How to become a beauty therapist: the ultimate guide

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You have a gift — making people more comfortable in their own skin. This is a unique talent, and you want to make the move into a career that allows you to apply it on a larger scale. Being a beauty therapist is an amazing profession that utilises your artistic flair, your aptitude for cosmetics as well as your knowledge of skin biology and physiology. You help your clients with anything beauty-related, and in return you get a lucrative and rewarding career.

But before you make the transition, there are a few things you should know. From what being a beauty therapist is exactly, all the way to qualifications and training, we’ve got you covered with an ultimate guide to becoming a beauty therapist.

WHAT DOES A BEAUTY THERAPIST DO?

Your primary focus as a beauty therapist will be to enhance your clients’ appearance and to make them feel de-stressed and pampered. You will offer them a variety of non-medical facial and body treatments such as:

  • Applying cosmetic make-up and tanning products
  • Hair removal, including waxing and specialist electrical equipment
  • UV and spray tans
  • Manicures, pedicures and treatments including nail extensions nail art
  • Facials and skincare treatments
  • Facial rejuvenation and other non-surgical skin therapies
  • Mechanical and electrical treatments to improve muscle tone and skin condition of the face and body
  • Eyelash and eyebrow colouring, eyelash perming, and shaping
  • Makeovers and semi-permanent make-up
  • Massage, aromatherapy, hydrotherapy and reflexology

However, you will also have other responsibilities involving health and safety matters, hygiene and sanitation issues and administrative tasks. And you’ll need to have a good working knowledge of all the products you use.

What skills do you need to become a beauty therapist?

Appearance – The beauty business is all about making people look and feel their best. You need to look your best for work every day too, in order to project your professional image and reflect your high standards.

Cleanliness – You’ll be working closely with a number of different clients every day and hygiene standards are very important in a beauty workplace. All your equipment and surfaces should be sanitised both before and after treatments. On the level of personal hygiene, your uniform should look and be clean.

Customer Service – You should want to make your clients feel they’ve had the best experience. You need to think carefully not only about the treatments you carry out, but about every interaction your clients have with you and your business.

People Skills – You should naturally enjoy talking to and working with customers. It’s important to empathise with them and to be able to project a relaxed vibe to make your clients feel at ease and give them a sense of well-being. Always be discrete and tactful and don’t break confidences. Ideally, you will come across as being friendly, yet professional.

Creative Flair – It’s a great advantage to have an artistic streak. A good beauty therapist has an instinctive feel for what will suit any one client and what will not. These skills come into their own particularly with make-up and nail art.

Time Management – It’s worth giving some thought to utilizing your time effectively. You’ll sometimes find yourself trying to juggle client appointments, stock management and a host of admin tasks. Stay conscious of time during treatments so that you finish in time for your next client. Utilize gaps between appointments productively.

WHAT QUALIFICATIONS DO YOU NEED TO BECOME A BEAUTY THERAPIST?

To become a fully qualified beauty therapist, you will need academic qualifications and there are many different courses and routes to achieve them. They will demonstrate to employers and clients that you meet the UK’s standards for the industry. Qualifications that are accepted by most employers include:

  • NVQ diploma, levels 2 and 3 in Beauty Therapy
  • BTEC in Beauty Therapy Sciences
  • ITEC (The International Therapy Examination Council) diploma in Beauty Therapy
  • CIDESCO (Comite International d’Esthetique et de Cosmetologie) diploma in Beauty Therapy
  • CIBTAC (Confederation of International Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology) diploma in Beauty Therapy

You can study for the NVQ, BTEC and ITEC diploma courses at further education colleges. The CIDESCO and CIBTAC courses tend to be offered at private beauty schools and are more expensive. Most courses consist largely of practical training but will also include theory work. The theory element is an important part of beauty therapy as a therapist needs some basic knowledge of anatomy, physiology and dermatology to understand the effects that their treatments and therapies will have on their client’s skin and body. All courses cover the basic skills in beauty therapy, but also offer additional courses so that you can expand your range of skills or choose to specialise in a certain area.

If you don’t fancy being a full time classroom student, an apprenticeship might be the solution for you. This way, you would work at least 30 hours a week, learning on the job from your experienced colleagues around you in your workplace, with one additional day per week at college. You would be paid the national minimum wage for apprentices and you would also get at least 20 days paid holiday per year, plus bank holidays.

WHERE CAN A BEAUTY THERAPIST WORK?

Working in a salon being self-employed

There are many established salons on the lookout for talented beauty therapists, offering full time and part time positions. The advantages of working in a salon are the benefits of being an employee, such as paid holiday, sick pay and maternity leave.

Being self-employed

If you want to be your own boss, you’ll have to think about the administrative side of running your business and take care of your own insurance and marketing but once you’ve qualified as a beauty therapist, the world’s your oyster. There will always be demand for the services you provide and there are many different scenarios open to you, such as those below.

Working abroad

If you’d like to see the world, develop your beauty career and make money at the same time, there is a great opportunity for you to work in the travel and leisure industry, in holiday resorts or on cruise ships. It’s also a fantastic option if you fancy doing seasonal work during the summer or winter.

Running a beauty business from your home

If you have enough space in your house, starting up a beauty business from home might be an attractive proposition. You wouldn’t be restricted by normal working hours and you’d have the flexibility of choosing appointment times to suit you and your clients. If you can build up a reasonable customer base, recommendations and a focus on marketing will take your business forward.

Being a mobile beauty therapist

Many people prefer their therapist to visit them at home for a variety of reasons. If you’re willing to travel, mobile beauty therapy is another way of working when you choose to.

Working freelance

Beauty services apps such as Ruuby and LeSalon offer a further option for therapists to be their own boss and work on a ‘gig’ basis. They can advertise their services and so acquire new clients. They can work in this way from a salon, from their home, or on a mobile basis.

Renting a chair

There are pros and cons for a beauty therapist to work on this basis but it offers freedom and flexibility without the time or money spent on travelling between clients. It’s important to have a service contract between the therapist and the salon.

Opening your own beauty salon

Many beauty therapists dream of starting up their own salon one day. There is a great deal to research and think about and a good business plan will provide a sound basis. It may not be one of the first things you think about but be careful to choose a specialist insurance policy that you can rely on to protect you and your business. You could look for an existing salon that’s up for sale so that you wouldn’t have to build a business from the ground up and worry about getting clients through the door from day one but there are still many things to consider with this option.

The growth of the beauty sector shows no signs of slowing down and beauty therapist is now a more popular career choice than ever before. Your services will almost certainly always be in demand and will remain a top priority for most people, even when money gets tight. If you’re passionate about all things beauty, becoming a therapist will offer you a wide variety of career choices and the satisfaction of using your creative skills to help people look and feel their best.

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