While body scrubs are a staple for healthy, polished skin, they’re not always the easiest sell. Behold, the best trade secrets for making body buffers mainstream in your spa’s treatment rooms and retail operation.


The metaphorical appeal of body exfoliation is self-evident: “Out with the old, in with the new,” right? The trick, of course, is in convincing clients that achieving “total beauty” requires fresh, glowing skin across one’s entire body. How do you get guests to understand that regular scrubs are as important to skin health as their bimonthly facials? According to experts, the key to sales success in this arena lies in providing ample opportunities for your clients to experience those body scrub benefits for themselves.

The Art of the In-Spa Scrub

Convincing clients of body scrubs’ value might be slightly easier for Julie Mahoney, owner of Oasis Day Spa in South Weymouth, Massachusetts, than for many spa proprietors. “The winter weather wreaks havoc on New Englanders,” she says. “Exfoliation is just as important as hydrating and protecting the skin from evaporation during cold, dry months.” Mahoney often explains to winter-wary clients that body exfoliation can not only help prevent skin damage such as rashes, cracks and even open sores, but can also increase lymph drainage, a big boon during the winter when clients tend to be less physically active.

By contrast, Erin Owen, co-owner of the Mesa, Arizona-based Fuchsia Spa, reaps the benefits of warm weather-based business. “The moment that summer or some big event shifts onto the horizon, we start promoting scrubs; people become more receptive to exfoliating the skin they’ll be revealing,” she says.
Other spa owners rely on the notion of regular care, much like a facial regimen. “We recommend a professional body scrub every three months,” says Julie Puccio, owner of Houston’s Bella Nova Day Spa, who explains to clients that a professional scrub treats the whole body, and “not just the parts you can reach.”

Much of the magic of body scrubs lies in their immediate results—“Clients love that soft, smooth feeling they get after just one service,” notes Mahoney—but the less obvious reasons for imbibing are just as persuasive. “I tell guests that scrubs help prevent ingrown hair follicles where they wax, and will prep their skin to better receive airbrush or self-tanning products,” says Owen.

When words fall short, compelling imagery can speak volumes. Mahoney has had success getting her point across with graphics. “I have a poster for the summer,” she says. “It shows a pair of feet walking on wet sand and reads, ‘Experience the restorative power of the sea.’ The caption invites the client to try the Sea Spa Pedicure [60 min./$54], which includes a sea salt-based scrub. Who can say no to that?!”

In other words, you don’t have to focus on the mechanics of the service, as the simple idea of a retreat from the daily grind can curry greater appeal than the message that the client needs to exfoliate—which for some, sounds like a chore. “We often pair our body scrubs with massage or a facial as a special,” Puccio reports. “I also advise guests to try scrubs if they have ever wanted to know what it’s like to ‘be a princess’ and experience how great it feels to be cared for during the act of cleansing.”

A retreat from the daily grind can curry greater appeal than the message that the client needs to exfoliate.

Selling Smoothness in a Bottle

Take-home exfoliants move better when clients have the chance to experience them before leaving the spa, points out Oasis Day Spa’s Julie Mahoney. “We always follow up a body polish with a home maintenance recommendation,” she says. “We go so far as to hand the client the suggested product, giving her the opportunity to touch and feel and consider a purchase.” Mahoney will recommend a sugar-based scrub for sensitive skin, and salt- and coconut husk-based scrubs for clients with a thicker dermis.

Bella Nova’s Julie Puccio lets her take-home products do the talking, too. “We put out hand and body scrub samples in the bathroom and the locker room,” she says, reasoning, “People buy from experience. So they should get to try them out.” Puccio makes scrub sampling easy by positioning a portable sink in her retail area, and she also totes the sink to every off-site promotion. She even incorporates complimentary hand scrubs as an add-on to several other services. And finally, Puccio recommends botanical scrubs as the ideal complement for her sunless tanning services, as they “contain less oil than sugar scrubs, and aren’t as dehydrating as salt scrubs.”

As with marketing the treatment experience, Mahoney relies on the power of imagery to help move take-home products. “I love producing beautiful, attention-grabbing posters that tell products’ stories through ingredient-rich imagery,” she shares. “I display them in a nice frame on an easel in the lobby, and also in the front display window and on our website. The in-store displays have testers situated alongside them.”
When it comes to selling scrubs, don’t forget about senses other than touch. “Women are attracted to products that smell great,” notes Fuchsia Spa’s Owen, “so we like to provide fragrance choices for each scrub service—and we make sure those same scents are available in the retail section. This allows the client to remember her experience and channel that spa retreat sensation back at home.”

Owen relies on seasonal promotions to highlight her spa’s offerings, and Fuchsia’s displays and sample stations are regularly refreshed to reflect those initiaves. The retail area is organized by product type, Owen reports, with clearly marked testers that read, “Try Me.” “Getting the client to sample the products is key,” she stresses. “That makes it easy to fall in love with them.”

And remember, employees must be thoroughly trained to “walk the talk.” “Staff should relate to how the client will feel after the scrub,” Puccio advises. “Talk about benefits like ‘increased circulation’ and ‘no more alligator skin.’?” Owen recommends four additional buzzwords when selling scrubs: “hydrating, brightening, exfoliating—and amazing.”

“Staff should relate to how the client will feel after the scrub. Talk about benefits like ‘no more alligator skin.’?”

Russell A. Jackson is a freelance writer based in West Hollywood, California.

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