The ABCs of Equipment Selection: How to Choose Modalities and What to Use

Written by Denise Gaston

One of the many topics that seem to come up with every aesthetician is equipment. It seems like having the latest and greatest gadgets and machinery rule the day. How do you pick when there are so many choices, makes, models, and companies? Not to mention, the enthusiastic aestheticians shouting from the rooftops their latest finds, along with an endless stream of Facebook and Instagram posts? There are a few things to take into consideration, such as:


  • What am I trying to achieve in the treatment room?
  • What treatments am I currently offering?
  • What kind of clientele do I have or am I marketing to?
  • What is my budget?
  • What’s the science behind a particular machine?
  • Will it deliver the results I am looking for?
  • Is it within my scope of practice?
  • Will I be trained on my new machine if needed?
  • What type of warranty and service is available after the sale?
  • If my machine breaks down or malfunctions, will a loaner be made available or am I without a unit until repairs are made?
  • How long has the company been around?
  • Is the company first to market or a duplication of another company’s earlier technology?
  • Will I be able to sell the service to my clients?
  • Will it be included in treatments or will I need to upsell it as an add-on?
  • How many treatments must I do in order to get a return on investment?



One of the best ways to select new equipment is to visit tradeshows, where you will have an opportunity to see firsthand what is out there. It gives you a chance to try the machine for yourself, see a demonstration, or receive a treatment – that way you can make the best decision. With all the choices in equipment, it is important to have the basics before investing in more advanced equipment, which includes the following: a steamer, magnification lamp, woods lamp, microdermabrasion, high-frequency, and LED. These items are a great start to any treatment room and are now considered must-haves.



After setting up the essentials, you will reach a point where you will want to expand your horizons. Are you interested in capturing the antiaging market with microcurrent – a device that helps to tone and reeducate the muscular structure of the face? You can find these in handheld, portable, and tabletop models. It is a great modality to use in a medical spa setting, as well as where clients can couple their use pre- and post-laser. Thorough training is a must in order to achieve optimal results.


If you are interested in product penetration, an ultrasonic unit may reign supreme in your treatment cabin. Once cavitation begins, serums or other actives can be introduced through sonophoresis. The great thing about ultrasonic is that you can use it with other modalities and truly customize each treatment.


Another alternative is radio frequency, which some professionals liken to the galvanic current. These machines use alternating electrical current – its deep penetration is said to produce dermal heat, affecting the formation of collagen and skin tightening. Although radio frequency has been used in the surgical world for decades, technology is rising and aestheticians will see more equipment utilizing radio frequency.


For those that want to step up their microdermabrasion game, consider one of the wet/dry microdermabrasion machines. Be ready to spend a little bit, as they can be pricey, but worth it. Not only are you able to super exfoliate the skin, you can also infuse serums with several actives and even apply LED phototherapy, as well. Here, you get the best of both worlds, exfoliation and light therapy, along with plenty of hydration.


A beautiful option for those that want to stay on the cutting edge is an oxygen machine. They replenish, rehydrate, and infuse hydrating and nourishing serums. Some of these machines use carbon dioxide or high pressurized oxygen to help the skin boost its own oxygen. The results are refreshing and literally breathes life into the skin tissue.


Before making a purchasing decision, check with your state board to ensure you are using a device that is within your scope of practice. Other considerations are the equipment’s warranty coverage and company training support. You must also map out a plan to get the best return on investment – how many sessions you will have to perform before your new machine is paid off. Have a backup plan. The most important decision you’ll make will be to determine if what you are purchasing will fit into your practice. Will you have the clientele to support it and the financials to ride it out if business is slower than expected? Remember, marketing is key, so be ready to promote, promote, and promote some more.



Denise Gaston 2019Denise Gaston is a proud CIDESCO diplomat, licensed aesthetician since 1989, certified clinical aesthetician, and is NCEA certified. Gaston has served as the northern California trainer for Repêchage Skincare and as an aesthetics instructor for Miss Marty’s Hair Academy and C.I.D.E.S.C.O. Institute. She is a former spa owner, having had a private practice for 10 years. Gaston is currently the vice president and director of aesthetics at Fremont Beauty College. She is a reviewer for Milady’s Standard Cosmetology Textbook 2008 Edition; Milady Standard Esthetics: Fundamentals, 11th Edition; and Milady Standard Esthetics: Advanced, 2nd Edition. Gaston also serves as a subject matter expert for the California State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology.

Login to post comments

More in Business

Featured Company

  • Skin Blends LLCSkin Blends LLCDescription: Thank you for your interest in Skin Blends. Our professional estheticians research, develop and test every product Skin Blends sells. Skin Blends products are for those who want the healthiest skin possible, so you always look your best. Skin Blends pr ...


Next-Level Learning

  • Aesthetic Science InstituteAesthetic Science InstituteDescription: All About Where You're Going! The mission of the Aesthetic Science Institute is to provide an exciting and challenging learning experience that stimulates professionalism, passion and motivation for future licensed estheticians. Prepare yourself for a ...