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Learn Your Clients' Retail Love Language

February is around the corner, and you know what that means. The language of love seemed an appropriate discussion – especially when it comes to your clients. You show them you care in everything you do – but are you speaking their language when it comes to retail products? When we recommend products, it’s obviously important to understand their skin condition so we can choose ingredients for appropriate treatment.

But have you ever considered what your client’s retail love language is? Product selections are personal to many clients and reflect their priorities, preferences, and lifestyle. They can be one or a combination of a few of them. Read this article from Skin Inc. (Dec. 2021) to learn how to choose products that will make their hearts sing!


Efficient and Results Driven

When your client has specific concerns and wants targeted results, you are dealing with a results-driven retail love language. They have questions, and you must have the answers–on demand.

Wrinkles: retinol. Fine lines: alpha hydroxy acids. Tackle hyperpigmentation head-on with brighteners and a physical sunblock. These clients are interested in transformation, and their expectation is that you will deliver on a set timeline. Usage and dispensing guidelines should be clear and concise and expectations out in the open. Efficiency and having command as a skin care professional are key. With this retail love language, don’t beat around the bush. Work as a team and get their skin glowing ASAP.


There is a whole new generation of consumers whose primary concern, in most aspects of their lives, is eco-welfare and environmental sustainability. This concern is central in buying skin care and personal care products as well. Eco-friendly can mean a lot of things, but it signifies a minimal carbon footprint and the use of recyclable materials. Cosmetic ingredients should be sourced from sustainable sources that are ethical and have transparent supply chains. For the eco-friendly love language client, animal testing and animal cruelty is a big no-no, as well. Vegan products are integral to this love language, and it is important to understand their expectations and work with them to find products that are suited to their needs.

Gender Neutral

Long gone are the days of beauty and skin care products being targeted only to the ladies. Men are a much larger portion of the skin care market than ever before, and women are focused more on ingredients and results than pretty pink packaging and heavily perfumed products. Hence, we have arrived at a time where many products are neutral in their marketing and esthetic when it comes to typical gender symbolism. The key to working with this love language is to be careful about making assumptions about what an individual will want, based on their gender. Keep an open mind and be sure to have honest dialog about their preferences and goals when it comes to their beauty routine.

Buzzword Ingredients

It seems like just yesterday that only estheticians and dermatologists were using terms like niacinamide, resveratrol and hyaluronic acid. However, with the widespread availability of skin care information online, clients are just as in-the-know of all the professional lingo in the industry. In fact, some clients demand products that specifically feature the skin care buzzwords that they are interested in using. They may not know exactly how the product should be used or what type of formulation it contains, but they know they want that particular ingredient.

When you are working with a client that has this love language, be sure to explain exactly what these ingredients do and how to best insert them into their routines. Just because it is a trend doesn’t always mean it is appropriate for everyone, so conversation and consultation are key here.


With so many clients having food sensitivities and allergies, it’s no wonder that avoiding certain ingredients in skin care has also become a trend and a medical necessity. Gluten-free skin care is a growing sector and definitely something that we will be seeing more of. If you don’t have access to a gluten-free brand yet, then definitely know what to look for on a label.

For your gluten-free clients, look out for ingredients like yeast extracts, Triticum vulgare, wheat germ extract, dextrin palmitate and oat, barley or malt-based components that may contain gluten.

This love language is easy to spot because these clients will usually warn you from the get-go that they have an allergy.

Be sure to respect their wishes and carefully assess each ingredient to make sure it is safe for them to use. If you’re not sure, just say so. You would not want to be the reason that they have an allergic reaction of some kind. Your best bet, with this love language, is to always defer to their physician.


As we know, fragrances have long been components of cosmetic formulations because they add to the sensory experience of using a product. However, consumers are not as keen to have superfluous fragrances (synthetic or natural) in their products, both because they can be irritating but also, are largely insignificant to the performance of the product.

Furthermore, fragrance additives in the U.S. are not regulated, and many consumers are seeking products that omit them altogether. Find out if your client has a retail love language for fragrance-free cosmetics and skin care and support them in their journey to find them. Having several fragrance-free options at your spa or salon will pay off, as an ever-increasing number of clients are requesting them.


There have always been skin care brands out there that are more expensive than others. However, in the past decade or so, we have seen an emergence of brands that are aspirational in nature in terms of price. You can find them across several categories: non-toxic, cosmeceutical, and medical grade.

They are those products that ask $200 and upwards for a single product, which would make using an entire skin regimen close to $1,000. Some would argue that these brands are worth it, and others will say that it’s just genius marketing. Whatever the case may be, you will find that a subset of your clients will want to use products like these for many reasons.

Perhaps it’s the notoriety or wanting to obtain a certain status-only they know. If you sense that your client’s retail love language is based more on using a brand name as opposed to improving their skin, then you will know that you are working with a customer with this preference. On the one hand, it is wonderful that they are willing to spend big money on their skin care products. On the other hand, however, we need to guide them in the right direction for their individual skin type and conditions to avoid wasting money and being let down when they don’t achieve the results they’re after.


There are several reasons that clients seek non-toxic and clean beauty brands. More often than not, it’s part of their lifestyle that includes clean/organic eating, plant-based home cleaners and non-toxic hair and body products. Perhaps that client struggles or has recovered from a chronic illness, or maybe they just prefer their products this way.

In any case, it’s important to know and respect when this is your client’s retail love language. As we know, no product on earth is “chemical-free,” however, some brands are certainly more inclined to be clean and/or organic, while others are much more “clinical.” The Environmental Working Group’s website is a widely used resource for those clients who demand clean products because it breaks down ingredients and gives them a score. Take some time to see where your skin care offerings land on the non-toxic scale, so you can have open and honest discussions with your clients when asked. With this retail love language, transparency is key and depending on which skin care lines you have on offer in your spa, your products may be a fit for them, or they may not.

International Trends

We are no longer limited to the beauty brands at our local department stores or spa. We can learn about beauty brands, in real-time, practically all over the globe. Many clients love to seek out international beauty brands and trends via social media and will purchase those products as well. Moreover, many of our clients were born overseas and continue to use the skin care and beauty brands from their country of origin.

If your client has this retail love language, be sure to truly understand what they are using at home on their skin (especially if you cannot read the ingredient list on the packaging) and make sure that everything is working for them. It’s not to say that they should avoid these products but be sure they are using the right ones in the proper way.

Novel Experiences

Many clients want to experience something new. Whether it’s a body serum to balance the chakras, a magnetic face mask, trendy fizzing bath bomb, a new sonic cleansing tool, an anti-aging at-home laser device, or an exciting new under-eye depuffer; some clients are just curious to check it out.

Half the buzz of the vampire facial, for example, was that major celebrities were posting fascinating pictures with their faces covered in blood. Sometimes, it’s not so much what the product, procedure or tool does, it’s more about trying it out to see what happens! While we are all excited about the newest developments in skin care, it’s important to know if having that product is beneficial. When your client is a thrill seeker, when it comes to their beauty routine, have a discussion about the pros and cons, so they can make truly informed decisions, with their skin health in mind. They will certainly thank you later!

Value and Price Driven

For most of us, price plays a huge role in our buying decisions. For these clients who have value as a retail love language, it’s critical to find out their budget before building an at-home skin care protocol. In other words, it doesn’t matter what the products promise to do as much as what their bill will be when they check out at your register.

If you can build an A.M. and P.M. regimen that addresses their skin concerns and stays within a ballpark dollar amount, then you will be indispensable to them. Clients with this retail love language will often shop at drugstores and mass online retailers, so be sure to offer them comparable/better products from your professional roster while respecting their price limits and it will be a win-win every time!

Get Acquainted

With so many skin care products on the market today, it’s no wonder that clients look for the ones that complement their lifestyles and fit their needs and preferences. Whether it’s a focus on results, a need for eco-friendly products, or a desire to use gender neutral products, there is certainly something for everyone! Moreover, some clients have certain health conditions or allergies that make gluten free, fragrance-free or non-toxic products a must.

While some clients want the lowest prices possible, others look for the most expensive ones, as a sign of prestige. Some clients’ beauty buying decisions are heavily influenced by international trends or their country of origin, while others are skin care thrill seekers at heart. Get acquainted with these retail love languages and see if you can spot others that aren’t mentioned here too! In an ever-expanding beauty ecosystem, it’s no wonder that every client is keen on using the beauty brands that make their heart skip a beat!

Elizabeth Donat, L.E., is the founder and CEO of EMD Skin Solutions. She is a New York State and internationally licensed esthetician with nearly 20 years of experience in the beauty industry. After graduating Atelier Esthetique Institute of Esthetics, Donat worked at some of the most reputable spas and salons in New York City before returning to Atelier Esthetique to work as an instructor. She also worked for Elizabeth Arden and Massage Envy Spas before starting her company.


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