Excellent Extracts


Similar to most other industries, the spa industry has had to make a few adjustments in order to survive this unfortunate economy. Although the spa was once a haven of luxury and relaxation, it has become increasingly important to establish the need for spa services in clients’ minds—and on their priority lists. In the marketing realm, some key tips to increasing revenue have been to focus on quick or immediate results, add express treatments to the menu and offer a selection of add-on services to maintain the luxury aspect of the spa. These are all great tips that are strongly based on something that may be easily overlooked—ingredients.

The ingredients used during a service can make or break a client’s overall experience. Although a beautiful and relaxing atmosphere paired with a skilled spa professional make the spa visit enjoyable, clients will ultimately remember how well a service lived up to the promises made on the menu. The spa culture was built on the use of natural ingredients from throughout the world. Now that more and more consumers are hopping on the natural and organic bandwagon, it’s a great time to implement less common natural and organic ingredients to make services stand out. See Marketing Natural and Organic Ingredients in Services.

Chemical components

Botanical and fruit extracts offer a number of skin benefits that appeal to the growing market of clients interested in anti-aging and sun care treatments, which often work hand in hand, as well as moisturizing and exfoliating treatments. By definition, an extract is a comprehensive collection of beneficial chemical components found in a plant or fruit. In essence, it is a highly concentrated version of the leaf, stem or seed of a particular plant or fruit. Often extracts can be standardized to further capitalize on the benefits of a specific chemical component. Standardized extracts are natural actives for cosmetic preparations that allow for increasingly results-driven products. When considering which extracts are best suited for your services, it is important to understand the role various chemical components play in skin care.

Vitamin A. Also known as retinol, retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate and retinoic acid, is a tried and true anti-aging ingredient. Research has shown that when applied topically, vitamin A can improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.1 As the skin ages, collagen production decreases, leading to thinner, less taut skin. Vitamin A has been shown to increase the production of procollagen, the precursor to collagen production, and glycosaminoglycan, which is known to retain significant amounts of water.1 Thus, vitamin A aids in the maintenance of skin structure and moisturization to reduce the signs of aging.

Vitamins C and E. Vitamins C and E are powerful antioxidants that can combat free radicals caused by sun exposure. Free radicals act as scavengers looking to find suitable mates. As a result, they attack structural components of the skin, such as collagen and elastin, which can lead to aging in the form of fine lines and wrinkles. Although vitamin A helps restore the skin post-aging, vitamins C and E are more preventive ingredients.

Flavonoids. Flavonoids are chemical components responsible for giving fruits, vegetables and plants their color. They are also known to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. Although most cosmetic ingredients merely treat the outermost layer of the skin, studies have shown that some flavonoids exhibit activity in both the epidermal and dermal layers of the skin.2 Such flavonoids are excellent chemical components for anti-aging and after-sun products, providing both short-term and long-term results. This is especially useful in tackling the damage caused by UVA rays, which affect deeper layers of the skin, resulting in damage that isn’t immediately apparent.

Amino acids. Amino acids also play an important role in maintaining healthy, youthful skin. They are the building blocks of protein and because human skin is made of fibrous protein, amino acids are essential. The body can produce the majority of the amino acids it needs; however, essential amino acids cannot be produced by the body and therefore must be introduced via ingestion or applied topically. Because proper skin function and development is reliant on amino acids, they play an important role in the delivery and function of other skin care ingredients.

Botanical and fruit extracts

The secret to providing quality, results-driven services is to use products that contain a good combination of the aforementioned components. Because botanical and fruit extracts contain a multitude of vitamins, amino acids and flavonoids that feed the skin, they can easily ramp up the effectiveness of a product or service without the addition of too many ingredients. Several examples of extracts that are rich in these components include the following.

Calendula extract. This extract has properties that make it an excellent ingredient in cleansers for all skin types, especially dry, sensitive and sunburned skin. The cleansing properties of calendula extract are attributed to saponin, a natural surfactant that foams and lathers when agitated in water. Calendula extract also contains mucilage, a polysaccharide that has humectant and soothing properties making it a moisturizing and anti-inflammatory ingredient. This ingredient also contains flavonoids, thus exhibiting antioxidant properties.

Ginkgo biloba extract. This extract can be a useful ingredient in any number of spa products, especially leave-on products, such as facial moisturizers and massage oil. It has been studied as an anti-inflammatory, anti-aging and sun care ingredient. In fact, the main flavonoids proven to be effective in treating mature and sun-damaged skin are found in ginkgo biloba extract. Because flavonoids have the ability to penetrate the epidermal skin layer, they have some effect on the dermal layer as well. This property alone makes ginkgo biloba extract a noteworthy ingredient for products being retailed to clients following their service.

Watermelon extract. Rich in vitamin C and amino acids, watermelon extract is a powerful antioxidant and skin-conditioning ingredient. Because of its antioxidant activity, watermelon extract is an effective ingredient for fighting free radicals released by sun exposure. The vitamin C content of this fruit extract also works well to gently exfoliate the skin without the use of physical exfoliants. True to form, this ingredient helps promote skin-cell regeneration, revealing a healthy, glowing skin tone. Watermelon extract lends itself well to both leave-on and rinse-off products, including masks, cleansers and moisturizers for the face and body.

These few extracts are just the tip of the iceberg. There is a wide array of botanical and fruit extracts available for use in spa services and products, and the selection is growing steadily. As consumers continue to demand natural and organic products, researchers are honing in on the power of a multitude of plant life for their skin benefits. Fortunately, there is an option to incorporate these and other botanical and fruit extracts to suit every spa budget. An in-house product line—otherwise known as a private label line—for use during services and in retail offerings is an ideal way to maximize the benefits of extracts for your clients. The products used during spa services should utilize extracts that will have an immediate effect on the appearance of clients’ skin. Additionally, products for retail should contain extracts that enable the client to maintain their spa-treated skin at home.

Unique and unmatched

Every client that walks through the door of a spa is expecting to leave with noticeably better skin. In order to gain a client’s trust and loyalty, each service must deliver those positive results in a way that is unmatched by competing businesses. Using extracts to create unique ingredient combinations will make the services you provide stand out from the crowd, while improving results and increasing revenue. Pair that with an explanation of why and how the ingredients used treat the skin, and you’re sure to see repeat business.


1. K Reza, et al, Improvement of Naturally Aged Skin With Vitamin A (Retinol), Arch Dermatol 143 606–612 (2007)

2. SE dal Beloa, et al, Epigallocatechin-3-Gallate and Quercetin from Green Tea and Ginkgo biloba Extracts Vehiculated in Cosmetic Formulations, Skin Pharmacology and Physiology 22 6 (2009)

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