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Pep Talks and Peptides for Spa Professionals

By Bud Brewster
Posted: April 28, 2008, from the August 2007 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

More and more often, formulators are looking to raw material suppliers for demonstrations of the efficacy, safety and functionality of new ingredients, such as peptides. Spas that are sellers of finished formulated products also need ingredient information to convince clients to purchase products, as well as to differentiate brand offerings. Are spas and medical spas getting all the ingredient

Michael Gold, MD, on Professional Skin Care

"I don’t use the term “professional” to identify a class of products. You come to my medical spa and see privately labeled products. They are professional products, but they are still either a cosmeceutical or a cosmetic. The only other valid product class is a prescription product."

"Ingredients are important. Knowing the actives and the irritant potential is the most important thing for the dermatologist."

"The manufacturer has to provide samples, training, back bar products, and my staff has to have tried and approved those products before I’ll agree to sell them."

information they need to sell their products?
       International management consulting and market research firm Kline & Company’s recently released 2006 study of the professional skin care market1 reports a sixth consecutive year of double-digit growth, as well as a shift in distribution, with spa professionals and physicians facing stiff competition from retail channels, including some chain drug stores and other mass merchandisers. This retail competition is resulting in spas that are increasingly seeking help from product marketers to hold on to their share of this booming market, according to Kline & Company.
       “Almost all of the 300 dermatologists, plastic surgeons and spa managers interviewed for the study said they wanted to see more in the way of providing product samples, training and educational materials to help them sell the products,” says Carrie Mellage, director, consumer products, Kline Research. “More than 80% of both spas and physicians surveyed consider product samples the best form of support, but there seems to be a gap in marketers meeting that request.”
       Kline’s 2006 study is available by subscription only, but the firm did provide some excerpts from the previous year’s report, which shows that professional skin care sales accounted for 12% of the $42 billion global skin care market in 2005; nearly 72% of those global sales were in Europe.

“Professional” products
       The term “professional product” is common in the spa industry, but what does it really mean?
       According to John E. Kulesza, president and founder of Young Pharmaceuticals, Inc., in Wethersfield, Connecticut, when his company formulates a product for the spa environment, it might use a different set of raw materials and concentrations versus products that would be sold to the dermatologist or plastic surgeon.
       Michael Gold, MD, dermatologist and medical director of the Gold Skin Care Center, the Tennessee Clinical Research Center, the Laser & Rejuvenation Center and the Advanced Aesthetics Medi-Spa in Nashville, Tennessee, says that he doesn’t understand the term. 

John E. Kulesza on Professional Skin Care

"The difference between products for the spa world and products for the medical world starts with ingredients and their concentration."

"From a strictly medical or clinical standpoint, fragrances are inappropriate.
Peptides are natural and appear to be fairly safe and relatively stable, but there are concerns about their use."

“There are prescription products that have a medical claim. And there are cosmeceuticals; that’s a glorified term for over-the-counter (OTC) products that have some science behind them, but are not drugs,” he says. “Think about it this way: Anything sold with a prescription is in a product class different from the others; these are U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved with the highest allowable, safest level of actives. Cosmeceutical products can be divided into those that are mass-marketed and those that are dispensed by physicians. Usually companies are smart enough to know that there needs to be a difference, so physician-dispensed products are different because they may have a slightly higher level of the active than the mass-marketed product. Differences from cosmeceutical to cosmetic may be minimal.”
       To Cherie Dobbs, founder, president and CEO of Dermastart, Inc., a “professional product” is one that is not sold through department stores, drug stores or other mass-market outlets. “It should be offered through higher-end medical spas, and through estheticians and physicians who have gone to school and learned about the product line,” she explains.

       As some of the most explored, researched marketed components of spa products, ingredients offer a variety of benefits—along with a host of issues. Following are some of the most popular ingredient trends.
       Fragrance. The importance and benefits of scent vary drastically from spa products to pharmaceutical products. “Almost all of the products we make for the dermatological field are fragrance-free,” explains Kulesza. He cites the reason for this being the potential for allergic reactions due to the complex mixtures of biomolecules that make up fragrances. “The spa industry has a very different approach. Aromatherapy and very nice-smelling products are a tradition within the industry—and that’s why they’re very popular,” he says. “However, if you look at it from a strictly medical or clinical standpoint, fragrances are inappropriate. Whatever the product smells like because of the characteristic odor of the raw materials, then that’s the way the product has to smell.”