From a Spark to a Flame: an Educator’s Perspective by Raelyn McKay

As an Esthetics instructor, the most satisfying part of my job is when my students grow in their skills and they begin to really gain an appreciation for the little things; it’s when they are no longer satisfied with just finishing a manicure, or waxing service or facial, but really perfecting it.

That’s when I know a tiny spark has caught fire into real passion.


At first, Beauty School can be a little awkward. Every esthetician and hair stylist has been there – you choose a school and you show up, and you sort of muddle through those first weeks in school. You’ve maybe tried doing your own nails or waxing your sister’s legs or designing makeup looks before, but then school is an entirely new world. When it comes to sitting with a stranger in a practical spa with an instructor, there is a specific technique or protocol and it can be intimidating. It’s a brave thing to overcome those first butterflies. So patiently, we as instructors encourage each student to move past those tentative first weeks, watching our students build confidence and gain skills.


And then the middle of the term arrives. There’s perhaps a plateau, and with it, perhaps a bit of frustration. That’s when I get excited, because this is where I see the most opportunity. When my student is frustrated, it means she cares about progress, and she may be open to trying a new trick.

That’s the moment.

That moment when I adjust a hand position or a piece of equipment or a towel fold, and instantly a student is able to finally get the gorgeous result she’s been chasing. Those moments are what I live for.


It happens in the classroom, too. Skin and nail therapy is both science and art, and my students learn anatomy and physiology and skin histology, of course, but also electricity and chemistry and how ingredients affect the skin. At first it seems so random that we’re learning chemistry and electricity in an esthetics course. I mean, isn’t it just washing people’s faces and painting nails?

Until we break out the Micro-current machine and we are all glad we have an understanding of the fifth cranial nerve, the orbicularis occuli and corrugator muscles, and how iontophoresis helps a water-binding product like hyaluronic acid to penetrate beyond the epidermis. And they really get it. Suddenly the chemistry and physics that never had any relevance in high school makes sense. And it really is magical.


I’ve been an instructor at Delmar for over a year and I’ve seen a few classes graduate now. And some of my students have taken the time to come back and share with me their successes in the industry. We laugh together about the initial struggles and initial anxious moments when things seemed so difficult; but with a bit of tenacity, we worked through and it all fell into place. The fact is, the little moments continue well beyond graduation for these students, because they leave Delmar with a hunger to experience everything the industry has to offer them.



no gimmicks. just great education

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