standard of employment for the beauty industry, giving your staff a better, happier environment to work, and more reasons to stay.
- Booking your staff in to (mostly) do treatments you know they love, and finding out their areas of passion so you can give them more training and development in these areas.
- And of course, as the pandemic has taught us, creating a strong online presence. Many believe the best way forward is to strengthen your website, online store, and online services so that you can continue to cater to all clients in any situation. This isn’t just about servicing clients during a lockdown. We don’t know what the future holds, and there’s a good chance we will never return to how things once were. Perhaps a large portion of your clientele will reduce their in-salon visits permanently in favour of less social outings and more at-home skin care. Or maybe they got so used to being indoors that they’ve evolved their standards of beauty and self-care altogether.
While the future of our industry may be going through some major changes right now, including many therapists opting for a career change, many hold a more positive position and believe it to be future proof. Why? Because we will always be here to make people look and feel amazing – and that demand will never fizzle out. Stay strong community – we’ve got this!