Michelle Obama’s Esthetician Shares Thoughts on the Beauty Industry

Joelle Lyons-Lee is the esthetician to Michelle Obama and she recently gave an interview about how she got her start and shared her views on the path to becoming an esthetician in today’s beauty industry.

Lyons-Lee’s interest in skin treatments began after she relocated to Chicago from Ohio. She entered a salon in Chicago during her first week in the city and met an esthetician – who was a woman of color – that recommended facial treatments for her. The facials became a regular part of her schedule along with eyebrow waxing.

She soon was enrolled in an esthetics school herself where she learned very quickly that skincare needs were very different among ethnic, black and white skin. She says her classroom experience consisted mostly of working with black skin and at the beginning she didn’t realize that skin care was very different across the spectrum of skin colors and ethnicities. She learned that each ethnic group is prone to a variety of skin issues that need to be addressed on an individual basis and that skin care is not a one-size-fits-all industry.

One of the concerns she has about beauty schools is that many do not cover the variety of skin types that an esthetician may encounter. Esthetician students should be sure that school curriculums include information on all skin types.

Additionally, Lyons-Lee is an advocate for continuing education for estheticians. The industry is ever-evolving with new products and services and professionals should be willing to take the steps necessary to keep up with current trends and breakthroughs.

Lyons-Lee wrapped up the interview by admitting that she is not a fan of the hotel spa industry, comparing them to factories. She points out the importance of estheticians learning how to do a complete skin analysis for each client and not just follow a basic manual. The goal she says is for the client to be educated on products “based upon knowledge, not just someone selling”.


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