Spa Treatments

November 9, 2005

Spa products are now a tangible take-home concept as more Americans relieve stress, get well and indulge in new-found luxuries

Today’s spas are yesterday’s chocolates. Indulgence, America’s middle name, spans the gamut from TV remote controls to steamy body wraps. The joy of self-pampering has fueled the recent spa craze, which is no longer exclusive to the wealthy. Take-home products are popping out of spa resorts and into bathroom cabinets, giving customers luxurious down-time in their own homes.

For centuries, Europeans have used spas to treat ailments such as rheumatism, arthritis, infertility, eye soreness and skin irritation. Today, spa treatments are closely related to sea-derived minerals and aromatherapy, the fastest growing segment in prestige skin care in 1999, according to NPD Beauty-Trends, Port Washington, NY. One example of aromatherapy is Lancôme’s AromaCalm line introduced last summer with iris, rose, nutmeg, sandalwood, cedar and incense accords fused with agents to moisturize and protect .

The holistic philosophy behind spa treatments is helping 11,000 spas across the U.S. de-stress and relax customers in today’s fast-paced world, according to a recent report by the Day Spa Association.

“The American market contributes a unique marketing perspective to these Old World customs, especially in terms of service and products,” said Stephan Kanlian, graduate program director, FIT Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing program. Mr. Kanlian is a regular contributor to Happi and Cosmetic Packaging & Design and is also an industry consultant and member of the Day Spa Association’s advisory board. “Spa culture, in addition to having huge overtones with a calmer lifestyle, is a center for treatment, products and education. Often spas offer yoga classes, nutritional supplements, doctors and cuisine. They are popular because they offer more than before.”

Spa industry leader Avancé, Fair Lawn, NJ, began as a 2000 square foot hair salon, manufacturing plant and cosmetology school (University of Aesthetics and Wellness) in Morris Plains, NJ, 16 years ago. Now it is a 16,000 square foot salon, spa and wellness center.

Many of Avancé’s products are seaweed- and algae-based. These natural products soothe, heal and relax the body.

“Algae and seaweed contain enormous amounts of trace minerals that are more able to penetrate the skin,” said Dee Mattos, marketing director at DePasquale, parent company to Avancé. “Essential oils too penetrate through the hair follicle to get to the root of skin problems and conditions such as rosacea, acne and sensitive skin.”

Avancé focuses on educating clients and treating skin conditions from the inside out. Clients range widely in age, fostering a variety of treatments.

“In terms of marketing, we look at two centers,” explained Ms. Mattos. “First, women definitely enjoy going to the spa. Five or 10 years ago, spas were used to pamper, like mini-vacations, but now women go to spas to find alternative treatments.”

“Secondly, a large portion of the population is baby-boomers,” she added. “They want to live healthier and look good while they are doing it. They invest in treatments that are result-oriented, such as hydrotherapy, to maintain muscle tone and shape. They want the products to do the job.”

According to the Day Spa Association, the $12 billion spa industry attracts both a younger and older clientele, ranging in age from 20 to 65. Baby boomers, the largest segment, want to reverse the signs of aging. This demand has created a trend toward AHAs and glycolic acids, creating a holistic, plant-based, healing approach to skin care without surgery, said Ms. Mattos.

Avancé also focuses on other conditions, such as injured muscles from cycling and soothing remedies that infuse herbs such as chamomile and lavender. This month Avancé will introduce three new products: Solving Gel Cleaner (foaming), C-rum (vitamin C therapy) and Estrogen Complex.

Top Sellers
The most successful players in the market are brands closely associated with actual spas, according to Mark Brooks, skin care manager, NPD BeautyTrends.

Origins, an Estée Lauder company, is one of the industry’s leaders in spa product sales. Two of its best-selling products are spa-inspired body scrubs: Salt Rub Smoothing body scrub and Ginger Body Scrub Smoothing body buffer. The products were originally conceived as part of The Glow Mineral Salt Body Scrub service at the Origins Feel-Good Spa in Chelsea Piers, New York City. Origins also operates a spa at North Park Center in Dallas, TX. Requests for at-home versions of these products led to their launch.

Since its debut, Salt Rub’s velvetizing, skin-smoothing paste, which features skin-scouring dead sea salts buffered in emollient-rich macadamia, soybean, kukui and sweet almond oils and spearmint and rosemary, has been the No. 1 bath product in department stores. Dead sea salts have high concentration of essential minerals including magnesium, calcium and potassium. These minerals allow for the absorption of more moisture, which increases skin suppleness. It is Origins’ top selling product, according to executives, who call it ‘spa in a jar.’

“There is a heightened interest today, among both men and women, in pampering themselves, and at-home spa products are an easy and affordable alternative to actually going to the spa,” said Tracy Orr, vice president global communications, Origins. “We design our products to provide a multi-sensory experience using special blends of essential oils and other natural ingredients to ‘treat’ the body and mind. More people are looking for ways to connect with themselves and their spirituality and disconnect from the frenetic, high-tech world. We believe that multi-sensory products and experiences will help fill this void.”

Origins’ approach to skin care connects health and beauty. From a full line of facial skin care products that recreate an at-home spa facial to its Steam Cleaning Deep Pore Purifier, a mix of dried herbs such as chamomile and parsley to create an aromatic and therapeutic vapor in hot water, Origins is all about natural ingredients. Today’s more health-conscious consumer considers natural ingredients as helpful in the long term and environmental effects on skin are also a major concern, driving many to use skin care at a much earlier age.

“We’ve found that consumers are looking for products that supply instant gratification as well as long-term benefits,” Ms. Orr explained. “When it comes to facial skin care, products like Origins’ Never a Dull Moment, a facial scrub which uses papaya enzymes to exfoliate skin, are top-sellers.”

But it is also important to recognize that the spa is not a passé activity. For those who can make the time, Origins’ warm and relaxing North Park Center store offers not only spa services at the Feel-Good Spa but also a tea room and an outdoor garden to relax. It’s the combination of all of these experiences that makes North Park unique and successful, according to Ms. Orr.

“There’s no doubt that day spas have become a very popular destination; there are more day spas today than ever before,” said Ms. Orr. “Likewise, sales of bath/body products that recreate the spa experience at home are also burgeoning due to affordability and accessibility. We’ve found that consumers’ experiences at our Feel-Good Spas provide an initial exposure to a peaceful moment of serenity, and once they are able to really feel these benefits, they are more apt to recreate it at home using our products.”

Origins’ latest skin care introductions, Oil Refiner and Matte Scientist, use the latest generation of oil reducers to mop up shine such as magnetized tourmaline, a mineral that disperses dirt, seaweed extract phlorogine and glucosamine, a sugar derivative that re-texturizes skin and dissolves pore-clogging dead skin cells.

“Spa products remind clients of their enjoyable experience on vacation, a cruise, or at a resort,” said Pierce Mattie, spokesperson for Repêchage, New York. “Naturally, they want to take this memory homeand now they can. Every time they open up the product, smell its aroma and feel its texture, it will transcend them back to the spa.”

Repêchage is currently available in 20,000 salons in the U.S. and 25 countries. Sixty Spa de Beauté concept spas span the U.S. High profile accounts exist in spas such as the Sonesta Spa in Miami Fl, Sea Island off the coast of Georgia and Cuisinart Spa at the British West Indies.

“Women also come to the spa to learn beauty therapy, solutions to such problems as cellulite, sun damage and acne,” said Mr. Mattie. “Once the clients are on a set maintenance regime at home and the spa, true wellness begins.”

Repêchage recently launched a skin careline called Hydra 4 for sensitive skin and a makeup collection from its Colour Actif series, Odyssey. Most Repêchage products contain seaweed such as spirulina (blue), fucus (green), ascophyllum nodusum (brown) and delesselaria sangiunea (red). Products also contain mud, honey, almond meal, various essential oils, lactic and glycolic acids and amino acids with vitamins.

Nature at Its Best
The Body Shop, innovator of cultural- and natural-based products, is launching several new lines designed for a relaxing bath time. The philosophy behind these products is total-body health, according to company executives.

“The three main components of spa products are the mind, spirit and body, which supply a platform for holistic well-being,” said Carla Gervasio, Body Shop consultant for skin care, bath and body products, The Big Idea, New York. “The definition of spa is products that are used in combination with water, especially those that treat the skin in a special way.”

Sea Minerals, a line for facial skin, contains British Columbian clay. Discovered by University of Vancouver researchers, the clay contains 66 minerals in a negatively-charged base. Similar to Bioré pore strips, these negative ions attract positively-charged dirt molecules such as dirt and sebum. The Body Shop plans to expand Sea Minerals into the bath and body category.

“Bath oils, creams and milks are all products that enhance mental well-being for wellness both inside and out,” Ms. Gervasio added. “This touches on aromatherapy.”

Skin Defensive, a new line introduced last month, features oil-spill resistant seaweed found off the northern coast of Brittany. The line includes intense moisture mask, cleansing face wash, sea sponges, exfoliation mask, moisture cream with SPF 10, hydrating freshener/toner and night treatment. Japanese Hotsprings, a new line based on the ancient art of bathing, was inspired by Japan’s volcanic geology and mineral-rich hot springs. The products, scheduled to debut this month, contain natural exfoliants and minerals, ginkgo biloba, green tea, lemon zest, rice bran oil and cedar wood oil. The line includes indulgent bath cream, softening body gel, softening mineral dust, aromatic dry oil mist and mineral bath soak.

Ms. Gervasio insists spas are women’s first choice, but at the same time, it drives the home bath and body categories to excel.

“According to quality research, women want to go out for spa treatments; they don’t want it in the home,” said Ms. Gervasio. “It is hard to recreate the ‘away’ feeling. But the spa market helps to drive bath and body categories at the mass market level. They offer specific treatments to motivate purchases for use in the home.”

The Body Shop’s new Bathing Milk range, scheduled to debut in this month, includes foaming milk bath, milk body lotion, milk shower cream, powdered milk bath, milk body cream and a milk body bar. These products pamper the skin with milk as in the days of Cleopatra. Lactic acid exfoliates the top layer of skin and milk lipid moisturizers provide hydration.

“Going to a spa is one of those things that it is so easy not to do, like exercise. It is easier when people create the time and space for treatment, such as in the home,” said Ms. Gervasio.

Karen Wu who operates salons on Manhattan’s Upper East Side is also letting customers take the salon experience home. Her philosophy features whole body care with the best of the Eastern and Western worlds. Karen Wu salons boast Chinese herbalist doctors, acupuncturists, acupressurists, reflexologists and a large herbal pharmacy with more than 300 herbs in addition to western skin and body treatments, pedicures and manicures. Ms. Wu’s goal is to provide solutions for skin in as many ways as possible.

“The whole concept of her new line is to attempt to take the best of western products, such as effective chemical bases and lotions, and add the best of Chinese herbs,” said Bill Kirschenbaum, western activities coordinator, Karen Wu. “The west has created, and created well, chemicals that are very helpful to the skin, such as SPF, while Chinese herbs have the ability to make skin more supple and translucent by activating dermal cells and removing free radicals.”

Every Karen Wu product contains anywhere from 5-18 Chinese herbs such as lucid, ganoderma, lotus seed, angelica, hyacinth, tuver and white cloves. Ms. Wu has extensive contacts with leading herbal beauty care companies in China to fuel product development and ideas.

She is launching a take-home skin care line, which will be sequentially launched from now until February, mirroring some Karen Wu salon treatments and creating new ones. The skin care line includes massage oil, facial and throat masks, cleanser, mineral body scrub, eye product serum and heavy serum, all of which increase firming and hydration.

“Women are always looking to improve their appearance,” said Mr. Kirschenbaum. “In the aging process, there are telltale signs, such as sagging around the neck or arms. Your skin reveals your age. Taking care of skin is like having a job—you do it every day.”

Ms. Wu is currently negotiating with the QVC. If the two sides reach an agreement, the at-home shopping network will sell a variety of products, including Karen Wu’s first take-home line: two hand-milled soaps (green tea and jasmine) and three perfumes (chrysanthemum, jasmine and green tea).

Seasonal Remedies
Some spa companies focus on a major skin stressor: the change of seasons. Juvena, a Swiss skin care line sold exclusively in 10 Sephora stores, offers Selection Pure Performance ampoules, or vials—a quick skin recovery system. Skin becomes dry and stressed as seasons change; Juvena Selection Pure Performance products work to improve skin’s freshness, color and vitality overnight, according to company executives. They are packaged with pure vitamins C, A and coenzyme Q10. The ampoules are applied to the skin for a period of 10 days to boost the cell renewal process. Juvena also offers capsules containing concentrated vitamins A and H in its Selection Perfect line.

“As consumers become more educated about the pitfalls of skin care products, Juvena has worked harder to overcome these perceptions,” explained Tonya Giver, national director of marketing at Lanz-a-lot which represents Juvena in the U.S. “This is the first time a company has created pure vitamin A nighttime (Juvena Selection Perfect A Pure Eye) and H daytime (Juvena Selection Perfect H Pure Eye) capsules.”

According to Ms. Giver, the capsules prevent environmental degradation and contamination.

Spa activities primarily focus on intensive treatments to moisturize and purify the skin. But more importantly, women are looking for a holistic experience that is quick and effective. This is largely a result of health care accepting holistic medicine for debilitating diseases and skin conditions, according to Ms. Giver.

“The pharmaceutical industry, in terms of medical therapies supported by major insurance companies, aspires to the spa culture,” conceded Mr. Kanlian. “The presence of doctors onsite, holding office hours at spas, proves that they offer more than just treatment today.”

At the same time, spa products are associated with a natural origin. For example, Caudalie is a spa product based on polyphenols, or grape seed extract. Caudalie’s new grapeseed, flower, seed and root oils will be sold in less than 20 stores in the U.S. The brand’s original spa is located in France’s Bordeaux wine county.

“Inside spa products there are two types of products, cosmeceutical and smell-good products,” Ms. Giver explained. “Cosmeceutical brands are dermatologist-oriented with powerful ingredients. Spa-specific products give customers a good feeling with their clean and simple scents and packaging and are generally gentle to the skin and efficient, containing essential oils and plant extracts.

“But at the same time, spa products can range in delivery systems, the spas associated with products and cosmeceutical options,” added Ms. Giver. “The concept of spa is a natural origin, but now with the cosmeceutical category so strong, women have different options when they think of ‘spa.’”

Biotherm offers other options for the change of season from fall to winter. Aquasource, a new addition to Biotherm’s various skin care lines, was introduced a year ago and has become Biotherm’s No. 1 selling product, according to company executives. Aquasource embodies the concept of “5000 liters of water in one jar” with an innovative mesh texture for skin that is extremely water-tight and ultra-moisturizing. The original water source for Aquasource was a spring in the Pyrenees. Now the material is reproduced in laboratories.

“Dry skin needs more cushioning textures to protect it,” said Caroline Flandrin, vice president of marketing, Biotherm USA. “Fall is the best time to address these needs with rich-textured products since the skin tends to get drier.”

In the U.S., spa products are usually mineral water-based products with lightly scented, non-irritating fragrances such as orange, according to Ms. Flandrin. And though nothing can replace the experience of going to the spa, home care is just as important. “People enjoy going to the spa; nothing can take away from wanting to feel pampered and making the time to replenish and revive the skin,” Ms. Flandrin explained. “But in between visits, people want to keep the quality of the treatments in the home too.”

In September, Biotherm introduced D-Stress Nuit, an overnight cream to rid signs of stress such as dark circles and tension lines. D-Stress Nuit is an oil-free night liquid for younger skin. Biotherm wanted to attract younger women and convince them to take care of their skin earlier. Young skin is especially important to care for at night, said Ms. Flandrin. Biotherm is sold in department stores with on-staff beauty advisors who administer free facials.

Stress Relief
Philip Pelusi, owner of Philip Pelusi Phyto Life salons and products, Pittsburgh, said take-home spa products are a way for busy women to fill the need for pampering and relief from their hectic, pressured lifestyles and protect themselves against pollution.

“Setting time aside for oneself is what is happening in the spa market,” said Mr. Pelusi. “We are here to help our clients in everyday life. Spa services also offer take-home products for maintenance.”

Phyto Life products are primarily natural-based but also contain high-tech ingredients to enhance Mother Nature’s properties. For example, fruit enzymes are effective and non-irritating exfoliators but when combined with synthesized chemicals, they are more effective, according to the company. But regardless of the ingredients within, these products evoke aquatic undertones associated with spas.

“With spa products, there is a feeling of water, cleansing and nature,” said Mr. Pelusi. “For example, Mango Glow contains dead sea salts. This is all part of the psyche of the scent and the feel of the product. Spa products lean toward fruits and nature. There is a definite human correlation here, perhaps because we came from nature.”

Mr. Pelusi’s Squirrel Hill salon in Pittsburgh recently added two popular spa pastimes: facials and waxing. Before branching out to spa services, Philip Pelusi’s Phyto Life salons focused on hair care.

This month, customers can take home the new Face Hydra Gel cleanser, Face Ginseng toner and serum with hydrocotyl extract and coneflower extract and Mango Salt Glow with dead sea salts and vitamin E. In a few months, Phyto Life will launch three anti-aging creams that contain Hawaiian marine algae enhanced by bio-fermentation. Phyto Life products are sold online at phyto-life.com and in select salons in the U.S.

Advanced Science
According to Wendi Youngblood, founder of Youngblood Skin Care products, spa products typically represent the newest, most innovative products on the market—a blend of science and beauty. Most of these types of products were previously available through dermatologists.

“Spa products are often a combination of refined delivery systems or applications blended with premium natural ingredients, vitamins and minerals that offer truly remarkable results, such as maximum exfoliation, deep pore cleansing, maximum hydration and firmness,” said Ms. Youngblood.

In the late 1980s, spa market sales took off. With today’s skin technology and consumer awareness, the spa market is at an all-time high and growing rapidly, said Ms. Youngblood. But the main draw to this market is not knowledge, but human touch.

“The spa is a total experience of pampering and luxury,” Ms. Youngblood said. “In this fast-paced world of e-mail and cell phones, we are often a step or two away from human touch. The spa allows for human contact and caring.”

Effective spa treatments have caused many spas to offer education, instruction and continuing treatments in the home. Youngblood’s Natural Mineral cosmetics line, for instance, can be used after rigorous skin treatments and can also be taken home.

“The use of natural non-aggravating minerals and botanical extracts in cosmetic products allows for makeup to be used effectively as a final treatment in the spa environment, even after deep cleansing, microdermabrasion or chemical peels,” said Ms. Youngblood.

Natural Mineral cosmetics are formulated with pure micronized minerals. The loose powder foundation is comprised of mica, titanium dioxide, bismuth oxychloride and iron oxides, which have been used in cosmetics for centuries, but are now micronized to form a lightweight foundation. In addition, the company has created a mineral rice setting powder, using a new combination of rice and corn starch and extracts of parsley, cucumber and lemon peel.

And not only are customers seeking non-irritating skin applications, they are also concerned with aging.

“Baby boomers are experiencing higher stress levels, and health and beauty is a major concern,” Ms. Youngblood explained. “There is a demand for anti-aging technology and the spa experience is the answer to their needs. Refined delivery systems and new applications offer deep hydration, firmness and a glowing vitality to lackluster skin.”

Overall, spa products offer pampering and revitalization to rejuvenate the skin and body.

“It is a unique way that we can combine stress-release and beauty to feel fresher and healthier,” said Ms. Youngblood.

Worth the Price
Considering all the qualities spa products have to offer, such as advanced science, holistic health and relaxation, high price points may be justified. But placing a price tag on a spa product is not a simple issue. Part of it is related to research; part of it is the prestige associated with the market.

“Often there is a meeting of the minds between medical and spa ingredients because both look at treating skin,” explained Avancé’s Ms. Mattos. “Before it was either cosmetic or medic, but now we have the best of both worlds.”

In addition, the pleasantries associated with the spa can enhance medical products.

“The spa industry brings together top technology with smelling pleasure,” said Biotherm’s Ms. Flandrin. “People no longer have to choose between benefits and pleasure.”

But one of the top reasons spa products are expensive is the quality ingredients contained within, which often are gathered from around the world, such as algae from the Brittany coast of France and British Columbian clay. Mr. Pelusi, owner of Philip Pelusi Phyto Life products, likened it to the kitchen.

“When developing products, we do not think about the budget, so we end up with the best possible product to achieve the desired effect,” said Mr. Pelusi. “It’s like cooking—it’s all about balance. You buy the best fish and top grade olive oil, drawing from the latest technologies.”

Economically speaking, however, the larger the distribution, the lower the cost of products and ingredients. However spa products are typically not mass market brands. But the most important factor of all is the end result. “There is an invisible, intangible prestige factor and perception associated with spas because they really work,” said The Body Shop’s Ms. Gervasio. “Price equals performance.”