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Boost Retail Sales With Hand-held Equipment

By: Cathy Christensen
Posted: January 5, 2011, from the January 2011 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

At the same time as many spas are holding off on buying high-priced equipment with questionable results due to the current state of the economy, many spa clients are intrigued by the new hand-held devices that are popping up on store shelves and beauty websites. Whether the machines are meant to provide LED, laser hair removal or deep pore cleansing, the bottom line is that many claim to replicate the services that are often provided at the spa, and there is a fear in the industry that spas may lose business to this trend. The truth of the matter is, however, that spas can benefit from at-home hand-held devices financially, and spa professionals can also work with this trend to solidify their roles as indispensable advisors and educators in a beauty world that continues to grow and change.

The hand-held trend

There’s no denying that hand-held at-home devices are becoming more and more popular. Client motivation is simple, according to Robb Akridge, PhD, vice president of clinical affairs for hand-held equipment supplier Clarisonic. “Clients are wanting softer, smoother, healthier-looking skin; everyone knows they can’t stop aging, and they want to look as good as they can,” he says. This need, combined with strong marketing persuasion from consumer magazines and websites, is the reason consumers are seeking out a variety of options—including at-home hand-held equipment—to help them attain these goals. So how can spa professionals work to educate consumers about this equipment and, in the process, make this trend profitable for their business? Here are the answers to some common concerns about at-home hand-held technology.

Q: I’m concerned that at-home hand-held equipment is dangerous and delivers technology that should only be handled by professionals. How can I address this with my clients?

“I think the trend is horrible,” says Camille Meyer, owner of TriBeCa Med Spa in New York. “I don’t think these at-home hand-held devices are strong enough to hurt someone, but I don’t think they are going to be effective, either. We have different pieces of equipment for laser hair removal, and it’s important to use the right laser on the right skin tone.”

Richard Foxx, MD, founder and medical director of The Medical & Skin Spa at Hyatt Grand Champions Resort in Indian Wells, California, echoes these concerns: “There’s the potential for side effects; skin damage with lasers. If you’re going to make it effective, you’ve got to be careful about side effects. It’s like buying an over-the-counter medication compared with a prescription medication; one is more powerful and more regulated.”