The Magic of Makeup

Make Up ApplicationClients visit spas with the intention of looking and feeling better than when they arrived. But not all spas are finishing the job, at least for their female clients. After many services, few women actually feel that they look their best, courtesy of red or blotchy skin, pressure creases, and bed-head hair. This spells opportunity for your spa and your technicians, who can provide a self-esteem-boosting makeup application, which is an often-overlooked stream of revenue.

The Opportunity

You've long heard experts say that the cosmetics business is recession-proof. Recession or not, the majority of your clients purchase and wear cosmetics on a regular basis, and they might as well buy them from your spa. In 2008, cosmetics sold in department stores and spas rang up sales of more than $3 billion. How many of those sales did your spa make?

In order to claim those sales, the first step is to have a makeup line in the spa. There are myriad choices, from branded lines to private label, that will fit with your spa's image and price point. Cosmetics will sell themselves to a certain extent, but in order to really capture your client's attention, you'll need to develop a marketing strategy.


The next consideration is the cosmetics counter location. If you don't have a lot of space, you can set up a portable makeup station, which works best when it comes equipped with storage, display panels, and a lighted mirror. The client should sit in a chair that has both armrests and footrests for comfort and wheels for ease of mobility. The most important consideration is that the chair be able to be raised to 28 to 32 inches so that the technician does not have to bend over to work on clients.

An attractive makeup station needs to be well lit. The best source for doing makeup is natural daylight, but that's not always possible. Even if you do have natural light available, you'll need supplemental lighting for cloudy days or nighttime. Daylight-balanced bulbs are best and should be placed so that they reflect light on both sides of the face. Lighting from the top only creates unnatural shadows and makes the results of the makeup application difficult to see.

If you are considering a permanent makeup counter, the location is key. Makeup counters tucked away in discreet corners are great for privacy but not for sales. If you can locate the counter in or near a retail area or another area of high foot traffic, you'll automatically increase your sales potential. Set up the counter with testers and tools to encourage clients to play with the makeup. Visit your nearest Sephora or Nordstrom with open-plan cosmetics displays, and note how they do it. Major cosmetics manufacturers have learned that clients like to approach, touch, and feel the makeup without having a salesperson in their face. Having your cosmetics counter in the middle of an active area creates some excitement and draws attention to the fact that you offer makeup services and products. When a client sits down to get a makeup application, other clients often watch and decide that they want to try it too.

Marketing Tips

At Red Mountain Resort & Spa (St. George, UT), Sage-stone Spa & Salon offers makeup services and products using Jane Iredale cosmetics. The makeup counter is in the middle of the retail store and within sight of the front desk. Sagestone offers makeup applications and lessons for a fee but deducts the fee if the client spends more than $100 on cosmetics. In order to spark retail sales, Myrna Beardshear, director of spa and wellness, added complimentary 15-minute makeovers to the menu on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. "The benefits of offering this free service have far outweighed any loss of revenue," says Beardshear. "More clients sign up because it is free, and after they see what can be done with the makeup, they don't think twice about spending money on it, and they feel great because they know what to do with it when they return home. The estheticians are not earning service commissions, but they more than make it up in retail commissions." Before the free Tuesday/Thursday service was initiated, makeup products constituted 16 percent of retail sales, and this year they have reached 22 percent. Part of this can be credited to Jane Iredale's training program—the company sends in trainers several times a year for application training and seasonal and holiday color updates. This is the level of service you should look for in a cosmetics product partner.

Another easy way to introduce makeup products and services to clients is in the treatment room, right after a skincare service. Today's products are technologically advanced and appear sheer and healthy on the skin. A quick application of powder can even out the skin and cover any signs of redness that might occur after a facial. A quick application of eyeshadow, blush, and lip gloss, and your client is ready to face the world. Cathleen Tatman, product manager at glōminerals, recommends a dusting of mineral powder and bronzer following facial services, especially microdermabrasion, peels, and waxing, to provide some full-spectrum UV protection and to make clients feel more comfortable. Each treatment cabin does not need to be stocked with a full array of makeup, just some basic foundation powders and lip and eye colors. Clients will feel more finished, and it introduces them to the products and the idea of the esthetician as a makeup artist. If they show interest, they can be invited back for a makeup application or lesson at another time. The four services typically offered in the makeup department are:

1) The quick complimentary touch-up.

2) A makeup application, in which the artist begins with a clean face and applies a daytime look. This service is typically 20 minutes, and the fee varies from $25 to $40.

3) The specialty makeup application for a wedding or a black-tie event. This application is generally longer, and the fee is in the $40 to $70 range.

4) A 60-minute step-by-step makeup lesson, which is often accompanied by a take-home chart in which the steps, tools, and colors used are detailed. This service can be priced from $65 to $120, but the fee is often waived or reduced with a qualifying purchase of products.

Another way to attract attention to makeup services is through events in the spa, such as new product and seasonal introductions, or pairing makeup with mini-facials and chair massages during a "Girls Night Out."

Whatever your approach, success in selling cosmetics comes from a long-term relationship-building approach with clients. The ability to answer their questions and show them tricks and tips to quickly improve their appearance will position you as their go-to beauty resource.

"When the client is in the chair, have your makeup artist talk to them and find out what their day entails," advises Tatman. "The products he or she recommends should be appropriate and comfortable for the client's lifestyle, and you don't want to send them home with products they won't use or too many new products at once." Once the artist finishes applying a product, it should be grouped on the counter so clients can clearly see what's involved. Also, let them hold a hand mirror so they can follow along.

Makeup is available in many different outlets today, but what these retail powerhouses don't have is a personal relationship between a professional and their clients. Make sure you make the most of your opportunity to keep the retail dollars being spent on makeup in your spa.

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].