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A Profitable Head Start

By: Breeanna Hare
Posted: September 25, 2009, from the October 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
woman receiving scalp treatment

For many spas, massages and facials are constant, reliable menu items that make up the majority of profits; however, scalp treatments are becoming the luxurious, inexpensive icing on an already fabulous cake. A procedure that requires little more than aromatherapy oils and two hands skilled in massage, it can be added on to virtually any service, from facials to body wraps, and can also be incorporated into hair treatments. Spas throughout the nation—from those located in high-end hotels, such as The Mandarin Oriental or Four Seasons, to smaller spas, such as The Spa at Norwich Inn in Norwich, Connecticut—are turning to this Middle Eastern tradition to provide their clients with an impressive yet economical option. And during a time when the need for client loyalty is at an all-time high due to the pressure brought about by the economy, every detail can result in a satisfied client who not only will return, but also will recommend your spa to their friends.

Ayurveda and aromatherapy

“The often-coveted beauty, health and vitality of Middle Eastern hair can be available to your clients by offering traditional scalp massages,” says Basant Malhotra, managing director of Basanti Group, LLC, manufacturer of Basanti Organic Skin Care. Malhotra recalls that during her childhood, scalp treatments were just the normal thing to do before you washed your hair. This ritual—which included pouring oil on the scalp and hair followed by massage—was carried out once or twice a week. Typically, a scalp treatment includes the use of aromatic, herbal essential oils, such as coconut, jojoba, avocado and vitamin E. By dampening the scalp with oil, then gently massaging it into the hair follicles and working the oil down to the ends of the hair, this treatment can eventually improve the health and vitality of clients’ hair.

In addition to the visible benefits scalp treatments provide to hair, they also improve the entire relaxation experience for clients, whether they’re stopping by for a mini facial or a day-long rejuvenation session. Because this practice has its roots in ayurveda, the traditional scalp treatment is intended to provide much more than a route to healthy hair; it also provides clarity and peace of mind, says Malhotra. Most scalp treatments focus on pressure points throughout the scalp, head and neck to balance out the dosha, or mind and body type. At The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Boston, spa director Sharon Holtz emphasizes that the treatment focuses on more than just the scalp—the spa’s technicians include aromatherapy inhalations as well, to ensure a total relaxation experience for clients.

“Let’s say you’re having a facial, and incorporating a scalp massage,” Holtz says. “The technician has essential oils on her hands and hovers them over the the client’s nose, making a sort of tent. The client is instructed to inhale so that all of the aromatherapy is enjoyed, increasing the relaxation aspect of the treatment. Then, the technician works up the neck into the scalp, stimulating different pressure points and using different massage techniques,” Holtz explains. “I guess you can call it a scalp massage, but if you think about it, even the muscles connecting up to the cranium are involved.”

A flexible option

The beauty of the scalp treatment is that it’s flexible enough to be tailored to fit into any spa menu and philosophy. Even if your spa does not have an ayurvedic style, the benefits of a scalp massage—shining, healthy hair, improved head circulation, and the release of tension from the head, neck and shoulders—are experiences that most clients desire.