Looking for an expert in skin? Meet Hillary Robinson, the department lead aesthetician for Hiatus Spa in Austin. She's extremely passionate about the health of her clients' skin, and it's shown throughout the almost 7 years of working at Hiatus.
What was the path that led you into the spa industry?
I’ve been a spa lover and skin care enthusiast my entire life, but it wasn’t until my early 30s that the idea of being an esthetician became a reality. Whenever I booked a spa appointment (which was always for a facial), I would spend most of my appointment time asking the esthetician questions because of my passion for skin care and because of my curiosity about the industry. In 2011, the advertising company I was working for decided to close their Austin location so I thought that was a perfect time to take a leap and enroll in esthetics school. I took that leap seven years ago and I’m so happy that I did because I absolutely love my job and this industry.
How long have you worked at Hiatus?
I’ve been with Hiatus for almost seven years—it’s hard to believe how fast time flies! I started with Hiatus as a part-time guest experience coordinator as I was finishing up school for my esthetics license. After about nine months of being a guest coordinator, an opening on the esthetics team became available. I applied, got the position, and worked hard to become the Lead Esthetician for the Austin location within a year and a half of being hired. I’ve been department lead for five years now and feel very fortunate to have also been a part of the team that helped open and grow our two newest locations in San Antonio and Houston. This is just one of the reasons why I love Hiatus—the opportunity for growth and advancement.
What’s the best part about working in the spa industry?
The best part about working in the spa industry is that guests are always happy to be in the spa so I usually get to be the best part of their day. Maybe even the best part of their week! It’s very rewarding and feels good to be a part of something that brings happiness to people. It’s especially rewarding as an esthetician to help guests feel good about their skin and themselves. It truly can be life-changing for guests that have dealt with skin issues for most of their lives.
What makes a great aesthetician?
We all have our own unique personality, skills, and educational background, but I think most great estheticians have the following: 1) a solid understanding of the science behind skin and product ingredients, 2) exceptional listening skills to truly hear guest concerns and, 3) the ability to communicate and relate to each guest to provide individualized, skincare solutions. All of these traits help build trust and a connection between the esthetician and the guest, ultimately getting the guest closer to their skincare goals.
What is your personal philosophy?
My personal philosophy is a combination of a holistic approach with consistency. Holistic in that diet, lifestyle, and skin care are all interconnected. Healthy nutrition is vital for healthy skin because our skin needs proper water intake and fresh fruits and vegetables. Every day I carry around a water bottle that has slices of lemon and frozen cranberries. Not only do I get hydration from the water, but I also get some detoxification from the lemon and antioxidants from the cranberries. Our skin also needs exercise and quality sleep for blood flow and to help restore our skin.
Consistency is also part of my philosophy because our skin has different needs during the changing seasons as well as throughout the different phases in our lives. So, I like to compare having a skin care routine to a life-long marathon, not a sprint. Meaning, consistent conditioning, training, and maintenance will pay off in the long run. (Pun intended. J) Being consistent with getting facials, taking off makeup every night, using cleansers, using serums and moisturizers, and most importantly, wearing sunscreen will all help maintain skin health during our life changes and fluctuations.
What is your favorite treatment to perform? To receive?
My absolute favorite treatment to perform is our “Best Facial Ever”. This is an 80 minute service that is results-oriented because it includes a gentle peel and full face micro-current treatment. The goal of this facial is to focus on exfoliating, plumping, and toning the skin. But, the service is also very relaxing! I’ve had many, many guests say “That IS the Best Facial Ever” at the end of the service because they feel refreshed and relaxed and their skin feels smooth and glowing afterwards.
I love the Best Facial Ever so much that it is also my favorite to receive, especially when it is combined with our Energizing Scalp Treatment add-on. To me, this is the perfect combo—all the benefits of this amazing facial plus a scalp treatment that incorporates invigorating aroma therapy and warm oil massaged into the scalp. We then use a warm towel to wrap the scalp and it is just divine! I highly recommend that everyone experiences this service at least once.
What are two things about you that most people don’t know?
Two things that most people don’t know about me: 1) I’m a foodie, especially when it comes to baking. I made a sweet potato pound cake yesterday and a homemade blueberry pie last week, and 2) I love game shows. Especially anything that involves trivia (like Jeopardy) or word puzzles (like Wheel of Fortune). And don’t even get me started on how much I’m addicted to Words with Friends!
What trends do you see taking off in the near future?
There is so much happening in the spa industry these days. It’s really fascinating to see. With the continued advancement of technology (LED lights, lasers, micro-current, etc.) and the fact that consumers have access to more information, I feel like customization is going to continue to be a big trend. For example, consumers now have accessibility to at-home devices that they previously could only experience in a spa. Because of this accessibility, consumers are more informed and more pro-active about their skin care health. And thus, with the guidance of their esthetician, a consumer can create the ultimate, customized skin care maintenance plan for both in and out of the spa treatment room.
What is your favorite HydroPeptide product to recommend?
LumaPro-C, Nimni Cream, and the Pre-Treatment Toner are my absolute favorite HydroPeptide products to recommend to my guests. All skin types can benefit from these three products and I’ve personally have seen major changes in my skin since using them. I’ve tried a plethora of products to help even out my skin tone, but it wasn’t until I started using the LumaPro-C that I finally noticed a difference. My skin looks brighter, more even, and more radiant. I love the texture, the smell, and the results. Same with the Nimni Cream—about a month after using it, I started getting more and more compliments on my skin and I know it is because of the results from the collagen support and retinol in the cream. This is a must have for anyone looking to improve elasticity. I recommend the Pre-Treatment Toner to almost all of my guests, no joke, because I love that it is a gentle, brightening, hydrating, and exfoliating toner. For a toner, it does quite a bit.
How do you approach recommending home care to a client?
The first part of recommending a home care routine to a client is to listen to their skin care issues and goals, and then evaluate their current routine to try and identify any areas that they may need to change. I also ask questions about their lifestyle because home care routines should be created with realistic solutions in mind. For example, a mom of three young kids may not have much time to spend on her skin care routine so I would recommend products that provide multiple results (like the LumaPro-C or Pre-Treatment Toner). Depending on the level of commitment and skin care goals of my guest, I’ll then make product recommendations based on all the information that was provided. Sometimes my home care recommendation might be a single, supplemental serum and other times it is the full regimen including a cleanser, toner, serum, eye cream, moisturizer, and sunscreen.
If you could work in any other profession in the world, what would it be?
Travel writer! I think traveling to different parts of the world and interacting and learning from other cultures would be amazing. And then, to be able to share those experiences with others…I think that would be very fulfilling.
Which celebrity has the best skin?
I think that Jennifer Lopez and Cate Blanchett have some of the most beautiful skin. Both of these ladies have healthy, luminous, smooth, and timeless skin.
What is your skincare pet peeve?
One of my biggest skincare pet peeves is over exfoliation with the use of harsh scrubs. Many guests will overdo it because they like the feel of their skin afterwards. However, over exfoliation can cause irritation and inflammation, and ultimately, prematurely aging. I recommend a gentler approach when it comes to exfoliation—typically a combination of some chemical exfoliation (like BHAs or AHAs) and manual exfoliation (like jojoba beads). The Exfoliating Cleanser is a perfect example of a product that I recommend to my guests because of this combination of gentle chemical and manual exfoliating ingredients.
How do you detox? (Mind, body, or skin)
About once a year, I like to reset my skin and body by omitting things from my diet like caffeine or alcohol for 30-60 days. By doing so, I get more restful sleep, have more energy, and just feel better. My skin also looks more hydrated and healthier when I cut these out of my diet. When I’m feeling extra stressed out, I like to detox my mind by hiking on the Austin Greenbelt or immersing myself in a good book. It’s very therapeutic to lose yourself in nature or in someone else’s imagination!
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