November 2012

Lisa Kind - Editor

Esthetic Endeavors | by Judith Culp


Selecting the Right Product

One of the most exciting and daunting things an esthetician (or any beauty specialist) does is finding the right products for their facility.

Whether this means selecting your new start-up line, or adding a new product, the process requires careful consideration to prevent an expensive mistake. This lesson is learned from the hard school called life.

It is very easy for the decision making process to be guided by enthusiastic, well-meaning salespersons who love their product and are sure you will too. But when emotion gets involved, logic has a tendency to get lost.

It is important for you to first and foremost protect your business and your finances. This may mean taking a step back, taking a deep breath and thinking carefully about your decisions.

Here is a two-step process for choosing the right products for your facility.

First, Ask Yourself Questions About The Products

What do you know about the product? What skin type and condition(s) is it designed to address? Have you looked at the technical data about the product? Will it do what the sales person says? Are they making realistic "cosmetic" claims?

The FDA is taking a hard look at companies who are making medical claims for cosmetic products. You don't want the products you select to be in the middle of a legal argument that involves the FDA.

What do you know about the company? Are they stable and do they have a positive reputation for client support? Do they provide thorough product training and complete product documentation? (Don't forget to ask for MSDS sheets.)

What is their opening order and reorder policy? If they have a high re-order requirement it could make it difficult if you are only after a specialty product. Basically the best choice is to keep the number of suppliers that you deal with to a minimum so that it is easier to make your re-orders and your life simpler.

Check company policies: what are their rules for return? Products that go bad are rare, but it happens. How long is the shelf life? Can the product only be marketed in your clinic or can you offer it in your on-line store also? If you have out-of-town clients, online shopping capabilities can help keep your customers loyal.

Does the company provide marketing and client educational materials? What is the fee for these? Having professional marketing and educational materials can save you a lot of money and time and improves your professional appearance.

Second, Ask Questions to Evaluate How the Products Fit.

What is your market niche? Who are your customers? What are their skin care needs? Does the product match with these needs? If you cater to boomers, don't invest in products geared to generation y's as they will be much harder to retail. You may think your clients are all ages. While you may treat diverse age groups, generally one group will dominate. Focus most of your purchase on that one group for quicker sales and profit.

What about price points? Can your clients afford this product? How will they value it? If your clients are very results oriented and you found a fabulous, luxurious pampering body lotion, they may not be as enthusiastic about purchasing as you hoped.

If your clinic offers discounted facials and market primarily via discount specials, those clients are looking for less expensive products and sale prices. Expensive peptide blends may not be the best choice for this group. There will always be exceptions but it is best to try and match the product to your philosophy and culture.

Look at the packaging. Does it fit the ambiance and style of your facility? Will it appeal to your customers? If there is a fragrance, does it match your client base? Teens tend to like fruitier smells while more mature clients prefer a floral scent.

If it is a fragrance-free product, does it smell nice? Most cosmetics need some additive to mask the naturally occurring ingredient smell. Just because it is a fabulous blend for your skin doesn't mean the blend of ingredients will smell good.

If you cater to maturing or boomer clients, keep in mind they may be dealing with arthritis or other dexterity issues. Some of the new pump containers may be more challenging if the buyer has painful joints or a loss of strength in their hands. If your clients travel a lot, are small "airline friendly" sizes available?

Do a test drive. It is always a good idea to try the product yourself so you can make sure you like its attributes, feel, and function. If you can't be its "champion," then it isn't the right product for you to try and sell.

Judith Culp, has been in the esthetics industry since 1980. She is the owner of NW Institute of Esthetics, Inc. and contributing editor for Miladys Standard Esthetics: Advanced and lead author of Esthetician's Guide to Client Safety & Wellness. For more information visit