Skin Analysis Basics

What is Skin Analysis?

Skin analysis is the first step of every facial treatment. The reason it’s so important is because the better you know your client’s skin, the more effective your treatments will be. Your goal with skin analysis is to be really thorough. You can start by training your eye to recognize not only different skin types, but also the underlying sub-conditions.

Skin Analysis Checklist

The Skin Analysis checklist makes it easy for you to go carefully and thoroughly over the face, neck and décolleté. You’ll find most people have combination skin that is partly dry and partly oily. A true oily skin will have blackheads on every part of the face. But more typically you’ll find distinct problem areas, which you can mark down to help you map out your treatment plan. Make sure you’re both looking at and touching every inch of the skin to make sure you take in everything that’s there. Also try to notice if the problem areas are stemming from the actual skin type or underlying sub-conditions. Sub-conditions can change the look and feel of the skin. While you can’t change a person’s skin type, you can alter their sub-conditions. This is where an estie’s skills can really help!


Acne, congestion, scarring, dullness, blotchiness, brown spots, redness and wrinkles are all common sub-conditions. But what causes them? Environment can play a huge role. For example, air conditioning can cause skin dehydration, while sun damage can lead to pigmentation issues, wrinkles and burned, sensitive skin. Lifestyle choices are another key factor. Your client may be using products that are too harsh and are actually irritating or drying their skin. Fragrances such as perfume or aftershave can cause pigment stain issues when applied to skin that is then exposed to the sun. Drinking alcohol can dehydrate the skin while smoking can play havoc on circulation, causing a sluggish skin tone. Even hormonal changes like puberty and menopause will affect your client’s skin.

Problem areas often point to weaker areas in your body. Your face is a map to your body, and correlating these different parts can help you see what might be going on so you can better advise your client. Many people don’t know they have food sensitivities, which are often a cause of congestion that typically shows up as bumps under the skin. Just changing their eating habits can improve this dramatically.

Take the time to think through what you see and ask your client questions about their skin and their lifestyle to help you determine a treatment plan that will get you the best results. As you get to know your client, your recommendations will reflect not just what’s visible on the surface, but what’s underneath. You can improve your skin from the inside out! As a skin expert, skin analysis is one of your most important tools.

Performing a Skin Analysis

It is important to start off with your skin analysis checklist beside you. It will help guide you through every noteworthy characteristic. Make sure to jot down what you see:

Are there open pores? Uneven, blotchy skin? Scarring?…

Once you’ve observed the characteristics, skin type and sub-conditions, you’ll be able to put together a customized facial treatment that will address your client’s specific needs. Map out what you’ll need to do in order.

Do you need to deal with acne and pustules before you can work on scarring issues?

Talk to Your Client

Speak when you’re most comfortable and confident about what you see going on with their skin. You are a skin expert, and clients come to you for your expertise. As a general rule, you should be touching their skin as you talk – don’t waste a minute of the treatment time! If you are a newer estie and it takes you a little longer to map out your treatment plan, take your time before you talk about it. You can let your client know that you really want to be thorough, and that you’ll put their goggles on as you take a look at their skin, going over every square inch of their face, neck, and décolleté. Tell them what you see and what you are going to be doing before the treatment.

During Set-up:

Set up, wash your hands and start your initial skin analysis with goggles and a magi lamp. During the set up process you can ask:

  • Why have you come here today?
  • So tell me about you. Tell me about your skin. How do you feel about where it is now?
  • What has been going on with your skin over the years?
  • What kind of products have you used?
  • What kind of medications/vitamins are you taking?
  • Do you have any allergies?

Before Treatment:

Once you’ve finished analyzing their skin, remove the magi lamp and goggles and talk about their skin for a moment. During this step, take your clients through what they can expect during the treatment:

In this treatment we’re going to _______ in order to _______..

Walk them through your plan so they know what to expect.

“I am big on extractions, it will really help your skin to have it thoroughly cleaned. But you will see some markings, and it will take about 3–5 days before it returns back to a smoother, healthier skin. I’m just making sure you are okay with that.”

Is this a returning client? Make sure to comment on something you addressed in a previous appointment, like how much firmer their skin is or what improvements you’re noticing this time. Talk about their skin, describe what you’re seeing and which areas you’ll be working on to continue strengthening their skin. If they don’t think that you’re making their skin better, they won’t come back to you.

During treatment:

In many cases, you’ll be guided by your client’s body language. Some clients enjoy every bit of information and knowledge you can give them about their skin. But others will be quiet and prefer to lie still and relax. It’s okay to speak less in this case. But it’s also important to be professional and describe something about your client’s skin that you can improve for them moving forward.

“So lovely working with you today. Your skin is really beautiful. I’m sure you have a great eye cream at home, but if you are using it once a day, you might try stepping it up to it twice a day, as your eyes are little dry. If you are using it twice a day already, next purchase switch it out for another brand, as I know you can get more out of your eye area.”

Again, clients come in to skin experts for a reason. Taking the time to understand their skin means you can give them the best advice!

After the treatment:

Talk your clients through what they can expect after the treatment. On acne-prone skin, for example:

“You will be spotty for a few days because of the extractions. Be patient with your skin. It takes time to get this way and it takes a little time to get it back.”

“I’ve used an AHA, so you might be a little flaky. Flaky is a good thing, especially when there’s scarring.”

Put together a plan and regimen for improving their skin long term. They want results quickly, and within three months they should have a very different skin.

“In your next treatment we’re going to _______ in order to _______.”

Talk your client through what kind of homecare regimen to follow.

“I know you’ve been using a stripping cleanser, so this new one is going to feel very different and you make not like it in the beginning. But it will help clear up your surface dryness, which will let the oil and congestion out of your skin and help your products absorb properly. Remember, cleansing is 50% of your regimen, so this step is very important.”

Make sure to mark down what stood out to you in each treatment, and your recommendations for their homecare regimen so you can comment on any changes and improvements at your client’s next visit!

Finally let them know when you’d like to see them again and what you’d like to address in their next appointment.

Action Points

Study the skin analysis checklist. Make sure you have a new one ready beside you for each new client. Implement an accessible file system for each returning client.

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