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Tempting Treatment Trends

By Abby Penning
Posted: September 19, 2007, from the October 2007 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

Treatments are the lifeblood of any spa. No matter what products you use, how skilled your estheticians are, or how irresistible your prices seem, without exciting, high-quality treatments, it’s hard to create good buzz about your business. For this reason, it’s important to keep up with treatment trends in order to provide your clients with the attention they deserve—and to keep them coming back for more.
      By utilizing what you know, as well as identifying how much and how often you like to change up your menu, you can integrate new treatment trends that help invigorate your spa, adding variety and sparking new interest for clients. However, deciding which ones to follow is key, because all services seldom work for all spas. Luckily, an innovative array of options is appearing all the time, so it’s just a matter of finding the ones that best fit your business.

Earthly inspirations
      One of the most effective ways to give your menu a new kick is to be inspired by everything around you. Indigenous ingredients and treatments are all the rage, allowing spas to showcase not only their location, but also the unique way they integrate their environment into their menu.
      Barbara Stirewalt, spa director at The Spa at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York, says, “We use indigenous sources, such as our ‘grit’—fine quartz grains quarried from our cliffs—in our Shawangunk Grit Mineral Body Treatment. Additionally, when creating our Moss Hydrating Body Masque, we chose a product that incorporates moss extracts to honor the soft, gentle cover found throughout our grounds.”
       Other spas have created entire programs around their indigenous experiences. The Lakehouse Spa at the Lake Austin Spa Resort in Austin, Texas, offers its Urban Cowgirl program, which includes treatments incorporating prickly pear cactus, along with Texas Hold’em and Texas Two-step lessons. “We also like to stay as natural as possible and keep things indigenous, so we have our treatments with a Texas feel,” says the spa’s director of treatment development, Lynne Vertrees.
      Due to the inherently organic nature of the majority of indigenous treatments and ingredients, this trend is also helping give rise to another big topic in the industry—going green. “The public is becoming increasingly aware of the green movement,” says Michael Stusser, founder of the Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary in Sonoma, California, which is a founding, or “seed,” spa of the Green Spa Network, an organization of spas dedicated to bringing sustainable practices to the industry. “Take mineral-based sun care. It’s the evolution of using a green-conscious product to address a need.”
      Elaine Sauer, corporate director, spa, with Red Door Spa Holdings, has noted this eco-conscious trend in action. “Our Floriani Phyto Organic facial continues to be a leader in our service offerings because of the green movement,” she says. “Our Floriani line of products is from Italy, and they are organic. It’s in support of an organic lifestyle that so many of our clients demand today.”
      Utilizing a combination of indigenous ingredients and green initiatives can elevate a spa to a uniqueness that promotes total wellness for a person and their environment. “We want to help teach people to live an altogether healthier lifestyle,” says Celia Tully, CEO of the nationwide chain of Natural Body Spas, another Green Spa Network seed spa. “Once they learn the long-term benefits of using environmentally friendly products, there will hopefully be a larger desire for all things green.”
      Stusser adds that even though the movement is just beginning, more and more green options are popping up all the time. “We’re still exploring how to incorporate treatments more thoroughly with nature. We are using things such as water-based massage oil and preservative-free cosmetics as a start,” he explains.

Take on technology
      Technology is another great way to give menu items a boost. However, there are so many new equipment options being released—seemingly every day—that knowing where to start sometimes is the hardest decision to make.
      Annette Hanson, founder of Atelier Esthétique in New York, says it is most important to respect the scope of your license and make sure you receive proper training before adding new technology and medically inclined treatments to your spa. That way, you can learn if you are qualified to work with the equipment, as well as if it is a good fit for your business. “With these advances, estheticians who want to work in medical settings can learn new techniques and terminology to work side by side with a physician for better results,” says Hanson, whose school recently had its paramedical training course approved by its home state of New York.
      “There are so many innovative applications of all the new breakthrough technologies, such as nanotechnology, which helps promote deeper product penetration of cosmeceuticals,” Hanson continues. “And scientific equipment incorporating such technology as LEDs is wonderful. LEDs work to change the activity of cells, creating photomodulation, which helps to increase collagen and elastin production, as well as fight free radicals and stop inflammation.”
      Terri Wojak, esthetic director and an educator at the medical esthetic school True University in Chicago, is also spotting a rise in several medical esthetic treatment offerings. “What we are seeing in medical esthetics are pre- and post-operative ultrasound treatments,” she says. “These help to reduce swelling and encourage healing after procedures. Other services offered are dermaplaning; microdermabrasion; and medical-strength chemical peels containing trichloroacetic acid (TCA), salicylic acid and retinol,” says Wojak. “I really see chemical peels resurging.”

Spa slowdown
       Despite the upswing in clients who want to have their skin treated quickly through the use of technology, many are also interested in experiencing the rejuvenating atmosphere and feeling of relaxation at the spa. “Facials will always be a precious, peaceful time,” says Hanson. “The holistic, relaxation side of the treatment is still very important. People need good skin care, and they need good products they can use and use consistently.” Deedee Carlson, president of the San Francisco Institute of Esthetics and Cosmetology, adds, “People are really looking to have estheticians help guide their skin care, and they’re looking to have a customized, complete experience for the full body.”
       By adding professional treatments that factor in a bit of calm downtime, you help make your spa the oasis of serenity that many are seeking. “Meditative services are a wonderful way to help clients enjoy spa time,” Stirewalt says. “Whether through yoga or our specialized Three Minute Meditation class, our spa clients learn a skill that can be implemented into their everyday lives.”
       By creating this space of relaxation, it’s also easier to help clients implement lifestyle changes that encourage total wellness. “We want to take things to the next level to try to promote lifestyle change,” says Vertrees. “I think people are generally looking to be healthier and want to go beyond a quick fix. They want that longevity—many of our treatments heal from within, and the result is that it also helps the skin look beautiful. We also like to give them something they can take home to incorporate there, and hopefully it helps them change to a healthier lifestyle.”
       The way clients are treated when they are at a spa adds to its relaxing atmosphere as well. The customer service you offer elevates the quality of all your services. “I would like to see customer service treated as a trend,” Carlson says. “Clients want the face-to-face attention when they come in, and clients are willing to pay more for the full experience.”

Market share
      Sometimes focusing on a new group of clients can help invigorate your menu. Although the male market is definitely on the rise in the industry, there are a few others that are also beginning to inspire new treatments. “The teen market is starting to surge,” says Carlson. “Teens’ interest level in beauty services is higher than it has been in the past. Some are starting brow waxing as early as 14-years-old.”
      Creating treatments for teens usually means keeping things fairly simple and easy to manage, which can be seen as a plus for other clients as well. “Many are looking for a more simplified skin care regimen to ease the hectic nature of life,” says Stirewalt. “This is really great for teens, too. Things don’t need to be complicated in order to work.”
      Pumping up the numbers can lead to another market for your spa, too. “Group treatments are on the rise,” says Carlson. “Individuals are coming in groups—with their friends—to experience services together.” Treatments for groups can usually be kept to options that are easy to perform as well. Manicures and pedicures are popular, because groups typically see this spa outing as a chance to chat and spend time with each other.
      Sauer adds that sometimes a group can be as small as two people. “Couples’ services create wonderful experiences that people crave and are a continuing growing trend. Duo treatments that allow couples, parents and children, girlfriends, brides and grooms, and others to enjoy services in the same room are popular because people want ‘experiences’ today.”
      Some spas are capitalizing on this market by creating programs around the group experience. Vertrees and The Lakehouse Spa, for example, have created a package that offers a chance for mothers and daughters to be together during a relaxing spa outing. “The Mom and Me package is really good for bonding,” she says. “Before when they were coming to the spa, they’d get separated, but now we have treatments such as an aromatherapy massage, manicures and pedicures they can enjoy together.”