What constitutes an expert?

Over the last few years I have seen an incredible growth in the wellness community. We have evolved our hippie, woowoo reputation to a reliable source of transparency and natural health care. Since I’ve been in the game for over a decade, and that may just be long enough to recognize patterns, I’ve realized the most extreme pattern is how sick people are getting. With the amount of knowledge I’ve acquired over the years, I feel as though I constantly have to research and ask questions. I’m lucky to have a great group of wellness practitioners that I collaborate with so we can create a whole health wellness plan for just about any case. If a case gets a little tricky for me to solve on my own I have many estheticians who I can reach out to for advice. The collaborative effort creates a safe space to explore endless possibilities and potentially help catch something I would have normally missed in an assessment. So if it takes a village and a decade of experience among the leaders of this community for me to find success, than how come everyone is all of a sudden an expert?

I never called myself an expert until I worked for a company that granted me the title “skincare expert” which I simply adjusted it to “skin expert/esthetician”. Esthetician gives me more credibility because I’m licensed by the state and continuously have to renew my license to keep practicing. Skincare expert isn’t something I can back unless I have developed the actual skincare line itself. I understand skin and am qualified to accept the title of expert but even that feels presumptuous. My skills are always evolving and I never want to be the smartest in my field. I learn from each case and will continue to grow for as long as I am an esthetician.

I hate to call anyone out and this isn’t to dismiss someone’s passion but just because you sell mass produced skincare as a hobby or have an instagram dedicated to trying out products doesn’t make you an expert. If I have another client come to me with an idea in their head that a product a blogger wrote about is the best thing ever, I may freak out. So what constitutes an expert? How can you navigate the experts from the enthusiasts? Here are some ways how:

1 - What’s their education? Often times when I would attend a training for a skincare line, the first question I would ask the trainer is “What is your education?”. If they were a sales rep, I wouldn’t necessarily leave the training knowing more than a few buzzwords to excite a client on a product. If they were an esthetician or a nurse, that’s when I would get excited. I learned new applications and techniques that would apply to specific skin types and conditions. Those education sessions always helped my facial because I felt comfortable applying their knowledge to enhance my practice. So if you love a blogger or instagram thread, look to see their credentials and if it’s lining up to be more of a hobby you can just take their advice with a grain of salt. Unless you are educated and licensed to deal with skin you can’t really push your recommendations that would be like if I prescribed you a pharmaceutical, I’m not equipped to do so other than recommend someone who can.  

2 - Is this an opinion piece? Most social media pages are splashed with advertiser paid posts that act as genuine advice. If each post is about how much they love and use a product, some simple math can tell you right there that it’s not likely they use this product all the time. If I were gifted a product, I will most likely post a photo of it with description as to what it is. I try to not come off like it’s the only product that works and you need it in your life right now otherwise your skin will fall off. My routine changes all the time and I’m constantly testing product but the seldom times I do post about products I feel the impact of my words. People notice and think that it immediately applies to them. I’ve had to do some damage control with my product junkie clients who take my word for everything. Bloggers with a strong following know what they say will sell so if they make money off of a positive review, that’s not an authentic recommendation. Read it for what it is and if you are really intrigued by the product, ask more questions and sample it. I often have to remind my clients that their skincare regimen is great as is and they don’t need all the extras. If you need a new product, ask your skincare professional if they suggest it for you. Since they know your skin they will be able to tell you what’s up.

3 - Not all skincare lines are created equal. I don’t like all skincare lines nor do I find that just one skincare line works for everyone. I like to be able to learn about many different brands and how they came about. If a brand has a founder that is educated in the field of skincare, I am more apt to enjoy their products. MV skincare, Tammy Fender, Josh Rosebrook, De Mamiel, Osmia, Vered are just a few lines created by actual experts in their fields. Some lines like Laurel and Odacite are created because they saw an issue in the industry and got the education to back up their lines. Other lines may have the best of intentions but there are some signs to really showcase some missing links. One sign would be lack of transparency. If labelling is hard to understand or filled with ingredients you can’t pronounce, it’s always best to ask about the sourcing. If the brand can’t answer questions about sourcing right away and they have to ask their manufacturers that means they most likely don’t know what’s going on with their own line. The above mentioned brands will be able to answer any question since they know the ins and outs of their products including sourcing and why those ingredients were selected. Those brands are not the only ones but they are a great reference for who can truly be called experts.

So this isn’t to discourage you from following a blog, instragramer or a line that may just be fun. This is to help you determine what to listen to and how to get the real answers. Your skin is a precious organ that requires the best care from the actual experts. Trust yourself too since your instincts are usually always right. Step back and ask yourself if you really do need an extra serum or mask just because it’s being posted all over social media. Like fashion, there are tons of trends in this industry too but most professionals won’t take your health concerns lightly with trendy recommendations. Continue to become the expert on your own health and you will feel more equipped to navigate the masses.

Thanks for reading, if you have any questions comment below! xo - Hayley