June 2011

Charlene Abretske

Beauty Business Buzz | Charlene Abretske


Adding Wellness in the Salon

Grooming is, in fact, a very important part of wellness. The definition of the word "wellness" is the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort, according to www.dictionary.com.

The beauty industry exists specifically for people through maintaining their appearance and increasing their self-esteem by the act of grooming one another.

Although there are many different definitions of beauty throughout the world, there is one aspect that anthropologists recognize as present in all, and that is healthy appearance. Our western standards of beauty support this through promoting shiny hair, healthy clear skin, white teeth and clear eyes. In fact, the beauty industry has worked incredibly hard innovating techniques and products to exaggerate a healthy appearance.

Wellness and beauty go hand-in-hand and when we think about the way we share beauty information and rituals, not all that much has really changed throughout history. In our salons and spas, we gather and exchange ideas every day. We play the role of "beauty professional" to our client, which includes the roles of friend, trusted confidant and teacher.

There is nothing as natural or innate to us than to want to spend more time in the salon or spa pampering and learning. I do not think anyone reflecting on their lives ever said to themselves, "I really should have spent less time being pampered at a great salon or spa."

When you are creating your sense of culture and community for your business, remembering to keep wellness in the mix will help you connect to the primal reasons why you got into this industry. They probably have something to do with making others feel beautiful and feeling great about doing so.

Sue Santsche, the owner of The Spa at Personal Choice in Eureka, Calif., offered special insights into the history of wellness and spa treatments, as well as how they fit in today. "In ancient Egypt, Cleopatra was known for her great beauty," Santsche explained. "She owed that in part to her sour milk baths' exfoliating acid properties, to which she added lavender to cut down on the sour smell. Even without knowing why, they knew it created smooth, soft skin. Now we can rely on delivery systems that are more effective and an experience that delights all the senses. At our spa, we offer a Cleopatra Bath to pay homage to early and effective beauty treatments."

It is no surprise that helping you feel better should take place in the same space as making you look better. We tend to forget about the medicinal purposes of many items we consider personal care or professional beauty items. "In the days and months following the Chernobyl disaster," Santsche said as an example, "one of the first items used on the survivors were sea salts loaded with sea minerals known for their detoxification properties and also known to be extremely gentle."

Modern history is filled with other examples of wellness items that improve health, including: paraffin dips for arthritis, dry brushing techniques used by the astronauts in space to maintain their cardiac health and substances that aid in lymphatic drainage for chemotherapy patients.

Santsche's advice for salons who want to begin adding wellness treatments is to "Begin learning about the products you are already using and add slowly from there. You may already be using product lines with great ingredients, and when your staff shares their knowledge with the clients you have really added value to the client experience."

"The social aspect of the salon or spa should never be downplayed. We learn so much from our clientele everyday and they learn from each other too. We want to be known both as a great place to go and relax, and as a place where clients can share and receive information that will enhance their lives when they leave us for the day."

Top Wellness Ideas to Add to Your Salon

Unexpected Delights: Create an experience for your clients in places they would not expect it. In the shampoo area, add essential oil diffusers with relaxing aromatherapy combinations. This is usually one of the most sterile looking areas of any salon, and you can create a beautiful environment with soft lighting and a privacy screen.

New Uses for Tried and True Treatments: We mentioned paraffin dips; why not use them, especially in colder climates, to treat those with symptoms of arthritis? Many of your clients could use these, or know others that would benefit from them. This creates an opportunity for welcoming new clients, who may return often to take part.

Try Before You Commit: Before adding new services and new employees to your salon, try getting a new product line for body treatments to start the ball rolling. Select a line that offers a lot of education, and have beauty wellness nights for clients to attend. Incorporate small "add-ons" to services, using these items and see how your guests respond.

Getting back to the family tree of wellness / beauty may be something you already gravitate towards, but taking that first step does not always have to be costly or painful. This can be a step in the right directions for you and your clients overall well-being.

Charlene Abretske is an independent business advisor. To reach her email charleneabretske@gmail.com or call (760)453-1882.