• 12 Tips to Grow Gift Card Sales

    Gift cards are a multi-billion dollar industry that keeps growing, but the spa industry is not getting a big enough piece of this pie. The most popular gift cards are restaurants, department stores, home improvement, apparel, specialty stores and then beauty.

    Beauty’s low positioning on the totem pole is likely because spas focus on gift card sales during seasonal peaks (Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Mother’s Day, etc.). But, here are a few stats on why gift cards can be profitable year-round.

    – Top occasions for gift cards are Christmas, birthdays and thank-yous.

    – In 2015, gift cards accounted for more than 18% of the holiday purchases, according to

    – Nearly 85% of 25-34 year olds say they are giving a gift card, while only 40% of customers aged 65 and over are planning to give a gift card in the next couple of

    – Nearly three-quarters (72%) of customers will spend more than the value of their card.

    – On average, the recipient will spend 20% more than his/her gift card value.

    – Many of those (72%) who come in to buy a gift card also do some shopping for themselves.

    – Customers are 2.5 times more likely to buy something for full price if they pay with a gift card.

    – Sales from gift cards are expected to grow to some $140 billion during 2016, according to research by CEB Tower Group.

    – Gift cards have such a high- perceived value that nearly half of consumers would prefer a $25 gift card to a present worth $50.

    – 81% of consumers shopping for a birthday gift purchase a gift card.

    – 44% of consumers purchase $25 cards, 24% purchase $50 cards, 6% purchase $100 cards and the remainder are scattered over various other values.

    – Approximately $25.9 billion is spent on Christmas gift cards, $5.2 billion on Mother’s Day gift cards, $4.9 billion on Father’s Day gift cards and $1.67 billion on Valentine’s Day gift cards.

    What do all of these stats mean to the spa owner?

    You should put a lot more emphasis and planning on gift card sales year round and should be tracking gift card sales from year to year to maximize growth.

    With that said, here are 12 tips to keep gift card sale high all year.

    Tip 1: Increase Visibility

    Increase the visibility of gift card availability everywhere in your location. Don’t hide them and whisper about them—get them out and shout. Make sure your gift cards are displayed at checkout, put signage in the changing rooms, and don’t forget signage in the windows, bathrooms and styling stations. Put small cards around your retail area stating gift cards are available. Do an online search for gift card displays to find holders and racks to prominently display the cards. Prices will range from $15-$75, and it will be well worth it.

    Tip 2: Get Social

    Market gift cards on every social media platform you use, such as Facebook and Twitter. Don’t forget to include other lines of communication, such as e-blasts and your website.

    Tip 3: Make Purchasing Easy

    If you don’t have capabilities to sell cards online, speak to your web designer today. Make sure that a customer can find where to buy them and be able to purchase quickly with no obstacles to overcome.

    Tip 4: Design by Occasion

    Create special gift cards for certain occasions with unique packaging. Again, do an online search to find sources that sell designer gift card boxes, bags or envelopes to make them stand out or become special for certain events, such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, birthdays or thank you’s.

    Tip 5: Be Proactive

    Don’t wait until a client asks to purchase a gift card. Coach staff to upsell gift cards at every opportunity, explaining that they only will bring in new clients for everyone. The front desk staff should always ask, “Are there any special occasions coming up that you might need a gift card for Mrs. Jones?” That statement makes the customer think about events about to take place where a gift card would be perfect rather than saying, “Do you need gift cards?”

    Tip 6: Incentivize Staff

    Experiment with what might drive more gift cards sales with your staff. Have a contest, and the person with the highest dollar volume in gift cards gets a special prize. The person with the most individual gift cards sales also gets another special prize. To take it a step further, you might want to put a tracking chart in the breakroom during holiday peak periods so everyone can see how they are doing with a contest.

    Tip 7: Change Signage

    If your gift card signage has been up more than six to eight weeks and it looks the same, it is time to change the signage to attract clients who have viewed it in the past. If it keeps looking the same, the client won’t even notice it.

    Tip 8: Market to Other Businesses

    If a company is looking for a unique gift to reward their staff or gifts for multiple staff members around certain holidays, make sure they are aware of your gift card packages. Imagine how surprised and happy you would be to get a call from a VP of a local company asking about gift card specials and then ordering 20, 30 or 50 to give to staff.

    Tip 9: Cross Promote

    Partner with a florist to include a $10 spa card with a Valentine’s Day bouquet or partner with a local candy maker with the purchase of a box of deluxe chocolates. Explain that your card will help them upsell to larger gift amounts for larger profits. Ask the vendor to report back how many gift cards were actually given out.

    Tip 10: Analyze

    Analyze your gift card sales by holiday, volume and denominations to set goals for increasing sales. For example, know your general gift card sales total and the total gift cards sold for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day and Christmas. Also, determine how many were sold for birthdays, thank-yous, weddings, showers, etc., which is easier if you have gift cards for these occasions. Next, you might want to see what denominations are sold for every category to determine which dollar amount is most popular. Now you can take all of that information and move forward to build bigger gift card sales in the future.

    Tip 11: Determine Value

    To build bigger gift cards sales, determine the top three values usually sold in each category. For example, if you find that you sell $50 cards the most for Valentine’s Day, followed by $25 and $75 cards, structure next year’s promotion to build greater volume. If you offer those three packages, clients generally will pick the middle number. You can do several things to increase the sales. You can offer $50, $75 and $100 gift card packages to move clients up to a higher level, and you can “weight” certain levels to drive greater sales.

    To weight a certain level, when your vendor offers any gift with purchase (GWP) or “value added” purchase, get as many of those as is possible. For example, if your skin care vendor has a general promotion kit that sells for $15 but has a perceived value to the consumer of $50 or higher, that is a perfect tool to drive gift card sales. You could beautifully wrap those for the specific holiday creating an eye catching display with signage stating, “Purchase a $100 gift card and receive a wrapped skin care gift worth $50 to give to your special valentine”.

    Tip 12: Make Appealing Packages

    Make your packages really appealing to encourage upsell of a gift card. For example, a $250 Gold Gift Card Package could come with a day of services, specially wrapped gift worth “perceived value” $100 and gourmet lunch. This encourages new clients to experience multiple services that they might return for and to spend more time in the salon and spa to purchase retail product.

    Make Gift Card Sales Soar

    With some additional focus and repeated marketing efforts, your gift card sales can soar to new heights bringing a greatly increased revenue stream to your spa and new clients for a growing future.

    A Friend’s Story

    Recently, my wife dropped the hint (for which I was grateful) that she would like a spa gift card for her birthday. Thinking that would be an easy gift, I looked online at the spa’s web site but wasn’t able to find any.

    Determined to give her the gift she really wanted, I went to the spa. When I asked to purchase a gift card, I got the strangest look from the receptionist. I was asked to wait while she grabbed a manager. While I waited, I thought about how much easier it would have been to go to the ATM to give my wife cash with a note to enjoy the spa.

    Finally, a manager approached me to confirm that I was the one asking for the gift card. After she located one in a drawer, she asked me how much I wanted to spend. She then asked if I needed to put the card into something. I actually never thought about that, but I told her it was a birthday gift for my wife. She said they normally sell cards around the holidays but went into the office to find an envelope. A few minutes later, with envelope and gift card in hand, I left the spa with somewhat of an unfulfilled feeling. I just gave $200 to people who didn’t seem to want it.

    Afterward, I went to my favorite electronics store for a graduation gift for my son. There was a whole array of gift cards for different occasions—all were branded with the store name. I grabbed a graduation one, handed it to the clerk, told him how much to put on it and was out the door in a minute. Before I walked away, the clerk reached under the counter and got a box for the card shaped like a smartphone and handed it to me. What a pleasant and speedy experience.

    This article was originally published in

  • Teaching Through Touch: The Do-It-Yourself Face Massage in 4 Easy Steps

    DewySkinDIYTOUCH is powerful. As professional skin therapists, we have a special privilege of using the power of touch through massage. Touch techniques are no secret in our profession, yet there are many people that have yet to experience the transformative power that a skilled face massage can deliver.

    Our clients rely on our hands as their main point of reference, and with our guidance they can learn to apply movements on certain facial points as part of their homecare routine. But not all face massages are created equal. There are controversial “face yoga” or alternative facial exercises that claim to tighten and lift, which, if not done properly, may lead to skin stretching or wrinkle formation. This is where our expertise comes in to educate our clients.

    The human face itself has over 40 muscles! Many of these are responsible for facial expression and are often tender at times of stress or fatigue; and as we age, the strength and tone of these muscles will slacken. Face massage movements can be effective at firming and toning areas of the face and neck.

    Acupressure works great on face muscles by using the fingers to press key points on the surface of the skin to help relieve headaches, eye strain, sinus problems, neck pain and many other ailments. The healing touch of acupressure reduces tension, increases circulation and enables the client to relax deeply. Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) stimulates the movement of the lymphatic fluids in order to detoxify the body with gentle, rhythmical technique for enhanced activity of the immune system and to assist with pain reduction.

    At The International Dermal Institute, we looked at these techniques and created a relaxing, rejuvenating do-it-yourself face massage that incorporates these acupressure and drainage techniques to boost circulation and detoxification, smooth fine lines and alleviate muscle tension. This DIY massage works best when used in conjunction with a therapeutic oil, such as Dermalogica’s Phyto Replenish Oil, which harnesses the power of phytoactive ingredients like Camellia Japonica Seed Oil, Tamanu Oil, Orchid Flower Extract and Chia Seed Oil. The end result? Radiant, energized, healthy, dewy skin.

    Share these steps with your clients to try at home and how they benefit the skin.

    • EASE FOREHEAD CREASES: Place fingertips together in the middle of the forehead and, with elbows out, press firmly. Glide (fingers together!) with slight pressure toward temples, press and release. Relaxes tension held in the forehead. Repeat 3 times.

    • DE-PUFF EYES: Especially great after a long flight, or a long night! Using your index or middle finger, press between brows—the power spot we think of as the “Third Eye”—and stroke over brows, around the eyes, and returning to center. Then use your fingertips to trace an “S” shape between the brows to release tension. Alternate between presses and S’s, repeat 3 times each, for a total of 6 movements.

    • SINUS RELIEF: Use your index or middle finger beside each nostril, press, release and slide to the divot or small hollow just under the cheekbone, and press gently. Glide toward ear (each side) and lightly press in the hollow right beside the ear. A bit of tenderness is normal as circulation boosts and detoxification takes place. Repeat 3 times.

    • JAW RELAXER: Are you a clencher? Many people actually damage their teeth by grinding or simply clenching, throughout the day and all night along! This can result in massive headache as well as cracked fillings. With flat fingers, beginning in center of chin, move fingers in small circles upward along the jawline. Stop just below the ear, gently press, and lightly move fingers down the neck to help with lymphatic drainage—open your fingers toward the collarbone as you go. Repeat 3 times.

    Watch this video to see the massage in action!

    Teach your client these moves on their next visit along with a sample of a botanical-based phyto-replenishing oil to magnify the power of touch. You’ll give their skin a wake-up call that will look and feel fresher, and function better.

  • The Lowdown On Lipids: Part 2 – Replenishing the Barrier with Exotic Plant Oils

    Chia Seeds and Camellia JaponicaThe use of plant oils in skin care has been around for decades, however, in the past few years our understanding of how these phytochemicals (AKA plant chemicals) affect our skin has been enhanced by numerous research studies. As a scientist with a PhD in plant biochemistry and a passion for the skin care industry, I am forever searching the globe for new exciting plant actives that can be used to treat the skin.

    Now that we know the causes that can lead to loss of lipids from The Lowdown On Lipids: Part 1 – Why Does the Skin Need Them, we can address many of these signs with scientific expertise provided by nature in the form of phytochemicals. As you might expect, I have a few new favorite oils that we have been studying at The International Dermal Institute that have the ability to replenish the skin’s natural barrier lipids for optimized skin health.

    Let’s take a closer look at these oils and how they may be used to treat the skin.

    Camellia Japonica Oil

    Camellia japonica is often called the “Rose of Winter” and is a member of the tea family. It is a small flowering tree native to Korea and Japan. It is one of the native plants grown on Jeju Island famous for its unpolluted, clean environment. Closer examination of this oil reveals it is a rich source of critical membrane lipids or fatty acids including oleic, linoleic and palmitic acids. In laboratory studies it provided twice as much antioxidant protection than Vitamin E, Grapeseed Oil, and/or Rosehip Oil. Studies using human fibroblast cells demonstrated an increase in collagen synthesis when treated with a low concentration of the oil (0.001); as the concentration of oil applied increased (up to 0.1%) so did the stimulation to collagen synthesis. Most importantly, studies on human subjects using a 2% Camellia Japonica Oil topically applied to the face showed a reduction in wrinkles as measured by laboratory instruments and observations by trained clinical technicians and patients.2

    Camellia Japonica Oil also inhibited pro-inflammatory mediators3 and was more soothing than Bisabolol in erythema induced tests. Likewise, it provided lipid barrier properties that showed an inhibition in TEWL, helping to maintain skin hydration levels.

    Overall, this esthetically pleasing, lightweight plant oil soothes irritated/sensitized skin, maintains hydration levels by reducing trans epidermal water loss (TEWL) and helps stimulate collagen production to fight aging skin.1,2

    Chia Seed Oil

    In addition to Camellia Japonica Oil, the seed oil derived from the plant Salvia hispanica, otherwise known as Chia, has proven to be a new addition to the arsenal of active plant oils available to the cosmetic formulator. Chia Seed Oil is rich in antioxidants that help quench free radicals and omega-3-fatty acids that have been shown to help reduce inflammation.

    Salvia hispanica is a member of the mint family that is often used as a food supplement for energy—and was once known as the Mayan running food. It is grown primarily for its seeds that contain from 25% to 40% oil that are rich in omega-3 linolenic acid and omega-6 linoleic acids. Both essential fatty acids are required by the human body for good health, and cannot be artificially synthesized.

    Researchers in Korea reported that a topical application of a cream containing Chia Seed Oil for 8 weeks led to significant improvements in skin moisture, skin thickening and crusty lumps in patients with pruritis caused by end-stage kidney disease and also in healthy patients with xerotic pruritis.4 Pruritis is an unpleasant skin sensation that produces a strong urge to scratch, and it is a characteristic symptom of some systemic diseases such as advanced kidney disease. Xerotic pruritis is a form of the condition that includes redness, dry scaling and cracks in the skin.

    Tamanu Oil

    Lastly we have Tamanu Oil, extracted from Calophyllum inophyllum seeds from the Ati tree of the South Pacific. Traditionally Tamanu Oil has been used to combat a range of skin problems and is highly beneficial as an antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agent. The oil contains unique calophylloids that reduce stinging in skin and helps to control the growth of the acne causing bacterium, P. acnes.

    French researchers working with leprosy patients were the first to study the skin regenerating properties of Tamanu Oil. It has been used to heal stubborn and severe wounds with very good success. More specifically, scientists have identified the xanthone compounds in Tamanu Oil that have been credited for its anti-inflammatory activity and ability to reduce swelling and irritation with topical application.

    From a study conducted in 2002, participants applied a product containing Tamanu Oil to aged scars twice daily for nine weeks and saw improvement, so even older scars can benefit from Tamanu Oil regenerative properties.5

    Tamanu Oil is also excellent for individuals with acneic skin, as the mild antibacterial properties of the oil work consistently and without irritation to minimize growth of acne causing bacteria on the skin. The moderate antimicrobial activity of Tamanu Oil has been compared to antibiotics like amoxicillin. The actives, canophyllol and canophyllic acid, have been identified as the specific agents in the oil that provide the antibacterial activity.

    And finally, the xanthones and coumarins found in Tamanu Oil are potent antioxidants that inhibit the breakdown of cell membranes from free radicals. Consequently, this oil can help to counteract aging caused by UV-induced free radicals.

    Harnessing the power of phytoactive ingredients is one of the best ways to restore a compromised skin barrier to replace intercellular lipids that have been depleted from aging, environment, and the many other factors. And with the overwhelming amount of research on these oils and their phytochemical components they are prime candidates for incorporation into your favorite skin care products.


    1. Akihisa T, et al. Chem. And Pharm. Bull. Tokyo 45:1023-2016.

    2. E. Jung et al. Effect of Camellia japonica oil on human type I collagen production and skin barrier function. J. Ethnopharmacology 112 (2007) 127-131.

    3. S. Kim et al. Anti-inflammatory activity of Camellia japonica Oil. BMB Reports 2012: 177-182)

    4. Se Kyoo Jeong, et al. Effectiveness of Topical Chia Seed Oil on Pruritus of End-stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Patients and Healthy Volunteers. Ann Dermatol. 2010 May; 22(2): 143–148.

    5. A. C. Dweck and T. Meadows. Tamanu (Calophyllum inophyllum) – the African, Asian, Polynesian and Pacific Panacea. International Journal of Cosmetic Science. Volume 24, Issue 6, pages 341–348, December 2002

  • The Lowdown On Lipids: Part 1 – Why Does the Skin Need Them?

    Phyto Replenish Oil Puddle

    Lipids, or natural protective oils, are essential for maintaining the integrity of all living matter due to their ability to form a barrier between the living cell and the outside world. In human skin, lipids are used as building blocks for membranes and fulfill specific functions such as preventing desiccation (a state of extreme dryness) by forming a barrier and preventing evaporation of water.

    More specifically, the outermost layer of the epidermis, the stratum corneum (SC), constitutes the main barrier to the movement of substances into and out of the skin; it consists of corneocytes (SC cells) and several different types of lipids, such as ceramides, sterols and free fatty acids. These lipids that make up the barrier lipid layer of the stratum corneum are expelled from cells during the process of keratinization in the epidermis. When the barrier lipid layer is disturbed, this can lead to pathological diseases such as ichthyosis, psoriasis or atopic dermatitis.

    Aging also has an effect on the composition of SC lipids. Studies have shown a decline in ceramide and sterol components with an increase in fatty acid composition in aged skin.1

    Seasonal changes have also been shown to impact SC barrier lipids which leads to dryness, roughness and increased trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL) while a reduction in ceramides generally leads to an increase in skin sensitivity and irritability2. Likewise, diet and the products we apply to our skin can impact the barrier lipids. Alcohol, acetone, harsh surfactants, AHAs, BHAs and retinoids can strip lipids giving that taut skin feeling which is often associated with increased dehydration, wrinkles, sensitivity and premature aging.

    Unfortunately, nothing good results from having a compromised lipid barrier layer. Therefore, the challenge to the cosmetic formulator is to create an esthetically appealing formula that helps replenish those critical lipids to the epidermis. The most important property of lipids in skin care is their ability to restore the barrier lipid, promote moisturization, smooth skin texture as well as, a visual reduction of the signs of dryness. Restoring the barrier lipids not only inhibits TEWL, it helps keep the natural moisturizing factor (NMF) inside the cells where it is needed to keep cells hydrated and enzymes functioning normally.

    Fortunately, when we are young our skin can restore its natural barrier lipids after an insult such as exposure to alcohol, soap or chemical peels. The time required for barrier lipid recovery varies according to age; in young individuals 50-60% of the barrier lipids are restored within 12 hours with full recovery taking about three days. However, in older adults complete recovery can take over a week. Depending on the condition of the skin this can lead to dehydration and additional sensitization.

    The most obvious possibility for recovering the skin barrier function is by replacing the intercellular lipids in between our keratinocyte cells. Studies measuring TEWL as an indicator of barrier integrity have demonstrated that the barrier function can be restored with the application of skin type lipids.

    Understanding the science and the physiological processes behind the barrier lipids of the SC as well as how we can optimize their functionality is something we have studied extensively at The International Dermal Institute; we have looked at the effects of adding various plant or phytolipid complexes to the skin in order to optimize hydration, reduce sensitivity and enhance the health of the skin.

    Read Part 2 of this blog series to learn about the latest plant oil ingredients, also called phytochemicals, that help to restore the natural barrier function of the skin.


    1. Lipids in Skin Care Formulations p 279 in Cosmetic Lipids and the Skin Barrier. ed T. Forster, Marcel Dekker. 2002

    2. DiNardo et al. Contact Derm. 1996; 35:86-91

  • 4 Simple Ways to Spark Your Career Success

    As skin therapists we have all at one time felt frustrated when appointments seem scarce, the salon is slow or retails sales are not up to par. However, don’t let these bumps in your career put out your fire! In an industry that can be fiercely competitive, you have to channel your passion, ignite your spark and show the world that you know and love skin. Remember, YOU are the skin therapist that is going to be changing lives (or at least skin health!). The advice is simple…get obsessed, become a true skin enthusiast and an expert in your craft—and most importantly, believe in yourself. The fact is, you already know how to be successful; you may have just gotten distracted for a moment. Let’s get re-focused! Confidence brings clients and if you share this same sense of passion for the industry, then read on for ways to spark your success.

    Get empowered through education

    The best way to learn and experience what is going on in the industry is to continue your education in and outside of the treatment space. Many of us found our way into skin care by actually being a client first; receiving treatments from another professional is an excellent way to experience various techniques and to get inspired. The industry is constantly changing and evolving, and we must be able to do the same. Take the time to strive towards your professional best by staying up to date on product innovations, learning new techniques and ingredients. Whether this is online, in the classroom or receiving a treatment, education = empowerment and clients are seeking that type of elevated training in a therapist.

    Make the connection

    General networking events are a great way to meet people, however, take a moment and think—where are you making your most impactful connections that not only inspire you but the business you’re in as well? Kick start your philanthropic spirit by getting involved with groups or initiatives that create meaningful relationships, where people want to propel each other’s success. Client’s like to do business with professionals who do good. Get involved and give back.

    Don’t know where to start? Visit Dermalogica’s FITE page for ideas and resources.

    Put your PR On

    Consider this as your personal rave, your personal reputation, your passion re-ignited. Take charge of brand YOU by sharing with your clients why you love what you do and why you are the best. Are you an exceptional brow specialist? Are your extractions painless? Is your massage the best in the city? This is not the time to be bashful about your talents. Be proud of what you do, as there is nothing wrong with bragging as long as you can back it up. In other words, you’re kind of a big deal.

    Get local on your social

    Even if you don’t have a million followers on Twitter, you do have local raving fans and they want to know what you recommend for treating the skin. With social media you can create that instant connection with clients and even gain a few new ones in the process. Your advice on skin health can be given anytime, any day by posting about what you do on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Clients want to be educated and will readily read and re-post your skin care secrets. Don’t be shy about your healthy skin tips, embrace your inner expert and share! You can even fill up that empty spot in your schedule by using your social media to instantly alert clients that you have an opening versus calling them. Trust me, they are checking their Facebook page more often than their voicemail.

    Use these simple steps to spark your professional success and growth. It’s time to put your newfound confidence to work and invest in creating the career that you deserve!

  • SKINtuition: 15 Ways to Build a Championship Team


    A good job is hard to find, but every business owner or spa manager knows a good employee is even harder to keep. Great business leaders have many characteristics, but one thread that weaves among the best is their ability to foster culture and talent so staff (and clients alike) look forward to coming to work.

    In the spa world, owners are often also operators that still personally service clients in addition to managing a team, and this creates a challenge. By 7 p.m., energy is depleted to “empty husk” level, and there’s no patience for staff squabbles, training needs or a clogged dermabrasion machine.

    Contrary to belief, a fat paycheck is not the sole root to motivation. To build a championship team it takes effort, creativity and most of all, praise. If you are feeling a bit of a “husk” yourself and recognize that staff morale needs a boost, give a few of these a try.

    1. Be transparent about the numbers.

    Ensure you have ongoing open communication about the business, the good and the bad. Share these in monthly and weekly meetings. It helps the team understand spending, the meaning behind tasks and encourages ownership, accountability and commitment.

    2. Set goals and targets.

    Champions need goals with clear expectations for results to be achieved. Everyone needs to know their daily, weekly and monthly goals, and attention needs to be given to this on a daily basis. There’s nothing worse than an individual missing a goal by a leg wax or sale of one cleanser. As a manager or owner, it is your duty to help them reach these goals, which starts with them knowing what they are.

    3. Recognize a job well done.

    Have “shout outs” at team meetings, and compliment a team member when you witness outstanding customer service, teamwork and/or skilled performance. Start a public recognition program like employee of the month, share on your social media pages and physically hang a picture of the team member in your business for clients to celebrate them too.

    4. Encourage attendance to education.

    New modalities and ingredients get introduced into our industry daily along with skin scientific discoveries. Support your staff and encourage their progress and achievements. Get them to share new skills or relevant information with your other team members on their return. Champions aren’t created without training.

    5. Support new ideas.

    When staff members voice an idea or a solution to a problem they believe is for the betterment of the business, it shows that they care. Supporting new ideas and giving an individual the chance to ‘run with it’ is motivating, whether or not it works out in the end.

    6. Empower decision making.

    The salon or spa should not crumble if you are gone for a day or week. If you have trained and empowered your staff to make decisions, let them take full ownership, let go of the reigns and let them roll.

    7. Don’t let boredom sneak in.

    Keep it fun with planned outings and group activities. Host a best smoothie recipe taste-off, book an early spin class or arrange a group hike and picnic. Have someone suggest a team building activity quarterly.

    8. Give together and grow together.

    Have one day per quarter where you all volunteer for your chosen non-profit, be it a cut-a-thon, complimentary skin treatments and makeovers for a woman’s shelter. Giving feels good and goes a long way to boost empathy and team spirit.

    9. Hear from them.

    Have a different person each week run the meeting to break up the monotony. Have different team members update about different areas of the business like new client acquisition, social media engagement, retail figures and new products.

    10. Write to say thanks.

    Send a handwritten note or card for a job well done be it for client retention, delicate handling of a customer compliant or achieving a retail target for the first time.

    11. Treat them.

    Chocolate and good coffee are always a winner. Purchase a small surprise unique gift for an outstanding team member. Bring in homemade treats, or let them organize a potluck.

    12. Help them to prioritize.

    Learn to recognize burn-out and make sure your team knows it is part of the teamwork culture to ask for help.

    13. Celebrate.

    Celebrate important markers, be it team birthdays, hitting targets together, work anniversaries or milestones.

    14. Challenge.

    Whether it’s to spearhead a new project, social media campaign, new service promotion or event, give them the responsibility and guidelines to run with it.

    15. Encourage friendly competition.

    A competitive environment is a productive environment. Champs love to participate in competitions or challenges for increased camaraderie.

    This article was originally published in

  • Keeping Up with The Industry at IECSC Las Vegas


    Photo credit: IECSC


    This past weekend, I attended the International Esthetics, Cosmetics and Spa conference (IECSC) in Las Vegas, Nevada. The conference had over 600 exhibitors, 5 CIDESCO workshops, a 2-day medical spa conference, business building seminars, and 135+ FREE classes—I felt like a kid in a candy store! My two-day ticket allowed plenty of time for me to see the many exhibitors and attend some wonderful education classes. Of course, I had to have a game plan to make it all happen. My plan of action was an hour-by-hour timeline for classes, cruising the show floor, and of course lunch. This made it easy to navigate my days because I knew exactly where and when I needed to be at a certain location.

    My priority at IECSC was to attend classes and indulge in education. This year’s education lineup seemed to be split between technology and ingredient classes. The technology education was focused on microdermabrasion, micro needling, lasers and LED. On Saturday I took an LED class from Lightwave that delved into the science of LED and the way it should be applied during a skin treatment. On Sunday, I took another technology class from Bio-Therapeutic about how to incorporate multiple machines into one skin treatment. Both classes were very informative! The ingredient classes were focused on cosmeceutical ingredients and what to look for in chemical peel formulations. It’s always great to learn what’s new and what’s tried and true when looking for a great peel line.

    In between my scheduled classes, I took time to peruse the show floor. I noticed lash extension companies were on every corner this year! Each vendor was applying full sets of lashes and even brow extensions as live demonstrations on the floor. Micro needling exhibitors were a close second to the amount of lash companies, covering everything from traditional needle rollers to automatic pen devices. Just remember, micro needling is great and can yield amazing results, but don’t purchase equipment unless you know your licensure and liability insurance covers the treatment. Thirdly, I noticed that LED manufacturers were abundant. Most machines were for professional use and offered traditional red and blue lights, while others had up to 4 colors including green, yellow or combination.

    Trade shows are always a great place to learn about what’s up and coming in the industry and it amazes me to see how far we’ve advanced in helping clients reach their skin goals. Overall, I had a great time catching up with old co-workers, expanding my knowledge of technology in the treatment room, and doing a little shopping!

  • The Great Wall: Protecting The Skin’s Barrier Function

    You might not be able to see it from the moon nor with the naked eye, but one of the greatest walls ever built is that of the Barrier Function of the skin.

    This amazing feat of skin engineering means we have a strong, resilient ‘wall’ protecting our body from harsh environmental elements, helping to retain moisture and keeping allergens out.

    The Barrier Function is designed in the same manner as that of a wall, consisting of:
    • The bricks: the dead, dry skin cells which are soon to be shed
    The mortar: composed of lipids (ceramides, essential fatty acids and cholesterol)

    Sometimes the structure of this ‘brick wall’ is compromised and gaps can appear due to the lack of epidermal barrier lipids. As a result, our skin is susceptible to dehydration due to moisture escaping otherwise known as Trans Epidermal Moisture Loss (TEWL), and increased skin sensitivity as microbes and allergens now have a path of entry into the skin. There are many causes for the breakdown of this protective barrier, the most common being:
    The environment: cold, windy weather, air conditioning, heating, the sun, plane travel
    • Poor skin care: using harsh, stripping products like SD alcohol or soap, excessive exfoliation, water that is too hot, or not wearing a moisturizer
    Diet: excess alcohol, caffeine and salt consumption, not eating sufficient Essential Fatty Acids, insufficient water intake
    Stress: this itself can disturb the barrier function by slowing down synthesis of epidermal lipids
    Certain medications: such as nasal decongestants, general anesthetic, cancer therapies

    An impaired Barrier Function means the skin appears dull and lackluster. It can feel taught and flaky with fine lines around the eyes, over the forehead and cheeks. When pinched between the fingers, it will resemble a piece of parchment paper.

    Sadly, the Barrier Function declines with age as oil gland activity decreases, the skin’s natural hydrators decline as does its ability to regenerate these important lipids. The prolonged dehydration in the lower level of the skin can cause the depletion of the dermal tissue resulting in deeper wrinkles, elastosis and sagging skin.

    To re-establish a good Barrier Function, the key step to follow in a home care regimen is exfoliation. This step is important to prevent the skin from feeling dry, rough and flaky and it will help eradicate any dry patches. The key is not to use an aggressive exfoliant that causes any skin sensitivity or irritation. Try exfoliating boosters that are easily applied under the moisturizer and work gently throughout the day. There are also slightly stronger forms of exfoliations such as Hydroxy Acid, which can generally be used once or twice a week.

    To boost the moisture and regain the plumpness in the skin, apply layers of a hydrating serum, toner, moisturizer and primer (the skin responds well to layering). The moisturizer doesn’t need to be heavy or contain a lot of oil—a key point to remember is that the skin is lacking moisture, not oil. Try a medium weight moisturizer with SPF30 or higher. If the skin is tight and flaky, use an anhydrous (water free) moisturizer made with skin protecting silicones. This will seal in moisture and prevents the skin from drying out, while also helping to repair the Barrier Function. At night, look at applying an oil based serum or night oil to the areas of dry skin.

    For an added boost, apply a hydrating gel masque once a week, ensuring it’s applied close the corners of the nose, mouth and eyes to target these vulnerable areas.

    Though drinking water is important, it doesn’t correlate directly to having hydrated skin. It’s better to encompass products that hydrate the skin and protect your barrier function by preventing moisture loss.

    Some fantastic ingredients to use within your entire skin care regimen are for healthy Barrier Function include:
    Hyaluronic Acid: one of my favorite ingredients as it has the ability to hold 1000 times its own weight in moisture.
    Niacinamide: a potent form of vitamin B-3 with a multifunctional approach to treating dehydration. It addresses several aspects of dryness and dehydration simultaneously, thus protecting the skin from TEWL.
    Essential fatty acids (EFAs): look for Evening Primrose Oil, Borage Seed Oil, Shea Butter, Jojoba Oil and Coconut Oil; another great ingredient to combat dry skin is Beta glucan.
    Omega-6 EFAs: these specifically are required in forming the skin’s barrier function and its structural integrity
    Sodium PCA: a terrific humectant that binds moisture to the skin
    Salicornia Extract: a plant extract that helps reinforce the natural moisturization factor (NMF)
    Algae Extract: nutrient rich to restore skin’s moisture
    Tomato Seed Oil: a great source of lycopene-rich lipids that help restore the barrier lipids of the skin
    Bambusa (Bamboo) Vulgaris and Pisum Sativum (Pea): help stimulate Hyaluronic Acid formation for increased hydration and elasticity
    Glucosamine: helps stimulate Hyaluronic Acid formation

    It’s important to avoid soap and soap-based cleansers and body washes as the alkalinity dries the skin and causes sensitization. Also avoid products with S.D. Alcohol and hot water as both are very drying to the skin.

    And finally, don’t forget to feed your skin by including plenty of essential fatty acids in your diet!

  • SKINtuition: 5 Ways To Get People Buzzing About Your Biz

    Buzz or word-of-mouth marketing is best described as “people talking about you.” Has a friend recently recommended a new hip restaurant, a unique store, cool website or insist you watch a certain Netflix show? Has a business connection suggested a new money saving app? That’s buzz.

    Buzz can happen organically, and creating buzz for your business is not hard. It takes a bit of creativity, willingness to fail and above all confidence. Here are five simple ideas to push up the buzz o’ meter.

    1. Stand Out

    Do something that will get you noticed. Examples could include a new advanced treatment, big event or giving back to the community. If you do what every other spa does, you’re not worth talking about.

    2. Share Your Story

    Storytelling is gold. If your entered into skin care as a life-long dream after losing your job, getting divorced or finally getting your kids out of the nest, share this. Being honest and transparent is refreshing, and people love a real success story (especially the press), so don’t be afraid to share your truth or even your failures for that matter. It’s fascinating and people want to connect with and support small business.

    3. Look After Your Loyalists

    Loyal clients are the ones who will buzz about you to their friends and family in person and via social, so it’s in your best interest to treat them like royalty. It goes way beyond your treatments and services—you should have stellar customer service support, build exceptional relationships and go above and beyond expectations. Your top clients give you the majority of your business, it’s part of the 80/20 rule. So dial up how you acknowledge and reward them. The occasional “surprise and delight” unexpected note, gift or complimentary service goes down as a treat too.

    4. Be Your Own Ambassador of Buzz

    If you’re not ready to jump in and chat about your craft, then who else? Instead of focusing on what you do and how you do it, talk to people about why you do it. When you talk about the why, your authentic passion will come through; this is much more fascinating and galvanizing for someone to hear.

    Think of it as your own 30 second “elevator pitch” you need to be able to get this down and it is the cheapest and easiest most important form of buzz marketing. Share away at networking events, startup meetups, co-working spaces, industry get-together’s, backyard BBQs and even in the dog park.

    5. Dig Deep Into Social

    Research says that 63% of consumers who search for local businesses online are more likely to use businesses with information on social media sites. Facebook alone is now a mini website, and your social platforms are likely to be more up to date than your business website.

    When you consider that 93% of buying decisions are also influenced by social media, it is a no brainer. No social presence equals no visibility and no business. So post, Pin, engage, Tweet, Instagram, Snapchat away, but keep it professional, educational, positive, a bit quirky and fun if you want to convert those followers to service dollars.

    This article was originally published in

  • Get Sun Smart


    Like many people, childhood holidays were always spent on the beach, where young tender skin was exposed to the elements sun up to sun down. Mum’s beach bag contained the ‘Sun Oil’ and her first-aid bag the calamine lotion. If only we had known then what we know now about the dangers of the sun.

    Believe it or not, there are many people that are still uninformed about the importance of sun protection. Here are some common questions (or excuses) that we often hear from clients with ways to explain or debunk myths about sun safety.

    Q: The sun will dry up my spots.
    A: FALSE
    As you unwind on the beach and relax, stress hormones will begin to level out and eventually dwindle. As acne is exacerbated by stress, it makes sense that as we relax, acne may improve. You may be in and out of salt water and chlorine, which can also dry up spots. Overall it may seem that acne breakouts have cleared…wrong! The heat and often clogging sunscreens will cause oil to speed up production and skin to be in overdrive, leaving you with the same issues. There are plenty of SPF options for oily or acneic skins that will not clog but rather keep skin hydrated, while prevent more serious UV damage. Seek relaxation but avoid the sun!

    Q: I only need sunscreen when it’s sunny.
    A: FALSE
    UVA rays are the longest rays in the spectrum and penetrate to the deeper layers of the skin all year round, including winter months. UVA rays cause damage at a cellular level, making them responsible for most skin cancers and the main cause of visible aging in the form of wrinkles, sagging and sun spots. Other signs of damage are small blood vessels and spider veins on the face, neck and chest. UVA also goes through glass including most car windows and is present on cloudy days as well as sunny days. Protecting daily with a Broad Spectrum (filters both UVA and UVB) sunscreen should be included in everyone’s skin care regime.

    Q: How much sunscreen do you need for a face and neck application?
    A full teaspoon for face and neck is a good rough guide—though it’s better to be more generous than to skimp. More importantly, to ensure an SPF is doing its job it needs to be applied 30 minutes prior to sun exposure, so don’t wait until you are on the beach before applying. Remember you need to re-apply regularly, especially if swimming, sweating or if removing with a towel, think about when eating drinking and wiping your mouth.

    Q: The SPF in my makeup protects my skin.
    A: FALSE
    The problem with relying on the SPF in your makeup is that you’re just not getting enough of it. You should wear at least an SPF of 15, but an SPF of 30 is ideal and topped up every 2 hours. The easiest solution is to use a moisturiser or primer (or both!) that also contain sunscreen. It’s fine to have sunscreen in your makeup, but consider it an added bonus, not your main safeguard.

    Q: Two layers of SPF15 make an SPF30. 
    A: FALSE 
    Adding another layer on top of an existing layer of sunscreen does not double the sun protection factor. Two layers of an SPF 15 sunscreen remains an SPF 15 and does not become an SPF 30. Re-apply every 2 hours if outside in summer months or on holiday in the sun.