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Supplements and Skin

By: BettyLou McIntosh and Flo McRae
Posted: May 30, 2008, from the June 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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Can age management programs reach their full potential by addressing only the external aspects of the skin? Many believe that reaching maximum anti-aging potential for clients’ skin requires multiple or combination therapies to correct and repair the abuse it experiences. These could include the topical attack, through targeted products; the internal attack, through diet to provide nutritional support for becoming stronger and more youthful; and professional treatments. The combination of these prevention and repair therapies will provide a winning strategy against active aging.

The plan also includes education and communication between clients and a well-informed skin care professional concerning supplements. The skin care professional also recommends appropriate topicals, performs the needed professional services, and educates clients about the supplements that will nourish the skin from within to fit the specific needs of clients.

Informed recommendations. Ethical and caring manufacturers need to fully educate their clients about the supplements they offer, according to the manufacturer’s philosophy of health. Skin care professionals should recommend supplements only for the health of the skin and be educated about that type of supplementation. It is also important to suggest further research into supplementation to interested clients. Training from a high-quality manufacturer should be sufficient if a spa wishes to provide supplements within its skin care offerings.

Legal issues. Supplements are typically safe, and are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or any other government agency. Also, their recommendation does not require the blessing of a health care professional because they are not medications, merely additional nutrients. Skin care professionals are recommending, not prescribing. However, if a client has health issues, it is suggested that they be referred to their physician for an opinion before adding supplements to a health care regimen. If they have further questions concerning supplementation, refer them to a registered dietician or their physician.

Hiring experts. Most spas that offer skin care services as its primary business won’t add a nutritionist or registered dietician when initiating the recommendation of supplements because their sales are designed as support for their skin care services. Overall wellness is usually not a primary focus of the typical spa. However, a trend is on the horizon and actively happening in wellness-focused spas to hire these professionals to provide advice about clients adopting overall lifestyle nutritional strategies. These recommendations are far beyond those regarding supplementation for skin support. However, if a spa’s clientele is interested in developing these overall strategies, and the spa wishes its supplement business to be a larger part of its retail sales, they may consider hiring these specialists to enhance this part of its business. Spas that focus on skin care will not usually need these experts.