Skincare is booming, and 18-year-old Sophie Dilly-Mason didn’t hesitate to jump on the bandwagon.
She recently graduated from the Aveda Institute, where esthiology, or esthetics, is the theory, practice and clinical study of skin care, an industry expected to see a 17 percent increase in employment over the next 10 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s a “much faster” increase on average than most occupations, thanks to a rising interest in slowing aging. Google Trends shows a steady rise in “skincare” as a search term over the last five years, with a noticeable peak during the pandemic last summer.
“I just think that you know when you look good, you feel good. So people want to get these services done because it makes them feel good,” Dilly-Mason said. “A lot of people are looking to improve acne or scars that they have, or just getting rid of excess oil or dryness on their face. Those are the main things people are trying to get fixed.”
Skin care was an obvious career choice for Dilly-Mason, a River HomeLink High School graduate who wasn’t interested in the higher price tag for a traditional four-year university. She’s just getting her business – Beauty by Sophie – off the ground.
Her business is currently mobile; Dilly-Mason totes a foldable massage bed and suitcase with all sorts of skincare products, offering to meet people at their home. She also offers eyelash extension and waxing services.
“When I was a little younger, I did think it would be better to go to college,” she said of her decision. “It’s more traditional and that’s what a lot of people think is best to do. But I figured since I knew what I wanted to do and I didn’t need a degree for it, so it would just be better in the long run to go to a trade school instead. I won’t have any student debt now because I was able to pay for it.”
Syd Bernal, the director of the Aveda Institute, which has campuses in Portland and Vancouver, has noticed more people with that outlook applying. But the pandemic played a part, too.
“I think with the pandemic, a lot of people basically were forced into the opportunity of taking a pause and reflecting on what they really want to do,” Bernal said, adding that the school saw a 20 percent increase in enrollment between 2019 and 2020. “With the mass layoffs and people being unemployed for long periods of time, we had a lot people say, ‘You know what, I’m taking this as a sign – this is my time to do it.’”
Knowing that she enjoyed using makeup since she was 12, Dilly-Mason was one of those enrollees – graduating from the Aveda Institute in six months, costing her, she said, about $9,000. To graduate, students there must complete 750 hours of training. Then she received an esthetician license through the state’s cosmetology program.
“I really loved doing it,” she said of her early interest in beauty. “It was kind of a way for me to express myself. As I got more into that, I got really into skin care and learning about how it works – learning as much as I could about skin.”
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Dilly-Mason, who lives at her parents’ home in Ridgefield and hopes to eventually open a physical business space, hasn’t had many clients so far. She’s hoping to see an increase as more people become comfortable spending time with people outside of their households.
“I know there are a lot of people who are interested,” Dilly-Mason said. “People want it, but they’re maybe a little concerned about safety precautions.”
She said she makes sure to sanitize and disinfect all her tools, products and the bed that she uses.
And maybe, after a year indoors, people want to feel good about themselves.
“I don’t like how women feel pressured to look a certain way,” she said. “But, these services — they do help you feel better about yourself, and when you feel better about yourself, you’re more confident. Confidence – you can see someone’s confidence.”