Five Tricks for Successfully Bringing New Menu Offerings Into Your Spa

Creating a new spa menu (or adding to an existing one) is a task that requires a solid strategy.  Here are my insider tips for bringing new menu offerings into your spa or medical spa.  

1.  Survey Your Clients

Instead of guessing and hoping that you will bring in a new machine or service that your clients will love - be sure that you will, by asking them first!  It seems almost too easy, but if you have questions then get answers you need right from the horse's mouth.  It's as simple as offering a 10% discount on their next product purchase or service in exchange for participating in a five to eight question survey.  A small incentive for your clients to throw in their two cents is worth it for you as a spa owner! Knowing exactly what your clients desire and delivering it will create long-lasting, loyal relationships.

2.  Inquire with Your Staff

Estheticians, massage therapists and most other practitioners will tell you that as soon as the treatment room door closes, clients tend to spill the beans about just about anything on their mind.  Don't be shy about asking your staff what clients are asking for in the privacy of the treatment room - all of the answers you seek may just be under your nose.  Staff members may not always feel comfortable or confident speaking-up at staff meetings or approaching management with their ideas and leads, so go to them and see what kind of feedback they have been getting from clients - you may be surprised!

On the other side of that coin, members of your staff may posses talents, skills and certifications that may be unknown and underutilized at your spa.  Don't be so quick to interview and hire new employees when you want to expand your spa offerings and treatment menu - look from within!  Many staff members stay quiet about the trainings and certifications that they obtain outside of your spa.  You may have an employee already certified in the newest peel technique or facial tool - so be sure to ask them what they are into and what is exciting to them in the industry now. 

3.  See who is offering compelling services around you - but don't be a copycat.  

As a spa owner, if you are hearing more and more about the interesting services that your competition is providing and want to do more yourself, then go for it - but put your own spin on it.  Bringing in the newest lasers or injectable treatments is key to keeping your clients happy.  The trick, however, is to figure out how to integrate new offerings into your treatment menu in a way that stays true to your brand.  Perhaps intertwine a clinical modality like LED, radio frequency or microcurrent with a classic european facial.  Or add holistic therapies like lymphatic drainage or aromatherapy into a clinical protocol.  Keep your clients guessing about how you will be innovating in the field - don't just copy what others are doing.

4.  Work with your Existing Vendors

If you already have solid, established relationships with your current product and equipment vendors then ask them about what's new in the industry.  Their companies may have something new coming to the market soon that you could get an exclusive on.  Vendors can also let you in on what spas in other regions or countries are doing, to give you a fresh, new perspective on the industry.  Furthermore, current reps and vendors may be willing to offer a discount to you because you have a rapport.  As always, be sure to ask your vendors for promotional materials, press and media coverage and to come support an event or launch party at your spa.  Product and equipment companies have budgets designed to support their accounts and can be one of your greatest resources when expanding your spa menu.

5.  Partner with Other Businesses

So you want to offer something new at your spa and be certain it will be a success?  I suggest partnering with another business like a bridal boutique, gym or yoga studio to offer something that their clients need or want.  By partnering with a non-spa business, you are practically guaranteed to get daily referrals (or even in-house advertising and promotion) at their facility.  A bridal boutique may want a trusted partner to refer makeup, skincare and lash clients to.  A gym will send clients to you who may want help with cellulite, spray tans or massage.  The possibilities are really endless!  Think outside the box and see - not only what your clients would like to see on your menu - but what neighboring businesses' clients would like as well.

 

The inspiration for your spa menu is closer than you think. Expanding your spa menu offerings is easy, if you look to your own clients, staff and current business relationships for insight and support.  

Expert Red Flags: How Spas Lose Valuable Clients and Talented Staff

Owning a spa business is an exciting and wonderful career opportunity.  Clients are always coming to you to feel relaxed, beautiful and pampered and staff enjoy being on the cutting edge of the beauty industry.  Goodness knows, there is no perfect business model, but looking out for these red flags will guide you in the right direction.

 

1.  Long-term Discounted Promotions

The great thing about Groupon, Living Social and other discount, online promotional platforms is that they give great exposure to your spa business and offerings.  However, in exchange for promotion and targeted, local advertising, spa owners receive only half of half of what they would normally collect for their services.  The trick to using Groupon is to convert those heavily discounted client services as fast as possible to full-priced client services and build from there.  If you cannot convert those clients then you may run the risk of your clients only seeing you as a discounted establishment and never wanting to pay full price.  On the other hand, employees that are putting in the work to provide a quality service do not want to consistently take lower commissions and feel that they can only service clients looking for a discount - it can be very frustrating for them!  Coach and inspire your staff to see the full value of their skills and the services that they are offering so that clients will be busting down the door for an appointment.

 

2.  No Professional Written Protocols 

Professionally designed and implemented facial protocols are the foundation of a great spa.  Protocols are the recipes that create beautifully executed treatments much like a chef prepares a signature dish in a restaurant.  Protocols ensure that a spa owner can track metrics like how much backbar product is required for each treatment and how much inventory is needed on a monthly basis.  These protocols should be given to every employee to be memorized, practiced and tested before servicing clients.  Protocols ensure consistency and proper execution of your treatments.  Spas run into trouble when estheticians and technicians are allowed too much wiggle room when it comes to the timing, products used and techniques of the service.  Clients get upset when services vary depending on which esthetician they see for their service, so protocols must be designed and carried out congruently each time.  

 

3.  Lack of Effective Leadership

The most successful, high-end spas have this important attribute in common: a strong, professional and knowledgable spa manager.  In many cases, these leaders are estheticians or massage therapists themselves who have been promoted to a managerial role or they are a person who has studied spa management.  Just like having a fabulous chef in the kitchen and a cool and calm maitre d in the front of a restaurant, a spa manager embodies these two roles in the spa.  Spa managers should be able to thoroughly explain every service on the menu as if they perform it themselves as well as manage the financial, PR and HR duties of the spa.  Spa management is a big job and must not be confused with being the spa owner's personal assistant.  Spa staff look to their spa managers to set the tone and pace of the work day.  Spa managers should be a kind and compassionate source of support and inspiration to the staff as well as a trusted liaison between staff and owner.  

 

4.  Sub-par Dress Code and Sanitation Standards

As we all know, first impressions are crucial and we only have one shot at them.  A clean, pressed uniform (or a spa jacket, at the very least) is highly recommended to ensure your staff looks clean and professional.  When a dress code is not enforced, clients can have a hard time identifying a staff member thus creating frustration when they are looking for assistance.  Name tags are also a great idea especially if they include the title that the employee holds printed beneath the name.  A clean, bright, and dust-free facility that adheres to all state and federal laws is a must.  The cleanliness of your bathrooms and waiting room is just as crucial to maintain as they are a reflection of the cleanliness of the entire facility.  To ensure that your spa has top-notch sanitation, make sure that all staff members are assigned specific duties and a professional cleaning service is employed to deeply clean several times per week, if not every night.

 

5.  Uninspired Staff

When a receptionist's voice drops when she or he answers the phone and/or staff members do not bother to look up and greet clients that walk through the door, chances are you have an uninspired spa staff on your hands.  This is a crucial mistake to fix because it is very obvious to clients (especially new ones) while it may not be apparent to spa owners.  As a consultant, I act as that fresh pair of eyes that comes into a spa and interacts with staff members to get a feel for their level of competence and enthusiasm.    When I feel there is a certain level of staff apathy and a generalized "negative energy" I know it is time to intervene.  Keep in mind, clients will go to a spa for a good service but they will return because of exceptional customer service.  Clients remember how you made them feel when they visited your business.  Clients want to come to a place where they are greeted with a smile, acknowledged as soon as they walk through the door and treated as if no request is too small or too large.  When staff members lack a positive presence, do not smile, and generally have an attitude of not wanting to be bothered, then the spa industry may not be right for them.  

 

6.  Technology that is Behind the Times

Without a doubt, the most successful spas in the industry have professionally designed websites, efficient appointment booking software, a bullet-fast payment acceptance system and a well organized multi-line phone service.  But these are just the basics, social media participation is now the standard for the spa industry.  Do you have an updated blog?  Can clients book their appointments online? Do you have a self-check in option for clients to maximize flow of service? Furthermore, clients need to see an updated Facebook page, beautifully displayed Instagram photos along with videos linked to a company Youtube page.  Prospective clients look for and expect all of these mediums, in this day in age, to give them confidence that you are on the cutting edge.  You could have the most beautiful spa in the world - offering wonderful services, but if clients can't get a feel for that when they google you, then chances are they will go elsewhere.

 

7.  High Staff Turn-Over Rates

The first people affected by high staff turn-over rates are the clients.  Nothing screams instability to clients like seeing new faces every time they come for a spa service.  Clients depend on staff to be there for them and to take care of their needs.  Long-term staff members have a way of developing a special rapport with clients; making them feel like family.  If your spa business is constantly hiring new staff for reasons beyond business expansion, then it is time to assess why that is happening.   Staff typically leave a spa because they do not feel valued.  Whether that value is derived from their pay or their feelings of being appreciated and developed properly, it is important to find out what is going on.  Additionally, when I encounter a management hierarchy that seems to rule based on fear rather than trust, encouragement and responsibility, staff starts to dwindle.  Be sure to have a competent and compassionate spa manager in place, an employee handbook with clear rules and regulations, plenty of team building and incentivizing programs and engage in active listening.  The best way to keep staff around for years and years is to invest in them as people and professionals.  Staff want to feel like they have a career opportunity at your business not just a job where they punch in and punch out.  

 

8.  Outdated Spa Decor and Menu Offerings

Chances are, if your spa decor looks like a time capsule opened from 1992, then your clients will believe that your technology and methods are outdated as well.  Remember, the spa industry is under the larger umbrella of the beauty industry.  Clients come to you to look beautiful and more youthful so be aware that your decor is a reflection on the quality of your service offerings.  Dusty silk plants are out - opt for fresh flowers and live plants.  Stained carpets are a huge turn-off and should be replaced with wood floor or tile.  Heavy, dusty, window dressings are out - modern shades and flowing fabrics are in. Furnishings like couches and chairs should be clean, inviting and plush.  There should be no clutter, dust or expired products out on display.  Create a luxurious, private and chic place for clients to enter and relax.  Bring in a feng shui expert to enhance the energy flow of your space.  Invest in an interior decorator to maximize the beauty of your business and create an impactful esthetic. In these times, less is more.  Modern, clean spa spaces are what clients want to see to feel comfortable and confident that they are getting the most up-to-date services available.  On the other hand, be sure to stay on top of the trends in the industry.  Clients are extremely savvy and want the treatments that the celebrities are receiving.  Obviously, stay aligned with your spa vision and brand mission, but be aware that the beauty industry is evolving on a daily basis and that if you are not keeping up with the trends (or don't even know about them) your competitor will.  

 

Be cognizant of these red flags in your spa business.  Small changes can have a huge impact and bring great success and prosperity to your spa business.

 

Non-touring: An Easy Guide to the No-Makeup Makeup Look

As a NY State Licensed esthetician, non-touring is a make-up-trend-dream come true.  Why you ask? As a skin care expert, I commonly dissuade clients from heavy, plastered-on make-up…because why cover beautiful skin?  

Nailing this ethereal, angelic and dewey look starts with serious skin care and skincare-centric cosmetics.  I recommend monthly professional facials with extensive facial massage or a micro-current treatment for muscle lift and definition.  Because non-touring does not rely on darker shades of foundation or powders to carve-out the contours of the face, the muscles must provide that definition and lift from within.  Many celebs like J-Lo frequent spas with micro-current add-ons to get that lift and glow. 

At home peel pads... 

like Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Daily peel pads are awesome for revealing radiance and combating the signs of aging.  DCL Skin Care has a great at-home peel pad that is called the G20 Radiance Peel pad (20% glycolic acid) for a more clinical exfoliation 1-2 times per week.  Both are super convenient because they are pre-saturated and measured!  You just have to wipe onto clean skin, wait the directed amount of time and rinse your way to rejuvenated, hydrated and renewed skin.  It's like having an esthetician at home with you…and who doesn't want that?

Freshly exfoliated skin needs hydration in the form of serums and I love ingredients like hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C. 

Hyaluronic acid binds water to the skin for that bounce-back factor and dewey-ness and Vitamin C is my all time favorite for brightening, tightening and lightening.  Check out Obagi's Professional-C Serum 15% and SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel, which is packed with hyaluronic acid.

Prep you skin with a light-weight and nourishing primer like Jane Iredale's Smooth Affair Facial Primer and Brightener (available in a new oily skin formulation) mixed with equal amounts of her Dream Tint tinted moisturizer. 

This gives just enough coverage and a beautiful glow.  For more of a strobing effect, MAC's Strobe Cream is amazing (I add a drop or two into my tinted moisturizer). For cheeks: a touch of cream blush on the apples of the cheeks does the job!  Josie Maran's Argan Color Stick in Pink Peony is gorgeous and works for almost everyone!  (Pro tip: use your cream blush on the lips to really tie in the look!)    

To add even more of an angelic glow, Benefit's High Beam liquid highlighter is stunning on the brow bone and top of the cheeks as well as on the top of the cupid's bow, for a gorgeous pout. 

You may need to mattify the T-zone with a bit of loose powder or an oil blotting sheet.  After that, complete the look with 3-4 healthy coats of mascara (I've loved Lancome's Hypnose in Excessive Black, for ever and ever) and set with your favorite facial mist.

People who know me know that I am obsessed with facial mists...

check out Jane Iredale's Pommist Hydration Spray and my new fave Spring Facial Mist by Dr. Jenise Parris from her line called Beauty Water.  Viola!  Now you look like a glowing, angel-goddess.

 

Do You Really Know Your Skin Type?

Achieving a youthful, dewy, complexion worthy of a pinch on the cheek doesn’t come from using the crème de la crème of moisturizers.

Rushing into injectable treatments can be risky and expensive.  Relying on the sales-personnel at the beauty counter or believing a celebrity endorsed skin serum on TV, will most likely get you nowhere.

The most crucial step is to know your own skin type, first.

How you ask?  Knowing your skin type is as easy as learning to identify your power fruit — not the fruit you eat, mind you, but the fruit that you most closely resemble. 

We can literally look at the skin of three popular fruits and find similarities to help us identify our own skin types: oranges, lemons and apples.

When we know what we are we can best know which anti-aging battle plan to implement.

It sounds strange because most of us think about skin type in terms of conditions like acne, rosacea and the ever-popular “sensitive,” but this is not the way to see the big picture of your visage.  

Oily skin is like the skin of an orange

To explain, can you compare your skin to an orange: thick, porous and dimply with small, liquid caverns of orange oil ready to burst and mist off with a bend or tear? This is an oily skin type and tends to be the heaviest of the three with the greatest likelihood of sagging (especially around the jowls and eyes) with age.  This heavy and juicy skin, however is not prone to wrinkling and should be prized and not stripped of its oils.  Because this skin type of the heaviest, skin tightening treatments like Thermage and Ultherapy will be helpful for a nice lift.  This thick skin can also sustain regular exfoliation quite well via microdermabrasion and chemical peels.  Prescription vitamin A is great for smoothing out the enlarged pores of this oily skin type.

Normal skin is like the skin of a lemon

Lemon skin is most illustrative of the ever-elusive “normal” skin type.  Much like its other citrus counterpart, the lemon has a moderate amount of oil essence and a medium thickness with noticeable, but smaller and uniform pores.  

You lemons out there know who you are: you probably get a mild to slick shine in your T-zone and not much shine out on the periphery and jaw line. 

Lemons are prone to more wrinkling than an orange but, on the up side (literally) less sagging.  You should prize your oil production because it wanes with age. 

Be sure to always protect against the thinning effects of the sun’s rays because your thinner skin is fast to buckle under pressure.  Eye cream is key to start as early as your twenties and be sure to get exfoliated regularly and use hydrating serums.

dry skin is like the skin of an apple

The porcelain skin of an apple is most akin to a dry skin type.  Apple skin is paper-thin without noticeable pores or divots.  Just like polishing the popular fruit with your sleeve and gazing at its delicious sheen before you sink your teeth in, dry skin is smooth, lustrous and delicate.  

Apples, you are prone to wrinkling much earlier than other skin types — a crêpe-like, feathery appearance around the eye and mouth can show up as early as your 20s. 

Keep in mind your long-term anti-aging battle will be with wrinkling, dehydration and thinning. Heavier, more emollient skin creams seem to work best and many apples like cleansing oils and milks as opposed to foaming cleansers.  Dry skin can irritate easily because of its lack of oil and may need regular re-applications of moisture throughout the day. 

Focus on keeping your collagen and elastin proteins as thick as possible by avoiding sun exposure and fitting in monthly facial massage sessions with your esthetician to keep facial muscles as toned as Serena Williams’ biceps because you need all the lift you can get.

Now that the produce section of your local grocery market has a bit more meaning, it is important to clear up any confusion about skin conditions that go beyond the signs of aging.  

As mentioned before, acne, rosacea and sensitive skin conditions are common selling points for many cosmetics and should be available to all the fruits of the world; however, keep in mind that conditions are temporary and skin type is forever. 

In order to have great skin it is paramount to know your skin “type” and then identify the specific “conditions” (short or long-term) that you may be experiencing.  

Any type of skin, albeit thick and oily or thin and dry can be sensitive.  Likewise, acne, does not favor any particular skin type (contrary to popular belief) and can happen to those with the smallest pores and others with the largest.  

Hormones and bacteria play a larger role in breakouts than oil production, alone.  So, squeeze a fruit, give yourself a pinch and a look-over and book it to your nearest spa. It behooves all you fruits out there to find a licensed esthetician to treat your specific conditions within the context of your long-term needs for your skin type.  

Remember: peaches and cream is nice but knowing your skin type will better suffice.

My Favorite Finds from the 2016 NYC Indie Beauty Expo

I had the pleasure of attending the Indie Beauty Expo in NYC last week at the Metropolitan Pavilion and it was packed from corner to corner with bright floral colors, super-chill people and a palpable beauty buzz.  

As I unpacked my massive VIP swag bag filled to the brim with full-size products and generous samples, it was like a skin care Santa AND Easter bunny had made a magical delivery.  It was a totally enviable task to narrow down all of the coolness, considering there was everything at the expo from non-toxic perfume to space-age shower caps…but a handful of brands really caught my eye. 

1.  Beauty Water by Dr. Jenise Parris. 

Let me just tell you that this was one of the first booths that I encountered and it made the greatest impression on me.  An elegant yet purposeful line created by Dr. Parris herself (a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist on Madison Avenue, NYC) to heal the soul and the skin in one step.  Gorgeous facial mists with essential oils, serums, scrubs, and accupressure gels to use at home for aches, pains and sleeplessness.  My friend Stephanie had Dr. Parris herself rub one of her signature accupressure gels on her neck because she had severe pain and by the end of the night she had forgotten all about her neck pain…magic!  

2.  Box Naturals. 

And by box I do not mean the cardboard variety.  These classy towelettes are all about "feeling gorgeous, naturally" down there and everywhere.   Yes, ladies, say thank you to the vajayjay gods for these little wipes.  No more chemicals and synthetic fragrances down there.  These wipes are scented only with organic essential oils, and are vegan, biodegradable, and free of parabens, phthalates, petrochemicals, dyes and sulfates.  They have the cutest, most luxurious little packaging and come in scents like lavender and rose.  The bonus is that you can use them all over your body after the gym, midday to refresh or before you visit your favorite spa for any type of treatment "down there." 

3.   Amika: Perk Up Dry Shampoo and Silken Up Dry Conditioner. 

Yes we have all heard of dry shampoo but what an amazing bonus to have a dry conditioner too!  Yes, we want fresh roots but what about moisturizing those raggedy ends?  Amika has your back!  Dry shampoo is the jam, we all know this…but we also know we need to avoid talc and aluminum in them and Amika does just that!  You get volume, a delicious scent and no gunky build-up in your hair…done!  Combine that with the the Silken Up Dry Conditioner which is SO cool!  Anti-static, cuticle sealing, glossing-love for your ends! Who doesn't want that…the perfect duo on the go.

4.  Florapy: Facial Sheet Masks. 

Yes.  There is no way you could love this product more!  Make masking easy with a pull-out-of the-package, presoaked facial sheet mask.  It's a no-brainer because these masks are infused with floral ingredients with a special delivery system that soak your skin with goodness.  Pre cut eye, nose and mouth holes make this fool-proof, as well.  After you cleanse and tone your skin, rip open an individually sealed package, remove the protective sheets, place on the face and chill out for 15-20 minutes in this paraben free, vegan friendly, sensitive skin safe and synthetic fragrance free formula.  I tried the Chamomile Patchouli and it was DIVINE!  My skin was so soft and silky once the mask was removed and it smelled amazing!

5.  Volante Healer Concealer. 

Get the granddaddy of concealers with this doctor-developed, luxurious all-in-one product.  You can use this puppy for your day to day concealing but also for post-procedure bruises and numerous other skin afflictions.  Think about it: cover a crazy blemish or bruise from an injectible and heal it even faster with soothing and anti-inflammatory ingredients like arnica, calendula and zinc!  Bonus: this product is free from parabens, petrolatum, synthetic fragrances and sulfates!  A clean way to cut healing time in half with this amazing camoflauging cover up.  It comes in several shades for almost all skin tones and boasts that it will be your "new BFF."  Okay, we'll take it!  Developed by Dr. Elizabeth VanderVeer, it looks like a winner, for sure!  

 

Just the tip of the Indie Beauty iceberg!  So much fun and can't wait to go next year!

seven tips for not sabotaging your recent facial

As a licensed esthetician, I always end my sessions with home-care and post-care recommendations.  I am sure my clients think I am a broken record, but I just can't help myself!  The truth is: what happens after your facial is just as important as what happens during your facial.  Bottom line, during most facials the skin's pH is being altered, exfoliation treatments are performed and extractions open up the skin…so knowing how to care for your skin once you leave the spa is key for skin care success.  Here is what I recommend, based on my skin care expertise:

1.  Put on a Fresh Pillowcase  

Pillowcases are a factor when it comes to keeping your skin pristine and blemish free.  Oftentimes, we do not think about how they can impact the skin but they certainly do!  Think about it, we lay on our pillows for about eight hours every night while perspiring, (maybe) drooling, and laying on our hair, hair oils and product residue.  Pillowcases are a breeding ground for bacteria and need to be changed often if you are breakout prone.  After a facial, it is crucial to replace your 'case so that you don't expose your freshly exfoliated and somewhat vulnerable skin to bacteria and grime.  

2.  Clean Your Mobile Phone  

We are all glued to our phones, I get it.  But keep in mind that all that texting and scrolling with unwashed hands creates a build-up of bacteria and filth on your screen that ends up very close to your cheeks and jawline when you speak on your phone!  The last thing you need close to your skin after a facial is the universe of microbes, ketchup residue and who-the-heck-knows what else that is sitting on your screen.  I joke with my clients that mobile-phone acne does exist…be aware of what is touching your face!  Wipe your phone regularly with some type of antibacterial wipe or cleaner so that you can prevent this common form of cross-contamination.  Keep in mind that communal office phones need the same treatment if you use those regularly, as well.

3.  Avoid Hair Care Products and Services  

I've never admitted this before, but I always die a little bit inside when my client hops off the spa table after a facial and says, "I am off to the salon to get my hair done now!"  I know, I know…take a chill pill, Liz…but hear me out!  Hands down, it is much better to get your hair done after a facial then before because we all know that facials can really screw up your hair…I totally get it.  But please also be aware that shampoo and conditioner running down your face, hair dye on the hairline or a keratin treatment near your freshly exfoliated skin is also not an excellent idea either!  Most hair care products have a pH that is not suitable for the skin and lipids that can clog the skin. Try to give your skin about 48 hours to recuperate after a facial before you hit the salon.  At home, be careful of hairsprays, gels or foams contacting your hairline, as well.

4.  Skip Brow and Face Waxing  

Another service that you will want to skip about a week or more after your facial is waxing your brows or anywhere else on the face.  After a professional spa exfoliation, the skin has been stripped of its outermost layer the stratum corneum and will be more fragile and prone to irritation…or worse…even lifting of the skin.  If you have ever had brow or upper lip wax that left you red, oozing and scabbed, it is most likely that your skin was lifted from the service.  The take away here: waxing is in itself a form of exfoliation so it is something you do not want to overdo.  Take care of your brows, upper lip or wherever else you wax about two weeks before or after your facial for optimal results.  Plan your appointments accordingly and get into that routine with your esthetician.

5.  Change your Towels

Just like pillowcases, towels that we use to dry off our face and body after washing our faces and bathing need to be changed after your facial.  Most people don't pay attention, but towels that are left to dry on crowded bathroom hooks on the back of your door never completely dry and are exposed to a lot of bacteria in the bathroom (think open flushing toilets).  Make it a habit to change your towels when you get home from the spa so you don't expose your freshly exfoliated skin to unnecessary amounts of mildew and bacteria.  

6.  Clean your Make-up Brushes

Most of my clients squirm a little bit when I ask them when they last cleaned their make-up brushes.  I know, life can get busy, but keep in mind that these are tools that we use daily and they can acquire a lot of build-up.  Make-up residue, oils from the skin and bacteria can all grow on your make-up brushes and contaminate your skin.  I recommend that post-facial make-up tools be freshly cleaned or replaced.  For my acne clients, I recommend a new disposable wedge for foundation for every application and that brushes be shampooed 1-2 times weekly. Make-up brushes are best shampooed at night, rinsed well, reformed and left out on a clean towel to dry…they will be ready to use by the morning.  Cleaning your make-up brushes the night before your facial is a great beauty ritual to add to your routine.

7.  Skip the gym  

My clients either get slightly annoyed or happily submit, when I tell them this one.  Yes, you heard it right here: getting a facial is your get-out-of-the-gym-free-card for the rest of the day!  Here's why: it's not a good idea to heat up the skin and perspire heavily right after a facial.  Think about it: you've just paid over one hundred dollars to have your skin exfoliated, deeply cleaned, massaged and infused with nutritive serums…so keep them in there!  Not to mention that gyms are not exactly sterile environments!  I cringe at the thought of my client doing a downward dog on a dirty yoga mat or wiping their skin with a rough gym towel, after I've just performed a chemical peel.  Another good tip is to avoid saunas, steam rooms and swimming pools, for the same reasons!  Enjoy the fact that the remaining part of your day after a facial is time to take it easy and chill out not run 45 minutes on the treadmill or play competitive tennis in the hot sun. Hit the gym before your facial - there is usually no problem doing that.

Following these helpful tips are just the beginning to maximizing your professional skin care services and avoiding sabotaging your facial.  Obviously, wearing your physical sunblock daily, avoiding excessively touching or picking at your skin and consistently using professional grade products are par for the skin care loving course!  It is easy to keep your skin glowing and healthy with just a few, simple tweaks to your spa loving lifestyle.

A NY Esthetician's 5 Step Guide for Complete Bridal Beautification

 

We all know that many weddings take months and even years to plan.  But keep in mind that long before you're assembling guest lists and choosing table cloth colors you must be prepping your skin (and other things) for the big day.  In other words, as soon as that ring is on your finger, find a licensed esthetician near you at a reputable spa or medical spa and get a game plan started asap!

 

What is the ideal state for a bride's skin, you ask?  A bride's skin should be smooth, evenly toned (pigment wise), plump, exfoliated, hydrated and blemish free.  This ideal state will not only give the bride confidence and inner peace but will also give her the best make-up application possible.  As an esthetician and bridal make-up artist, it is a non-negotiable for my clients to prep well in advanced of the big day…I'm talking at least six months in advance, but a year is best.  Here is what I advise...

 

1.  Make a plan: proper skin prep for my bridal clients includes a thorough skin analysis and consultation, first and foremost.  Then we plan a facial service schedule at the spa coupled with (mandatory) prescribed home care products and procedures. We will also talk about whether there are concerns for the skin of the back, chest or arms depending on the style of their wedding dress.  We also discuss where and when the wedding will be, whether or not she will be spray tanning (because no UV tanning is allowed, under my watch) and what her goals are for her look.  Looking at photos is always a great help and being clear about expectations is key. 

 

2.  Recommended facials for a bride:  depending on the bride's skin type and conditions, certain facials will be better than others.  In general, however, you can expect great results from regular monthly facials that include a chemical and/or physical exfoliation.  Chemical exfoliation choices are usually alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic and lactic acids.  Salicylic, a beta hydroxy acid, can also be blended in for more oily skin conditions and acne.  Enzymes are a great way to try a chemical exfoliation, for beginners.  Physical exfoliation methods like microdermabrasion, dermaplaning and ultrasonic spatulas are also fabulous for smoothing skin's texture.  Facials should also include light extractions, facial massage and lots of hydrating serums and masks.

 

3. Fantastic home care products for a bride:  Facials alone will only get you so far.  Proper home care for morning and nightly use will get you the results you want…fast. I prefer powerful antioxidants for proven results.  Vitamin C is my go-to antioxidant ingredient for a bride who is preparing for the big day.  I always make the joke that Vitamin C is the B.L.T. ingredient of skin care because it brightens, lightens and tightens.  Vitamin C should be in a concentrated serum form that can be used day, night or both; underneath moisturizers and sunblock.  Be advised: not all Vitamin C serums are created equally, so look for a serum with at least a 10% volume in a container that is a tinted glass bottle with an eye-dropper style dispenser.  Small amounts of glycolic, retinol and brighteners like kojic acid and licorice root are also advisable.  And, of course, don't forget a great eye cream. As always, no treatment plan is complete without a broad spectrum spf for daily use…and don't forget to reapply!  

 

4. Getting doctored up:   If you are considering seeing a doctor for injectables like fillers or neuromodulators like Botox or Dysport, start the process as soon as possible. Starting a new treatment to reduce wrinkles or plump the lips should be planned at least 6-9 months ahead of your wedding day.  It takes time to see the results and know if you like them.  You do not want to try these services a few weeks before your wedding only to find out that you are unhappy with the results. You will have to live with said results on your big day AND look at them in your photos…forever.  So, if you do opt for medical beauty enhancements, tread lightly.  Make sure the M.D. knows that you are a bride and that you are looking for a more subtle enhancement/correction…not a new face.   

 

5.  Bridal beauty extras: make sure you don't miss any of these tips either!  An eyebrow game plan should start as early as one year to nine months before the big day.  For most brides, it's all about letting those face-framing brows grow in!  That's right, put the tweezers down, stop waxing and basically don't touch your brows at all.  The only pass you get is tweezing the unibrow hairs in between…but other than that, don't touch them.  It's going to be awkward, upsetting and downright difficult to leave your brows alone for several months…but you just have to.  Having a fuller brow will allow you options like brow tinting and really nailing down a beautiful arch.  Furthermore, without sufficient brow hair growth, filling in the brow with pencil, gel or powder can be challenging and fake looking.  Without a doubt, let your brows grow...your make-up artist and future self will thank you.  

 

The other extra that I mention to all my brides is teeth whitening well in advance of the wedding.  You don't have to rack up an expensive bill at the dentist, check out the plethora of drugstore options and find one that you like.  Whitening strips, toothpastes and mouthwashes will all illuminate your smile…and don't forget to get the groom in on it too.  

 

Lushes lashes are all the rage and are especially important for brides.  If you are thinking of trying a lash growing serum like Latisse, keep in mind that it is a prescription product that takes several weeks (even months) to show lash growth.  It is an excellent option for a lot of women and should be started at least 6 months before your wedding day to get optimal results.  If you are opting for lash extensions, individual lashes or band lashes on your big day try these methods at least one to two months ahead of time.  Keep in mind that all three of these methods require an adhesive (glue) to be used on or near your lash line.  Some people are allergic to these adhesives and find out when it is too late.  Don't let that be you.  Don't be the Benadryl bride. 

 

It takes many months to get everything prepared for your wedding day, when it comes to being a glowing, flawless bride.  I hope these tips shed some light on wedding day beauty so that you will feel gorgeous and radiant on your wedding day...and beyond

Five Ways to Attract Top-Notch Clients to Your Spa Business

Years of working in NYC's upscale beauty industry has taught me what top notch and celebrity clients expect when they walk through the doors. To attract great clients who are able and willing to spend big money in your beauty establishment, you must provide these key elements.

1. Location and convenience.

Top-notch clients are busy and in high demand! Make sure your business is in an accessible location with plenty of parking. If a client has to pay for parking in a garage, for example, that is fine...but be sure to validate! Valet parking is the best option for upscale clients who do not have drivers. Note that parking that is always crowded and/or far away from your facility is a turn-off and can make clients late for appointments.

Make sure your business has easy elevator access or keep it at street level, if possible. Great lighting, handicap access and a well-maintained entrance is key for attracting top-notch clients. Having building personnel like a doorman or greeter is another great way to welcome clients into your business. Who doesn't want to be greeted with a warm hello and an open door?

2. A discrete, confident and attractive staff.

Top-notch clients (and all clients for that matter) need to be acknowledged as soon as they enter the reception area. The only way to do that is to stop whatever you are doing and greet your clients as soon as they arrive. If on the phone, a nod and smile will suffice until you can assist them thoroughly. On the other hand, staff should also be discrete and polite. If a celebrity or public figure comes into your business do not lose your cool! Speak in a soft and sophisticated tone of voice and be calm and cordial. Staff should also be confident in their knowledge of services, prices and procedures and look great while doing it. Most clients visit a spa business because the staff inspires a certain look or esthetic. Clients strive to look or experience the way of life that that business portrays. Make sure your staff is up to par in this department.

3. Privacy and relaxation.

We go to a spa knowing that we will spend money for not only a service but for an experience...and hopefully a luxurious one at that! From the first few steps into a spa, the client should be transported away from the realities of everyday living. Music, decor, lighting, aroma and ambiance should whisk your client away to another place. If you can make it happen, have clients check in privately so conversations about services, prices and questions can be handled without onlookers or eavesdroppers. A waiting area, or relaxation area, should be secluded with low lighting and plenty of space for clients to spread out and decompress. Furthermore, establish a mobile device silencing policy upon arrival as well as rules for children and pets.

4. Extras for miles.

Top notch clients remember the little extras that you provide and return for them. A sweet treat wrapped in gold foil after a service or a complimentary tea, fruit-infused water or healthy snack before or in- between services are just lovely! Depending on the laws, wine and champagne are indulgent offerings, as well. Don't forget that you may have to go above and beyond for top-notch clients...so accommodate requests for special food to be brought in or catered for a special guest or large bridal party. Provide secure lockers for clients' bags and personal belongings so they feel safe and comfortable. Reading material, slippers, luxurious robes, and plenty of clean towels are essential. Have bathroom attendants keep bathrooms and locker rooms spotless. Never run out of toilet paper, hand soaps, lotions, shampoo or conditioner. Offer hair dryers, disposable combs and styling products like hairspray and dry shampoo. Make your client feel at home and they will want to spend all day (and tons of cash) at your spa.

5. Personalization for the celebrity experience.

Personalization goes beyond just remembering your clients' names. Personalizing a top-notch, VIP client experience takes a lot of note-taking, memorization and attention to detail. Personalization starts with a written questionnaire or concierge style question and answer segment during the scheduling process. Requesting such information as music preferences, lighting preferences, scent aversions, temperature preferences and allergies are just a start. Depending on the culture of your spa business and offerings, personalization will make a great experience a VIP experience, in no time.