By Gabrielle. Photo by Lindsey Rose Johnson for Design Mom.

Remember when we chatted about beauty tasks that we’ve never tried, and I mentioned that I’d never experienced a facial? (Still haven’t!) Well, Rachael Weesjes was kind enough to leave a comment about at-home options that work just as well as spa services. I almost didn’t believe her, but she should know: she’s been an esthetician for eight years! We emailed back and forth, and I asked her if she would share her expertise with us all. Happily, she agreed.

You’re going to love what she has to tell us, and you’re going to love even more the facial concoctions and remedies we can whip up at home to help with dry skin, acne, and aging. I can’t wait! Let’s start with a little background and insider tips first, shall we? Friends, please welcome Rachael!

Q: We’d love to know what it takes to be an esthetician!

A: Hello! I’m Rachael. I’ve been a certified esthetician for eight years. Everyone always wants to know about my training, maybe because we’re all on the hunt for amazing skin! I completed a two year make up artistry program, and then took a one year esthetics course. I do both now, but mainly esthetics with bridal make up thrown in during wedding season.

I started my career in a spa right after graduation that exclusively used high end skin care products from Europe. I stayed for almost seven years, but lost my job after the birth of my second child. I searched for another job for a few weeks to no avail. A woman with whom I had worked left to start her own spa a few years prior; when she heard that I lost my job, she invited me to work with her.

I always admired her. She wanted to work in an environment where she could make the majority of her skin care products, without any pressure to sell creams for hundreds of dollars. When we worked together at the first spa, we had agreed almost daily that it was too hard to sell budget-killing products we didn’t truly believe worked best. We knew that clients could get fantastic results at home without spending a ton of money. So our goals for the spa were very alike. She relocated to another city, and I now run the spa by myself.

My job description includes manicures, pedicures, waxing, aromatherapy and relaxation massage, hot stone massages, facials, body scrubs and cellulite wraps, eyelash and brow tinting, and make up. Estheticians can also deliver lash extensions, spray tans, and artificial nails. The list definitely can be different depending on where you live and how far you take your education.

Q: For those of us who haven’t had an in-salon facial, what do you recommend for beginners? What sort of questions should we ask before our treatment, and what should we expect?

A: My best and first piece of advice is to get a recommendation from a trustworthy source before you book a facial. I know a $20 facial that promises to get rid of wrinkles sounds tempting, but I highly advise you to run far away from those. Most spas will have a few different kinds of facials, and I’d recommend beginning with a basic option that will hydrate your skin.

Go to reputable spa. Feel free to ask questions about tool sterilization. If there is any kind of resistance to them sharing that information, leave right away. The best spas who want to keep you as a client will be patient with your questions; the ones who don’t care if they never see you again probably won’t!

Your esthetician should have some kind of education. The esthetics course I took was very intense! I had to memorize three benefits each of 150 different ingredients, become knowledgeable about all the bones and muscles of the face, neck, and shoulders, and all the different layers of skin. And here I thought I was just going to be rubbing cream on people’s faces! Turns out, estheticians end up being skin therapists.

Your esthetician should make you feel comfortable during your facial. You’ll have to change into a gown so your clothes won’t get messy, and you’ll probably be draped under a sheet and blanket. Kind of like going to bed! He or she should be asking you questions about your skin care routine at home, why you came for a facial, and what you are hoping to get out of your appointment.

A lot of women are scared to get a facial because they fear they’ll be blotchy or red afterwards, but if the skin therapist is doing it right you should leave with gorgeous, glowing skin! The redness most likely happens during extractions because the therapist is too rough, so you should ask to skip those at the beginning of the facial if you’re at all scared of looking like you’ve been in a fight! But remember: with the right technique and a gentle touch, that redness should not be happening. If your esthetician is too rough or it goes on longer than five or ten minutes, you may certainly ask to move on to the next step.

Q: What can regular facial treatments do for our skin?

A: Facial treatments remove dead skin cells, improve circulation, clear clogged pores, and hydrate. Taking care of your skin is one of the first steps in maintaining health and beauty, and adding a scrub or mask once a week can result in glowing skin.

DIY facials have been around for hundreds of years, long before spas or even professional care existed. The benefits of at-home treatments is that you can completely customize your products, you save money, you know exactly what you are putting on your face (no ingredients that you can’t pronounce!), and you can do it when you have time – no appointment necessary! Going to a professional gives you access to their experience and knowledge of all things related to skin. Professional skin care products also have had years of research poured into them and can be highly concentrated, which will you give really good results especially if you suffer from skin disorders like rosacea or psoriasis.

Q: If we can do just one thing daily at home to improve our skin, what would it be?

A: This question is hard! I don’t know how to pick just one thing! Can I pick two? First, stop using products that have alcohol as an ingredient. Alcohol strips down your skin’s protective barrier, which is the very thing that keeps your skin healthy over time. Alcohol in your skin care products contribute to your skin aging faster than it should.

And wash your makeup off before bed. At night, your cell renewal rate is faster and free radicals can be destroyed.

Q: What’s your best, non-expensive advice for a teenager experiencing that dreaded teen acne stage?

A: Teens that suffer from acne should look at what they eat. Eating greasy food results in greasy skin. Drink lots of water, I know everyone says it but it’s really one of the best things to do! The oil cleansing method will work wonders for their skin, too. Acne products for teens are SO drying, which just makes the oil production go into overtime…which makes more pimples. If a teen has severe acne or cysts that do not go away, they really should go see a doctor. Sometimes there are other factors involved that skin care will not take of. And hands off! No picking, squeezing, or popping. That’ll just introduce more bacteria.

Q: What is your advice for women considering more extreme measures, like Botox or fillers? What are your thoughts on aging skin, in general?

A: I’m not at an age where I’d consider Botox, so I’m not sure I can give advice. If you are going to do it, do it through a licensed medical doctor. Don’t cheap out.

I just want all women to love themselves and love how they look. Remember, we’re all going to die and be worm food one day. If you get Botox, you’ll just be more expensive worm food! Harsh but true.

This quote by Donna Lynn Hope sums it up for me: “I’m not opposed to aging – even though society is kinder on men than women when it comes to getting old. How can I look at aging as the enemy? It happens whether I like it or not and no one is set apart from growing old; it comes to us all. Youth passes from everyone, so why deny it? I’m proud of my age. I’m proud that I’ve survived this planet for as long as I have, and should I end up withered, wrinkled and with a lifetime of great wisdom, I’ll trade the few years of youth for the sophistication of a great mind…for however long it lasts.”

That’s what I want to remember. That no one is set apart from it. Will having a smooth face and full lips make me enjoy life more? Will it make me a better mother, wife, daughter, or sister? I can have a pretty face and still have an ugly heart.


Thank you, Rachael! I have to say, getting a facial keeps moving higher and higher on my try-this-list. Fantastic, glowing skin seems attainable, less stressful, and, thankfully, not necessarily expensive. Related, Rachael is helping me with a post about three at-home masks you can make with ingredients you probably have on hand! I can’t wait to share it.

P.S. – If you’ve got a few insider tips from your own career, would you be interested in sharing them with the rest of us? Let me know!