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Wednesday, 30 July 2008 10:33

Fully Equipped

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I am often asked the question, “What equipment should I invest in?”, by colleagues who are new to the industry or those trying to decide what piece of equipment they should add next to their current inventory of modalities. My response is always, “What do you want to achieve?”
Our equipment choices should be based on how the chosen equipment will support the treatment offering that we provide. What is the main focus of your business? Is it high tech and clinical or wholistically based? Who are your clients and what are their skin concerns? How do you differentiate your business from the competition?

If we take for example one of our treatment offerings, let’s say a skin care treatment, what type of equipment should we include and how will the use of different modalities incorporated enhance our offering?
If we take a look at the process of a skin care treatment, we can determine what equipment is needed to enhance our offering(s).


Skin Observation
More important than the skin analysis is the skin observation. The skin observation is not only conducted during the beginning of our treatments but continued throughout the service. The changes we notice throughout the treatment will have a huge impact on our future skin care treatments and home care recommendations. I share my observations with my clients of their skin as we go through the treatment. How it is responding, what changes I am seeing, and how well a product is working on their skin are all important points to discuss through the process.

Diagnostic Equipment to Enhance the Skin Observation
The Magnifying Lamp
The magnifying lamp is used to support the analysis (observation) of the skin and allows us to point out key imperfections that we want to address. Do we explain to the client what we are seeing and how we will approach the different conditions based on our observations? Do we give the client a mirror to look at as we point out their skin concerns and gain agreement on what is important to address?

Points of Consideration

  • Magnification – A 5-diopter (power of magnification) is most commonly used to observe the skin and any imperfections.
  • Glare free – Beware of the quality and clarity of the lens. We look through this lens all day long and you don’t want to put added strain on your eyes.
  • Arm Mobility – You want to make sure that your magnifying lamp has good arm mobility so that it is easy to position and adjust while observing the skin.
  • Floor Stand vs. Clamp – If you don’t have a lot of room space you may want to opt for a magnifying lamp that can clamp on to your product trolley. If you choose a floor stand model make sure that it has a really sturdy base so that it does not tip over easily.

Skin Scanners and Black Light Modalities
Skin scanners and black light (Wood’s Lamp) modalities offer an excellent way to evaluate hyperpigmentation, skin hydration, and sebaceous secretions. There are a number of different units on the market and they can enhance your skin observations and ability to target key issues afflicting your clients’ skin.
These apparatus consist of an ultraviolet light which is passed through a special dark filter, with a nickel oxide (Wood’s glass), that absorbs all the luminous radiations and permits only the passage of U.V. radiations. In this way, a pure and thus invisible ultraviolet light is obtained. Fluorescence is specific and each substance appears different underneath it. This helps in the further observation of the skin, as noted:

Skin Conditions                                               Fluorescence
Dead Skin Cells                                                White
Dry Skin                                                           Light to Deep Purple
Normal Skin                                                     Blue-White
Oily Skin                                                          Orange
Hyperpigmented Conditions                              Brown
Congested Follicles and Comedones                 Orange
Psoriasis                                                           Silvery

Digital and Electronic Devices
There are a plethora of electronic and digital devices available to further measure the skin’s lipid content, hydration, melanin, and erythema levels. These items should be considered with regards to the time you have to incorporate them, the further investment to be made, and how they can differentiate your treatment offering and enhance the understanding by your clients as to why you are making certain home care recommendations.

Far too often I hear skin care specialist say that they have equipment they no longer use due to time, interest, and results achieved. It is important to identify from the beginning why you want to own a piece of equipment and what it will do for your overall offering.

Cleanse, Exfoliation, and Extraction Phase
During the cleanse, exfoliation, and extraction phase of the treatment, there are some key units of equipment that can greatly improve our results. First and foremost, there is nothing like the power of ‘healing touch’. This is important to remember and for us to focus our intent on during all treatments. From there we can decide what additional modalities we want to add for enhanced therapy.

The Steam Machine
The ‘Steamer’ has been a long standing unit of equipment used throughout the industry and offers excellent benefits for:

  • Softening and enhanced cleansing of the epidermis as the steam causes the skin to perspire which further facilitates the elimination of toxins and the dilation of the follicles, which improves the process of extraction of microcomedones and blackheads.
  • Cellular oxygenation and bactericidal and germicidal effects when the use of ozone is incorporated in the steaming process (not all steamers include ozone therapy).
  • The soothing and warming aspect of the steam offers clients an enhanced experience (I always ask if they like steam).

Points of Consideration

  • Duration of Steam – How long should the steam process last? Should it be incorporated with another process such as cleansing or stand on its own?
  • Skin Conditions – What is the skin condition? Should the skin be warmed? How close should the steam stream be? Are you using the steam to hydrate, warm the skin, or both?
  • Does the client like steam?
  • Are there any contraindications?

Vacuum Therapy
Vacuum therapy has been used throughout the years to offer a mechanical method of lymphatic drainage for further cleansing of toxins from the lymph vessels. The vacuum suction acts by alternating successive suction and pressure and the direction of the lymphatic vessels is followed with light, rhythmic, upward lifting movements. The alternating pressure acts as a light pump on the retained fluid in the skin and is used in treating superficial circulatory conditions.
Points of Consideration and Contraindications

  • Must have knowledge of Lymphatic System
  • Viral or bacterial infections
  • Acute inflammation
  • Cancerous conditions
  • Very fine, loose areas of skin tissue

Direct High Frequency Therapy
High Frequency Therapy is most often incorporated after the extraction phase of the treatment to provide germicidal and drying effects. Directly applied the high frequency process produces a germicidal, antibacterial effect, lessening sebaceous secretions and drying and healing the skin.
Contraindications include:

  • Epileptic conditions
  • Pronounced skin infections
  • Nervous clients

Ultrasound Therapy
Ultrasound has gained popularity in the personal care industry as we learn more about its properties and the way we can incorporate it into our treatments. With ultrasound we can offer treatments that offer the following benefits:

  • Deep skin cleansing, desincrustation, and exfoliation
  • Better product absorption
  • Toning properties
  • Skin clarity treatments
  • Lymphatic drainage

Points of Consideration and Contraindications

  • Never use on dry skin
  • Do not use on clients with pacemakers or electrical implants
  • Avoid using on clients with heart conditions
  • Always use probes with appropriate medium (300 daltons)
  • Ultrasound therapy can be received by all skin types; the massage time and machine setting is varied for different skin types.
  • Avoid use on pregnant clients

Hydration Phase
This phase has partially been covered with the discussion of steaming but there are other units of equipment that can further be incorporated.

Pressure Spray
This method of ‘cold’ spray is a mechanical effect of the expulsion of air and liquid through a compressor device. All tonics and toners suited to every skin type and condition can be used, offering a light, fluid flow of mist that is hydrating, soothing, and calming to the skin.

  • Toning to the skin
  • Stimulation of skin functions
  • Vasoconstriction
  • Refinement of the skin tissue

Conditioning, Rebalancing, Rejuvenating, and Toning Phase
At this point of the skin care treatment, we have prepared the skin to receive all the nourishing and replenishing aspects of the treatment. The equipment and modalities mentioned here may be incorporated with the use of a mask, serums, ampoules, and finishing products depending on the particular specifications of the unit and manufacturers’ guidelines.

At the Speed of Light
Light Emitted Diode (LED) therapy is here to stay and as we recognize its true benefits more treatments will include this non-invasive therapy. There are many different light therapy devices on the market so you really have to do your homework; but it is worth the research.
Benefits of LED are:

  • Reduction of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Lessening of age spots
  • Evenness of skin tone
  • Refinement of large pores
  • Increased production of collagen fibroblasts
  • Anti-Inflammatory
  • Great for Rosecea


  • Do not use on clients with pacemakers or electrical implants
  • Avoid using on clients with heart conditions
  • Avoid use on pregnant clients

Microcurrent, Galvanic, Color, and Sound Frequency Therapy
Micro current, galvanic, color, and sound frequency is fast becoming the norm of the industry due to the increased demand from clients for non-invasive therapies and all the combined benefits offered:

  • Stimulates the cells ability to regenerate collagen, elastin, and proteins
  • Offers non-invasive therapy
  • Lessens the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines
  • Tones and sculpts the skin contours
  • Great for acne control and other skin disorders
  • Offers skin rejuvenation


  • Do not use on clients with pacemakers or electrical implants
  • Avoid using on clients with heart conditions
  • Avoid use on pregnant clients

Progressive Skin Care Therapies
Progressive therapies are becoming more and more sought out by clients as they look for ways to ‘avoid the knife.’ These treatments include the modalities that we have previously discussed and with more on the horizon. Each of us much decide which modalities will be the most appropriate ‘fit’ for our businesses, our clients, and our future sustainability. Exciting opportunities continue to be presented for those of us who are not afraid to be innovative, progressive, and thought of as leaders.

Action Plan
Map out the next six months. What treatments do you want to introduce based on your research findings? What seasonal treatments should you introduce? How can you create ‘Hallmark’ treatments? What time lines do you have to work with? What are your resources? What information do you need from equipment suppliers to support your endeavors? What more do you need to know?

Plan to Succeed!
Take a moment to look at your current offering and all the equipment you currently use. How are they serving you? What equipment have you put away in a closet that you need to pull back out and start using again? What are your clients demanding and what other equipment do you need to consider based on these demands?

Nina Curtis is the founder and president of the Nile Institute, ‘A Source Vitál’, located in West Hollywood , Calif. and Curtis Communications. Known as the “Aesthetician’s aesthetician”, Curtis has a 25 plus year history in the professional skin care industry, where she is respected as an innovative skin care specialist, educator, lecturer, and businesswoman. Originally licensed as a cosmetologist, Curtis has obtained certification in Aromatherapy, Reflexology, Acupressure, Energy Modalities, Reiki, and Color Light Therapy. Curtis has trained throughout the U.S., France, Germany, Australia, and England . She received her Bachelor degree of Science in Management and her MBA from Pepperdine University and is also a graduate of the Lynwood Business Institute. For more information, you may contact Curtis via e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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