The beauty industry offers endless opportunities to those seeking a challenging yet rewarding career.  From hands on therapy to product development, training to brand management the possibilities are many. I love learning about different people within our industry – particularly how and why they chose to work in the crazy world of professional beauty – which lets face it at the best of times is challenging with long hours, poor entry level pay and being fiercely competitive in its nature.

The beauty industry is also seen as a predominately female orientated career path.  The stereotypical view that a good beauty therapist / skin therapist / massage therapist etc should be female,  is not a view I personally hold, however there are many out there that do.  With the recent appointment of Jason Phillips as the Chair of BABTAC and CIBTAC, the issue of the under representation of male therapists in the professional beauty industry has been highlighted, with Phillips (who left a career in IT to become a Male Intimate Waxing Specialist) stating:

 “I want to show men that this industry is a fascinating and rewarding career choice and I that by being involved with the UK’s longest running and highest quality association that also offers worldwide recognised beauty qualifications is a great opportunity to achieve this”

With this in mind I asked two inspirational male therapists that I know to share their views and experiences of working and building a career in the professional beauty industry.

 

Andy Millward TunicName:  Andy Millward

Location:  UK

Position:  Skin Therapist / Expert

Andy began his career in the professional beauty industry only 18 months ago (which is very impressive considering how well regarded he is within professional circles due his expert skin knowledge – a testament to his passion for continuous professional development). Like Jason Phillips, Andy moved from the world of IT to train and specialise in the area of advanced skin therapy. In addition to a popular blog and working as skin therapist, Andy also works with the US Cosmeceutical range Cosmedix in the UK. 

What Made You Want to Work in the Beauty Industry?

 I was always focused on skin health and knew actually what I wanted to specialise in very early on, so I prefer the term “skin therapist”.  I used to have very problematic skin myself so I know how it can affect you physically, mentally and emotionally. I find it extremely rewarding when I can help to improve the condition of a clients skin and see the transformation from before and after treatment.

What Challenges Have You Faced Personally/Professionally as a Male Therapist?

The major challenge I faced to begin with was my own personal fear of career change and being judged by other people. I worked in IT for 11 years so moving to the beauty industry was obviously a big culture shock. Once I’d got over that, the next challenge I faced was employment. I go to a lot of salons and spas for facials and massages etc but I’ve never once seen a male therapist. This stuck alarm bells for me “what if I did all the training and no-one would employ me because of being a man”. I even contacted a couple of salons before I did my NVQ training as research. Some said, “In theory they would employ a male therapist” and others were just honest and said “no, their clientele wouldn’t accept a male therapist”. In the end this combined with the fact I was headstrong over what I wanted to specialise in, I had no choice but to set up on my own.

Do You Find People Stereotype / Discriminate Against You Because of Gender Within the Industry?

Occasionally. As I’m self employed it is rare, but on the odd occasion I go for a massage or facial for example at a spa and the therapist asks what I do for a living and I explain I’m a skin therapist, I often get a sort of “aww that’s nice” response, like I’m a puppy that just did something cute. Thankfully I’ve never once had an issue with a client discriminating against me, but then again my face is on my homepage, so it would be a bit odd to get a booking and then there being an issue afterwards because of my gender. Some people I meet or even friends, that don’t fully understand what I do, stereotype me occasionally, but it doesn’t bother me, it’s only their own ignorance towards the industry.

What Advice Would You Give to Male Therapists in the UK Beauty Industry / Men Considering Training in Our Industry?

Just go for it! The more men in the industry the more acceptable it will become. I recently read in one of the editions of Vitality that BABTAC Chairman Jason Phillips is pushing for more male therapists in the industry so there really is no better time. Similar to Jason, I switched from quite a high paid IT job (of 11 years) to the beauty industry and I can hand on heart say it’s the best thing I ever did. The job satisfaction and reward of helping clients and seeing their confidence grow as their skin improves is something that I just couldn’t get in the IT world! Just be prepared that you may have to go self-employed unless you can find a good salon / spa that employs male therapists.

What do You Think Makes a Great Therapist, Regardless of Gender?

Core Knowledge – take the time to really learn your craft and don’t rely on what’s ‘taught’ in classrooms or on training course.

Analytical Skills – being able to think outside the box and analyses pieces of information to identify root cause is essential. I think my IT background probably helps with this!

Communication Skills – being a good listener is a must

Passion – most of all I think you really have to love what you do and that way your commitment and enthusiasm comes across to your client.

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Name: Klaes Andersson

Location: UK

Position:  Beauty / Massage Therapist

I also asked the lovely Klaes , who has been in the industry since the 90s to answer the same questions and let us know his experiences of the professional beauty industry. Klaes has held many different roles from working as a session Nail Tech backstage at London Fashion Week, to pampering and preening in luxury spas. Like Andy he is an expert in his field and has forged a successful career. 

What Made you Want to Become a Beauty Therapist?

Well i was told men can not be beauty therapist , so as a little rebel i decided to show the world!
 

What Areas of the Professional Beauty Industry Have You Trained In?

Well I’m fully qualified Beauty and Body therapist, i was one of the first therapist in UK to be trained in eyelash extension and did that for many years .

What Part of Being a Beauty/Body Therapist Do you Prefer ?

Hmmmm, i love doing facials, i go into a zone and my hands head and heart works in some strange synergy. In saying that i like a mixture during a working day, due to age my body is not as tough as it once was so to much body massage is bit hard I must admit.
 

What Challenges (if any) Have you Faced Personally/Professionally as a Male Therapist?

Oh god this is a strange one, as im a fairly tough cookie here, but personally many people told me its going to be hard, I didnt mind that, I was always willing to work hard and somehow i always had to prove myself more than a female therapist. Professionally on the other side it’s been salon/spa owners who been most discriminating, and sadly not in a vey nice way many times…. But i always considered it their loss for not taking a chance employing me.

Do You Find People Stereotype / Discriminate Against You Because of Gender Within the Industry?

Oh yes, and it always been from female salon owners. I remember once i was up for a job and the woman called me , for once, and she told me we will never employ you as you are a man, I told her you know it discrimination to say that , all she reply was good luck…  It is harder for guys, but I love my job and I have met wonderful people both clients and colleagues over the years

What Advice Would You Give to Male Therapists in the UK Beauty Industry / Men Considering Training in Our Industry?

Study hard, read everything you can get your hands on, be prepared to working hard, crappy hours, sadly not great pay to start with, but it so worth it. Find a mentor, and never stop being curious or learning….

What do you think makes a great therapist, regardless of gender?

Hmmm, we are like chameleons we have to be able to adapt, think quick, always remember, listen it a must and that goes even when you dont want to… I think it’s not a job its a calling in some strange way, I love when someone comes to me and when they leave they leave feeling a little bit better and a smile…its a wonderful feeling .

Some great thoughts and advice there from Andy and Klaes that are relevant to all therapists male or female. I don’t know about you but, I think the key to succeeding and excelling in any industry is having the balls (literally or not as the case may be) to know what you want and go for it! A good therapist has passion, understanding , skills, ability and an eagerness to learn and keep on doing so – gender doesn’t come in to it.