For many, when a cosmetic surgeon, personal shopper or beauty consultant doesn't look the part, it's a deal-breaker. Some believe their appearance is their business card.
We've all heard professionals dispense advice on how we should take better care of ourselves.
Your stylist tsks over your damaged hair. Your dentist flogs you about flossing. Your doctor wants you to lose a few pounds -- and your dermatologist is sick of your picking.
But what if those nags aren't exactly practicing what they preach? Should you turn tail and run if, for example, your personal trainer is kind of pudgy? Should you dread getting a haircut from a stylist who wears her hair in dyed-blue dreadlocks?
For many, when a cosmetic surgeon, personal shopper or beauty consultant doesn't look the part, it's a deal-breaker.
Aesthetician Katy Slater, owner of Palma Ceia Facials in South Tampa (www.palmaceiafacials.com), says her skin is her best business card.
"You have to represent what you are selling," says Slater, 46. "And I am selling beautiful skin, so I have to look like I know what I'm talking about.
"In my line of work, I'm selling good skin care and products I believe in," she says. "If you are endorsing a product and your skin doesn't look good, why would the customer want to buy it from you? It's obviously not working for you, so why would it work for them? It's 'don't tell me, show me,' so if I don't have healthy-looking skin, no one is going to believe in what I say."
Slater's client, Debbie Edwards, agrees. She says seeing Slater's glowing skin inspired her to take care of her own dry, sun-damaged, hyperpigmented skin.
"If her skin looks like that from using her product line and doing all the things she preaches to me, when she tells me to do something I'm going to do it," says Edwards, 54. "If I went to her and her skin was not pretty and it didn't glow the way it does, I would be much more reluctant."
When it comes to the business of beauty, what you see goes a very long way -- and that includes personal trainers. The natural reaction is to balk at a flabby fitness guru and follow the recommendations of the trainer with the chiseled abs.
"If you're a person that's competitive and aggressive and trying and reach the upper echelons of performance, appearance is going to be very important," says Roy Taylor, a personal trainer and owner of CrossFit Body Construction in Tampa (bodyconstruction.org).
"You're looking for someone who's "been there and done that," and has been down that road. And you want it to show," says Taylor, 51, who trains military and FBI personnel.
That said, Taylor points out that some overweight patients may feel more comfortable talking to a trainer who is also carrying around a few extra pounds.
"If you're someone who's never gotten off the couch and you see a trainer who's lost 50 or 100 pounds up there doing a Zumba class, you're going to get motivated," says Taylor, who looks like a personal trainer. "But you still have to make sure they know what they are doing when it comes to training you."
On the flipside, being lean and muscular isn't the only measure of stamina or fitness ability.
"There are a lot of trainers that look amazing who are clueless," Taylor says. "I think a general rule of thumb is to look at what type of fitness level you are trying to achieve, and make sure the person you choose can 'walk the walk and talk the talk.' You want to find someone that looks good and has the credentials to make you feel energized, healthy and balanced."
Dr. William Mack, an ocular and facial cosmetic surgeon in Tampa (www.mackmd.com), says a doctors' appearance can have a healthy influence on patients.
"Patients are very educated theses days," says Mack, who is fit, trim and has perfect skin. "They're on the Internet and aware of their options, and when they see you practicing what you preach, I think that gives them a little more confidence in you."
Mack, who credits his great skin to the daily use of sunscreen, tells patients he and his family won't leave home without it.
"I think everyone should protect their skin," he says. "With four young kids, we make sure we always protect ourselves. My whole family tries to eat healthy, we don't smoke and we exercise regularly. When people work out and have a healthy diet, they are going to be more positive, and patients sense that and feel more confident."
On the other hand, hair and fashion stylists don't have the same problems when it comes to how they look. Anyone who has seen the frightful outfits worn by aspiring "Project Runway" designers, or the ghastly hairdos sported by stylists on shows like "Shear Genius," knows that even the most eccentric artists can produce mainstream looks. Their trendy customers get it and they trust.
"We can be a lot more creative," says Leighanne Balzekas, fashion designer for Disco Dolls Hair and Fashion Studio in South Tampa. "And frankly, we get most of our referrals from people that like our clients hair, not our own."