Establish a Budget
When preparing a budget, it is important to consider what you are comfortable paying for upfront as well as what you will need to finance. For instance, larger equipment like microdermabrasion machines and other equipment may need to be financed. At first glance, small monthly payments make it look easy to bring in all of the equipment you may think you need. When looking at profitability, however, you have to look closely at the total cost of ownership. What is the expected lifespan of the machine? What are the typical maintenance costs? How easy it is to get serviced? What kind of training is needed to use the machine properly? Is that training included in the purchase? What is the learning curve? The sooner you can start using the equipment, the more quickly you will be able to pay for it. It is also important to consider how many treatments you will have to provide to pay for the equipment. It is not as easy as dividing the cost of the machine, plus financing charges by the amount you charge for the service. Do not forget that you also have to include your overhead cost in the calculation. At first glance, it may look as if it will take 150 treatments at a charge of $100 each to pay for the $15,000 investment. But when you add overhead expenses to the calculations, it may take you twice as long to pay for it. After all of that, will the machine quickly become obsolete as technological advances are made?
Evaluate Your Needs
Your immediate purchases should be classic items with well-established reliability and versatility. Save the cutting edge equipment for secondary purchases. You need time to build your business and determine what your clientele will demand. Many needs are obvious, such as a facial table, steamer, magnifying lamp, et cetera. Others may not be so obvious. Are you going to offer waxing? What percentage of your business will this service represent? If it is more than 20 percent, a single wax warmer will not suffice. Will you be treating an aging population or a younger clientele? These questions are important to consider so that you can purchase the right equipment and supplies to treat your specific clientele. If you are uncertain about a particular purchase then wait – it is easier to add on later as opposed to being stuck with something you do not need or something that will be outdated as soon as it is delivered.
Make a List and Check it Twice
When compiling a list of must haves for a properly equipped treatment room it is best to categorize items by the following categories. First, consumables or disposables: items that will be used in treatment and thrown away after one use, such as cotton balls and aesthetic wipes. Next, small: pieces of equipment needed in an aesthetic practice that are smaller, such as pot warmers, tweezers, et cetera. Then, machines: different types of must have machines needed in an aesthetic practice. And finally, furniture: the must have furniture pieces needed in an aesthetic practice.
Consumables or Disposables
- Nitrile gloves – These are ideal to avoid any problems for clients with latex allergies and they resist breakdown from chemicals used during chemical peels. In addition, they fit securely, are slightly textured, and transfer heat to provide the sensation and warmth of bare hands while protecting you and your client.
- Cotton balls – Triple size, 100 percent cotton are the best choice for the treatment room and are great for a multitude of uses.
- Cotton tipped applicators – An essential for the treatment room with a variety of uses.
- Aesthetic wipes – Lint-free, slightly absorbent, synthetic wipes are ideal for applying products such as pre- and post-depilatory product. They can also be used to cleanse and rinse the skin.
- Lancets – Sterile, one-use, disposable, sharp-tipped tool used to aid in extractions.
- Wooden waxing applicators – A variety of sizes for precise wax application on eyebrows, face, bikini and body waxing (petite, large and small) is recommended.
- Wax strips – Cost per application is less when purchasing a roll; however, precut strips for brows, lips and body are also available, providing convenience. Consider purchasing precut strips if you will be doing a lot of waxing.
- Disposable bikini waxing panties - Available in thong or bikini for use in waxing and body treatments.
- Table paper – Protect table and linens when doing body waxing.
- Brushes – The types and sizes will depend on the services being offered. Soft synthetic fan brushes may be ideal for chemical peels, while a more dense or stiff brush will be needed for masks. Make sure the brushes you select are either disposable or can be sterilized.
- Bowls – Most companies will offer a multi pack of medical-grade rubber bowls in a variety of sizes.
- Stainless tweezers, stainless brow scissors and stainless extraction tool – You may need two or three of each as they will need to be sterilized between each use. Be sure to look for a manufacturer who provides free sharpening on these implements.
- Jars and containers – To house disposables, select containers with a tight seal to keep everything clean. Pull all of the items you will need prior to starting the service so you minimize contamination.
- Face towels, body towels, sheets and blankets – A linen service may be a good option so you do not have to wash laundry at the end of a busy day. This may be a bit more expensive but when you factor in the time to do your own laundry and replace worn out linens, you may find it pays for itself.
- Handheld mirror – It is important to show results or get the client’s input in eyebrow shaping, et cetera.
- Timer – Digital, minute and second timer that has a soft or pleasant alarm sound.
- Handheld fan – Used to comfort the client during certain peels.
- Biohazard disposal receptacle – To dispose lancets and other materials contaminated with bodily fluids.
- Wax heater – If you are only offering facial waxing, a single warmer will suffice. However, if you offer body waxing, a double or triple wax heater makes more sense.
- Hot towel cabin – The capacity provided in a hot towel cabin can vary from 12 towels or 72 towels. The prices can range anywhere from $100 to $300 depending on the size of the cabin you choose. Consider convenience, time it takes to restock, and space available. If you have limited counter space, a miniature cabinet may be a good choice.
- UV sterilizer – This machine sterilizes bacteria and viruses on scissors, tweezers, brushes, glass, electrodes and other implements.
- Facial steamer – Stimulates circulation, prepares the face for deep cleansing, and can be used to activate and/or remove certain masks.
- Magnifying lamp – An important and necessary machine used for skin analysis and extractions, et cetera.
- Sonic cleansing brush – Pick a brush that is gentle and will deeply cleanse without tugging, pulling or stretching the skin.
- High frequency machine – Helps increase blood circulation and penetrates products deeper into the skin.
- Galvanic iontophoresis tool – Closes the follicles, decreases redness, prevents inflammation and aids in product delivery.
- Microdermabrasion machine – There are two distinct types of microdermabrasion machines: crystal and diamond tip. The consumables cost is a bit higher for the crystal machine as you have to replace the crystals. For the diamond machine, the only consumable cost is the filters. Prices can range from $1,400 to $10,000 on this machine. This is one piece of equipment that is worth taking your time to research before purchasing. Find a physical facial scrub with aluminum oxide crystals and diatomaceous earth to provide manual microdermabrasion while you are researching machines. Once you decide on and purchase this machine, it is important to keep the physical facial scrub on your back bar in the event your machine goes out of service. This will prevent you from having to cancel your microdermabrasion appointments.
- Microlift equipment – Employs microcurrent technology to improve facial contour, facial tone and reduce wrinkles.
- Ultrasound unit – Tones and tightens skin and aids in delivery of product. It is important to note that some manufacturers and/or states may limit purchases to licensed medical providers.
- LED light therapy device – A red LED light can be used for collagen stimulation and a blue LED light helps to treat acne.
The facial steamer and magnifying lamp should be immediate purchases, while the sonic cleansing brush, high frequency and galvanic can be future purchases. Although you may not need all of the features immediately or know exactly how to use all the features, a multifunction machine may be an economical purchase. A basic facial steamer and magnifying lamp can cost approximately $500. Multifunction machines can be found for just under $1,000.
According to the consulting firm, Kline & Company, there was a 20 percent growth increase in the retail sales of home use devices in 2012. With the gaining popularity of home use devices, it is projected to continue vigorously growing. Therefore, skin care professionals who use machines such as rotary cleansing brushes, LED light therapy, and Microlift equipment can foresee an increase in the retail sales of their home use devices, thereby adding to their bottom line.
- Facial bed, chair and/or table – There are dozens of choices for treatment tables ranging in price from $100 for portable tables to $3,000 for power assist lift tables. If you are the only one using the treatment room, a portable massage table with an adjustable head is a great choice. They can be found for under $200 and are very sturdy, holding up to 450 pounds. It is versatile enough to use for facials, body treatments and waxing. Look in your area for medical surplus dealers. By doing so, you may be able to find a high-end power assist table at a fraction of the cost.
- Stool – You will spend many hours using this, so it is well worth it to invest in a well built, comfortable, ergonomic stool.
- Shelving or cabinets – Consider shelving material that can withstand spills from your back bar products, wax, chemical peels, et cetera. The shelving should be sturdy and able to hold heavier items such as the hot towel cabin and the UV sterilizer. A small rolling cart can be used to stage all of the supplies you need for the treatment you are doing and can reduce wasted time searching for supplies.
Once you have established your budget and evaluated your needs versus your wants, use the list to help guide you. Note which products will be immediate purchase items and which ones require a little more research or waiting time. A well-equipped treatment room can be set up for as little as $3,000. This gives you time to start performing treatments, learn what your clientele wants, and add items over time that you know will provide a nice return on your investment.
Jodi Nightingale-Bennett has over 17 years of experience in the medical and professional skin care industry including spa and medicine spa management, professional skin care sales and education. Her varied experience gives her a unique perspective on the needs of the professional skin care provider. She earned her B.S. in business management from Southern Wesleyan University, her M.B.A from The University of Texas at Dallas, and is a licensed aesthetician. She is currently the director of training for SkinCeuticals where she conducts trainings and lectures around the country focusing on the latest discoveries and innovations in skin care and the business of skin care.