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!