You’re in the beauty therapist’s room – maybe it’s a high-end salon, maybe it’s the back bedroom in someone’s house, maybe it’s a fancy-schmancy cabin in someone’s garden – and you’ve been lying there for ages.
Maybe it’s been a deliciously relaxing experience and you’re so comfortable, that you just want the therapist to switch out the light, stick an extra blanket over you and let you drift off into the sleep that’s been floating at the periphery of your mind for the past few hours.
Maybe you’re dying for a pee and you just want them to hurry the hell up and finish already. I mean, how long does it take to put on a set of lashes?!
Wait, now the therapist wants pictures for the ‘Gram? Jeez, lady, don’t you know I have a life? Errands to run! Kids to pick up!
And now, she’s chatting about what to do to look after the lashes. About what to do to take care of the freshly tattooed brows. What do you mean, no hot baths after I’ve had my legs waxed? I’m gonna be sticky for a whole day?! Oh, no, I’ll do my own damn thing, thank you very much.
The client thinks: You have no idea what you’re talking about in the real world.
Why do we, as therapists, give out aftercare advice?
Why do you, as clients, (mostly, sometimes) ignore it?
It’s an ongoing problem that’s been in the industry for as long as there has been treatments… and clients… and products…
They all link together intrinsically. We need clients to be able to work on. We need products to be able to carry out the treatments. The treatments require practical tasks – manual manipulation of the body, hair removal that can leave hair follicles open and prone to bacteria. Some treatments involve strong chemicals.
Take lash extensions, for example. The chemicals that we use for this treatment can be quite dangerous. Mix cyanoacrylates (the lash glue) with cotton wool and it can ignite.
You read that right. And that is next to your eyes.
You sit up after having to lay flat – sometimes for as long as 4 hours for a decent set of Russian Volume lashes. You check the mirror. You stretch your back that may be stiff, you wriggle your spine, and then realise that the therapist is speaking to you.
You nod and you smile as you try and get your back to click. You accept the mirror that she’s just handed you. Wow. The lashes look amazing – very flattering and they accentuate your eyes.
Oh, hang on, she’s chatting again. What did she say about brushing them? You nod and smile once more, as your mind drifts to what you have to do next. You need to pop to the post office – christ, there’ll be a queue. And you need to go to Morrisons. What are you gonna make for tea? Why is being an adult just trying to figure out what to cook for the rest of your life? Being a grownup sucks.
But at least I have nice lashes.
She hands you a piece of paper. You set it down on the bed. She gets you to sign the consultation form to say that you’re happy with the lashes. Gives you the card terminal – holy shit, how much?! You throw the tiny little spoolie brush into your cavernous handbag, dig about for your car keys and hightail it out of there. You’ve left the aftercare slip on the bed.
Three days later, the lashes have all dropped out.
Not going to that therapist again. She’s a rip-off merchant. What a waste of time. You message the therapist and demand a full refund. You take to social media to complain about the shoddy workmanship and to warn your buddies to avoid that business at all costs. That therapist is totally shit. You message her to tell her so.
The therapist is heartbroken that her 4hours worth of work is now being slated. That the hours and hours of training, of practicing to bring those skills up to industry standard, is now being slagged off all over the place. She reads your harsh words, your rants that are being shared all over social media, and she cries. She worries mostly that you’re unhappy. She lies awake at night, stressing over the damage that it’s doing to her reputation.
The therapist has messaged you, the client, and asked you what you did in the 48hours preceding the loss of the extensions. You tell her nothing. I did nothing. It wasn’t my fault. It was yours. You’re shit at what you do.
But what you neglect to mention is that on the way to the supermarket, you stopped in for 6 minutes on the sunbed. Less than 2hours after the lashes had finished being applied. When the glue was still firming up.
You neglect to tell her that your super expensive eye cream was lathered all over the extensions – sorry, eye lids and surrounding skin – because that’s your nightly routine.
You neglected to tell her that you went out the same night the extensions had been applied. You did a full glam eye make-up look with your black eye kohl pencil to show off the beautiful lashes. The same make-up that you then had to scrub off at 3am with a baby wipe before applying the eye cream.
You didn’t tell her that you had been to the spa the following day and sat in the sauna for 2hours to sweat out the gin.
Let’s look at another example…
You’ve had a lovely, relaxing massage (yes, I can do them) and your skin smells all flooffy – of lemongrass and lavender. You sit up, trying to bring your head back into the room as the therapist is talking to you.
God knows what the daft bint is whittering on about. I feel so chilled, I just wanna go home and mellow out on the sofa.
You drive home. You collapse on the sofa. You’re proper chilled. The other half comes in, brings you a beer. Actually winning at life. Best day ever. Another beer. Then bed.
The next day, you feel awful. Your legs feel like they’re wading through syrup. You’re so lethargic and exhausted. You can’t focus during the team meeting. The words on the computer screen are swimming. Fuck, now I have a Zoom meeting that I must stay awake for.
When, in reality, your therapist was telling you that you must drink lots of water to flush out your system. And to avoid alcohol after your massage as it can further exacerbate and dehydrate your body when it will be trying to purge any toxins that have been rubbed out of your muscles and dumped into the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system has no pump – it’s the secondary system to your blood system and is helped along by deep breathing and lots of water to help eliminate any toxins from your body.
Yeah, that’s right. I know some stuff.
And don’t even get me started on the VERY strict aftercare that you have to follow when I’ve tattooed your skin.
My point is this….
Why would you spend your money but then ignore the advice given to you to make the most out of your investments? That’s like spending hundreds of pounds on a new sports watch and then, never taking it out of the box. We give you the aftercare to make the most out of your investment. To make sure that you feel better and get the benefits of having had your treatment. To prolong the benefits of the treatment. To minimise any after effects of the treatment.
The thing is, we don’t give you advice to make us look like pretentious, knowledgeable pricks. Nor do we give you the aftercare advice for shits and giggles. There hasn’t been this therapist convention where we just sit down, sipping cocktails and pluck these guidelines/instructions out of thin air because they’re funny. This is decades of treatments, of understanding the human anatomy and how the treatments that we offer can interact with this, of how to benefit from the treatment, of how to care for your body.
And we know if you’ve not followed it. We can see if you’ve been wearing mascara on your extensions. We can tell when you return for your brow top up and you’ve retained frig all pigment. When your gel nails have just “fell off” but you’ve posted your spa day on your socials.
That’s not to say that it’s always the clients’ fault. Things can happen. It’s happened to me, when things have gone wrong with treatments. I’m lucky. In the majority of cases in my experience, my client has contacted me and said:
“Something has gone wrong.”
A few questions politely asked can usually get to the bottom of it. Don’t get on the defensive and blame your client right away.
In the same context, don’t always think that you’ve done something wrong.
But always, ALWAYS remain professional.
Therapists fuck up. There I said it. We’re only human. There is also shoddy training out there. Therapists can ignore their training and go off piste because they think that they know better. Some therapists don’t offer aftercare advice – they just want you through the door, they want your money and they wanna go home.
Those are the therapists that deserve the social media bashing. They’re the ones who are letting the industry standards slide.
And the onus is on us as therapists to make sure that the client is given the aftercare advice – tell them verbally; at the initial consultation, both at the start of the treatment and end of the treatment. Give them a paper copy so that they can refer back to it when they’re more ‘with it’, not still in that lovely post-treatment haze.
For some of our clients, this is the only time they set aside for themselves to have their pamper. It’s the only time they don’t have to think about little 3-year-old darling Sophie shoving a banana up their nose whilst their little fingers are in the mains socket.
Send that aftercare information to your client in a message, too – with all the mediums of communication out there these days, you can be sure to find one that your client will use. Post it on your website. Pin it to the top of your Facebook page. Reiterate that shit so that you’re so sick of your own voice at the end of each day. Because, therapists, not only are you protecting yourselves, but you have a duty of care to your client. You want to do all that you can to protect their investment in you and in your business. That client is special. Out of all the therapists working and available in your area, the client has chosen YOU. That’s pretty amazing. So, don’t let them down.
And clients, please listen to what we have to say. Even if it sounds ridiculous (wait – reflexology has a healing CRISIS – that wasn’t in the brochure?!)
Aftercare is there to look after you. Because, without you, we would have no business.