Best Face Forward

Remember the old Europian facial? While many spa owners found this term exotic, it simply means a facial is performed with the hands, not equipment. While touch will always be important in skincare, advances in facial equipment cannot be overlooked. In spite of the current economy, there is still a demand for younger looking skin, and clients want immediate, noticeable results from their treatments. Read on to learn how investing in facial equipment—coupled with therapeutic touch—can boost your business.

Provide your clients with clear, radiant skin, like that of this spa-goer at Spa Radiance (San Francisco), with the help of state-of-the-art esthetic equipment.
Provide your clients with clear, radiant skin, like that of this spa-goer at Spa Radiance (San Francisco), with the help of state-of-the-art esthetic equipment.

The Basics

The most basic tools for any esthetician, besides the hands, are a magnifying lamp and a steamer, which can achieve good results. However, most spas today use multifunctional facial machines, which allow estheticians to treat a wide array of skin conditions with some or all of the following additional components:

High Frequency: A glass electrode delivers a mild electrical current of varying intensity, creating a mild thermal effect on the skin. The warming causes a contraction of underyling muscles and blood vessels, eliminating toxins and increasing blood circulation and cell renewal. These treatments have the potential to smooth skin, improve skin texture, and deliver increased amounts of oxygen to the skin for a healing effect.

The Spa at Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach (FL) offers a variety of Kate Somerville facials, many of which incorporate DermaLucent phototherapy, which increases collagen production and evens pigmentation.
The Spa at Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach (FL) offers a variety of Kate Somerville facials, many of which incorporate DermaLucent phototherapy, which increases collagen production and evens pigmentation.

Galvanic: This feature also uses electrical current to create either a chemical reaction, which produces a deep-cleansing or disincrustation response, or ionic reaction, which aids in penetration of water-soluble products.

Woods Lamp: This attachment (named after the physicist who invented it) shines ultraviolet light onto the skin to reveal different existing skin conditions, which show up in different colors. The Woods Lamp is a diagnostic, not a therapeutic, tool.

Updated Options

In the last five years, there has been an increase in the use of microdermabrasion. Microdermabrasion machines emit a fine stream of crystals, which manually exfoliate the surface of the skin, revealing the soft, new skin underneath. There are now a variety of options, using different types of tips and crystals, to achieve these results.

Several facials at Spa Claremont (Berkeley, CA), such as the Majestic Hydrafacial ($215, 80 minutes), incorporate microdermabrasion and LED technology, as well as a healing touch.
Several facials at Spa Claremont (Berkeley, CA), such as the Majestic Hydrafacial ($215, 80 minutes), incorporate microdermabrasion and LED technology, as well as a healing touch.

Another new development involves the use of Light Emitting Diode (LED) light. NASA studies have shown that light therapy enhances cellular metabolism and promotes wound healing and tissue growth. It is a non-ablative, non-invasive treatment with no downtime, making it very attractive to clients. Measured by nanometers (nm), different wavelengths of light produce different effects on the skin. Blue light is used to treat acne, and red light is used for anti-aging results. These treatments were previously found strictly in medical offices, but new developments have resulted in equipment that can be used by estheticians and other non-medical personnel and are ideal for results-oriented spas.

Laurie MacMillan of SpaEquip recommends Silhouet-Tone's new machine, the SoliTone 2500, which utilizes both light and microcurrent therapies to treat skin conditions. Microcurrent uses gentle electrical stimulation to "re-educate" facial muscles to assume their original, natural positions before the aging process sets in.

Resources
Resources

Radiancy has introduced a new piece of equipment called the Facial Skincare Device (FSD) using Light and Heat Energy (LHE) to penetrate the skin and promote a natural healing response, lessening the signs of fine lines, wrinkles, and pigmented lesions. "Day spa owners are very enthusiastic when they see how safe and simple it is to use, and they are excited about the opportunities created when the FSD is integrated into their treatment menus," says Radiancy vice president Giora Fishman.

Rob Insinger, owner of Ageless Aesthetics, has just introduced a new facial machine called the Ultimate. It combines orbital microdermabrasion with LED light. "A disposable tip rotates on a pitched axis, which enables the esthetician to cover a lot of skin at once, while simultaneously delivering red LED, blue LED, or a combination of both," says Insinger. "At the end of the facial, a hyaluronic acid gel mask is infused using roller devices charged with electrical energy." Already in use at the Allegria Spa at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek (CO), lead esthetician Victoria Mastrogiovanni says, "Word-of-mouth among clients has been so positive. The machine is easy to use and has different options to customize treatments for most skin types, so our estheticians are excited about using it."

Preparation

Some homework is necessary before purchasing equipment. "Research the company and find out how long it has been in business," advises Vince Legut, equipment sales manager at Pevonia Equipment. "Check for warranty information, and find out if the equipment can be serviced easily." Spa Development International partner Ellen McGinnis says, "Make sure you have an overall vision and goal for your spa. Once that is established, you can select equipment that will mirror your vision and support your brand identity."

It is important to always go back to your vision statement and branding initiatives, especially when purchasing equipment. Facial equipment can be an expensive investment, and you need that investment to work for you. Trade shows feature a number of equipment resellers with less expensive prices, but many of them are from outside the U.S. and may not be able to respond as quickly when you need service or parts. Warranties on equipment are varied; make sure you ask for details. "Some large-ticket items will have limited warranties on a specific part, such as a motor, and some have a mixed warranty that covers different parts of the equipment for different lengths of time," says McGinnis. "On-site service is usually not included, and some warranties begin at the time of delivery, not when you open your facility." The last point is especially important if you are opening a new spa and placing a large equipment order. You don't want to receive the equipment too far in advance of opening, when you won't be focused on making sure everything is in working order.

"When selecting equipment, trade shows can be overwhelming," says Insinger. "You can become caught up in the moment and make a choice based on a 'show deal.' Be sure the company has been in business for at least five years and can give you five to 10 client testimonials, with the option to contact those individuals directly. Find out what sort of training, marketing support, and warranty service they have received from the company. If the company works with some large corporate spas, then it has probably made it through rigorous legal and purchasing reviews. Also, ask how the equipment is registered, as each state has different regulations on the use of the equipment."

The Payoff

"We spent a few years looking for the right piece of equipment," says Gaye Steinke, general manager at Allegria Spa. "Even with research, you still make a small leap of faith that the equipment will deliver the results you want. But clients who are getting treatments with our Ultimate equipment are coming back and telling friends, and we're happy with the results of our research."

According to Legut, it's important to remember you're running a business, and reliability is key. "Your facial equipment can only generate income when it's in good working order," says Legut. "Price is always an issue, but you need to consider quality, service, and price together as a package, and look at the complete value of the equipment you are buying and the impact it will have on your business."

Lisa M. Starr is the senior east coast business consultant to new and existing spas and salons for Wynne Business. Contact her via email at [email protected].

Suggested Articles

Discover the three winners of the For Hands And Feet group of American Spa's 12 Days of PCA celebration.

Discover the two winners of the "A Day At The Spa" group of American Spa's 12 Days of PCA celebration.

Wink Brow Bar offers advice for all beauty lovers during the best of times, and the worst of times.