As the professional skin care industry moves into the middle of the decade, it has become clear that the recession’s negative impact is fading, and the industry is poised for growth and adaptation. In the early 2000s, the spa industry was in an exploratory phase, seeking the next big thing in the industry, and gleaning inspiration from different fields and different countries. Then, the Great Recession took place and this exploration ceased, with skin care professionals and spa owners reigning in investments in the future to concentrate on the immediate need of staying afloat through the tumultuous waters of the unpredictable economic climate.
Beginning in 2014—and continuing on into 2015 and beyond—professionals are starting to feel the freedom and security afforded by a more stable economy, resulting in an exciting time in the spa industry ... one that will form the future of the profession. Due to a variety of factors—including continued regulatory battles, a growing emphasis on attractiveness and its affect on professional success, and boomers retiring and seeking wellness-based health alternatives—the spa industry is facing diversification on a level that it hasn’t experienced in the past. More and more, the generic day spa that offers basic facials and massage services is changing. Owners are beginning to choose a focus and build a targeted strategy to reach a particular type of client, providing specific services—often either medical spa or wellness—for clients who know their goals. This increasing customization is resulting in an interesting growth dynamic in the profession as a whole, and is the beginning of an industry transformation that, if allowed to evolve in a stable economic climate, will result in an industry with two equally strong arms—medical and wellness.
As this evolution begins, some very interesting trends are currently taking place that will continue to grow in 2015.
1. Social beauty and selfies
It’s unavoidable, and you can’t help but look. Whether on Facebook, Instagram or various other social media channels, the duck-faced, super-posed, anything-but-natural selfie is everywhere. And the selfie is ubiquitous, spanning generations and resulting in an increased focus on appearance. In fact, the rise of selfies is resulting in a rise in plastic surgery, according to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS). In March 2014, the group released a study indicating one in three plastic surgeons saw an increase in requests for procedures from clients who were more aware of their looks due to social media. In fact, 13% of AAFPRS members surveyed said that increased photo-sharing and dissatisfaction with appearance on social media was a growing trend. Members saw a 10% increase in rhinoplasty, a 7% increase in hair transplants and a 6% increase in eyelid surgery in 2013. This trend isn’t going away, and is not only resulting in an increase in plastic surgery requests; but also in a decrease in the age at which plastic surgery is commonly requested. In 2013, 58% of AAFPRS members surveyed saw more cosmetic surgery and injectables in clients younger than the age of 30 than ever before, and 39% saw a rise in the demand for nonsurgical cosmetic procedures to delay facial surgery. These self-aware clients are visiting all types of spas, including medical and day spas, seeking solutions for their perceived appearance problems. Be ready to help them make the right decision when choosing how to best address their concerns.
2. Depression awareness
Along with the increased awareness of looks comes an increase in lower self-esteem and depression. In fact, with the recent suicide of the beloved actor, Robin Williams, after his lifelong battle with depression, the condition is coming out of the shadows, resulting in a increased level of comfort about the disease. Along with that comes your increased responsibility to help clients who may be suffering from depression. Because your interaction with clients is so intimate and, often, so regular, you have the potential of identifying this concern before others. Similar to the responsibility of referring clients to a physician if you see a concerning spot or mole on their back that may signify skin cancer, it is also your responsibility to try to help clients who seem to have issues beyond the occasional bad day. Linda Bertaut, founder of Bertaut Beauty, recently launched the movement and blog Your Life Matters to Me (www.yourlifematterstome.com), with the purpose of letting people know how and why their lives matter. “The blog provides tips, articles and videos to help lift and inspire people to discover the gifts beyond their pain. There will also be pointers on how to support depressed or suicidal loved ones to help them feel wanted and needed.” It is commonly said that skin care professionals are equal parts estheticians and counselors. The truth in this belief is that, although you absolutely play a role in talking with your clients, you need to have a doctor or psychologist you trust available so you can send them referrals. Listen to your esthetician’s intuition ... offer help and support when you notice a problem.
3. Internal health for external benefit
The saying “You are what you eat” is something mothers have been saying to junk food-loving kids since the beginning of time. However, the truth behind that statement is becoming increasingly important to the professional skin care industry. Truly a form of prevention, consuming foods that nurture the skin and increasing clients’ awareness of doing so—is becoming a part of professional skin care. Although science, nature and cosmetic formulators work together to bring forth the most effective, potent topicals possible, at the end of the day, all topicals work as a way to fix a problem with the skin. The idea of internal health for external wellness stems from the philosophy of avoiding that problem to begin with. Genetics play a role in a variety of skin issues; however, it is known that 85–90% of external aging is avoidable.1 Other conditions, such as acne, inflammation and rosacea, also have links to possible nutritional solutions, as well. Learn more about how dietary changes can affect the skin to help guide clients, or have a nutritionist available at your spa or as a referral for clients to reach out to. This type of coaching will become increasingly important in your role as a skin care professional.
4. Skin care limited
Along with an increased emphasis on internal wellness is a focus on the purity and quality of the topicals that are applied and absorbed into the skin. Although there is much debate about certain ingredients that cause concerns, such as parabens and silicones, clients are becoming increasingly aware of what they are absorbing into their bodies via their skin. Terms, such as “gluten-free” and “paraben-free,” are becoming common, and your savvy skin care clients are determining how important these labels are for their skin care treatments and products. Of course, for some clients, such as celiac-sufferers, gluten-free skin care is a must to avoid major complications. For others, however, it is a lifestyle choice. Determine whether your particular clientele desires skin care options that limit certain ingredients. If so, it is your job to find the best line for your spa and your specific clients. Meeting their needs should always be your No. 1 goal.
5. Virtual consultations
The popularity of virtual consultations in the medical field is starting to make a natural progression into the skin care industry. More and more clients are requesting the ability to consult with their esthetician via the computer, resulting in a new scheduling and technology challenge for spas. According to Lori Crete, founder of The Esthetician Mentor and Skin Inc. Editorial Advisory Board member, in her upcoming article on virtual consultations for Skin Inc. next month: “A virtual consultation is a digital experience during which you create a skin care protocol for a client using a Web platform or offering a question-and-answer discussion via phone. This type of business has been around since telephones were invented, but virtual skin care can be offered in a very practical way, because some Internet platforms [such as Skype] allow you to actually see and access the client’s skin while conducting a question-and-answer dialogue.” What a great way to set yourself apart from your competitors and play a crucial role in your clients’ lives, despite their hectic schedules!
6. Skin of color: blended heritage
According to JoElle Lee, esthetician to First Lady Michelle Obama and owner of JoElle Skin Care, in her October 2014 Skin Inc. article, “The Truth About Treating Multicultural Skin”: “The consultation should determine the client’s hereditary background ... making treatment determinations based solely on how a client looks is not sufficient enough to avoid risk of complications. Ask about their family’s hereditary history, as those from equatorial regions are more likely to have sensitive, reactive skin prone to hyperpigmentation. Having a solid understanding of the specific characteristics of skin of ethnic and blended heritage clients will allow you to make better and more appropriate treatment choices, and provide outstanding outcomes to all of your clients.” Lee says, “Skin care professionals must prepare for the prospect of clients with increasingly high Fitzpatrick skin types, and learn to recognize what is appropriate and inappropriate concerning skin care treatments, ingredients and products for skin of color. Global skin is the future of your skin care clientele.” Update consultation forms to allow for in-depth, heritage-related questions.
7. Global inspiration within reach
As spa and skin care professionals start seeking ways to stand out and evolve, they are looking beyond their own backyards and into the inspirational international landscape. Although those driven and fortunate estheticians who travel yearly for global learning still exist, the Internet has made the world a smaller, more accessible place. According to Deedee Crossett, Skin Inc. Editorial Advisory Board member, dean of the San Francisco Institute of Esthetics and Cosmetology and founder of the new Skin on Market in San Francisco, in her November “10 Things” column, she was thankful that: “International techniques are available to everyone. You no longer need to travel to receive an exotic treatment. Trainings are available via webinars and Skype.” Look no further than your own computer to learn more about what is going on in skin care around the globe, and then incorporate tastes of global inspiration into your spa menu.
8. Pale is the new tan
The year 2014 will go down in the annals of skin care history for being the year that the United States took a stand against indoor tanning. Multiple states deemed indoor tanning a health risk by outlawing the practice for minors. Effective January 1, 2015, Delaware joins Vermont, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, Oregon, Nevada, Texas and Washington in passing this important legislation. According to Brett M. Coldiron, MD, president of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD): “Melanoma is the second most common form of cancer for adolescents and young adults 15 to 29 years old. However, 2.3 million teens still tan indoors in the United States annually.” Delaware’s announcement closely followed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) finalization of stricter indoor tanning recommendations, including its avoidance by minors. Because of increased awareness of the dangers of tanning and its ability to promote skin cancer, clients with pale skin are looking for ways to protect skin from the sun and maintain creamy, pale complexions. The year 2015 promises to bring even more states into a paler, healthier future.
9. Increased legislative awareness
As the industry changes, so does its regulation. There is constant activity in your state board, and it is crucial to become active in legislation in order to maintain and operate within your scope of practice. More and more skin care professionals are learning that being active within this industry doesn’t just involve giving a great, results-oriented treatment. It involves developing business sense and a passion for what you’ve worked hard for—your education and your ability to provide the treatments that are great for your clients and lucrative for you. Take it upon yourself to learn more about your state board and how it works. Learn how you can help your state licensees and make it a goal to become a leader in the professional skin care industry. Passion and common sense will get you a long way in this profession. Will you be the next generation’s skin care visionary?
The rise of retail
Along with spa owners and skin care professionals working to provide more customized solutions for their clients, they are also becoming aware that, in order to compete with the ever-growing list of retail competitors, they need to become retail specialists. As stated in the article “She’s Gotta Have It—Now! Decoding Omnichannel Retailing For Your Spa,” which appeared in the April 2014 issue of Skin Inc., director of global education for The International Dermal Institute (IDI) and Dermalogica and Skin Inc. Editorial Advisory Board member, Annet King, says skin care retail is at the highest its ever been. Skin care represents a market share of $96.5 million each year—and this is represented primarily by skin care devoted to the face, says Euromonitor International. According to Lucintel, global skin care and beauty markets will reach $264.2 billion by the year 2017, and premium services and products for the face constitute a healthy percentage of that projection. “This means that you have to enhance the live, on-the-ground shopping experience with personalization, expertise, prescriptive selling, engagement and a sense of connection simply not possible via a few mouse-clicks at the zillion glossy dot-coms that flood your clients’ e-mail inboxes every hour with offers, events and product pitches,” says King. Retail is more lucrative—and more competitive—than ever. Instead of complaining about the competition, find ways to combat it. Learn more about retail strategies, merchandising, sales, events and e-commerce. Make it your job to increase your retail and become the go-to skin care shop for clients.
- J Herschtal and J Kaufman, Cutaneous aging: A review of the process and topical therapies, Expert Review of Dermatology 2 753–761 (2007)
Cathy Christensen is the former editor of Skin Inc. magazine, and is currently the executive director of operations and communications for the American Med Spa Association (AmSpa). She can be reached at email@example.com.