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Massage Today
April, 2006, Vol. 06, Issue 04 >> Practice Management

What You Need to Know to Select the Right Spa Products for Your Customers

By Stephanie Beck

In past issues, we've covered the basics, selected and written our vision and our intention for the business. Now, what about products? You must consider all the options: wet room or dry room, ingredients, price, and where to begin.

Remember to keep in focus with your intention and vision of the business.

If your intention is to cater to mostly male clientele, then consider those products that support that intention. Use unscented items or lighter scents, because chances are they will not want something that smells "pretty." Let's face it, how many men would get excited about a "Rose Blossom Body Wrap?" I am only speaking in general terms, of course, and in my book, there is nothing wrong with a man wanting a rose blossom body wrap. I am just not sure how many times that service would be requested by men if it appeared on your menu. So yes, consider your intention when selecting the proper products. Not only do you have to match your intention, but also your budget, layout, ingredients, scents, etc.

Wet Room or Dry Room?

I've mentioned this before, and I'll say it again: Thanks to our brilliant manufacturers, you have the capability to offer spa services in dry room facilities, and as the old saying goes, "Everyone is doing it!" Whether you select Lotus Touch, Soothing Touch, Amber, Bon Vital, Biotone, Pharmaskincare, or one of the many others, you have scrubs, muds, paraffin, mud paraffin, and polishes that easily can be removed with warm towels, massaged into the skin or peeled off the body. Spa services done in dry room facilities - you've got to love it.

For centuries, the word "spa" has been synonymous with water or baths, usually with mineral or therapeutic values. If your intention is to maintain this concept, then make sure your products can be used in a Vichy shower or hydrotherapy tub. The beauty of today's muds and scrubs is that they are flexible and can be used in either a wet room or dry room, because flexibility is a good thing!

As some of the products listed above (like paraffin) imply, they cannot be used with water. You will need to purchase smaller pieces of equipment like a paraffin heater and rolling cart to put it on so you can have access as you apply the paraffin with a brush or drape sheet around the body. Also keep in mind that if you don't plan on offering shower facilities or wet rooms, you will need to make sure your spa rep equips you with all the tools you will need to perform the treatments. We will talk more about creating relationships and how important it is to be more than "a number" with your supplier in the future. It never hurts to ask your spa rep what accessories you will need, although your spa rep should recommend what items you need to perform the treatments.


Here are some things to keep in mind when thinking about ingredients. Does this match my client's needs? Does it match my spa theme? What are the contraindications? What are the benefits? The main problem when discussing a particular ingredient is the fact that most of the "talk" hasn't been scientifically studied or proven. Unless the manufacturer has paid for the independent study or conducted countless tests, they can only make general statements regarding the ingredients in their products. For instance, we all know the benefits vitamin E has when taken internally, but how many of us know of a study in which it's applied to the skin? I'm not looking to pick on anyone in particular. Just be aware of the limitations the manufacturers have, and make sure you match up the general ingredients with your vision and intention.

This also leads to our next topic: contraindications. Because so many ingredients have not been clinically tested, again, all manufacturers are left with making general statements. For instance, it's not recommended that you use seaweed-based products on a client who has a thyroid condition. Because we know that seaweed contains certain amounts of iodine and that iodine is controlled by the thyroid, and because we also know a certain amount of product is absorbed into the skin, it doesn't take a genius to figure out why it's important to ask the questions. Other clients have a very adverse reaction to nut oils. Therefore, you would want to make sure your spa products do not contain such ingredients, or at the very least, you'd want to have an alternative product available to meet those clients' needs.


Cost per treatment, hidden costs, and complete lines - these are to be considered when deciding on products. It's important that you understand the value of cost per treatment, because it won't matter if one gallon of salt glow is $10 less than the other brand if you have to use three times as much in each treatment. Also, there are some hidden costs if you have to use more water or three extra towels to remove a particular mud. You may have saved the money on the front end (because it was cheaper by the gallon), but you are paying for it on the back end (because your water or linen bill has just increased). Some people think that paraffin wraps are less expensive than mud wraps, but by the time you've added the accessory items, your expenses are about the same. Stay within your budget, and ask your spa rep what you'll need ahead of time so you can create the proper budget.

Complete lines are very important. By "complete lines," I mean having the proper retail or sell-through items. I will go out on a limb here and talk briefly about a subject that makes most people cringe: "retail sales." Before you start telling yourself, "I am NOT a salesperson," consider this: The average amount of retail sales in the spa industry is about 28 percent, and the spa market is about a $12 billion market. That's a lot of extra money, wouldn't you say? Also, people are going to purchase products following a treatment, whether they purchase from you (the practitioner or day spa owner) or go to their local department store to try and duplicate the same feel of their skin. Why any practitioner would want their hard work to continue to line the pockets of the local department store owner is beyond me! Besides, you chose the professional product for a reason: you believe in it. Otherwise, you would be using the cheap mineral-based products from the department store, too! Some practitioners believe the client can't afford the professional product, even though the client has never said they couldn't or wouldn't afford it. Given the opportunity, the customer will purchase, provided you have selected the proper product that meets their needs. Why do hair salons carry high-end shampoos that aren't sold in retail stores? It's the same concept: you go to a professional who carries higher quality products. Not providing them actually lowers your overall value.

Offering product selection makes customers happier and makes your business increase. This holds true whether you are a day spa owner or an individual therapist. Just be careful not to over invest against your budget. At Scrip, we offer several lines that you can retail in your space without all the heavy minimums, so be sure you know the return policies, guarantees, retail support, price structures, etc. when selecting the brand that fits your needs. Again, your spa rep should be able to guide you to the proper product line that meets your needs, which in turn, should meet the needs of your customers.

I have enjoyed e-mails with several of you over the past two months; it's good to know so many of Massage Today's readers are opening new spas or looking to expand their services and are enjoying my articles. Thank you for all the wonderful feedback! I would encourage everyone to keep me posted on your success. If others have any questions, please feel free to contact me at . Keep striving to make your dreams a reality!

Click here for previous articles by Stephanie Beck.


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