Handy Helper

Today’s savvy spa-goers expect to see results in addition to being pampered and feeling relaxed after visiting your spa. This is true for most services, especially facials, which target noticeable skincare issues such as fine lines and wrinkles, acne, rosacea, and hyperpigmentation, to name a few. In order to more effectively treat these issues and keep clients satisfied, many spas have started utilizing handheld skincare devices during facials, as they are effective, easy to use, and portable. They are also a great way to expedite optimal results within professional skin treatments while saving estheticians time and adding value for clients, according to Erin Carey, retail store and business development manager at the Dermalogica flagship store in Santa Monica, CA. “Many handheld devices are noninvasive and will help treat skin conditions and enhance the delivery of topical products into the skin,” she says. “Other benefits of handheld devices include enhanced blood circulation, increased collagen production, and improved lymphatic drainage.”


Cool Tools

There are a variety of handheld devices that are safe and suitable for most skin types. According to Carey, ultrasound handheld devices help repair skin and stimulate its natural healing abilities. “Depending on the specific ultrasound tool settings, it can be used to exfoliate the skin, helping to assist in the removal of dead skin cells for deep cleaning,” she says. “Ultrasound tools can also help increase product penetration and promote hydration by allowing active ingredients found in serums and masks to be pushed deeper into the skin.” High-frequency devices use electrical currents to help stimulate and sanitize the skin. “High-frequency has a germicidal effect and helps encourage healthy cell function and promotes healing while killing bacteria on the skin that can lead to congestion and acne,” says Carey.

However, the most popular handheld devices are cleansing brushes, LED red light tools, and microcurrent devices. Clarisonic’s new cleansing device, Smart Profile, offers a deep cleanse and automatically adjusts power and timing to fit specific skin needs. Similarly, Satin Smooth recently introduced the HydraSonic dermal cleansing brush, which is portable and provides effective cleaning, up to 14-times better than manual cleansing for all ages and skin types. It prepares skin for topical massaging and the application of treatment products. 

LightStim’s hands-free Professional 2-Panel LED Light Therapy device contains 1,130 LEDs with multiple wavelengths. “It’s a 20-minute treatment and can be incorporated into almost every facial,” says Joniann Marchese, president of LightStim, makers of the popular anti-aging light device. “It is the ideal way to market LED and introduce the client to the consumer device to take home and use on a daily basis.” While many cleansing and LED devices are effective, Marchese suggests that you do your research before opting for handheld microcurrent and microdermabrasion devices, as these devices are often much less effective than the professional models available for use in the spa. “It’s important to do your homework and not give up effectiveness and results over ease of use and price point,” she says. “Be wary of handheld devices with less power and strength than their professional counterparts.”


Special Treatment

The majority of handheld devices are used during facial treatments, and their use depends on the specific modality. “Most handheld tools are best used in conjunction with either the exfoliation portion of the treatment, after extractions, or with assisting in penetration of masks, serums, and moisturizers,” says Carey.

Michelle Balmer, vice president of global training and education at Clarisonic, says that devices can be easily integrated into other spa treatments as well, such as body treatments, makeup application, and manicures and pedicures. In fact, Clarisonic’s new Pedi device features a powerful motor for pedicure services and is used at many spas, including Canyon Ranch (multiple locations). “Originally, we were going to sell this device only in retail stores and spas,” says Robb Akridge, Ph.D., cofounder and global general manager of Clarisonic. “However, requests came from estheticians to create spa pedicure protocols so Clarisonic Pedi could be used in spa treatments and then sold to the customer to take home for in between spa pedicure treatments.” While microcurrent devices like the NuFace Trinity and NuFace Mini can be incorporated into any facial to help tone and contour the face while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, the NuFace Trinity ELE is often combined with eyebrow and makeup services to give the eye and lip areas an added pop, says Tera Valdez-Peterson, CEO of NuFace.

 According Laura Hittleman, corporate director of beauty services at Canyon Ranch (Tucson, AZ), the spa uses handheld skincare devices in all of its facials and nail services to cleanse and prepare the skin for products. The spa uses the Clarisonic Pro and Smart Profile devices in facials; the Pro, Smart Profile, and Pedi devices in pedicures; and the NuFace Trinity in all 80-minute facial treatments, such as the Advanced Age-Management Facial ($260, 80 minutes), which treats the signs of aging and nourishes the skin.

When choosing a device to incorporate into your spa’s treatments, it is important to determine the specific objectives of the treatment, according to Janel Luu, CEO of Le Mieux Cosmetics, makers of the ultrasonic Skin Perfecter, which helps to deep cleanse, exfoliate, extract, and infuse serums and other topical treatments for smoother, healthier-looking skin. “In addition, always look for the results of independent clinical studies, brand reputability, guarantee or warranty, and clear instructions so that you can educate your clients while positively impacting their beauty, health, and wellbeing,” she says.

Balmer encourages spas to choose a device that provides customization options for skin types and conditions, as it will allow for spas to personalize the treatment. And Marchese recommends educating clients on the benefits of the device to help promote services that incorporate it. “Educate your clientele by sharing results from actual clients, create a before-and-after photo album to sit on your display table, and bring in brochures explaining the benefits of the modality,” she says.


Tool Shop

While handheld devices offer many skin benefits when used during treatments in the spa, there are also many at-home options, which allow spa-goers to maintain and prolong the results and benefits between spa visits. “Handheld devices on an at-home level increase the benefits tenfold, as clients can bring the spa treatment home to their own living rooms, and in the case of certain handheld devices, receive the same professional-grade results on a daily basis,” says Marchese.

Heather Dazell, director of marketing at Clarisonic, believes that in order to effectively market and retail these devices, you must first educate your staff. She also recommends that they personally use the tools at home so they can recommend them to clients; set staff incentives and reward success in a timely manner; use the devices in procedures, which allows estheticians to talk about the product and why they are using it; and strategically position displays in high-traffic areas to give the tools visibility and attract attention.

In addition, a tester device in the retail area allows clients to try it out before making a purchase. “Make the added investment to have a tester unit that every staff member knows how to demonstrate,” says Valdez-Peterson. “Just as you have skincare testers, it’s important for the client to experience what a treatment is like, considering devices can sometimes seem intimidating or complicated at first glance. Make it easy for your clients to make the buying decision.

The Spa at Saddlebrook Resort (Wesley Chapel, FL), which uses the Intraceuticals Line Wand during the Intraceuticals Oxygen Infusion ($1,050, series of six) and the Clarisonic Pro during many other facials to provide a deeper cleaning of the skin, promoted the Intraceuticals device by inviting 40 of its loyal clients to a special launch party. “We have also done a lot of marketing to our locals to let them know when we have a new treatment,” says spa director Wendy Rose. “We send out email blasts to our guests as well to inform them of our specials, promotions, and new products.”


Client List

Although handheld devices are a great addition to many treatments, there are some clients who should do without. High-frequency, microcurrent, and ultrasound tools should not be used on clients who have metal implants or a pacemaker, are pregnant, or suffer from certain medical conditions like diabetes or cancer. “Always review each handheld tools’ contraindications, as they vary by brand,” says Carey. “It is extremely important that any contraindications are addressed with the client beforehand.”

Susanna DiSotto, director of marketing at Satin Smooth, warns that highly sensitive clients with acute rosacea using any type of stimulation may increase sensitivity. Also, using a handheld device on clients who suffer from active acne with open pustules might spread bacteria from one area to the next, so it is important that pustules be isolated and treated in sections, she says. Still, Balmer believes that you should feel confident using handheld devices on most spa clients if the device has been clinically proven to be safe, gentle, and effective for sensitive and compromised skin conditions, although she does recommend using a delicate power setting on first-time facial clients.


Bonus Content

According to Luu, noninvasive handheld devices help skincare professionals improve the efficacy of facials and maximize the comfort of their clients, in addition to helping clients maintain a convenient and effective homecare regimen. “The technology provided by handheld skincare devices can enhance a facial by providing painless extractions, gentle yet thorough exfoliation, and deeper penetration of appropriately formulated skincare products—offering benefits and results that cannot be achieved by hands and skincare products alone,” she says.

Plus, they provide added value, giving clients more for their money, which keeps them satisfied and eager to return. “We often hear that clients feel that the use of modalities within treatments including handheld tools add a sense of extra value,” says Carey. “Business owners have an opportunity to set themselves apart by incorporating these tools into express treatments that may otherwise fall flat without the added benefits of handheld tools.”

Learn more about the many benefits of the handheld skincare devices available from these companies.—Jessica Morrobel

@text: 1. Clarisonic Smart Profile: This multipurpose cleansing brush automatically adjusts power and timing to fit specific skin needs. The user interface visually indicates speed, battery life, and brush replacement needs. www.clarisonic.com

2. Le Mieux Skin Perfecter: This compact, rechargeable tool provides 28,000 ultrasonic vibrations per second to cleanse, exfoliate, tone, and stimulate the skin while increasing the absorption of skincare treatments. www.skinperfecter.com

3. LightStim Professional 2-Panel LED Light Therapy: Featuring 1,130 LEDs with multiple wavelengths, this hands-free device restores skin’s radiance and appearance and decreases puffiness around eyes. www.lightstim.com

4. NuFace Trinity Facial Trainer Kit: Designed with interchangeable LED and microcurrent attachments, this multipurpose device stimulates the skin to lift and rejuvenate and improve the appearance of the complexion. www.mynuface.com

5. Saian 4 Step Beauty System: This hand-held microcurrent machine offers four settings—cleansing, massage, nutrition, and lifting—to firm and tone the face and neck, increase the absorption of treatments, stimulate collagen production, and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and crows feet. www.saian.net

6. Satin Smooth HydraSonic: This two-speed cleansing system contains an oscillating brush and tool with an LCD screen that features a step-by-step cleansing process. It removes makeup, dirt, and oil from the pores, improving skintone and texture. www.satinsmooth.com