A successful medical spa is determined by the client experience. Your providers, treatments, education of products, and overall services are expected to be outstanding. What wins over clients is the experience – make yours amazing. The key is to get new potential clients to give your spa a try. Get creative and try different monthly ideas – anything that will entice new clients to experience what your spa has to offer. Who’s your target audience? Millennials, men, an ethnic subgroup? Get them through the door to an educational event and give them educational information and an added value gift card and they will be back to experience a complimentary, miniature treatment. Here are some ideas for getting them through the door.
With the passing of April showers come May flowers and, with them, the promise of warmer weather. Warmer weather means clients begin removing bulky clothing and exposing more skin. For the owner of a medical spa practice, this means more opportunity to promote skin care products and treatments. Help clients look their best as they emerge from the dreary winter months.
Celebrate the month of May with monthly themed events which make for great marketing. Pick a May celebration and use that theme for your event of the month. Carry the theme throughout your social media, blogs, website, displays, and so on. Here are some ideas for May celebrations.
The month of May is synonymous with Mother’s Day. Take advantage of this by promoting Mother’s Day specials. Plan a mom’s pampering event for the Saturday before Mother’s Day. Give added-value services to mothers. Serve complimentary champagne. Make it extra special by wrapping up a few candy kisses in a fancy bag with a pretty ribbon and give one to each mother or give each mother a rose to take home. Make it memorable by making them feel special.
Host a mother and daughter event and offer specials on services for the mother. Treat mothers to a facial, a massage, or any other services you wish to promote. Advertise antiaging treatments with a “Like Mother, Like Daughter” campaign and give a discount on an antiaging treatment for mother when her daughter also books at the same time. Don’t forget to have Mother’s Day themed gift baskets and gift cards ready for last-minute shoppers.
To help get new clients through the door, plan a Mother’s Day tea or wine and cheese event and give a short presentation on one or two key services (think pampering) to those attending. Offer discounts on services booked during the event and give away samples. Hold a drawing for a gift certificate. Collaborate with another local retailer and cross promote products and services. Being part of the local community puts you in the perfect position to network with other business owners. You can exchange promotional materials with hair and nail salons that are looking to cross – market. Just make sure these are establishments your ideal clients would consider a place to visit.
For example, partner with a salon or art gallery. The idea is to create interest to draw in new potential clients by coming up with creative ways to promote your medical spa practice. One way to do so is to plan a promotion around a national holiday such as Mother’s Day, Boss’ Day, National Truffle Day, or some other lesser-known national day. You can find a list of national days online.
OTHER MAY HOLIDAYS
The first Saturday in May is National Fitness Day. Think of doing a joint promotion with a local fitness center. Promote body sculpting and fat reduction treatments. In celebration of National Nurse’s Day, recognize these hard working professionals with discounted services. Be sure to offer these specials all month long to allow nurses to take advantage of them.
Tell the community what sets your medical spa practice apart from all the others. Do you specialize in offering ethnic skin care treatments? If so, take advantage of Cinco de Mayo. This provides an excellent opportunity to reach out to Latino clients. Hold educational seminars on skin care specific to darker skin tones. For young, Latina, teenage girls, hold a seminar on acne treatments in preparation for their Quinceanera.
Make your medical spa stand out by doing something extraordinary. Offer a signature treatment that’s over-the-top, such as a 24-karat gold facial or a day of pampering complete with limo service to and from home with complimentary champagne. Send press releases and grow your media list. Get a local media outlet to feature it and watch the reservations come in.
Offer a line of private label products – they help build your brand and keep clients coming back for more. Each time a client enters your practice it is an opportunity to grow your bottom line. Speaking of the bottom line, private label products also provide a healthy profit margin.
Have fun and be creative. Keep your staff engaged and having fun with these promotional events. Customer service is critical to a successful medical spa practice. If your staff isn’t happy and they aren’t engaged, your clients will know it. Be sure to include staff in event and promotional planning. They have great ideas.
“Spa Season” would love hearing about your successes, as well as answering any questions you might have. Please feel free to contact us. Next month, we’ll bring you some ideas for kicking off summer on a profitable note.
Internationally recognized aesthetic business development expert Cheryl Whitman is the founder and CEO of Beautiful Forever Consulting. She is a sought-after speaker and industry marketing specialist. With her seasoned team of professionals at Beautiful Forever, Whitman assists physicians and medical spas in creating new profit centers, developing profitable private label product lines, ghost writing articles and eBooks, and identifying and executing new business strategies aimed at improving their bottom line. A celebrated author, Whitman’s “Aesthetic Medical Success System,” a turnkey educational system, has assisted clients in opening or jumpstarting their current businesses. Her second book, “Beautifully Profitable, Forever Profitable,” provides solid, practical information on how to create, launch, and grow successful aesthetic medical practices and related businesses.
With summer on the horizon, clients are going to start thinking about tanning. It’s time to start promoting the sunless tanners retailed in the spa and educating clients on how to apply them. Every type of product from, lotions, sprays, mousse, gels, and so on all have their own best practices for application, and when followed, will achieve the best possible results.
The first step that should never be skipped is exfoliation. When you remove the dead skin cells from the surface of the skin, the tanning products will gain a more even application and will last longer. The outer layer of the skin is what reacts to the dihydroxyacetone (DHA) and erythrulose, the active ingredients in all self-tanning, spray tanning, and sunless tanning products. Use a water-based product to exfoliate with (any oil-based scrub will leave a barrier on the skin) and the active ingredients will be blocked from producing a tan. Water-based scrubs are not generally found on the shelves of a spa, so it’s great to bring them in as a retail product.
You can usually find a water-based scrub at any tanning salon and many sunless tanning manufacturers also produce them. Remember the golden rule, no product is better than the wrong product. When your client doesn’t have a water-based scrub that they can use, advise them to use a loofah or washcloth. If you are offering an in-spa exfoliation treatment, remember that a water-based product will not have the same glide as an oil-based product, and you will have to use more of it than you normally would to complete the treatment.
After exfoliation, it’s important to not apply any lotions or body oils to the skin. You want the skin as bare as possible of product. You also want the skin as dry as possible. Any moisture still on the skin or dripping down the body from wet hair, can cause the result to have water or run marks.
SPRAYS AND MISTS
Most people fear these products, but they truly are the easiest to apply. You can find a spray or a mist product in a tinted version or a clear version. Start with the tinted until you are a self-proclaimed pro, and then move to the clear. You’ll want to stand firmly on an old towel in your shower. Without moving your feet, apply the mist to your body in a circular pattern, holding the canister a foot away from the skin and keeping it an even distance. It’s important to not move your feet, because as the product falls to the towel, you don’t want to step into it, thus tanning the soles of your feet. You’ll need someone to help you with your back. When doing your face, tilt your head back, so that your neck gets some of the application and just do a quick circle. Your face should always be lighter than the rest of your body. When you are done, stand in your shower to dry. You should be dry within about 30 to 45 seconds; if it takes longer, you’ve either applied too much product or you were too close. Contrary to popular belief, do not dry yourself with a blowdryer. Heat can deactivate the active ingredients, and standing on a damp towel, while running a blowdryer is dangerous. Allow the product to remain on the skin for six to eight hours and then rinse off.
LOTION AND GELS
Until you get comfortable with a lotion or gel, start with a gradual product instead of a full-strength self-tanner. Again, you’ll find both tinted and clear products here, so it’s your preference on what you should use. Carefully and quickly apply to the body in a circular motion, using a small amount of product. When you get to the face, hands, and feet; apply a regular lotion to the skin first, and then apply the self-tanner on top of it. Let the skin dry, this may take 10 to 15 minutes and then allow to develop. With a tinted product, the development will be masked, but with a clear product you’ll slowly start to see the actual development. If you don’t wear a pair of tanning gloves during application, immediately after, take some of the scrub and wash the palms of your hand with it. When you take your first shower after development, wash your hair, the friction will help to remove any excess that is on your hands.
Some tanning mousses are meant for application in the shower and others are meant to be applied to dry skin. If they are meant for dry skin application, follow the same instructions for the lotion and gels. If they are meant to be applied in the shower, read the directions carefully. Some products will want the skin wet and some will not. Remember to scrub your hands after application, as many of these products are quick developers and hands will show some instant staining from the in-active ingredients.
To ensure your tan looks its best, keep skin hydrated with lotion (no oils), and avoid exfoliation until it’s time for your next application. After about six weeks of continually applying tanning products, you may experience some build-up, make sure to exfoliate completely and let the skin take a break for a few days before starting fresh.
Lastly, always remember that less is more. You can always apply more self-tanner, but you can’t take it off.
Kelly Richardson has over 13 years of experience educating the beauty, spa, and skin care industries on marketing, sunless tanning, and business topics. She is the president of VENONE, a communications and marketing company that supports beauty and skin care brands and businesses.
A large and active social media audience is important to almost every business. As a brick and mortar company, focusing your social media efforts on a local level is vital. No matter where a social media follower is located, an account is typically happy to have gained a new audience member. In terms of revenue generation, a distant follower of a local business is unlikely to contribute to the bottom line, but it is expected that a local business account will have a mixture of local and distant followers. The strategy of the business should focus on catering to the company’s ideal client. One element of a successful local strategy is creating partnerships with surrounding businesses. Developing partnerships between businesses can create added value for customers. In addition, connecting with non-competing businesses that target the same clientele in the area can help both co-sponsors reach potential clients that they have been missing.
Hosting events with nearby companies is a great way to spread awareness of your products or services while creating relationships with your community. Events allow for more mingling between consumers and companies. Attendees will get a preview of what value and benefits you offer, as well as a closer look at your brand personality. These events create a space where the audience can interact with employees and view a representation of your products or services in a no pressure setting. Inviting your loyal clients to these events encourages them to spread the word about their experiences with you to potential new clients. Do your due diligence when selecting a business to partner with. You’ll want to work with a company that has a great relationship with their clients and the community. Your brand will be aligning with theirs and should have some symmetry. Consider the company’s mission to ensure you don’t have opposite messaging.
Co-sponsoring digital contests is another effective way to leverage relationships with local businesses to grow your social media audience. Selecting your partner or co-sponsor is just as important, if not more, than choosing your giveaway. A good choice for a partner is someone who has a following that consists of your target audience. Ask yourself what your top clients have in common, then look for those traits in the audience of your potential partner. It’s also recommended to limit the number of businesses participating in the promotion. Typically, the more partners involved, the more work required for followers to enter. Giveaways are attractive to participants because they provide a large potential value with little investment to enter. Set the intentions of your contest first and make certain that your entry requirements reflect that goal. For example, if growing your e-mail list is a priority, skip the follow request for this promotion and just require applicants to direct message their e-mail address. A thoughtfully crafted giveaway or contest can create results quickly for both partners.
WORD OF MOUTH
Word of mouth is still a very powerful tool for businesses. People trust friends, family, and even stranger’s reviews and recommendations. Fostering a relationship with a local company that has high traffic can be worthwhile. Displaying an advertisement at the counter of a popular coffee shop with an exclusive discount is an affordable way to be seen by your community. It can also get people talking about your business with other people. Your partner also benefits by being able to provide a free perk, like an exclusive discount to their customers. This helps build their relationship with their clients while not having to make an investment or be inconvenienced. Brainstorm win-win situations where all parties involved have a positive outcome.
In this digital age, social media platforms have business owners and marketers convinced that a massive social media following is crucial. For some companies, this may be true. For most, it is more important that a potential or active client is following you than someone who will most likely never be in a place to purchase your goods or services. Developing partnerships within your operating region is a successful way to reach potential clients. There are several ways to connect with nearby business owners, including attending networking groups, joining the Chamber of Commerce, reaching out online, or visiting their business. Once connected, let people know your businesses support each other. Dedicate a small section to your new partner in your newsletter or in a social media post. Then, get creative and explore different promotional opportunities to find what works for both sponsors. Remember, a successful marketing plan includes a mixture of methods for reaching the target audience.
Kelly Conlan is the marketing and communications director for DermaMed Solutions, an administrator for the Esthetician Connection, and a freelance marketing and social media consultant. Conlan discovered her enthusiasm for skin care over 12 years ago and found a home in the aesthetic industry. She holds a Bachelor of Science in business, with a focus on marketing and management, from Penn State and has expertise in generating content and strategic marketing plans to increase brand awareness for aesthetic manufactures, as well as spas, medical spas, and plastic surgery practices. In recent years, Conlan has found a new passion in the healing powers of CBD and hemp-based cannabinoids. Research and education are top priorities for Conlan as she continues her in-depth exploration of the developing uses and benefits for CBD.
It is not just great DNA that is responsible for great skin. It takes work, care, and commitment to maintain a healthy and vibrant skin tone and texture. Stress, hormonal influences, poor diet, a lack of water and sleep, unprotected sun exposure, and pollution all play a negative role in how the skin functions and how it looks and feels. The daily routine adopted and the quality and the application of the chosen skin care regimen will heavily influence the health of skin and its general appearance.
The skin care industry is an overwhelming arena. A sound understanding of active ingredients and their benefits and the difference between a cosmetic and cosmeceutical-grade product is imperative when choosing the right product for the right skin concern.
CHOOSING A REGIMEN
Understanding the skin type is the most important element in adopting the most appropriate and effective skin care. However, skin can change over time and with the seasons, so paying attention to signs the skin displays really helps. A minimalist wash-and-go regimen comprising of cleansing, moisturizing, and protecting is all a client needs for healthy, radiant skin.
Using products with inappropriate ingredients compromises the skin’s natural balance, triggering irritation, inflammation, breakouts, and even premature aging. Sebum is the skin’s natural defense against bacterial invasion, so constantly removing sebum disrupts the skin barrier, allowing invasion of bacteria and microorganisms. Constant stripping increases sebum production as the skin’s natural mechanism for moisturizing. Choosing the right cleanser helps to increase the health of the skin and is not merely for removing makeup.
The daily use of a quality moisturizer is key. The most basic function of a moisturizer is to hydrate and soften the skin, reduce transepidermal water loss (TEWL), and maintain the integrity of the barrier function. Choosing lightweight moisturizers in the morning with active antioxidants such as vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide (vitamin B3) will protect and support locking moisture into the skin. A rich textured cream with active ingredients, such as vitamin A, in the evening will ensure 24-hour support and protection. Additional support in the shape of peptides, ceramides, and alpha hydroxy acids will complete a skin care regimen.
While daily skin care is important in maintaining skin integrity and health, a very cost effective, safe, and minimally invasive way to get the most out of a skin care regimen is to incorporate the use of light emitting diode (LED) therapy into a weekly skin pamper. Using LED has clinically proven benefits for skin rejuvenation, managing acne breakouts, controlling sebum production, and reducing inflammatory processes due to pollution or a damaged barrier. It has also proven to have a degree of photo-protection prior to sun exposure.
This is a perfect opportunity to recharge the skin, as well as recharge the body. Luxuriate with a gentle but effective exfoliating cleanser to remove all makeup and pollution buildup on the skin. If desired, the use of a toner packed with active ingredients to deliver an extra shot of nutrients to the skin will be beneficial. The exfoliating properties, removing dead skin cells, will support the even penetration of the wavelengths. Once the skin is clean, dry, and free from invisible barriers, the use of an LED device for at least 30 minutes will give the skin an extra boost and provide a perfect base for the application of moisturizers packed with active ingredients.
The use of red LED is highly effective in increasing collagen production by stimulating fibroblast growth factors and decreasing matrix metallo-proteinase –(MMP-1). The increase in intracellular adenosine triphosphate, pro collagen and collagen synthesis, and blood flow dramatically reduces fine lines and wrinkles. Post-LED, applying a quality moisturizer containing high and low molecular weight hyaluronic acid can dramatically increase hydration at a cellular level. Use of LED 24 hours prior to sun exposure generates a strong cellular defense against solar toxicity.
For acne-prone skin, the use of blue LED or combined red and blue is effective for not only killing p.acnes bacteria, but also helping to decrease androgenic hormones in the sebaceous glands, thus regulating and normalizing sebum production. The deeper penetration of red light helps to reduce inflammation and subsequent scarring.
It is vital that skin product choices actually look after the health of the skin. A minimalist, simple regimen incorporating the use of LED into a weekly program will super charge skin cells. This dramatically reduces the signs of aging, increases the health and vitality of the skin, and is a low cost, effective way to increase the benefits of your preferred skin care products.
Pam Cushing is a registered nurse with over 35 years of experience in emergency medicine. She has worked in the field of aesthetics for over 15 years, full-time for the last five years. Cushing holds a degree at the master’s level, with commendation, as well as a post-graduate diploma in aesthetic medicine, with merit. She is an independent nurse prescriber in the United Kingdom. Cushing is a consultant educator for a couple of companies educating in injectables, skin resurfacing and chemical peel, microneedling, and LED. She thrives on being able to educate, motivate, and encourage others to grow and develop professionally. She is passionate about skin and the benefits of aesthetics in improving the confidence and quality of lives. Cushing believes our key role is to educate the client on appropriate treatment modalities with the focus on maintaining skin health.
We have revered cleanliness as the highest form of self-respect since ancient times. Keeping your treatment room and trolley clean are among the best and easiest ways to show respect for clients and yourself. Familiarizing the basics is necessary for a an effortlessly functioning treatment room. In addition, utilizing a sanitary maintenance area will reduce trolley cleaning time. Organization will aid in the reduction of time spent cleaning for your entire facial area. Not only will keeping your area clean help you save time, but it will also improve your infection control techniques.
Keeping your treatment room and area clean has countless benefits. Among those are smoother processes, enhanced infection control, and ease of mind for the client. Knowing cleaning basics is of paramount importance. Cleaning as you go will reduce post-appointment servicing. If you have any drops or spills, quickly clean them with an absorbent material to prevent slips or sticky floors. Dispose of consumables immediately after use with a conveniently placed waste receptacle next to your table or bed. Clean dishes with processing time during a service, if it allows. Additionally, it is recommended to have a used-linens receptacle close to the treatment area that could be separate from the larger receptacle. Stay on track with cleaning and don’t skip any steps that may increase cleaning time at the end of the day, such as removing the trash and linens from their respective receptacles. This will make for an easier time of transition between clients. These cleaning basics will help you stay on time for appointments, keep your head clear and focused, and instill a sense of pride in your space.
Giving yourself the opportunity to be successful during a treatment is never a bad idea. A sanitary maintenance area will help keep your products and consumables organized and easily within reach. These organization tools are typically an area of your workspace that houses your consumables, like sponges, cotton items, and applicators, to prevent them from being cross-contaminated. Often, these are state regulated and required. They are often utilized for a couple of things: to keep all disposable items in one distinct area, to aid in service enhancement by allowing ample space for items to be organized and set up, and to offer assistance in a quick clean up. You can create one by using a towel, either reusable or single-use, a dental bib or other medical covering, or treatment table paper. You then place your disposable items on top and cover with your preferred method, like a paper towel or tissue. Utilizing this method of cleanliness, you will keep your area clean and organized.
Having a process for organization has enumerate benefits. Writing it down and practicing it every day will keep your transition times down and will help you stay focused on the task at hand. Everything should have a place according to your state’s regulations. Mainly linens, consumable materials, and multi-use materials are required to be in certain components so as to prevent cross-contamination and maintain their disinfected state. However, customization is key to sticking to your organization procedure. Make it your own and have fun with it. Labeling these areas is not only a way to save space and time but will also make quick work when searching for everyday items. Be sure to restock these items often, preferably daily, to help you stay on top of a cleaning cycle and also to keep your room in pristine condition. These organizational routines can provide you with unique opportunities for success by keeping your mind and those of your clients at ease.
Cleaning is a necessary aspect of our everyday lives – especially for allied health professionals like aestheticians. By knowing and understanding the basics of cleaning, you can clean as you go and make an easier time for those deep cleaning days that require a more vigorous effort. Keeping organized will undoubtedly aid in the cleanliness of your treatment room day after day. Knowing where each item resides is a remarkably easy way to set up for any treatment. Plus, using a sanitary maintenance area can help keep your trolley clean and organized, as well. So, take your time, organize your area, and clean as you go. These are not only time saving techniques but are also crucial to infection control for you and your clients.
Brittany Facio is a Phoenix-based educator-turned-business development manager, passionate about how proper aesthetics education and sophisticated protocol implementation can create business-changing revenue. As a business development manager, she is responsible for not only educating her clients on skin care products and protocols, both on an individual basis and in regional training seminars, but also for providing marketing, merchandising, and branding assistance to generate leads and capture a new audience. When she is not working, Facio can be found enjoying play time with her family and Havanese rescue, Spruce, trying a new dinner recipe, and binge-watching comedies on Netflix.
Mind, body, and soul – are these three separate entities or all parts of one being? Can we separate the different parts that make up a human being, treat only one part, and expect a holistic “fix,” peace, or good self care? I don’t think so. If you are like me, you probably said a resounding no, as well. But, what if we do a really great job on self care for the body? Would we be good to go? Or, do we also need to add in self care for the mind and soul? Science, anecdotal reports, and experience all show that we need to pay attention, focus on, and care for each individual part if we want the best outcome for our life. Here are some fun and easy self care tips to try.
Exercise: It doesn’t matter what you do, just find something that you enjoy – it will help you stay with it. And, you don’t need to spend a lot of money or a lot of time. On a budget, you can go for a walk, a jog, ride a bike, play tennis or pickleball, basketball, throw a baseball, or dance to your favorite song. If you want to and are able, join a gym and add in some strength training (good for muscles and bones), spinning or cycling, Zumba, or yoga. Again, just find something that you enjoy and schedule it in every day.
Massage: After you exercise, a helpful treat would be to gift yourself regular a massage at least once a month (or more). Massage increases blood flow, oxygen, and healing and relaxes sore muscles. It decreases stress, which can help strengthen the immune system, detoxifies the body, and helps improve sleep. And it feels great, too.
Facials: First, I know you already know the benefits of caring for our largest organ, the skin, but I also know that most of you are not practicing what you preach by having regular facials or body treatments. I ask for a raise of hands in each class for those that get regular facials and, usually, only one or two out of 10 are getting them once a month. It is a super important part of self care for the body and needs to be done once a month professionally and then maintained daily. The benefits of facials include clean, healthy, soft, and comfortable skin and facial massage can destress and promote better blood circulation, giving you healthy, glowing skin that will make you feel beautiful and increase self confidence. Facial massage also destresses by activating the sympathetic nervous system, which also reduces wrinkles. And, again, it feels great.
Infrared Sauna: This is a wonderful way to detoxify the body, relax muscle pain, aid weight loss, increase metabolism, and boost the immune system.
Meditation: Simply giving your brain a break by calming your mind, every day will (once again) help decrease stress while increasing creativity and memory. It will take practice, so be gentle with yourself. Just start with small increments of time and work your way up to 30 minutes a day.
Read: Reading each day helps boost your mind health, keeping it active and young, while also learning some new things along the way.
Unplug: Turn off or walk away from all technology for one day. Does that scare you? Try it and find out the benefits.
Gratitude and Prayers of Thankfulness: First, make a journal or a list and write down all the things that you have to be grateful for. Then, make it a practice to give to many and expect nothing in return and see what happens. Saying prayers each morning for your intentions each day will guide your steps and help your soul find what it was created to do in this world.
Joy: What do you do each day that brings you joy? If you can come up with something easily, then you are probably taking good care of your soul already. If you can’t, take a minute and think about what it is that makes you smile. Is it being with a certain person, your fur baby, having a forbidden food (like a fudge ice cream sundae, chocolate, or a glass of wine). It will be different for each of us, so look within and, when you find it, do it every day.
You are on the way to some great self care habits, so keep it up.
Becky Kuehn is founder of Oncology Spa Solutions, author of Life Changing Esthetics, and a licensed master aesthetician, cosmetologist, holistic cancer educator, and hope coach. Her journey started at the age of 18 when she was diagnosed with cancer. She had already lost friends and family members to cancer, so she was very familiar with the chaos and trauma associated with diagnosis and loss. As a cancer survivor for over three decades, she has made it her mission to discover and develop ways to turn around the devastating side effects of cancer treatments and return quality of life to those in need. Kuehn is the founder and owner of Oncology Spa Solutions, now the leading oncology training for spa, salon, and medical professionals. She is the author of “Life Changing Esthetics,” and a contributing author in the “Estheticians Guide to Outstanding Esthetics” Vol I and II. She has been part of the expert judge panel for The Skin Games’ Holistic, Compassionate, and Compromised skin categories. And, she provides advice and education articles for newspapers and leading industry magazines and is an invited speaker for oncology training at conventions.
Did you ever wonder why Michael Jackson started to wear a white glove? While it may have been the beginning of a fashion trend, it was most likely an ingenious way to conceal a skin disorder – vitiligo.
Arnold Klein, MD, Michael Jackson’s dermatologist, observed in 1983 that Jackson had vitiligo. Initially, to treat his condition, Jackson used a light tone of makeup and skin-bleaching prescription creams to cover up or blend the uneven blotches of color caused by his disorder. Sadly, autopsy results stated that Jackson had tattooed lips and a dark tattoo along part of his scalp area most likely to blend his hairline with the wigs that he wore.
This month, we will discuss this skin and hair disorder that affects one to two percent of the world’s population. In the United States alone, 3 million cases are reported each year.
Vitiligo (vit-ih-LIE-go) is a skin pigmentation disease that causes the blotchy loss of color and sensitivity to sunlight. Any part of the body, hair, and even the skin inside the mouth can be affected. Determining how much color an individual will lose or how rapidly the condition will progress is impossible. It is common for discoloration to initially present on sun-exposed areas of the body. Typically, vitiligo appears before the age of 20 and it can last several years or be a lifelong ailment.
Vitiligo can affect all ethnicities but is more noticeable on darker skin tones. An individual with this condition often experiences stress, self-consciousness, depression, and shame due to their appearance and, usually, the individuals’ mental state affects their daily activities.
Skin color is obtained due to the content of melanin granules created and distributed by the melanocyte cell. These cells are located in the stratum germanitivum (stratum basale – the bottom layer) of the epidermis. Vitiligo destroys the melanocyte cells, preventing the distribution of color.
Types of Vitiligo
Generalized vitiligo is the most common form, with multiple patches appearing symmetrically on the body.
Segmental vitiligo appears at a younger age, usually on only one side of the body, progresses for a year or two, then stops.
Localized (focal) vitiligo appears typically on only one area of the body.
Vitiligo occurs when melanocytes experience apoptosis (cellular death) or stop producing melanin. Skin in the affected areas become lighter or even white.
Vitiligo may occur due to the following factors:
To diagnose vitiligo, a physician must examine the patient and review their medical history to rule out other conditions, including dermatitis or even psoriasis, which can leave areas of hypopigmentation. An ultraviolet light such as a Woods lamp can also be used as part of the examination.
In addition to the review of medical history and skin examination, the doctor may:
Currently, there is no cure for vitiligo; however, many treatments are available that can restore pigment to affected areas but will not stop color loss from occurring in other areas. Results will vary and are not predictable, with the possibility of unwanted side effects. Some treatment plans take months before you can determine effectiveness, and the client may have to try several different options before the correct regimen is found. Unfortunately, even with a successful regimen in place, the results may not always last.
Medications: Some drugs, used alone or with light therapy, can help restore some skin tone.
Anti-inflammatory – Corticosteroid creams: Applying hydrocortisone may help color return, especially if started early in the disease; be patient, as results can take months.
Calcineurin Inhibitors: Calcineurin is an enzyme that activates the t-cells (t-lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell) of the immune system. Tacrolimus or pimecrolimus ointments may be effective for people with small areas of depigmentation, especially on the face and neck.
Combining Psoralen and Light Therapy: Psoralen, a substance derived from plants, taken orally or applied to an affected area and coupled with photochemotherapy (light therapy – UVA, UVB, or excimer) can return color to patches of vitiligo. Combined approaches have shown to produce better results than individual methods. However, several treatments are required each week and treatment may take up to a year.
Depigmentation (skin bleaching): Bleaching agents may be considered when a large part of the body has lost color and when other options have failed. A bleaching agent like hydroquinone or benquin is applied to unaffected areas of skin to gradually lighten the skin, enabling it to blend with the area of hypopigmentation. Treatment can take up to nine months or more, with results being permanent.
Side effects include redness, swelling, itching, dry skin, and photosensitivity.
If light therapy is unsuccessful, the physician may consider surgery as an option or surgery in combination with light therapy to even out skin tone by restoring color.
Skin Grafting: The physician removes small sections of pigmented skin, then attaches them to areas of hypopigmentation. This option is typically used when there are only small patches of color loss. Areas of concern include potential infection, scarring, and uneven skin tone.
Suction Blister Epidermal Grafting (SBEG): Although it almost sounds barbaric, don’t judge unless you have vitiligo. The physician creates blisters on sections of skin that still have color with a suction instrument. Next, the tops of the blisters are removed and transplanted to an area of discolored skin. Pitfalls for this option include discomfort, due to the heat required to form a blister, the potential to scar, uneven appearance of skin that does repigment, or failure to obtain any results.
Micropigmentation (Tattoo): A colored pigment is implanted into the skin. This is a good option to blend color around the lips in darker complexions. However, when attempting to match the skin tone, there is always the potential to trigger another patch of vitiligo.
POTENTIAL FUTURE TREATMENTS
Afamelanotide: A melanocyte – growth-stimulating peptide drug implanted under the skin. It mimics the activity of the melanocyte-stimulating hormone in the melanogenesis cycle leading to the production of eumelanin.
Prostaglandin E2: A gel-based medication that helps control melanocytes is being tested to restore pigment on localized vitiligo that isn’t progressing.
Tofacitinib: An oral medication typically used to treat rheumatoid arthritis has shown some potential because it reverses the loss of pigmentation.
Lifestyle and Home Remedies to Live By:
New studies show the potential for restoring skin color with the following: ginkgo biloba, alpha-lipoic acid, folic acid, vitamin C, and vitamin B12 plus phototherapy. As always, never try new products or remedies before discussing them with a doctor.
Vitiligo presents many challenges for the client. Aestheticians can provide empathy to individuals struggling with this condition and deliver superior treatments to relax and renew their clients’ mind, body, and soul and restore their self-esteem.
When planning story angles with clients, there are times I will comment that a certain angle would be great for television or that a specific product could be in a magazine’s beauty round-up. With many communications platforms to choose from, pitch angles are not one-size-fits-all. It takes creativity, connections, and experience to know where and how to pitch stories.
This article is the second in a two-part series about choosing a communications platform to best tell your story. In March, I explored the vast world of deciding which social platforms are right for your business. This month, I’ll help you understand which types of media outlets or channels to pitch and why.
Before getting into those specifics, I urge you to do your homework. Read, watch, and listen to the media outlets you pitch. By doing so, you can determine if your brand is a fit based on the topics that are covered and the demographics of the readers, viewers, and listeners. For successful pitching, the deliverables of your brand should correlate with the coverage of the media outlet. For example, if you are a skin care brand that’s carried in spas, industry trade outlets, such as DERMASCOPE, should be on your pitch list. If you own a day spa or skin care center, local media outlets are where you should focus to reach potential clients. If your beauty business is online, there are scores of websites and bloggers to build relationships with.
HOW TO RESEARCH AND REACH MEDIA CONTACTS
This is a larger discussion that I’ll write about later this year. Meanwhile, a few tips:
Every major network has a local affiliate in towns or cities that are of significant size. There are 210 Designated Market Areas (DMAs) listed by Nielsen; New York is number one and number two hundred and ten is Glendive, Montana.
Television is a great lead generation tool. The segment is almost always posted on the station’s website, which you can use for social media, newsletters, and so forth. The segment may air more than once, such as in a morning show and an evening show.
The exposure is large and free, unless you pay to be on a news talk or entertainment show, which is called pay-for-play.
Local stations need local stories. Local television stations dedicated an average of 5.9 hours to news programming per weekday in 2018, up slightly from 5.6 hours in 2017.1
Immediate delivery of your message is another pro. Depending on the timeliness of your story, you could go on the same day that you pitch. If news breaks locally and you have something compelling that is a tie-in, offer your expertise.
Television is great for the spa and beauty industries, as it stimulates the senses. Skin care demonstrations, before and after images, and a b-roll of your facility or products make segments visual and are often required by producers.
Television has a local and regional emphasis. It’s a fantastic medium for reaching people in your market, getting your name out in the community, and establishing credibility.
Television requires a lot of preparation work. At least a basic level of media training is suggested before going on-camera. There’s also the process of selecting clothing, makeup, and hair, and figuring out how to sit or stand, and so on.
You must look and sound your best. If you are live, there are no do-overs. If you are taped and are very nice to the crew, you may be able to reshoot if you say something incorrectly.
Again, television bookings happen quickly. When pitching television, you need to be ready (in town, prepared, have the appropriate clothing, and such.)
Doing in-studio television interviews can be challenging because of the commotion – the lights, the cameras, the microphone, and the teleprompter, and all the while, you need to stay focused and look at the host.
At work, in the car, while making dinner – radio has the broadest reach of any medium. Nielsen reports 227 million adults tune to AM or FM radio each week.2 News and talk radio continues to capture the largest share of the audience, followed by adult contemporary, with country coming in third.3
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention podcasts in this section. 2019 was a breakout year for podcasting. According to Edison Research, more than half of Americans have listened to a podcast, and an estimated 32% listen monthly. Podcast creation also continues to grow, with more than 700,000 podcasts available.4
The estimated total United States daily newspaper circulation (print and digital combined) in 2018 was 28.6 million for weekday and 30.8 million for Sunday.5 The Pew Research Center also reports that among those who get local news from daily newspapers 43% primarily access online, while 54% read in a print format.6 There are more than 1,300 daily newspapers currently in circulation in the United States. “USA Today”, “The New York Times”, and “The Wall Street Journal” have the highest circulations.
Take advantage of newspaper editorial calendars, as they can help you determine where your story might be the best fit.
Community news calendars are also useful. Submit informational and fundraising events that are open to the public.
Send photo recaps. After a successful event, share a couple of high resolution images with a short paragraph and photo caption.
MAGAZINES AND PUBLICATIONS
There were 7, 218 magazines in the United States in 2018. Of course, magazines are now available in both printed and electronic formats. Some of the most popular publications in the United States based on their total reach include “ESPN The Magazine”, “People”, and “AARP The Magazine”.7
More than 4 billion people use the internet. Google is the world’s most visited website, YouTube comes in at number two, and Facebook rounds out the top three. Yahoo! News, the Huffington Post, and CNN.com are also popular.8
Once you or your business have been covered by a few media outlets, more opportunities will open up, which will bring greater visibility and build credibility.
Respected for her communication skills and media relationships, Debra Locker has worked in public relations and journalism for nearly three decades. She is the president of Debra Locker Group (originally Locker Public Relations), which was founded in 2008. Debra Locker Group is an award-winning boutique agency that specializes in lifestyle, spa, wellness, and beauty. Clients are featured on “The TODAY Show,” “The Doctors,” in SHAPE, Marie Claire, and The New York Times – to name only a few. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Locker was the public relations director for the International SPA Association.
The key to a lucrative career in aesthetics is developing excellent waxing skills and that requires educating yourself on how to properly wax skin of color. Each ethnicity has specific considerations when applying wax and removing hair.
Asian skin tends to be sensitive. An Asian client needs to abstain from any harsh skin care products to the area being waxed in order to prevent extra irritation that can result from the wax removing any stratum corneum. Asian hair is also typically straight and thick – recommend that your client dry brush the area being treated to reduce ingrown hairs returning after waxing.
SKIN OF AFRICIAN DESCENT
Skin of African descent has curved hair follicles and the resulting curly hair tends to grow back into the skin. If clients with curly hair of any ethnicity are going to shave between treatments, you should recommend they use a single blade razor. Double or triple blades can pull the hair and cut it off beneath the follicle as it snaps back into the follicle, creating even more ingrown hairs. Exfoliating the area with an enzyme to keep the buildup of dead skin cells to a minimum and then moisturizing can help reduce post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation due to the trauma of hair being pulled from their follicles.
Latinx clients will usually have thicker hair follicles and denser hair, meaning more hairs per square inch. Waxing is a great solution, since the hair will grow back finer over time. Recommend your client use an at-home sugar scrub to keep the area exfoliated between treatments.
EAST INDIAN SKIN
Because East-Indian women can experience paradoxical hair growth with laser hair removal, waxing may be an alternative temporary hair removal measure, in addition to dermaplaning.
Hard wax is the best choice because it can be applied to areas where the hair is growing in multiple directions. You’ll have less risk of skin lifting and causing an injury or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Remember that waxing can open the follicle and create a pathway for infection or inflammation from bacteria. Your waxing technique must include a thorough sanitation protocol, disinfecting the area pre-and post-treatment. Don’t use strong fragrances that can lead to unnecessary irritation. Use post-treatment skin care ingredients that are calming and soothing and remind your client that sunscreen is essential.
If waxing is your specialty, understanding the unique characteristics of skin of color will help boost your skillset and bottom line as your client base grows.
A technician, educator, mentor and business owner, Mary Nielsen has been at the forefront in medical aesthetics since its infancy in the early 1990s. She is currently vice chair and industry expert on the Oregon Board of Certified Advanced Estheticians. She is the author of “Fearless Beauties,” the book, along with other aesthetic texts. She is the executive director of an aesthetic school, the founder of Fearless Beauties, and the creator of Cascade Aesthetic Alliance and Skintelligent Resources.
The art of upselling is a skill to be developed and nurtured. It is a soft technique where the seller persuades the client to buy a more expensive product instead or add on a product or service to make the sale more profitable. It is, in essence, taking the person from one price point to another with the client seeing the direct benefit of paying more. Cross-selling and upselling do have differences; specifically, upselling is an upgrade, while cross-selling is the addition of a related product or service. While technically different, it is easier to group them both together under the banner of upselling in the cosmetic industry.
The skill of upselling is a delicate balancing act, as no one enjoys being sold to in an aggressive manner. The spa is an ideal environment to perfect this soft persuasion of a beneficial upsell. The relationship with the client has already been established and there is an element of trust. According to the book “Marketing Metrics,” the probability of selling to a new client is 5% to 20%, whereas selling to an existing client is as high as 60% to 70%. Another benefit is that it is an educated sell to an existing client who is already in the environment looking for self-improvement and beauty advice. This is much easier than a cold sale to a new person. The takeaway point is if the upsell is done with the client’s benefit at heart, it is so much easier because the approach is more genuine. (Relationships are key and clients in a spa environment are the most important relationship.)
A restaurant or fast food outlet is an ideal example of a place to experience an effective and subtle upsell. When placing an order, you most often hear these familiar questions: “Do you want fries with that? Any sides? A starter?” This is classic upselling.
Factors to consider when upselling
Tailor the Upsell to the Client
Whether they have bought from you in the past or not, the data you collect from clients can shed some light on their purchasing habits. If they have been consistently looking for the latest and greatest (like a newly released procedure or serum) they are likely looking for quality over value. It would make more sense to recommend other newer or higher-end products rather than low-cost alternatives. The same applies if someone is always looking for a deal; here, a two-for-one or a sale item could be the nugget. Understand the individual client.
Make the Upsell Relevant to the Client’s Original Purchase
If they buy an eye serum, try to get them to pre-purchase an eye treatment (with a percentage off the full price) or add an eyelash enhancement serum.
Discount the Upsell
This will accentuate the value proposition even more.
Take Advantage of Opportune Times
Make the upsell directly at the time of the original purchase. It is possible to sell future services at the same time as a single product purchase. Again, discount the future service so the value is there. The other option is to offer a repeat discounted purchase of the same product, like a membership renewal. Build repeat sales by offering the same product to be shipped out to the client every two months at a discount with free shipping. You can also offer a treatment every four weeks at a discounted price when purchased in a pack of multiples.
Another effective time to upsell clients is when they have achieved a milestone. After they have been a paying customer for a period of time (10 facials, for example), consider offering them a special discount on a service or product as a recognition for their loyalty. This goes a long way to build a deeper relationship. This is similar to the coffee shop loyalty programs where the 10th cup is free. The difference here is that it is just a discounted service or product.
Solve a Problem
If the client buys makeup, they might also need a makeup remover. If a client buys a face wash, they might make good use of a mechanical face wash tool.
Have samples, free returns for products not opened, and reviews of products and services.
USE ONLINE TOOLS
There are also many great upselling opportunities if the spa has an online store. Most e-commerce platforms have either built-in upselling features or plug-in apps that can be added to upsell intelligently and automatically. These apps will typically offer a cross-sell on the shopper’s cart page, which uses data from past shoppers to suggest items which are frequently purchased together. The example of purchasing both makeup and makeup remover applies just the same in the digital world. Upselling apps can also be programmed manually to offer specific items when the cart reaches a certain dollar amount.
There are also e-commerce apps that encourage clients to add more to their cart in order to reach a free shipping threshold.
Upselling is an easy way to increase your average order value and, like any tool, it must be used intelligently. Sales guru Jeffrey Gitomer puts upselling into perspective when he describes it as helping a client win: “Tell me how I win. When I win, you win.” Loyal clients are worth keeping and should be rewarded for being regular and consistent, rather than annoyed and driven away. Never sell to an angry or upset client.
In the end, even though it has been proven to be easier to sell to existing clients, only sell to them when upselling will help them improve and reach new, beneficial goals.
A fundamental altruist, Dr. Janine Ellenberger has incorporated compassion, improving the well-being of others, and innovation in all of her ventures. The daily practice of caring for patients (highlighted that diagnosis is just the beginning) and that patient education is integral in the management of all health issues. As medical director to Dermaconcepts USA, an international speaker, and guest lecturer at Canyon Ranch, (the power of knowledge in overcoming health obstacles was reinforced.) She is the founder and CEO of GR8 Skincare, a skin care company integrating the best of science and nature in one product line. gr8skn.com
The extra lip scrub or head massage may not seem like much, but add-on services play an essential role in increasing spa revenue, as well as improving the overall guest experience a client receives. While most spas offer enhancements, many are not maximizing the percentage of clients who purchase additional services. The missed opportunity for added revenue through add-on services can be attributed to multiple factors, including the types of enhancements offered, marketing tactics, and the language staff use to present the add-on treatments.
To explore add-on treatments and how they can boost revenue for your spa business, let’s start with discussing the trending enhancement treatments which target our current types of clients.
TOP FIVE TRENDING ENHANCEMENTS
Flash Beauty Treatments: With their busy lives, clients can be in a hurry and seek treatments for instant gratification. Offering quick, waterless, miniature facials allows the client to experience multiple skin care products they wouldn’t have encountered without receiving a full facial. They can also be performed virtually anywhere, including at a cosmetic station or in a retail space, and offer a fast way to provide incredible looking skin without a lot of time or significant financial commitments.
Deluxe Scalp Treatments: Perform a deluxe scalp treatment with warmed oil you also carry in the retail area of the spa. Take the scalp treatment to the next level with a steam capsule over the hair to infuse the ingredients further into the scalp and follicles. This service can be added to virtually any service, including massage, aesthetic, and salon services.
Age Management Hand Treatment or Hydrating Foot Treatment: This service can also be added onto virtually any service by simply:
Back Treatments: For massage therapists and aestheticians, this is an excellent opportunity to extend the benefits of a facial to the body, treating body breakouts, sun damage, and dryness. The treatment can be as simple as performing exfoliation or scrub, applying a purifying mask, and finishing with a body lotion application. A perfect time to feature this treatment would be during swimsuit season or throughout the holidays.
Eye and Lip Treatments: Considering most consumers are concerned with aging around the eyes and lips, it makes sense to keep this as a staple offering on the menu. Elevate these services with a microcurrent device, jade rollers, and cold globes, as well as advanced Hungarian massage techniques, to provide an instant lift. Incorporating these additional modalities into the treatment ensures the client feels they are receiving a service they could never perform themselves.
Many of the products utilized for these add-on treatments should also be carried in retail, as an additional goal of providing add-on treatments is to increase retail sales.
TOP 5 MARKETING TIPS
How you feature, promote, and market the enhancement services have a huge impact on sales success. Here are some savvy marketing tips to help your spa raise awareness of these add-on services.
Rather than integrating enhancement services permanently on the menu, creating menu inserts offers flexibility in changing add-on services seasonally or as new add-on treatment opportunities evolve. It also stops the client before they have the chance to look at the full menu and puts the enhancement services first in their mind.
Using the terms “treatment elevations” or “spa enhancements” when you categorize the add-on services in your menu sounds much better to the consumer instead of add-ons. The term add-on can sound like spending more money to clients, while the term “enhancement” or “elevation” can be perceived as increasing the results and service, presenting more value.
Create Points of Interruption
Points of interruption are intentional areas throughout the spa dedicated to catching the client’s eye with marketing pieces. These interrupt the “autopilot” many clients are in while perusing the spa space and could be anything from a feature table, menu insert, or poster to a 360-degree tester table or before and after pictures. Being intentional with these points of interruption is essential to driving your message home to the client. A client needs to see a marketing piece five times throughout the spa before they remember the service you are trying to sell.
Offer Limited or Seasonal Promotions
When offering a new enhancement service, doing so as a promotion for a limited time only creates a sense of urgency and can be used to encourage the client to book the service. For example, if your spa generally has fewer facials scheduled throughout March, you can leverage an enhancement as a gift for booking a facial during that time. Always remember to present the dollar value of what they are getting for free, so the client knows the value of the enhancement they are receiving.
Be Consistent and Educate More Than You Sell
Consistently feature add-on services you are trying to promote throughout your client contact channels. The type of content you create can make or break the promotion’s success, so taking a traditional, “sell, sell, sell” approach can be off-putting to clients, causing them to skip over your social media posts or ignore promotional e-mails you send. A good rule of thumb is to have 80% of your content focused on educating the consumer on a specific skin care topic and only 20% of the content dedicated to the actual promotion of the enhancement. The education creates the need for the service and the client sees the value in purchasing the add-on service offered.
In summary, the key to success in offering add-on treatments lives in five key areas:
Focusing on these areas will go a long way towards helping to maximize the percentage of clients who purchase add-on services.
Brian Goodwin is an international educator for Eminence Organic Skin Care and began his education in cosmetology at the prestigious school, Paul Mitchell. Originally intending to do hair while he figured out a career path in music, Goodwin quickly discovered aesthetics was his passion. Since this realization, he has become a master medical aesthetician, master herbalist, and consultant working in the industry for 14 years, providing educational trainings around the world.
With thoughtful communication methods, attention, and dedication, you can offer clients unparalleled service, while increasing your salary each step of the way.
When communicating with clients, it is important to exude confidence. Confidence comes when we know our craft and have honed our skills. Confidence is expressed with concise and effective communication. When you take the knowledge you have acquired and condense the information into easily understood verbiage, you can convey your messages clearly every time.
Let's talk about how long waxing has been around. Depending on the sources, it is suggested that waxing originated in Egypt in 1150 B.C. though some say as early as 3000 B.C. I am going to say it is safe to assume that if a process has existed thorough that many centuries, it can be considered a “tried and true method.” Fads will come and go, but waxing is here to last. Let’s talk about why.
Waxing is relatively inexpensive and when performed well, it is pain-free. Part of what is necessary to perform waxing services like a professional is to expedite the service. By this I mean not counting to 10 or pulling slowly.
Many think moving slowly equals being gentle, however the most advanced approach is to move swiftly with a delicate touch. This doesn’t leave time for the client to build up anticipation, resulting in their nerves being on high alert. Having said this, I am not condoning jumping into a service without a thorough consultation. It is important to guide the client on the steps you will be taking before you initiate the service. This way they know what to expect.
Moving swiftly and holding the skin will allow the wax to pull out individual hairs and not break hair off at the root – resulting in immediate hair growth at minimum and in worse case scenarios, painful and unsightly ingrown hairs.
This leads to my next topic. Informing clients what to expect both in the service and when they leave the spa is of the utmost importance.
There are three different phases of hair growth. Clients have asked how long it has been since shaving or waxing upon booking in order to achieve longevity. Having enough hair growth equals longer lasting smooth skin. If you book your own appointments the responsibility falls on you. If not, the front desk staff should be well-trained on the appropriate verbiage to use when receiving waxing requests.
Because there are three stages of hair growth, any person looking to get waxed will need a minimum of two weeks hair growth after shaving, ideally three. Three to four weeks growth post-waxing service, in order to have all three stages long enough to be pulled by the hair bulb. The hair bulb sits at the base of the hair follicle. If the hair breaks off at the epidermis because it is too short, the client will feel the prickliness of those pesky hairs immediately.
When a client is well educated, they will understand why you may be making certain timeline requirements and it also becomes very apparent to them that they are in good hands with well-trained and knowledgeable experts.
When clients get a high level of quality in our services, they feel complete trust knowing the results of their service will be achieved with excellence and they will look forward to taking your recommendations seriously.
The recommendations that pair well are always going to be associated to the last service you provided or the next service you will be providing for the client.
For example, say a client comes in for a facial. The natural recommendation will be suggesting an eyebrow shaping. When a person is taking time to take care of their face, they are showing interest in the appearance of their skin and overall look of their face. Besides a well-managed skin care routine with both facials and at-home care, regular eyebrow maintenance is key for improving the overall look of every individuals main focal point.
When you are seeing someone for a bikini wax the obvious next choice is to offer a partial or full Brazilian waxing. We are past the days of receiving these services just for a beach vacation or a romantic partner. These services have been an integral part of what many consider necessary grooming.
Use each service as a building block to the next. With a half leg wax, why not get a full? With any wax, why not try the underarms? You really can’t go wrong. This is a topic where less is more – less hair that is – except with eyebrow shaping. Leave those babies full and your clients will be coming back for that youthful look over and over.
Leah Simon-Clarke is a licensed aesthetician and consultant. In the 20 years Simon-Clarke has spent in the industry, her success has been driven by honing her skills in customer service, service innovation, marketing, and public relations. Find Simon-Clarke through Twitter @LeahSimonClarke or Linkedin by name.
Laser-based treatments can be some of the most transformative treatments for a client, but also some of the riskiest, as improper application can result in blistering, delayed healing, infection, and even scarring. If your scope of practice includes light-energy devices, you need to know how light energy is absorbed by the skin. Skin of color requires additional consideration when performing laser treatments.
Lasers are wavelengths of light that convert to energy and can be precisely controlled through technology. The light waves travel cohesively in one direction and penetrate to a specific depth in the skin. Each laser has a specific chromophore or target that they are attracted to. There are five relevant chromophores: water, melanin, fat, hemoglobin, and a foreign substance, such as tattoo ink.
Typically, the longer the wavelength, the deeper it travels in the skin. Concerning laser wavelengths common for hair removal, a laser that is 810 nanometers travels deeper than one that is 755 nanometers, and a laser that is 1064 nanometers travels deepest. This trend is constant until 1300 nanometers, when the energy shifts and begins to penetrate less deeply.
An intense pulsed light device (sometimes called an IPL or photofacial) uses light energy in a similar way to a laser but has more risks associated with it. Rather than using a single wavelength from the visible light spectrum, an intense pulsed light device uses filters to block wavelengths in the spectrum that are not needed for the treatment. Despite the filters, additional wavelengths can still pass through into the client’s skin. Since these renegade wavelengths don’t travel uniformly, they may affect parts of the skin you did not intend to target.
The challenge during a laser or intense pulsed light treatment session when the chromophore is melanin is that the light doesn’t know if it should target the melanin in the skin or the melanin in a hair follicle. Additionally, when laser energy travels into the skin, not all of the energy is absorbed. Some of the energy scatters into the surrounding tissue. This creates a riskier situation for a client with skin of color, as resulting heat can create post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Since longer wavelengths have less scatter, the gold standard for laser hair removal is the 1064 nd:yag long-pulse laser. The light energy penetrates to the bulb of the hair follicle in a pulse that is one-thousandth of a second. This is enough time to destroy the follicle’s ability to grow hair if the treatment is done while the hair is in its anagen, or growth, phase.
TREATING SKIN TONES
Skin of color frequently has to deal with pseudofolliculitis barbae, or curved hair follicles that can cause hair to grow back into the skin. If dead skin cells, sebum, and dirt collect over the top of the hair follicles, clients can experience simulated folliculitis, or inflammation of the hair follicle. There are many recommended skin care treatments to reduce pseudofolliculitis barbae, but laser hair removal with a 1064 nd:yag long-pulse laser is currently the best solution.
Melasma is a hormonal pigmentation disorder. Melasma requires a combination approach to keep it under control. Treatments that include tyrosinase inhibitors, sun protectant factor products, chemical peels, and the use of Q-switch lasers have all improved outcomes for clients with melasma. The laser pulse lengths appropriate for hair removal are far too slow for treating melasma. Instead, use a Q-switched laser that delivers energy in billionths or trillionths of a second.
Timing is extremely important in any laser treatment, but especially when treating skin of color. If the pulse is too slow, the heat from the pulse will dissipate into the tissue and can cause inflammation or increased melanocyte production as the body tries to protect itself. Q-switch timing is so incredibly fast that melanin is shattered into tiny fragments for the body to absorb and the heat produced cools quickly enough that the surrounding tissue does not have time to absorb the energy.
BENEFITS OF TREATMENT
Laser skin rejuvenation for improving fine lines, texture, and pore size is best achieved with a fractional laser rather than a full on skin resurfacing laser. The fractional approach creates a controlled injury in small segments or channels of the skin, leaving the skin surrounding it uninjured. The risks of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and keloid scar formation are greatly reduced with a fractional treatment.
For the best outcome, your client needs to have a treatment plan that includes a series of sessions – conditioning the skin by starting with conservative settings. Gradually increase the strength or intensity as their skin increases tolerance. Homecare that includes melanocyte inhibiting products will help to prevent post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Advances in skin care technology have created amazing opportunities for laser technicians to offer transformative skin rejuvenation treatments without the risk of a surgical procedure. With the right light-based treatment using optimal settings, clients with skin of color can achieve their skin care goals without complications. Skin of color can enjoy the benefits of the new technology with a conservative, mindful approach.
A technician, educator, mentor, and business owner, Mary Nielsen has been at the forefront in medical aesthetics since its infancy in the early 1990s. She is currently vice chair and industry expert on the Oregon Board of Certified Advanced Estheticians. She is the author of “Fearless Beauties,” along with other aesthetic texts. She is the executive director of an aesthetic school, the founder of Fearless Beauties, and the creator of Cascade Aesthetic Alliance and Skintelligent Resources.