Facials and skin care products are not just for white women yet they are heavily promoted for just that group. I continuously receive DMs, emails, and voicemails asking if I have experience working on male skin or different ethnicities every day since I’ve started my business and my answer is “I work on skin, so yes of course.” My brain and heart get so confused but if I’m constantly attracting that question, what does that mean about what I’m putting out there?
At first, I thought that the general population was just uninformed about what an esthetician does so when I would receive messages inquiring about treating different genders and ethnicities I assumed it was their ignorance and not mine. The truth is that the work I’m putting out there isn’t making it clear. My assumption that you see how my website lists that I have experience and work on all age ranges, genders and non-binary, and all ethnicities. Or that you read thoroughly in my blog or SM posts how I don’t focus on a specialty but rather construct a custom service based on an individual skin health needs. I even assume that people see how clients that have reviewed my service on Facebook or Yelp are all of different backgrounds. Over the last week, I realized that it’s not enough. It’s on me to share my offerings and values as a skin health professional a lot LOUDER and CLEARER than I ever have.
If you are a white esthetician who has had the privilege of narrowing down your service to a speciality that only services white women, I encourage (more like INSIST) that you to diversify. I will gladly take the time to speak with you on how you can do so but here are some ways to start:
Don’t assume someone’s ethnicity based on what their skin color looks like. We live in a melting pot of different cultures and one of the most harmful things you can do is assume. Get comfortable with consulting with your client, ask the questions that we weren’t taught in school. People are coming to you for an education and to help them feel supported with their skin. Create a collaborative relationship with your clients so they feel like you are a safe place for their self-care.
Explore different retailers that carry Black-owed products. I may use Laurel Whole Plant Organics in my facials, which is lovely for all skin types and conditions with many of my BIPOC clients using it, however I don’t just recommend Laurel Skincare. I have learned to diversify my suggestions a long time ago. In my holistic skincare masterclass, I have a chapter on “Ancestry” that discusses how not all skincare is created equal in terms of formulation. Instead of relying on one brand, it’s important to diversify and recommend products created by BIPOC. Which if you study the ingredients and their beauty history, you’ll realize that BIPOC originated clean beauty. This is another example of where I have only shown up about 50% because unless you’ve had an interaction with me as a client, I am part of the problem of perpetuating the belief that clean beauty is not accessible to all people. It’s a part of my industry that I’m ashamed of, but again, I haven’t done a good enough job speaking up against. A few of my continued and new favorite BIPOC skincare lines include:
DO THE WORK. I’m realizing I have so much white fragility that I’ve stopped myself from using my platform for fear of how my business could be impacted. The fact that I was this naive for almost 33 years of my life is embarrassing and shameful. I thought I was an ally but really I sat silently on the sidelines while racist acts in my industry were right in front of me. As a person on this green earth, it’s important to acknowledge my white privilege if I’m going to continue to be a part of an industry on skin health. Donations, voting, and speaking out are all essential parts to this however I have found that as an introvert, reading and writing are key for me to process the uncoiling I have to do as a human and business owner. Currently, I’m reading “Me and White Supremacy” by Layla F. Saad but I plan on going through this list of books. And also, this list of movies (many of which I have watched but will re-watch).
A final point for now, but this is certainly not where this ends, is that the skin health community is just one area that I represent. I am also an advocate for women’s health and spreading awareness on hormonal and fertility health. So I would be remiss if I didn’t also advocate for reproductive justice for BIPOC. As long as it took for me to get diagnosed with endometriosis (arguably my whole life, but more specifically the last 5 years), it takes a woman of color 2-3x that amount of time to get diagnosed. Why a BIPOC woman’s pain is ignored, I’ll never understand. I have stated how the work of Erica Chidi has profoundly changed my life multiple times as her sharing fibroid story inspired me to discover my endometriosis. The dismantling of racism and sexism in our healthcare system is a fight we all have to take on. If you have a client who is suffering with a health crisis and they are not getting help, reach out to your community until you can find some answers. This is where outreach is VITAL to saving lives. Anytime I’m unsure of how to support someone after they express their period pains or digestive issues, I share the name, number, email address etc. of all of the resources I have including naturopaths, acupuncturists, and general practitioners. I ask my instagram followers to send me their doctors names and share the information with my clients. It’s a little step that has really made a big difference.
I pledge to do, be, and work better. I’ve always felt like an ally but now my actions will match my intention. This is also an invitation for discussion with anyone who wants to see me do more, give more, and learn more. This is only a starting point for me and I hope to continue learning instead of holding back until I get it right. Mistakes will happen but I’m not afraid of the discomfort – I need to learn. We all do.
Here is a list of organizations and funds I have made donations to if you would like to donate as well:
Thank you for reading and please, don’t hesitate to reach out direction with questions, concerns, feedback at [email protected]