April 2011

Lisa Kind - Editor

Esthetic Endeavors | by Judith Culp


The "Green" Esthetician

When it comes to going green, estheticians have a slight advantage over others in the beauty therapy industry.

Much of what we work with is derived from nature for its known benefits to skin.

Many of our products are botanical based, and our manufacturers have worked hard to improve their labeling so the client can recognize the plant ingredients in the product.

Many of our treatments are also botanical dependent: seaweed wraps, salt scrubs, enzymes, even acid peels. We have a natural greenness to our business. We just need to educate our clients and ourselves on the features and benefits the botanicals have to offer. In addition, there are things we can do in the clinic to become more environmentally friendly.

There are many cosmetic manufacturers now offering products that use ingredients that are more earth friendly during the process of extracting and preparing them for use. While mineral oil is a very natural ingredient, some companies have quit using it because of concerns over its distillation process and related environmental impact.

Green-oriented vendors are substituting botanical oils most commonly derived from nuts and seeds. The challenge is that these plant-based oils are unstable and prone to rancidity as opposed to mineral oil, which is both stable and inert. The entire process is a challenge in balance, providing the consumer with a greener product, and at the same time ensuring those products are safe to use to the last drop.

Once their home care products are gone, we can recommend to our client the best ways to recycle their empty cosmetic containers locally. Most cities have programs that would be happy to take clean, empty plastic or glass.

A fun "green-raiser" might be to collect clean empty lids and donate them to an arts and crafts center for a creative building or craft project. We have some products that are shipped to us in stiff cylindrical sleeves that make great holiday project material. Cylinders like this would also be welcome at an activity center where kids could do art projects. Packing bubbles and shipping materials are easily recyclable. Your nearest shipping center or someone with a home-based business would love to have them.

The larger professional or "back bar" sized plastic jars could see all sorts of recycling uses once thoroughly cleaned. A "crafter" friend of mine collected every 32-ounce jar she could get from me for a time. Some jars became storage containers for dry goods; others displayed her craft components for quick recognition. She even put a number of the jars in her husband's garage tool center to keep screws, nuts, bolts and nails separated.

In the clinic, there must be a balance between being ecologically friendly and adhering to state and national guidelines for infection control. We must make sure that all cleaning agents from laundry soap to specific cleaning liquids first meet those regulated infection control guidelines. In today's world, with the evolution of tougher microorganisms, there can be no compromise on this. CA-MRSA is there waiting for us to get careless and distribute its microbes around. We must be smart about what can and cannot be recycled to protect the consumer and ourselves.

For estheticians, greenness can be as easy as one, two three.

1) Focus on the botanicals in products and be able to explain the benefits to your clients... as well as the fact that they are green.

2) To attract green-oriented clients, feature a botanical based in-salon treatment.

3) Look for ways to reuse or recycle empty containers and packing materials. Keep in mind that going green for cleaning may sound wonderful, but it is imperative to adhere to all state and national guidelines for infection control.

Judith Culp, a CIDESCO Diplomat has been in the esthetics industry since 1980. A CPCP permanent makeup technician for over 18 years she served a 4-year term as a Director for the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals, two years as their president. She is president of Culp Enterprises Inc. and CEO of NW Institute of Esthetics. Judy Culp is available for consulting. For more information visit www.estheticsnw.com.