How to support your spa clients in the age of synthetic beauty

If you follow fashion industry trends, you may have heard of two new models that have huge followings on social media and pose for beauty and luxury clothing brands alike: Shudu and Lil Miquela. These models are different because they are not actually made of skin and bones — they are completely digital.

Virtual models are "just the beginning of the avatar revolution," according to Cameron-James Wilson, a 29-year-old photographer based in London and the creator of Shudu.

Shudu is considered to be the first digital supermodel, and boasts incredibly lifelike facial and body features and an Instagram following of over 130,000 people.

Obviously, avatars have their limitations: they cannot walk down a runway wearing designer clothes. However, they can be a digital spokesperson to assist you with your next shopping spree or the face of your customer service experience, according to Wilson.

He says that we will be seeing more and more of this because brands want to have their own unique types of models that are exclusive to them and unavailable to others. Furthermore, the British company Irmaz Models creates digital models as an alternative to human models, and boasts that they "never argue, need to eat, throw tantrums or get tired."

So not only is the average consumer faced with photoshopped images of real people, now they will be staring at images of synthetic people. As we know, digitally altered photographs are already under incredible scrutiny for creating unrealistic beauty standards, but now we have synthetic beauty standards to live up to as well.

We will no longer be comparing ourselves to other human beings, in print and digital advertising — we will be comparing ourselves to inhuman, digitally created, beauty avatars.

To add insult to injury, our clients not only view the inhuman, digitally created beauty of avatars, they are also peering at synthetic versions of their own beauty when they use filters on their photos and selfies. A new trend in mental illness has recently been cropping up, and it is called "snapchat dysmorphia."

Julia Guerra reported this month in Elite Daily that consumers are looking into plastic surgery and other medical esthetic alterations so that they can look more like their filtered images on apps like Snapchat. Because our clients are able to alter their own appearances with the help of filters and photo editing apps, they are looking to do the same in their doctor's office.

Applications make it easy to erase wrinkles and blemishes, whiten teeth, widen eyes, plump up the lips and contour the nose. So, clients are going into their favorite spa or medical spa and expecting to accomplish the same things in the blink of an eye. In essence, clients want to look like filtered versions of themselves.

These advances in technology and the pervasiveness of altered and synthetic beauty images begs the question: how can we, as estheticians, medical and spa practitioners guide our clients through it?

The consensus seems to be, among leading dermatologists and plastic surgeons, that we need to explain to our patients and clients that perfection is not possible.

Dr. Melissa Doft, a New York city plastic surgeon, sums it up perfectly when she says that there is no such thing as an absolutely "flawless" look especially in terms of plastic surgery because there is always the risk of scars and complications. She adds, doctors should be cognizant of patients' motives for surgery and if she feels that a patient is getting the surgery "for the wrong reasons," then more consultations will be necessary.

In essence, the process that will ensure the best outcomes for our clients is a thorough and collaborative consultation. We should be investigating our clients' motives for the procedures that they are most interested in. We should also be able to explain how these procedures and surgeries are performed and their probable outcomes and possible side effects.

After all, unless we are genuinely and ethically managing our clients' expectations, we are not doing our jobs thoroughly.

In many cases, we can make positive changes in our clients' skin texture with a series of chemical peels in conjunction with a professional homecare regimen. We can also reshape and contour some facial and body features in qualified plastic surgeon offices.

Not to mention, that artfully applied skin care and cosmetics can also do wonders in terms of perfecting a client’s look and diminishing flaws. However, all of these services take time, patience and professional training.

If we feel that our clients want their flaws to be fixed in the same time that they can swipe a filter onto a photo, then we know that they probably have unrealistic expectations about their care and outcomes. We need to make sure that our clients have a firm handle on realistic images of beauty versus synthetic ones.

Unfortunately, we are heading into an era where synthetic images are becoming the norm. So it is our job to bring the conversation back to a grounded, realistic and practical place.

At the end of the day, we are working on real human beings: flesh, bone, and a soul. We cannot expect to create outcomes based on beauty standards created by manufactured images comprised of altered photos, pixels and digital engineering.

Summer Skin Care Wisdom For Your Spa Clients

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The summer months can bring different challenges for our clients' skin: heat, humidity, sweating, clogging, inflammation and UV exposure.  So be sure to guide them through the hotter part of the year with confident and easy-to-follow recommendations for healthy skin.  Read my expert advice below to keep your clients' skin glowing and healthy all summer long.

Sun-safe exfoliation is key. 

Summer isn't a time to stop exfoliation altogether but it may be wise to modify it a bit.  Some clients benefit by taking a break from strong retinoids and high concentrations of alpha hydroxy acids in favor of enzymes and larger molecular acids like lactic and malic acids.  While several clients are great about applying physical SPF, wearing hats and staying in the shade, others are not so compliant.  Be sure to assess your clients' level of sun safety before recommending a summer skincare regimen.  We all have clients who we can trust with strong retinoids year round while others need to take a break from these aggressive ingredients because they will be "living at the beach," or "on the boat" the entire summer. 

On the other hand, there are some clients who feel compelled to over-exfoliate their skin during the summer  because they feel clogged and oily because of humidity, sweating and makeup.  Look for the signs of overly exfoliated and processed skin and be certain to offer gentle alternatives.  If your client feels the need to clean their skin with gritty, jagged scrubs multiple times per week then suggest a foaming cleanser, clarifying toner, or Clarisonic brush to achieve clean skin.  These options can be used safely on a daily basis and will prevent damage from excessive scrubbing.

Make hydration a priority. 

Advising clients to keep their skin and body hydrated during the summer is very important.  Recommend regular topical hydration with products containing aloe, hyaluronic acid, ceramides, sodium PCA, and other humectants.  These ingredients will capture and bind water molecules to the skin which will be especially important for clients concerned with dehydration.  Dehydration can be caused by dry heat, excessive sweating and even frequent air conditioning exposure.  Oftentimes, serums, lotions and gels will be your best bet in terms of a hydrating formulation and water will usually be the first ingredient on the list. 

Advising clients to drink enough water during the summer is crucial too.  As we know, healthy skin starts from the inside and adequate water intake as well as eating fruits and vegetables are a sure way to keep the skin fortified from the inside out.  I encourage my clients to make water intake pleasurable by infusing filtered water at home with fruits like lemon and strawberries and herbs like mint and basil.  Frozen fruit can also be used as colorful ice cubes to cool and subtly flavor water.  It's important to do whatever it takes to get water in your system throughout the day and especially in the hot, summer months.  And don't forget to mention that they may want to watch their caffeine intake, as well, as that can leech water from their system.

Protect the skin without clogging it. 

Obviously, one of the main skin care goals of summer is to make sure that our clients have quality SPF for their face and body that they are willing to use every day.  It should go without saying that clients want to feel protected but not overly coated or clogged during the summertime.  Reach for formulations with micronized zinc oxide or titanium dioxide that are powerful yet lightweight and sheer.  Powder SPF formulations are more accessible now and offer a lot of convenience.  Formulas should be noncomedogenic and compatible with your clients skin conditions. 

Many clients also benefit from UPF clothing if they will be outside and under the sun for several hours per day.  UPF clothing, from reputable companies, can cover large areas of the body and help clients avoid a build-up of SPF creams on their skin.  Other food for thought is asking clients about the frequency with which they change their pillowcases and how often they launder their hats and clean their sunglasses.  All of these items come in close contact with the skin and can do more harm than good when they are contaminated with oil, dead skin cells, bacteria and sweat.  I often see what I call "sunglass acne" in the sunny months of summer.  I notice that clients breakout right where the rim of their sunglasses touch their skin.  Sweat, makeup, oil and bacterial can build up there and clog and infect the skin.  Sharing your best tips can save clients a lot of aggravation this time of year so definitely ask about their lifestyle and think outside the box.

Cleanse with conviction. 

Proper skin cleansing can make or break your clients summer skincare success.  It's important to tell them that cleansers that were appropriate in the cooler months may not be adequate during the hot summer.  Most clients benefit from more heavily foaming cleanser formulations containing  a hefty amount of surfactants.  And if your clients wear makeup certainly recommend a double cleansing process at night.  For most, with skin that is suffocated by humidity, oil, makeup and layers of SPF, one cleanse is simply not enough.  Advise clients that gentle, pH balancing toners with a witch hazel base are great for completing the cleansing process and making sure skin is squeaky clean.   Furthermore, don't fail to offer great skin clarifying support products like clay masks, spot treatment products for breakouts with salicylic acid, cooling facials mists, and gentle at home chemical exfoliation treatments to keep skin clean and hydrated in between their spa visits - I always recommend peel pads.

 Clients should always have a toolbox of products for use at home that can effectively remedy several skin care concerns.  Anticipate your clients summer skin care woes and share your wisdom with them at every spa visit.

 

5 tips for client retention during the summer months at your spa

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If you've been in the spa industry for a while, you may have noticed that your schedule can get a bit quiet during the summer months. Clients take long vacations and are busy entertaining their children who are off from school.

One of the biggest obstacles, however, is that clients may also get sun exposure, which can prevent them from getting some treatments altogether. All in all, the summer can be a tricky time for keeping your books as filled as other parts of the year.

If you are having trouble keeping your clients coming into your spa for treatments during the summer months then read my expert tips below.

Communicate your policies about mixing sun exposure with certain procedures.

Your clients should be clear on which procedures are affected by suntans or sunburns at your spa. Obviously, as skin care professionals, we are proponents of daily SPF usage and avoiding the harmful UV rays of the sun on the whole, but clients are not always on the same page.

Don't let clients find out the day of their appointment that they will have to reschedule because they've had sun exposure: make your safety standards clear and conspicuous. Offer an FAQ page on your website that discusses how sun exposure will affect the outcomes of certain laser and skin care treatments.

When booking appointments, screen clients over the phone and be sure to ask them if they have had recent sun exposure before finalizing their appointments. Furthermore, client intake paperwork should explicitly express guidelines and timelines for clients who have been exposed to the sun and come in tan or burned.

Explain why sun safety is so important.

When clients know and understand the reasoning and rationale behind your rules, they will more likely be sympathetic to them.

As we know, sun exposure on the skin creates heat and erythema, for starters. This state does not mix well with services like laser resurfacing, chemical peels, microneedling and waxing. Possible negative outcomes include blistering, scabbing, skin lifting, scarring and hyperpigmentation.

We need to let our clients know that we are trying to promote and preserve the integrity of their skin and their health overall. Moreover, clients who are looking for brightening procedures like intense pulsed light (IPL) or topical skin care products containing alpha hydroxy acids, retinoids or tyrosinase inhibitors run the risk of injuring their skin or scarring it permanently if they mix them with a suntan or burn.

In many cases, if a client is not compliant with UV protection during the summer months, it's best to have them delay certain treatments until the fall or winter. Your staff should be able to clearly communicate these sun safety objectives and policies in person and over the phone.

Not to mention, members of your staff should not be tan or sunburned at the spa: it will definitely send mixed signals to clients!

Offer products that support your sun-safety cause.

Practice what you preach and offer an array of sunscreen formulations on your shelves that contain zinc and titanium. As long as clients can find an SPF that they feel comfortable with, they will be more apt to use it every day.

For those clients that want a bronze glow this summer, consider offering spray tanning services if you don't already. If that's not an option, then offer spa-quality self-tanners and cosmetic bronzers.

You can even spruce up your summer retail displays with SPF clothing options with your spa logo, hats and other sun protection accessories like lip balms and mineral face powders. Also, be sure to feature retail product choices that are beneficial to summer skin: hydrating serums, spray toners and mists and refreshing gel masks will all please your clients' skin during the hot and sunny months.

Show your clients that you and your spa are there to give them year round skin care support so that they can have amazing outcomes any season of the year.

Entice clients with summer specials.

Keep your spa traffic booming this summer with new and revitalizing treatments to beat the heat. Rejuvenating and cooling facials with gentle enzymes, jade stones and seaweed masks will certainly quench and fortify the skin.

Body treatments are also in demand during the summer, so promote your cellulite and back treatments during the warm months. Foot soaks and detox body wraps are also a big hit.

If your spa has more clinical procedures on offer, then reward faithful laser hair removal clients with seasonal summer discounts and great deals on injectables. Invite clients to try a hydrating facial in lieu of an intense chemical peel.

Be sure to email your clients monthly or weekly with your promotions, events and openings so that they will call in to inquire and book with you.

Enforce your cancellation policy.

Summer is also the time to make sure that your client scheduling and confirmation procedures are running smoothly. Because it is common to get "no shows" on those beautiful, sunny beach days, be sure to confirm all appointments and stick to your cancellation policies.

If your spa has a policy of charging clients who cancel with less than 24 hours’ notice, then certainly follow through. It is not fair to spa staff to be left with an empty schedule because clients decide that they'd rather go to the pool then come for their facial.

Clients should know that your estheticians, massage therapists and other technicians' time is valuable and if they are not going to commit to the time that they have reserved then other clients should be given the opportunity to come in instead.

Summer doesn't have to be a slow season at your spa or medical spa! Show your clients that you are their source for sun safety and summer specific treatments to enhance and protect their skin. Follow these expert tips and enjoy a busy and lucrative sunny season.

What Spa Clients Are Thinking But Not Always Willing to Say

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Have you ever gotten the feeling that your client had a "just OK" experience instead of a "wow" experience at your spa? Was there something on their mind that they left without saying? Was an interaction between esthetician and client quite awkward or abrupt?

Read my expert insights today to find out what your clients may be leaving without saying so you can make it right.

They weren't sure if they were supposed to tip

For clients in spas and medical spas especially, it's often not clear if they should tip. Some spas make it obvious that tipping is allowed by providing information on their website or little signs that show a suggested tip amount. While others make it clear that their policy is to automatically include a gratuity in the final price of all of their treatments.

If your spa doesn't spell it out quite so well, then be sure to leave hints like a tip line on the credit card slip or small envelopes in the treatment rooms. If your spa leaves it up to the clients' discretion without offering any clues, don't be surprised if they ask about tipping upon checking out for their services.

In lieu of an awkward pause or rude exchange, your best bet is to politely reply: "Tips are never expected but they are always appreciated." This seems to do the trick, every time.

They buy your skin care products elsewhere

If you often have clients who neglect to buy their skin care products off your retail shelves, then you should stop to wonder if they are getting them elsewhere. It's not that they aren't fond of your offering of serums, setting sprays and SPFs, it's just that they have a lot of options these days and will exercise those choices.

Clients are looking to get the most bang for their buck, so to speak. So if they are able to find cheaper prices online or a store that offers a gift with purchase or promotion, then they will choose that option.

In today's online shopping world, free shipping has become the norm, so be sure you offer that as well. Don't let valuable clients walk out the door without their verified, authentic, professional products in hand. As we know, buying skin care products directly from your spa is a safer and more ethical option for your clients.

They wish they could schedule their appointments online

In a world where most everything centers around convenience, we can't blame clients for wanting to be able to make spa appointments quickly and easily online. Clients know they can order a taxi cab with an app or reserve a table in a restaurant with the click of a button, so why not be able to book their facial or massage in a similar manner?

While online booking may not be appropriate for every service your spa offers (i.e. injectables, laser procedures or intense chemical peels) it may be OK for your massages, basic facials and waxing procedures. Offering online booking will make clients feel happy and hassle-free while freeing up your front-desk staff from busy phone lines.

Some members of your staff leave them feeling cold

It's never easy to admit that someone just rubs you the wrong way, but it can happen whether we speak up about it or not. There may be a member of your staff who regularly turns your clients off with their poor attitude or lackluster demeanor.

Make sure to hire people who are agreeable and quick to smile. If not, clients will feel that bad energy but may be unwilling to report it to management. Sadly, even when clients receive exemplary services like facials, massages and waxing treatments, they may not return if the front desk staff leaves them feeling uninspired, unwelcome or *gasp* like a nuisance.

On the other hand, your spa reception staff could be amazingly warm and welcoming, but perhaps one of your estheticians or technicians leaves much to be desired in terms of customer care. Be aware that clients can pick up on these negative vibes.

When clients feel like they receive anything less than the royal treatment, they are unlikely to rebook appointments and return to your spa. What's worse, they may be letting their friends and family know about their chilly reception as well.

They don't appreciate the hard sell

They may not let you know that they are annoyed, but clients can sense when you are pushing them a bit too hard. Oftentimes, when clients are feeling pressured to buy expensive product regimens or commit to lengthy packages of services, they will shut down and leave instead of making a smaller purchase.

When you start to notice many clients saying things like, "not this time," "I'll have to ask my spouse," and "I am all set for today," be sure to monitor your sales dialogues and techniques. Nowadays, clients are savvy about pricing, package options and alternatives before they even step foot into your spa or medspa, so they will be unappreciative of a hard sell.

Let your incredible services and customer engagement skills do all of the selling for you, and they will be happy to invest in services at your spa.

They aren't totally satisfied with your spa menu

Most clients and consumers are acutely aware of what the latest and greatest beauty and spa treatments are, thanks to the internet. They are curious. They are privy to what most celebrities and influencers are doing to improve and preserve their looks.

If your spa menu lacks some of the newest innovations and trends, then you may have disappointed clients on your hands. Clients will show they are unhappy with your spa offerings by continually (and unenthusiastically) asking, "Are you guys doing anything new?" If you are getting constant inquiries about newness at your spa and you aren't delivering, then be sure to evaluate your spa menu.

I am not an advocate of following the every whim of your clients and doing all kinds of extreme and unproven treatments. But be sure to stay on top of the latest trends and equipment so you can answer your clients' questions about them and/or offer some of them little by little. As we all know, the beauty industry is constantly improving and evolving, so we must be doing the same, as business owners and managers.

If you own or manage a spa, salon or medical spa, be sure to read between the lines when it comes to making your clients happy. Clients don't always come right out and say what's on their mind. It's your job to make your spa policies crystal clear and train your staff to execute them properly.

Pay attention to the interactions your staff have with clients because it can give you important clues about what kind of customer care is being given at your spa. Before you lose valuable clients, take some time to evaluate how you could meet their needs better, day after day. Anticipating your clients' needs is just one of the ways we can create happy and loyal experiences for years to come.

How fake beauty experts are changing the skin care industry

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If you own a skin care business like a spa, medical spa or salon, then you know skin care product retail sales are an important and lucrative revenue stream. So how would you feel if you found out that people who are not trained in skin health are selling millions of dollars of skin care products to your clients behind your back?

How, you ask? The beauty industry is rife with fake beauty "experts" who are thriving because of the popularity of the industry and the pervasiveness of online sales and social media. If you feel like you are losing skin care sales at your spa, then read my expert advice and take control of your retail revenue.

Why beauty matters

Striving for beautiful skin, hair, nails, teeth and physique is not a new endeavor. To some degree or another, we all want to look beautiful and appealing to others. We want to feel good about how we look because we know it can affect how people perceive us before we can make an impression with our personalities. In fact, Dr. Dale Archer notes that "beauty is an asset, just like physical prowess, charisma, brains, or emotional intelligence."

It's no wonder that we spend so much time and money investing in skincare, hair care and gym memberships. Maybe we know, subconsciously, that the better we look the better we will be treated by others.

Archer makes the case that a beautiful woman can "get away with things that ordinary people can't." For example, he claims that a beautiful woman is more likely to be able to talk her way out of a parking ticket or get a last-minute table at the hottest restaurant in town without a reservation. If this is so, then it behooves us to make ourselves as beautiful as possible because maybe our lives will be easier or more exciting.

We look to popular people for beauty advice

Popularity, these days, equates to web presence and followers. Haven't you noticed that practically every day there are dozens of news items and posts about which celebrity swears by this moisturizer or that facial? Can you keep track of the hundreds of celebrity-endorsed skin care lines and beauty brands? Do you see videos in your social media feeds with the "newest" crazy eyebrow grooming trend or specialty facial mask?

Beauty advice is in your face every day — everywhere you look. The problem for the consumers (aka your clients) is that they are being fooled into thinking that just because it's popular, trending or relevant (for the moment) that it's sound advice.

In fact, Kirstie Clements of The New Daily writes that "self-appointed experts and influencers are duping a generation." She thinks these influencers are benefiting financially off an ignorant consumer. "Influencers don't necessarily have skills or a portfolio of their work" but since they have followers, consumers believe they should be a trusted source of information.

Everyone wants a piece of the beauty pie

The beauty industry is worth billions. In 2017 alone, 40 prominent beauty-brand startups were founded that made over $445 billion in sales. It's big business.

NYX Cosmetics was reportedly bought by L'Oreal for $500 million, Becca Cosmetics was acquired by Estee Lauder for $200 million, and IT Cosmetics was purchased by L'Oreal for a whopping $1.2 billion (yes, billion with a "b"). There's no denying that there is money to be made in the beauty business, and even small, grassroots brands have the potential to be hugely successful.

Making matters worse, because there is so much financial opportunity and incentive in the industry, beauty brands are exploiting our inherent need to be beautiful. Alex P., a writer for Thriveglobal.com writes that the beauty industry "capitalizes on making women feel imperfect and then sells them products to fix a problem that they don't have."

In other words, we are being fooled by not only major companies but also "influencers, bloggers and fake gurus" who have something to sell us. She goes on further to say that these internet influencers regularly receive free products from companies in return for "exposure" on their blog or social media accounts.

Fake beauty experts' claims don't have to be backed by science

As it is, the beauty industry is extremely under-regulated. Unless a skin care product contains an ingredient that is considered a drug like a sunscreen, steroid or hydroxy acid, it is barely regulated at all by the FDA. Most beauty and skin care products are considered "cosmetics" and are given a green light for entry into the market almost 100 percent of the time.

Therefore, fake beauty experts have it quite easy in terms of making claims that do not have to be backed by any type of science. Furthermore, sometimes the claims that fake beauty experts make can be harmful!

Timothy Caulfield of The Atlantic in his article "The Pseudoscience of Beauty Products," says that there are "dubious" claims being made by beauty companies that go "unquestioned and untested." Because there is "little literature produced by independent researchers ... and government research entities like the U.S. National Institute of Health or the Canadian Institute of Health have little interest in funding big double-blind placebo-controlled studies of efficacy."

Therefore, the celebrity-touted bird poop facial, snail slime serums and bee-sting beauty treatments become a "thing" and derail your clients from scientifically sound and safe skin care options.

Your co-worker, next-door neighbor and best friend are fake beauty experts

With the rise of the multilevel marketing (MLM) beauty companies, now everyone can try to be a beauty expert. Companies like Avon, Rodan and Fields and Beauty Counter — just to name a few — are extremely popular and successful.

To the consumer's dismay, everyone is selling them beauty products. It's not just the TV ads, billboards and spritzer girls at the mall anymore — it's their friends, family members and colleagues. MLM companies are home-based businesses and do not require their sales personnel to have formal training in skin care.

As Christine Burke at Moneyish reports, the goal of MLM's is for the participant to "earn a little extra money and score some discounted products" while the company itself makes most of the profits. However, many licensed skin care professionals will say they have a problem with salespeople who try to diagnose skin conditions and treat serious things like acne and rosacea with no training in skin care whatsoever — and you should, too!

Many of our clients are being persuaded by salespeople who work for MLMs to invest in and use thousands of dollars worth of products per year under the guise of whatever rehearsed sales speeches they are memorizing from the companies. It's time to be aware of the thousands of dollars in skin care sales that your skin care business may be losing to MLM companies and empower your professional staff to educate your clients for the better.

How can you beat the fake experts and reclaim your retail sales?

It's time to beat the beauty bloggers and YouTube stars at their own game! Is your spa creating compelling video content for your clients? Do you have a mobile-friendly website with an intriguing blog and photos? Do you empower your estheticians, nurses and MDs to talk about skin care with clients in a free and compelling consultative setting?

Does your spa have a social media presence that is congruent with its brand vision? Do you offer online retail sales for your existing clients and patients? Are your estheticians adequately trained on the protocols and product ingredients that your spa offers? Are you empowering your staff to sell retail confidently by practicing dialogues and setting goals and incentives? Are you aware, as a business owner in the spa industry that you should be leading the way in product sales and not lagging behind?

Just remember that your staff have the privilege of seeing, touching and performing services on your clients and are the most informed in terms of making skin care product suggestions. Ask yourself these important questions and take back your retail sales from the fake beauty experts now.

It's your time to prosper as the true beauty experts that you are!

Four Self-Care Rituals to Add to Your Wellness Routine in 2018

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Many of us want to take better care of ourselves to start the new year. Are you hoping to add some self-care rituals to your wellness routine in 2018? Here are my top four suggestions for having a glow from head to toe.

1. Skin radiance upgrades

If you are looking to maximize your anti-aging and beauty routine in 2018, consider adding some professional tools and treatments. Adding a sonic facial cleansing system to your night-time sudsing session will increase exfoliation and allow treatment products to penetrate deeply. Jade rollers are fantastic for cooling inflammation, increasing circulation and lifting the skin.

If you're more apt to add on a clinical anti-aging device, consider an LED mask to treat acne lesions and protect collagen or a handheld microcurrent device for toning and lifting. If you are in need of an at-home facial exfoliation hack, look for a clinical-strength peel pad with glycolic or lactic acids for a fresh and dewey glow.

And nothing gives a hydrated glow like a skin-quenching sheet mask or a moisturizing mud mask. Just adding one of these skin boosting treatments one to three times a week can totally enhance your visage.

2. Smoothing and toning treatments

For many of us, the winter months are frigid, and we spend more time indoors cozied up on the couch. We also tend to get dry, chapped, dead-skin buildup. So if you are in need of increased blood flow and smooth skin, consider adding dry-brushing to your morning or nightly regimen.

A common dry-brushing technique includes using a wooden brush with stiff, natural bristles in upward, sweeping motions on the whole body working towards the heart. Benefits include increased circulation, exfoliating dead skin, smoothing skin texture and aiding in lymphatic draining. Dry brushing only takes a couple minutes and is great to do before a bath or shower.

If you prefer to exfoliate in the shower, using a sugar, coffee or salt scrub is extremely beneficial for winter skin. Scrubs help to increase circulation and slough-off dead skin. You can make your own scrubs at home or find a fabulous scrub at your pharmacy or favorite beauty shop or spa.

3. Spa bathing rituals

Bring the spa home by adding some fragrant, healing and invigorating practices right to your own bathroom. Start by hanging some eucalyptus branches in your shower. Grab your favorite set of cotton terry towels and a fluffy robe and ditch the phone for an afternoon.

Draw a warm bath with naturally detoxifying and soothing salts like sea salt, epsom salt or pink himalayan salt. Salt baths can help to soothe aches and pains, reduce bloat and remineralize the skin. Natural bath bombs and bubble baths are also great bath-time enrichments.

Choose sustainable and organic formulations whenever possible. Look for bath-time products that are made with real essential oils and are free of parabens and synthetic dyes and fragrances. Remember, the skin is not a barrier; it's a carrier.

Warm water and invigorating steam are natural ways to calm the body and lesson congestion in the sinuses and pores, so add some spa flair to your bath time right at home.

4. Spa ambiance in your home

Bring the OM to your home with these spa ambiance essentials. Allow some time to completely unplug from your device and focus on your breathing. Add calming sensory experiences that include aromas from essential oil products, soft lighting and blissful music. Burn your favorite soy candle or add essential oils to your diffuser.

Get into your favorite PJs or robe and flip flops and lounge on soft pillows. Infusing spring water with cucumber and mint or sipping on a mug of herbal tea will ease your tired spirit. Enjoy the soft, warm lighting of a Himalayan salt lamp. Be sure to kick your feet up and enjoy some time away from the hectic day-to-day routine and take a spa day at home.

You may not be able to get to the spa every week, but with these zen spa hacks you can have a spa day in your own living room.

With these wellness rituals on hand, you can decide which options you will be adding to your daily or weekly routine. Pick one or two and see how much better you feel.

2018 is a fresh start to focus on pampering and rejuvenating self-care. You owe it to yourself to add some self-loving, spa-inspired rituals for a smooth and beautiful glow all year long.

An Esthetician's Six Beauty Tips to Her Younger Self

In life, we say that hindsight is 20/20.  We all wish that we could go back in time and tell our younger selves what to do and what not to do so that we could be the best versions of ourselves today.  As a licensed esthetician and skin care expert, here are my top six beauty tips to my younger self (and you). 

 

1.  Do Not Over Tweeze Or Wax Off Your Eye Brows:  

What I wouldn't give to tell my thirteen-year-old self to "put the tweezers down!".  As we age, we notice that our brows do not grow-in quickly anymore or they've ceased growing altogether.  Bald spots, short brows without proper length and thinning hairs plague many a beauty guru.  Brow tint, pencils and tattoos are awesome but wouldn't it be nice if we had just let our brows live naturally and free from the start?  I would tell my younger self to clean up strays between the brows and rogue hairs on the lids, but keep everything else in its rightful place!  Nothing says youth and beauty like a full set of brows and If I could turn back the clock, those babies would remain mostly untouched.

 

2.  Wear Mineral SPF Daily and No Tanning:

Without a doubt, I would tell my younger self to wear SPF everyday and avoid suntans and burns.  Suntans seem so appealing when we are young: we look like glowing, bronzed beauties with flirty tan lines to boot.  However, most of those suntans from our youth add up to major, permanent damage later on in life.  UV exposure causes all of those hard-to-hide age spots and makes our skin wrinkle and sag.  As soon as our early thirties and forties, we will notice freckles that don't fade, vertical lines on the mid-face and deepening crows' feet around the eyes.  About 90% of this damage is caused by the sun exposure we maintained in our younger years!  So think twice before unprotected days catching rays.

 

3.  Start Getting Regular Monthly Facials ASAP:

Nothing prepares us for aging gracefully like regular, monthly, exfoliating facials, from our early twenties on.  Starting facials anytime is great, don't get me wrong.  But when it comes to regular facials: the earlier you start the better!  Making a commitment to a professional skin care regimen as soon as possible is the path to aging prevention instead of years of intense and costly correction.  Regular facials are maintenance not miracles, I always say.  So I would tell my younger self to make and keep my monthly facial appointment to ensure clean and tight pores, dewey skin and amazing muscle tone for decades to come.

 

4.  Don't Be Lazy: Always Wash Your Face Before Bed:

Being sure to wash makeup and environmental debris off every night is one of the best habits to begin in our youth.  I know it can be agonizing to think about splashing water on your face and sudsing up when you're tired and groggy, but regular evening face washing is key to clear and youthful skin.  Maybe we could avoid acne, enlarged and stretched out pores and premature aging if we had simply taken care to cleanse and treat our faces consistently every night.  I know that if I had to do it all over again, I would be sure to wash my face as soon as I returned home from school or work so it wouldn't get neglected later on in the evening.

 

5.  Start Using Eye Cream Now:

The eye area is delicate and ages faster than the rest of our face.  Furthermore, we make a lot of facial expressions that involve and crease the eye area (for example, smiling and squinting).  Side sleepers and eye-rubbers are also prone to aging the eye area more rapidly.  Because of this, it is never too early to start using an eye cream.  You don't want to wait until dark circles, puffiness and fine lines start plaguing the area before adding eye cream into your skin care routine.  I would tell my younger self, to prevent premature eye aging before it starts, dab on a quality eye cream as soon as my late teens and early twenties.

 

6.  Begin Botox and Retinol Before the First Signs of Lines:

Many of us are surprised to hear that neuro-inhibitors like Botox and Xeomin are best used on younger patients.  Their role is to temporarily relax the muscles that move and crease the skin creating wrinkles.  For best results, it is wise to consider these treatments before or just after scowl lines between the eye brows or the horizontal lines on the forehead appear.  Once the wrinkles become deep and set-in, Botox injections will only soften them slightly or prevent them from getting worse - but it will not erase them.  Always seek out a qualified injector who consults with you before the injections about your goals.  

 

Retinol aka tretinoin (prescription strength or equivalent) is another great product to begin in our twenties and thirties.  Retinol is a clinical strength version of topical vitamin A, and is responsible for healthy skin cell production rates, clearing acne and preventing collagen loss and wrinkles.  You can pick up retinol at a doctor's office and/or medical spa and it usually comes in a little tube in cream or gel form.  I consider retinol the fountain of youth and when I see patients who have used it for several years or decades, I can see they look eight to ten years younger than their peers!  

 

Don't wait if you are serious about your beauty and facial rejuvenation goals - it's best to start now!  Follow my six professional tips to freeze the hands of time and look younger everyday!

Four Simple Ways to Create Exceptional Service Experiences At Your Spa

When it comes to the spa industry (or any service industry, for that matter) customer service is paramount.  How you make your clients feel via memorable, five-star experiences is key to having a successful business.  Positive experiences that make lasting impressions even after clients leave your spa is what keeps clients coming back and referring their friends to you.

1.  Make sure your staff members act friendly and use a pleasant tone of voice: 

Whether on the phone or in-person, be sure that staff has a friendly attitude.  Only hire individuals that are naturally upbeat, friendly and positive, without exception.  Clients can pick up negative vibes in less than a few seconds so it's crucial to have staff members that smile often with a genuinely caring nature. Remember: a trip to the spa is usually not a necessity: it is a choice.  Clients choose to return to a spa that makes them feel welcomed, listened to and cared for.  

2.  Make your client feel like a star:

Always address your clients by their first name or preferred title.  Use their name as much as possible when addressing them.  There is no sweeter sound to anyone's ears than the sound of their own name…so use it often.  Remember your clients preferences and write them down.  Know any and all allergies, food preferences, music, lighting and locker room amenity choices.  Our clients leave their hectic lives behind to come to our spa and feel pampered.  Focus on giving your clients the celebrity treatment- because if you do not, someone else will.

3.  Create a relaxing sanctuary:

Clients go to a spa to be transported to a place free from stress, noise, obligations, and toxic vibes.  Make sure that your spa has a policy on children in the spa, cell phone usage and pets.  Be sure that phones and other electronic equipment/alerts are not too loud or jarring.  Make sure that treatment rooms are organized so that quiet areas are maintained (e.g. don't put a hair salon with dryers roaring next to a massage room).  Proper lighting and music are key ambient elements to maintain.  Aromatherapy, modern furnishings, cleanliness and fresh flowers make your space top notch.

4.  Always follow through with your promises:

Whether you've promised to call a client back about a promotion, create an appointment, or set them up with a referral: always follow through.  Clients feel valued and exceptionally cared for when you do what you say you are going to do.  It may seem simple or obvious, but in today's age of robot-calls, 36 minute wait times on hold and dropped calls, great customer service is the most refreshing and surprising thing ever!  Keep your clients singing your praises by paying close attention to their needs and requests and actually following through on them.  

Follow these four service standards and see how your clientele grows and flourishes year after year!