Men must feel a sense of connection with the spa environment being presented to them, so spas must cater their interior décor, marketing, branding, TV programming, choice of aromatherapy fragrances, and spa magazines to their preferences. Additionally, the names of services and types of packages created must focus on men's needs. Male-oriented services should be reminiscent of the old time barbershop featuring services, like expert haircuts, a wet shave with a straight razor, sports manicures, and male-oriented hair removal.
In essence, you must remember that the idea of men going to a spa is not a novelty but more of a metamorphosis of the old barbershop concept that has always been part of a man's routine as well as a place for men to get together.
Cultural expectations are also changing, pushing men to be both more professional and groomed for the competitive corporate environments in which they work. For many men, the focus is not on beauty or anti-aging treatments but rather on indulgence, relaxation, and cleanliness. I have found the typical age range of the male clients visiting my spas to be broad ranging between the ages of 25 to over 60.
We have more to offer men now. Although men are not looking for treatments denoted by "anti-aging" names they are interested in treatments featuring anti-aging ingredients. They too are concerned with their looks, aging, and wrinkles due to a more competitive marketplace and youth-oriented culture. They are also concerned with their grooming. Beyond haircuts, men come to the spa to have their eyebrows cleaned up (tweezed and waxed) and even lasered. Increasingly, men are learning the benefits of regular treatments, and back treatments are responding to a common need among the majority of men.
Men come in for back treatments for several reasons. Many men enjoy being able to purify and soothe skin in response to seasonal changes. They find themselves measured against an aesthetic social norm that features images in advertising of young men with smooth and hairless chests and backs. For this reason, men are feeling the pressure to be hairless and acne free. This need is compounded by the trend to be exposed in physical activities, sports, swimsuits, and for their partners. As men age, they develop more body hair that causes breakouts on the skin. Also, more men work in a co-ed gym and with personal trainers. Today, smooth skin is considered more attractive in the majority of Western cultures.
Developing a sound back treatment protocol that is marketable to men, easy to perform, and produces effective results is key to creating a service that is a good seller in your spa. Your basic back treatment protocol needs to be flexible and adaptable to various skin conditions. I suggest using a base protocol for all back treatments but then training your aestheticians to customize the treatment based on recurrent and common skin conditions prevalent in men. The typical recurring skin problems recurrent for men in the back area are:
- 2. excess hair resulting in ingrowns and leading to skin flare ups
- 6. excess waxing of the area (either because of excess hair or due to personal preference) generating sensitivity and ingrown hairs
- 10. genetically inherited acne conditions – Break outs will require an in-depth regular treatment and a series of treatments to achieve satisfactory results.
In addition, men can have very active lifestyles that involve sports and outdoor activities causing excessive sun exposure and overstimulation, excessive sweating, and hard to control hygienic issues that lead to difficult to manage break outs, sun damage, and hyperpigmentation. These various conditions require varying analyses though they all lead to increased acne. The different causes of these conditions will require a different approach in treating the back and alternate home care routines that must be taught to the client to offer best results.
Basic Men's Back Grooming Treatment Protocol
It is imperative to come up with a catchy and marketable name for your treatment that will speak to your male clientele. I have created and tried some of the following names and found them very effective:
- Deep Clean Back Treatment
- Back Grooming Treatment
- Back on Top
- Acne Reduction Back Treatment
- Better off Shirtless Men's Treatment
- Men's Fitness Treatment for Your Back
- Smooth and Hairless Back Treatment
Back Treatment Base Protocol
Ensure a proper room set up for this treatment that is attentive to men's aesthetic preferences and the aesthetician's technical needs. You will need a flat bed to perform this service. Use neutral colors, fragrances, and music more suited to men's tastes, preferably white linens and classical music. Below are the steps of the facial treatment:
- Turn on the steam and perform the entire cleansing routing under steam to relax the client. (Men love steam!)
- Apply a few warm compresses with slight pressure and then massage the area lightly to relax your client.
- Apply a gel cleanser with antibacterial properties. Massage it in and rinse off with warm compresses.
- Apply a scrub with salicylic acid and jojoba beads. Massage the scrub in and follow by scrubbing gently with a body brush for thorough cleansing. Rinse off (make sure that all beads are removed).
- Turn off the steamer.
- Apply a heating solution (a wonderful way of creating a sterile antibacterial environment). The solution we use in our spas has tomato extracts, camphor, capsicum extract, sage extract, peppermint oil, horseradish extract, lavender oil, and allantoin. Do not rinse as you embark on extractions.
- Perform thorough extractions. Concentrate on the removal of large comedones and pustules. Do not engage in the removal of small comedones. (Typically, men do not like pain and unnecessary extractions such as small comedowns that come back anyhow will not be necessary.
- Spray on oxygen mist and perform high frequency, first using UV for three minutes and then follow with infrared for the same amount of time.
- Apply stimulating and rejuvenating complex and leave on for five minutes. (This energizes the skin. In my spas, we use one that has allantoin, copper complex, salicylic acid, menthol, watercress (Nasturtium Officinale) extract, mimosa bark extract, propolis, sandalwood extract, burdock herbs, oak bark herbs, mint peppermint herbs, vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin B2. This erases the signs of any extractions, increases circulation, and creates a very "clean and fresh" feeling which is appealing for the male client.)
- Rinse off with cool water.
- Spray oxygen mist and perform a five minute massage using circular motions with large sized beauty globes.
- Apply localized drying lotion wherever you extracted breakouts. Dab on lightly so there is no residue.
- Choose a non-drying mud mask or clay mask. Apply it in a thick layer and leave on for 10 minutes. (While the mask is on you can perform a hand or a foot massage). Remove with cool water and follow up with a fragrant compress. Follow with the application of a light serum and massage it in for three to five minutes. (If there is any signs of hyperpigmentation, use a serum with botanical lighteners. Be sure to recommend for daily home use as well.) Finish by applying a non-comodegenic moisturizer with SPF 15.
This treatment is extensive and can take up to 90 minutes to perform. It can be abbreviated, especially if you do not have some of the equipment or the products involved. There are multiple ways to either customize or upgrade this treatment. After Step 8 and the completion of extractions, microdermabrasion can be added, as well as an application of hyaluronic acid solution and LED therapy. For ingrown hair problems, a more extensive exfoliation utilizing AHA, BHA, and tomato acids can be added. If there is an issue of acne involved, the herbal treatment and peeling is appropriate and should be done in a series of six to eight treatments every two weeks. You can encourage series purchases by offering a 10 percent discount for a series of
I like to include a sample kit of travel sized products with the purchase of a series of treatments. The pricing for the treatment must include both the series and product cost. Once they try the products at home and see how beneficial it is to their backs, they will come back to you for the full-size products. The suggested retail value of the back treatment starts at $125 and goes up to $245. An herbal peel for the back can be $275 to $450. The price you choose must be based on several factors, including length of service, size of area treated, amount of product involved, and your particular marketplace.
If you do not add the product in your service price, be sure to prescribe a follow up at-home maintenance routine. The client must learn how to properly care for their back on a daily basis using the appropriate cleanser, scrub, long neck back brush, or natural loofa and treatment products. Teach your clients about proper back hygiene as well as the importance of a sun management program.
Promoting the back treatment in your establishment should be a simple process, given you follow some basic principles. Make sure you offer a separate men's menu in your brochure and highlight it so it's easy to find. Offer a men's product line or men's targeted cosmetics. Make sure to have a balanced ratio of male/female employees, particularly at your front desk so that men feel they are in a familiar environment. Offer extensive but simple and direct services for your male clientele. Encourage and train your aestheticians to promote the back treatment to any male client who is getting any type of hair removal services or regular treatments. Be creative. Advertise in men's magazines, hold spa bachelor parties, create special promotions encouraging women to bring in their partners and offer physical activities such as personal training or exercise regimens.
For the small spa owner and the individual aesthetician, our industry is getting very hard to compete in. Hotels offer high-end and extensive facilities with full water therapies that are enticing to stressed clients. Physicians and medical spas offer effective antiaging, medical, and laser services. Aesthetician's best strategy is to offer services that are unique, involving pampering elements and personalized attention. The best competitive edge can be achieved through providing excellent client service. Create a menu of unique spa offerings, specifically catering to men's preferences to tap into the loyalty of male clientele. Remember, if you provide your male clients with results, you're sure to generate a high quality and repeat clientele that will increase your revenues.
Industry pioneer Bella Schneider, P.M.E., combines more than 30 years of experience as CEO and founder of 5 Star Formulators and the award-winning San Francisco Bay Area-based La Belle Day Spas and Salons. An internationally-renowned authority on clinical salon skin care, Schneider launched her signature product collection in 1976, armed with a degree in economics from the University of California, Berkeley and a passion for healthy, beautiful skin. One of the industry's foremost educators, she also operates the Palo Alto, Calif.-based Center for Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Esthetics.