Sean Garrette (@seangarretteskin) wants to be the skincare resource he didn’t have growing up. The licensed esthetician, skincare expert, and beauty content creator channeled his obsession for beauty into a full-blown business that’s even inspired Rihanna to tap him to work with Fenty Skin. But, while Garrette is one of the most popular and celebrated estheticians in the industry, the skincare virtuoso struggled to land a job after graduating from esthetician school because he was told clients wouldn’t respond to him because of his race and gender. Now, he’s breaking barriers for Black men and women in the skincare space, and proving there’s room for everyone when it comes to skin.
Garrette was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland “in a house full of beauty-obsessed women, so I was always surrounded by beauty,” he shares. “So I kind of gravitated towards it very young. I would always get caught playing in my grandmother’s vanity, like spraying perfume and stuff all over the place.”
He became more specifically interested in skincare and always took good care of his skin, but he noticed that male estheticians—especially Black male estheticians—weren’t part of the beauty conversation at the time. “So I never really thought it was something I could do as a career,” Garrette admits.
It wasn’t until Garrette was 21 and experiencing hormonal acne that he started to take skincare more seriously. “It kind of just led my obsession with beauty into more of a passion where I wanted to know the scientific background of how skin works, and how certain products affect the skin,” he tells In The Know.
Eventually, he went to esthetician school in Atlanta, Georgia, but struggled to land a job after graduating. Garrette went through tons of interviews, but spa owners would tell him that their clients wouldn’t respond to him, or feel comfortable with a male esthetician. Feeling defeated, he moved back home to Baltimore and started his own company, Sean Garrette Skin.
“I became one of the most popular estheticians in my area,” says Garrette. “I’ve had girls come from Texas and Virginia and North Carolina and D.C. just to come see me and get their skin treated.” Garrette followed his dreams to New York City, where he partnered with a friend and opened a spa in Long Island City in Queens.
At the same time, Garrette was creating skincare content on social media because he believes that this type of information should be free and accessible, particularly to audiences that have historically been left out of the conversation. “My content was always directed to people of color because there were no resources for Black men [or] Black women to teach us how to take care of hyperpigmentation [or] acne,” says the skincare expert. “Even in school, I didn’t get to treat a lot of Black clients and you didn’t see any of these diseases and disorders that we were learning about in school on Black skin at all. I had to learn on my own how to treat dark skin, and so I built my platform on that.”
As Garette’s social media following grew, so too did his spa clientele. Eventually, he was tapped by Rihanna to partner with Fenty Skin, which allowed him to work in labs and see how products are made and how ingredients are sourced.
But with all of Garrette’s career milestones, nothing compares to the feeling he gets when his treatments instill confidence in a client. “Overall, it’s really just about connecting with my clients—that’s really my favorite thing about my job,” he admits. “People who have acne, they really lose that self-esteem and that confidence, and so once you kind of clear that insecurity and you treat the acne and lighten hyperpigmentation and give them the skin that they’ve dreamed of, you see their interactions in the world change, and you see how they show up. Maybe they wanna date more, [or] wanna be more present in work. It really is amazing to see.”
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