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Saturday, 14 May 2011 09:53

Your Business "Illuminated"

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Although most of us are drawn to this industry by our enthusiastic passion for skin care, in order to succeed, it becomes necessary for us to focus on the business aspect of our passion and to ask ourselves if we are doing all that we can to attract and retain clients. In addition to having access to professional product lines and providing services in an appropriate atmosphere, we offer the "three E's": education, experience, and expertise. Our clients expect us to use these skills to analyze, treat, and make recommendations specific to their personal needs and expectations.

We are trusted coordinators of their treatment, addressing each concern with the most suitable product ingredients and tools. We evaluate their progress and the effectiveness of our choices periodically, and re-evaluate as necessary. They look to us for this expertise.
There is, however, another requirement to our profession that is critical to how we are perceived by clients or potential clients: staying on top of the rapidly expanding science and technology within the skin care industry. Just as we expect our personal physicians to be familiar with the most advanced tests and procedures available to diagnose and treat our medical conditions, skin care professionals are expected to be aware of the latest products and technology available to achieve the best possible results for our clients' investment in the treatment and maintenance of their skin. If we do not spend the time to educate ourselves on what is new, not only do we do a disservice to our customers, we could be missing out on substantial profits derived from add-ons made possible by these advancements.
One such example is LED light therapy. LED technology utilizes various wavelengths of light to produce energy within the skin's cells which stimulate the production of collagen and elastin. Added benefits include increased circulation and oxygenation, diminished appearance of pore size, and accelerated healing. This technology contributes to both anti-aging and acne facials by offering enhanced results to the client, as well as opportunities for billable add-on treatments, and increased retail sales for the aesthetician.
Introducing LED, which is designed to accelerate the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) within the fibroblast cells as well as inhibit the production of harmful environmentally induced enzymes or MMPs, is an effective enhancement to the anti-aging facial. When used in conjunction with serums which contain ascorbic acids, vitamin E, some retinols and hyaluronics, this is an add-on treatment which could be incorporated during the mask portion of the facial for an additional charge. The client enjoys a more effective treatment; the aesthetician gets to increase their revenue.


During acne facials, LED can be incorporated to help kill p. acnes bacteria. When used with retinols, resveratrol, cinnamon bark, and sometimes even salicycic and lactic acids, LED can be an important component in the treatment of acne. Some acne-targeted LEDs contain red and infrared light, which is beneficial in reducing inflammation. This can be a valuable addition at the end of an acne facial or after extractions to calm the irritation while killing off the bacteria, once again offering the opportunity for added service.
Since LED is widely accepted as an effective method of calming and soothing irritated skin, treatment can be added after any service that may trigger this response. For clients who experience mild irritation after microdermabrasion or waxing, an LED treatment could be added to counteract those effects and diminish redness before they leave your salon or office.
For those aestheticians who treat patients in physicians' offices or laser centers, LED can be recommended as part of the post-procedure package to accelerate healing by reducing erythema, edema, and bruising. The cost of these treatments could be calculated into the total charge for the service, which would include pre- and post-treatment care. Shorter down time resulting from faster healing is an attractive benefit to most clients.
How do you educate clients on these new technologies so that they will choose to add a service? Client consultation is a perfect time to make such a recommendation. After cleansing and while analyzing the skin, you can discuss the benefits of LED light therapy. If the client is scheduled to have a facial at that particular time, adding an LED treatment would not take anymore (or only slightly more) time depending upon whether or not you will be applying a mask and for how long. Alternatively, you could suggest that they add this treatment to their next facial, or even purchase a series or "package" of treatments. Another highly effective method of educating your clients on new products and technologies is to host promotional events at your salon or office. This not only serves the purpose of increasing awareness through education, but also creates interest in your product lines. Send out invitations by e-mail and post a framed announcement in your reception area to advertise these free educational events. Check with the manufacturers whose products you carry. Some companies will send a sales representative as a guest speaker to address your clients and possibly do a demonstration. Remember that education is just as important to their business as it is to yours. Always ask about promotional materials for distribution. If the client has something to take home and look over again, they are more likely to keep this treatment option in mind. Something that is just as important as educating your clients is educating your staff. Make sure that they are well versed on the products and technologies you have chosen to offer as add-ons or for retail sale. More than ever before, clients want to know what they are getting for their money. If the benefits of a product cannot be explained, the sale is most likely lost. Here again is where the manufacturer can be of some assistance.

In this economic climate incentives can be useful in persuading a client to try something new as an additional service. Allowing people to save in one area often creates sufficient justification to spend in another, especially if it is understood that they could be realizing even greater results from the skin care products they invest in regularly by incorporating a new treatment technology into their current regime. An example of an incentive would be to offer a discount on a product or products with the purchase of a package of LED treatments. If the client's main concern is anti-aging, offer a discount on serums or products that are designed to address that concern along with the appropriate light therapy. The same can be done with acne or even sensitive skin. If the objective is acne control, the discount could be given on products that will help the client to meet his or her objective while undergoing light therapy designed to target acne. Some LED companies manufacture stand-alone lights that are designed to address both anti-aging and acne. This feature allows the practitioner to sell LED as an add-on more often since it can be used to treat more than one condition.
Another piece of good news: this versatile technology not only offers a number of opportunities for profit-generating add-ons, it can also be used in conjunction with more conventional added services. Since many LED companies offer stand-alone hands-free lights, the aesthetician can administer a soothing hand or foot massage while the client is enjoying light therapy. To further expand opportunities for billable services, more comprehensive hand and foot treatments, including exfoliation and/or peels along with massage can be added to your menu of services. These areas can be exfoliated with scrubs or peels which include glycolic and lactic acids, enzymes, or many mechanical exfoliators which use ingredients such as almond or jojoba. Many companies offer products that are specifically formulated for body use to exfoliate, hydrate, and even treat hyperpigmentation often seen on the hands, which is of concern to many clients. One facial, two added treatments: all during the same time frame. Offering the client more during the time they have allocated to service, while maximizing your potential to make a profit during that period of time makes good business sense. It becomes even more sensible when you consider that LED is not consumable. After a certain number of treatments the cost of the equipment is recovered, enabling the aesthetician to realize a profit without cost other than that of electricity.

Some companies offer hand-held lights for the client's at-home use. This provides an opportunity for what is potentially the most profitable of all add-ons: retail sales. After introducing this technology in the salon or office, the practitioner can now make a recommendation for home care. The client benefits from daily use, while the aesthetician builds sales. As an incentive here, consider offering a free trial size skin care product with the purchase of a hand-held LED device. If the client is using products that are formulated to treat a specific condition along with their at-home LED treatments, they will most certainly experience even greater results.
Charges for LED light therapy vary widely depending upon the demographic. Research your competition and consider your client base before establishing pricing. Most salons sell light therapy either as an add-on to a service for an additional charge or in a package. For example: eight treatments at $400. Prices on professional use (not for retail) hands free lights range from roughly $4,000 to upwards of $17,000.
No matter what you are considering to stimulate profits, do your homework. Due diligence is worth its weight in gold. And keep in mind, the informed or "illuminated" aesthetician will always find a way to guide his or her business through the darkest of economic times.

Amy Gardner is a licensed aesthetician as well as a Sales Representative Coordinator and Professional Educator for LightStim International, a Calif. based LED manufacturer. She has devoted over 30 years to developing her skills in customer service, sales, and marketing. 800-298-4010, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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