Have you ever recommended a facial or other spa treatment to someone who you felt really could use it—for whatever reason (skin, stress, self-care, etc.)—and encountered resistance? “Oh I would never spend money on that.” Or, “Facials are just for fluff—they don’t actually do anything.” Or, “I don’t need to pay someone to wash and put cream on my face.” Of course, this is easy to take very personally if you are a skin-health professional or enthusiast! However, many times resistance to spa visits runs very deep, and repeatedly stating the benefits of spa treatments may fall on deaf ears-—or worse, alienate that person even further from ever setting foot through a spa door. Consider where your own experience and beliefs around the spa arose (and check out ours, below). Ahead, you’ll find our best strategies for opening the minds of the spa-resistant to the healing powers of a skin healthy spa service.

Spa treatments: self-care vs. necessity

What’s your “spa” story?

Tisha Jill, Co-Founder: “As a child, I was quite certain my mom would have rolled her eyes at the thought of spending money or time on a frivolous facial. My own developing perspective on self-care and beauty followed her lead. In my 20s, a doctor recommended regular massage appointments to help manage pain from a back injury. This medical endorsement and emphasis on practical benefits made massage accessible to me emotionally and a prescription made it accessible to me financially. Facials on the other hand, couldn’t be tied to a ‘health’ benefit, merely appearance, which meant they were it was not a sanctioned spa selection for me for many years. To this day, I still challenge my own convoluted construct of ‘acceptable’ skincare and self-care. Why do I regularly dole out good money for skilled haircuts, which are totally appearance-driven, but I hesitate before shelling out for a facial? Can I continue to blame it on mom?”

Rachael, Co-Founder:  “I got my first facial at a fancy spa in New Orleans, when my mother took me for my 17th birthday, kind of as a rite of passage. I enjoyed it so much (well, I didn’t enjoy the extractions!), and also noticed how my skin had a glow afterwards that it had never had before simply from using the products and medications that were recommended for my skin by the influencers who mattered the most in my teenage years–my friends, ads in teen magazines, and then the doctor. I also loved how cared for I felt, my skin, literally in the hands of the aesthetician. I began to get periodic facials when I worked at a department store that had a spa, as well as whenever I went on a vacation that had a spa. I still considered it a treat to improve my appearance, until one aesthetician said to me “You know you’re really beautiful. And these pimples, you know you don’t have to have them. If you come more often we can really improve your skin. Would that make you feel better?” I was almost moved to tears, as I nodded yes. That did it for me. I knew a future in aesthetics and skincare was in the cards for me–but I also knew that I wanted to focus on helping people feel better, more confident, and more beautiful in their skin, since that’s ultimately what made the difference for me.”

Jolene, Co-Founder: “Facials, massages, and other spa treatments weren’t in the budget in my family of six. To save money, my mom cut our hair too—my first visit to a hair salon was for prom! By the time I was hired as a beauty assistant at a major magazine, I’d never even had a facial. But a lot of that was also a result of my own embarrassment. I didn’t want anyone, including an aesthetician, to look closely at my makeup-free skin, because I was so ashamed of my breakouts and redness. Nowadays, I love getting a massage or gentle facial with natural products (and I love the results), but I steer clear of most conventional facials because their often-harsh ingredients still make my skin burn, sting, and react. Not pretty, or enjoyable.”

The spa stereotype

In many ways, spas are aware of the potential perspective that they are only destinations for wealthy, self-indulgent clients. Some spas have removed the fluff, going for a simple, minimalist experience. Others have gone to the extreme to build luxury and opulence into their services.

While still other spas have made a conscious effort to put the emphasis on practical results, and even on the “medical” benefits of going to the spa, to eliminate the belief that spas are only for expensive fluff and pampering.

Which brings us to a bit of a conundrum, because, trying to sell the value of spa or facial treatments as treatments that fix, change, heal, or even cure the skin pushes us to the very edge of an aesthetician’s legal scope of practice. Yet because it sells, and since it makes these services perceived as more legit, practitioners walk this fine line, even when they know it can potentially be dangerous.

So what do we do to make the spa a valued, welcome place for people of all backgrounds, without pushing our scope of practice? First, we need to not trivialize people’s authentic objections to this type of self-care or experience, since they won’t get the full benefit of the experience if they walk into it with shame, guilt, embarrassment, or a feeling that they don’t fit in. Here are some strategies to use:

  1. Ask open-ended questions and listen. “How do you feel about facials?” Listen, and don’t take the response personally. Rather, seek to understand what experiences created that perspective, validate it, and then state something true.
  2. Stick to the facts. Only say what is true for all, not simply your personal experience or perspective. When we feel the need to provide too much information to sell something, it can be a detriment, as it can be misinterpreted.
  3. Understand who you’re talking to and what their motivation and needs are. What type of information is important to him/her? Match the goals and stated desired results with targeted suggestions and support.

Thinking about the many perspectives, experiences, and first impressions of spa-goers and potential clients is one way to open the door to a spa experience that’s inviting to all. At the NAA, we aim to share the transformative power of the spa with everyone we know—but meet them halfway in the process.

CommentWe want to hear from you!

What’s your first memory or impression of the spa?

How does it inform your perspectives to this day?

Want more ways to help people take their first steps into the spa–and keep coming back?

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