Connecting the Dots

Although spas are commonly thought of as bastions of relaxation, they also serve as ideal places to treat various skin conditions. Estheticians such as Christine Chin, Susan Ciminelli, and Sonya Dakar have made names for themselves and their respective spas by treating problem skin. And while it makes perfect sense to bill your spa as a much-needed retreat—the current state of the economy has stress levels at an all-time high—you also don't want to neglect spa-goers seeking help for frequent breakouts.

 (photography: fotolia)
(photography: fotolia)

Anxiety about the economy, job security, investments, and more is likely taking a toll on your clients' skin. "Stress affects our entire body in many different ways," says Ellen Clark, president of Control Corrective Skincare. "It stimulates the adrenals to produce more oil, which in turn can cause the buildup of sebum and congestion that is responsible for breakouts." It's a sign of the times that an increasing number of people are suffering from problem skin. "This is an extremely stressful time in which people don't know if they will be employed next week or whether their spouses will be employed," says Alan B. Fleischer, M.D., a professor and chair of the Department of Dermatology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, director of the General Dermatology Clinics, and co-director of the Center for Dermatology Research in Winston-Salem, NC. "Accordingly, this constant stress exacerbates conditions like acne."

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne affects 40 to 50 million Americans, making it the most common skin disease in the U.S. Although some people still think of it as a skin condition affecting mainly teenagers, that belief is beginning to change as more adults are continuing to experience breakouts. A recent online Skin Matters Survey, conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Retin-A Micro Pump, revealed that 45.8 percent of dermatologists' acne patients are adults. Of the 263 dermatologists polled, 66 percent reported seeing more adult acne patients than they did one year ago. This should come as no surprise when you consider the increased stress most people are experiencing. And just as stress can exacerbate acne, acne can cause stress. In fact, 38 percent of those polled agreed that it is more stressful having acne as an adult than as a teenager.

Acne Aids
Acne Aids

Introduce Acne Treatments

In many spas, anti-aging treatments and programs are a priority whereas those that treat acne are often limited to a single teen or deep-cleansing facial. If this is true of your spa, you may want to consider revising your menu, as you may be missing out on a lucrative market. In the Skin Matters Survey, it was revealed that one in two adults with acne found having it unappealing, while only about one-third thought the same about having wrinkles (36 percent) or grey hair (29 percent).

At Laser Cosmetica (multiple locations in New York City), the Isolaz Laser Acne Treatment ($425, 30 to 60 minutes; $2,125, package of five treatments) is proving to be a popular solution for problem skin. The FDA-approved system clears pores from the inside out and begins drying blemishes within 24 to 48 hours. Using a combination of laser and vacuum technology, it helps destroy acne-causing bacteria. "The wonderful thing about our acne Isolaz treatment is that it can address any degree of acne with exceptional results," says Ryan Bloch, founder and president of Laser Cosmetica. According to him, acne can be a thing of the past in just five treatments, which is the recommended series.

Promote Homecare Products

If your clients trust your staff enough to treat their problem skin then chances are likely they'll also trust their product recommendations. While your spa may already offer some acne treatment products, you may also want to consider carrying a supplement line to encourage healthier skin. According to skincare guru Dakar, what you put in your body is just as important as what you put on it. With that in mind, Sonya Dakar Skin Care recently introduced a line of supplements to complement Dakar's popular Beauty Boot Camp skincare regimen. According to her, acidophilus in pill or powder form; omega-3 fatty acids; vitamins A, C, and E; and zinc are essential to encouraging healthy skin.

Also showing promise in the treatment of acne-prone skin is a number of at-home LED devices, such as the BEAM, which is included in the ANSR: Acne Care System ($185). Available at Exhale Spas (nationwide), BEAM relies on the power of blue light therapy to attack bacteria and target acne at its source. It also offers red light therapy to help in the healing of redness and scarring. "Exhale prides itself on results-oriented skincare, and ANSR: is the perfect way to carry those results forward at home," says Julia Sutton, COO of Exhale Enterprises.

Educate Your Clients

Estheticians are in a great position to educate clients about the causes of acne as well as treatment options. And judging from the results of the survey, which reported that many adult acne sufferers believe that not washing their face (61 percent), practicing bad hygiene (47 percent), and eating junk food (50 percent) cause breakouts, there is a definite need for additional education to clear up myths and misconceptions. According to Fleischer, many don't realize acne treatment is a long-term commitment. "Many think acne is curable within weeks, whereas it can persist for months, years, or even decades," says Fleischer. "Treatment can induce remission, but it is not a cure."

According to Clark, one of the biggest obstacles estheticians face in educating their clientele is a lack of time, as an hour-long facial is too brief for a lengthy discussion on the topic. "Acne is a disease of the skin, and there is no quick fix," says Clark. Education is a necessity though, especially when it comes to retailing products. In addition to a consultation, Clark also recommends creating a flyer with acne facts and product usage instructions to give to clients purchasing acne homecare products. "All common side effects, such as dryness, itchiness, photosensitivity, and peeling of the skin should be discussed, along with what should be expected during the first several months, so there are no surprises," says Clark. According to the survey, 59 percent of those adults polled with acne did not think they were knowledgeable about taking care of their skin. It would stand to reason then that many of your acne-suffering clients feel the same.

Beyond educating clients and offering them a well-rounded menu of acne treatments and products, it is also important to make such offerings accessible. "The main thing spas can do is make it affordable for acne-prone clients to come in regularly," says Clark. "The frequency of visits is so important during the first 60 days of treatment. It is better to see them weekly for 30 minutes, than twice monthly." This is also helpful in terms of building a long-term relationship with your clientele. "Lastly, take the time with them in the beginning to build trust," says Clark. "Many of these clients have tried many other products only to be sorely disappointed. If you take the time to discuss acne with them, and educate them, they will become a walking billboard for you." —Heather Mikesell