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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.

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       Preservatives. Preservatives are another hot topic in the ingredient realm. In this instance, though, Kulesza says the spa and

Clarice Loiacono on Professional Skin Care

"Spa people are very visual people. That’s why before and after pictures and classroom presentations work well for us.
The best training I got in the drug store was seeing customers come back day after day."

"I wish there were more classes strictly about ingredients without any connection to a company."

medical fields are similar. “The use of retinoids or exfoliating agents, such as hydroxyl acids, can make the skin more sensitive and can potentially amplify the toxicity of preservatives. We have to select preservative systems that are effective, but as gentle as possible to sensitive skin,” he explains. Kulesza claims that consumers are becoming more aware of preservatives, which is causing many people in the industry to look for alternatives to parabens, widely used and recently controversial preservatives due to a reported potential link to cancer, which has been consistently denounced by the personal care industry.
       Peptides. Peptides are another ingredient making headlines. According to Kulesza, the advantage to peptides is that they can be viewed as natural materials that seem to be safe and stable without causing allergic reactions or other irritations. “The theory behind some of the peptides that are most commonly used is that they mimic fragments of proteins that are found in the skin. These various amino acid sequences are the same as the amino acid sequence of, perhaps, a piece of collagen. It’s a sort of signal for fibroblasts—cells that make collagen—to make more collagen,” says Kulesza.
       There are questions that need to be answered about peptides, however. He ponders whether peptides are capable of penetrating through the stratum corneum all the way down to the basal layer of the epidermis, where living fibroblasts exist. If this kind of penetration did exist, it would cause peptides to be classified as drugs. “That is not something that cosmetic marketers want, because it would have to be regulated like a drug and it would raise a whole different set of questions,” explains Kulesza.

Training and support
       With the inclusion of new ingredients, suppliers are charged with the necessity to offer information and support, but are they up to the challenge? The need for this type of information seems to vary dramatically from spa professional to physician. According to Gold, the physician is concerned with the black and white details.
       “Knowing the actives and the irritant potential is the most important thing to us physicians,” he explains. “I think that most of us

Cherie Dobbs on Professional Skin Care

"A professional product is one that is not sold through the mass market."

"Today, more than ever, it’s important that the professional skin care therapist stay abreast of all new emerging ingredients"

spend enough time working with reputable skin care companies we know well, so we are comfortable that any ridiculous ingredient is left out. I would bet you that the doctor’s knowledge of ingredients is probably a little bit ahead of the curve compared to skin care professionals or estheticians who spend all day with these things; and I would bet it’s 100 times more than what the average cosmetics seller knows.”
       According to Dobbs, information about ingredients and other product content is crucial to the retail side of a spa. “Thorough knowledge of ingredients in skin care product sales is by far the most important key to a successful retail program. A well-educated skin care therapist is able to correctly advise the client on the most appropriate products, ensuring maximum results,” she explains. Because new ingredients and cutting-edge technologies are always available, it is essential that the professional skin care therapist stay abreast of all the new emerging ingredients, she says. “It’s not just important to know what to use, but also how to combine different products for maximum efficacy.”
       Clarice Loiacono, owner of Clarice’s Creating Beautiful Looks, an independent spa in Wheaton, Illinois, agrees. “As a spa person, I think it’s important for the product supplier to give you training on the product’s ingredients, how they work and why they are at certain percentages. Basically, that’s good product knowledge.” She also stresses the need for handouts, samples and before-and-after photos. “If you’re telling me a specific ingredient does X, I want to see pictures showing that it really does. Spa people are very visually oriented. That’s why these pictures and classroom presentations work for us. We want to know the science, but we need it in a form that we can understand,” she explains.

Pep talks 
  Face & Body Spa & Healthy Aging Conference and Expo is an industry event that offers a forum to connect spa industry professionals with their colleagues who serve the healthy aging, wellness, personal care, fitness, cosmetic and nutrition industries. Its full-day, multitrack conference provides attendees with a product-neutral, advanced education conference program designed for skin care professionals. The expo offers more than 500 booths featuring
     300 industry suppliers and manufacturers, as well as product education through Manufacturer Classrooms. Face & Body is held in San Francisco in August, and 2007 marks its 15th anniversary. There, you can network with others to find out more thoughts and opinions on ingredients, training and everything in-between.