Sustainability--The Next Evolution of the Skin Care Industry

The skin care industry has a great opportunity to grow exponentially as the U.S. population continues to age. In order to develop, it has to change; not just to keep up with the times, but to stay one step ahead of them. If your business isn’t expanding as rapidly as you would like, then it is time to re-evaluate and do something different. The baby boomers are reaching 60. In order to take advantage of human longevity and to help sustain the growth of the spa industry, it is important to take a look at where it’s been, where it currently is and where it’s going.

The industry’s evolution
       In the early years of the beauty industry, women went to beauty parlors and men went to barbershops. The services of the day were washes and sets, pin curls and haircuts. The ’70s ushered in the unisex salon, increased interest in hair color and perms, and the blow dryer, which changed the way women styled their hair. In the next decade, the full-service salon became popular, offering not only hair and hair color services, but also manicures, pedicures, acrylic nails, tanning, body treatments and massage.
       By the ’90s, many full-service salons had evolved into day spas. Services were expanded to include water: pedicures included foot baths, body treatments included Vichy showers, sunless tanning was introduced and facials were offered to teens, as well as their moms. The last decade has witnessed the rise of the medical spa—the next step into the future—where clients can receive facials that could include microdermabrasion, chemical peels and injectable fillers, as well as cosmetic consultations by licensed physicians.

The importance of adaptation
       Luckily, the skin care industry is one that won’t be shipped overseas or outsourced or sold on the Internet. It is here to stay as long as its professionals are willing to adapt. Today, any industry has to continually adjust in order to survive. Reviewing history and keeping current with today’s news can help you keep on target and continue to grow.
       Examine the hosiery industry, for example. It has changed drastically in order to stay alive. Stockings transformed women’s legs and offered the original sunless tan. The problem was that they would sag, snag and run, not to mention the seams were hard to keep straight. So the industry evolved to create stockings made from a stronger fiber—nylon—and provided a variety of shades without seams or sagging. The next evolution was the introduction of the more convenient pantyhose in the 1960s when skirts were very short. Then a cultural wave hit, thanks to the wildly popular television series “Sex and the City,” and women wanted to be bare-legged and wear open-toed shoes.
        Astute spa observers would see this as a tremendous opportunity for their business. With bare legs, women would readily seek out hair removal and sunless tanning treatments. Also, with exposed feet, pedicure services would be in high demand.

The necessity of facials
       The No. 1 course of action the industry must take to sustain growth is to stop marketing facials as if they were a luxury. Facials are a necessity to keep skin looking healthy and youthful for as long as possible. The average life expectancy in 1900 at the turn of the century was 47. At the turn of the century in 2000, it was 74; today it is 79. The new word of this millennium is “centenarian”—a person of 100 years of age or more. Think of Raquel Welch, the new face of MAC Cosmetics who is 64. What about Susan Sarandon and Diane Keaton? Mature women are the classic models of today.
       Many women—and men, too—do not want to look their age. Can you think of anyone who enjoys injections, scalpels, sutures or the downtime involved with cosmetic surgery? Through education, proper skin care and avoiding the sun, your clients can slow down the desire or need for cosmetic surgery. Educate them and their children about what they need to do each decade of their lives to maintain their skin.

Become the center of attention
       One of the biggest challenges with the spa industry is that service providers are tucked away in back rooms. A great way to make them the center of attention is to hold clinics at least once a month. For example, hosting one for teenagers and their mothers hits two segments of your market with one event. One esthetician can speak to the teens about how to best treat acne and another can speak to the moms on how to best care for their mature skin. Introduce “time for two,” where they can each experience facials and develop a skin care regimen customized to their needs while spending time together. Similar clinics can be created for husbands and wives, sisters and friends.
       The other benefit of holding consumer clinics is for recruitment. It is essential for the future of all spas and medical spas to recruit constantly within cosmetology and esthetic schools and institutes. These students are the lifeline for your future establishment. You must actively participate in all career fairs to obtain the best staff. If the industry is going to be sustained, skin care professionals have to continually recruit new people.
Take advantage of makeup
       Leonard Lauder, the chairman of the board of the Esteé Lauder Companies, once shared this profound wisdom with me: “You never sell makeup without skin care, and you never sell skin care without makeup.” Makeup is the finishing touch that enhances each individual’s look. Linking these services together is what has helped make the Lauder brands global leaders. Are you capturing the benefits of these retail opportunities?

Keep an eye out
        Profit is not a bad word. You have to make money not only to grow, but also to sustain growth. Visit New York City, the window of the world, at least once a year to study the newest and best in design through the retail and service industries, and to observe fashion and beauty trends. Keep an eye on what’s happening in terms of color, materials and service systems in the lobby and reception areas of major hip hotels. Watch people on the street and see what they are wearing; what they are doing. Listen to what kinds of treatments or trends they are discussing, because that is what your clients will be requesting. People want help and guidance. The spa industry has to have something to offer that is valuable. Be a living thing that is full of significance to your clients, not just a destination or place. As long as you keep your finger on the pulse of changes and trends, the industry will be able to sustain its growth and bring its next evolution into the future.
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