Every year we welcome submissions for our Acne Expert of the Year contest to celebrate the life-changing results achieved by our community of Acne Experts and their clients. Our 2020 winner, Zaida Gordon, took some time with us to share her esthetics journey and how she’s found success as an Certified Acne Expert.
From a really young age I was obsessed with all thing’s beauty and glam. I would watch my mom get ready and she would have her make-up and potions and I just loved watching her transformation, so whenever I could I was like ‘oh let me play with this make-up, let me play with these potions’—I was super curious. From a really young age I remember beauty, fashion, glam fascinating me.
It was your calling! You knew what you wanted to do. Did you open your business right away, did you work for other people… how did that career path look for you?
For 10 years I worked for various spas; I worked at a holistic wellness center, a chiropractor, a plastic surgeon, I worked for a famous celebrity nurse—I definitely got a feel for holistic skincare and more clinical and medial skincare. It was really great, I learned so much from every place that I worked at. I became the lead esthetician and trainer at almost every place that I worked, I got to work with really amazing, successful business owners and I learned a lot from them.
It sounds like you were able to get your hands in all the different approaches so you could figure out your niche before you went out on your own.
Yeah, definitely. I worked with organic skincare for many years and it was amazing, I loved being able to do these pampering, relaxing facials with massage. People always left feeling really good, but it wasn’t until I started doing more acne treatments that it became a lot more fulfilling. People would actually give me hugs and say, ‘my skin looks so good’ and ‘thank you so much’.
Results driven skincare with Before and After’s is obviously compelling for you, but that emotional aspect for the client, you really can’t buy that. That’s just something that comes with the job as an Acne Expert and it feels so good to help them. How long have you been treating acne in your business? Did you use Face Reality right away when you opened Skintegrity LA?
It was about a year into going out on my own. I kept hearing about it every time I was on social media and any of the esthetician groups; it was popping up all the time. I looked into it, did a little research and it seemed right on board with what I was looking for. I wanted a little bit more advanced training in something that would help me get better results—more corrective skincare, more acne focused, and results driven. And I definitely made the right choice! I’m really happy with the decision to get the Face Reality training, I think it was the best decision I had made in a really long time. I’d say over 90% of my clients come to see me for acne treatments.
What tips would you share with any aspiring esthetician, aspiring business owner or Acne Expert?
I would say treat your clients like gold because without them you have nothing. Really, they’ll refer their friends, they’ll refer their family, you probably won’t even have to spend too much on advertising. Treat your clients like gold, let them know that you’re engaged with them. Be timely with responding to emails and calls, let them know that if they’re working with you and forming a relationship, that you’re accessible and more than happy to help them on their journey. Clearing skin is a little bit different than just a once-in-awhile type luxury facial. These are clients who sometimes need a little bit of handholding at the beginning, so I always like to let them know that I’m here for them and that I know there will be times they might be a little discouraged or they might be a little concerned. I always say treat the client like gold, let them know you’re there for them and form that relationship!
Many estheticians have dealt with acne themselves and oftentimes is what leads them to this career in general. Did you have a personal experience with acne?
Absolutely, I’m acne prone. I’ve been dealing with acne since I was a teen, and even though I’m 40, I’m still dealing with acne. There’s no cure for it so all we can do is learn our personal acne triggers. I have to practice what I preach; I have to also avoid the foods I tell my clients to avoid, I have to do my skincare regimen twice a day—I have to do all the things, or I will break out!
On that note, what are your favorite diet and lifestyle tips to share with your clients?
I definitely go over all the foods that can help skin and foods that can also give clients a flare-up and cause acne so it’s quite lengthy. I remind my clients that it is so important what is going into your body, and is almost as equally important as the topicals, creams, lotions, potions, everything you put topically on your skin. I try to stress to my clients the importance of everything that is going into their bodies. We go over everything in a little bit more detail—besides the foods, we talk about the lifestyle things like avoiding fabric softener, checking your laundry detergent, what you’re using in your hair, how often you’re changing your pillowcase—these are things people don’t always connect but they are most certainly connected. It’s important that clients look at the whole picture: what’s going into my body, what are the things I’m putting on my entire body, what are things I’m putting on the fabrics that come in contact with my skin… all of those things play a huge part.
We’re certain you have many successful client stories and we’re sure the 3 clients you submitted fall into this, but is there a client story that has stuck with you over time?
Last year one of my clients, Emilia (she’s one of the clients I submitted for Acne Expert of the Year), she started as a referral from another client I had successfully cleared. It was during a time we were in quarantine; it was during a time when she couldn’t see a dermatologist, she certainly couldn’t get facials. And it just so happened that at that time she reached out to me I was doing virtual consultations. She had a pretty severe case of rosacea; she was somebody who dealt with mild acne, but it was never severe—but she did develop severe case of rosacea during quarantine. We did a virtual consultation, I asked her to see a dermatologist whenever she was able to and we took it from there. I got her on the Face Reality products early on and we did start to see her skin start to calm down. It was pretty incredible, every time I would check in with her, I would see some progress. And even though I couldn’t see her in person, it was just incredible to be there for her and kind of hold her hand virtually. She was such a positive person and she completely trusted the process. One would look at her skin and it was kind of sad—it was very very inflamed, it looked painful. She would tell me ‘it hurts to sleep on my pillow’. I was finally able to see her in person and she had visited a dermatologist. Unfortunately, they had suggested antibiotics which you know, seems to be common. She complained to me that her stomach hurt, she really didn’t want to be on antibiotics, so she was only on that briefly. She continued with Face Reality products and was able to come in somewhat regularly for very gentle treatments and her transformation just—it was something that really stayed with me and really made up for some of the sad, terrible parts of 2020. Treating her was definitely a highlight of my 2020 and I’m so grateful that my other client put us in contact. I was grateful I had Face Reality, I was grateful that I was able to do a virtual consultation with her and that now she’s in such a better place.
The mental health aspect of acne is something that people who don’t battle acne have idea about—they don’t realize the impact that acne can have on your confidence and your day-to-day life. 2020 was tough, and we can’t imagine your client Emilia dealing with a severe case of rosacea and acne all at the same time amidst a pandemic. But you were able to help her virtually which is so incredible. On that note, as an Acne Expert, how have you navigated the pandemic, can you share any advice?
When we first went into quarantine and all of us had to leave our businesses overnight, of course it was a really scary time because we’re used to being in the treatment room, seeing clients in person and selling products in person. For me personally, it made me look at other parts of my business—I had to pivot. I had an online store and was doing virtual consultations already; I was set-up to do those things but was not advertising them at that time. So, it forced me to advertise them—I told myself if I wanted to keep the business going and to continue helping people I’d have to focus on that online store and online consultations. I shifted focus and put some effort into revamping: I’m going to start advertising virtual consultations, I’m going to really look at what I’m advertising and promoting on my website. Luckily with Face Reality’s drop ship program and training for virtual consultations, it was a much smoother transition.
We know that clients can get frustrated when they’re first starting the clearing process and are looking for results overnight. Can you share how you encourage those clients that may feel discouraged in the first few months?
One of the things I like to do is show them a photo of somebody with very similar skin issues. It kind of just came to me one day when I had a client who’s skin reminded me of a past client. Oftentimes you will run into clients whose skin is similar to a past client. If you’re keeping progress photos, it’s going to come in handy. For example, I would say “you know what, your skin reminds me so much of my other client Mary. Let me show you her progress photos, let me show you her purging phase, this is what it may look like and this is normal—this is okay. Look at what it’s going to turn into, this is going to be you, you just have to trust the process, 3-4 months usually—just know it may get a little worse before it gets better. Just like the acne didn’t happen in a couple of months, it’s not going to clear up overnight”. I like to show them what it could look like and to have reasonable expectations.
Do you have any tricks of the trade to share with your fellow Acne Experts?
The photos. Keeping your photos organized, making sure you always take a before photo. I can’t tell you how many times I have kicked myself because I didn’t have that first photo and we have this amazing transformation to compare it to! If you are serious about treating acne, you need to be really organized, keep really good tabs and track the photos.
Our last question: if you could share one thing with an acne client, what would that tip be?
The tip would be don’t forget about your supplements! I forgot to mention this earlier, but that’s one of my secrets to success. I make sure my clients are taking the recommended supplements. When a client is taking fish oil, for example, when they’re taking it regularly, I definitely see a difference. Extractions are easier, skin heals faster, not to mention all the other wonderful benefits of taking omegas—if I could recommend only one thing, supplements (besides trying to eat well and drinking a lot of water). For a lot of clients, it might be the omega 3’s, for other clients it might be Vitamin A, but the supplements are really important.