Established and emerging facial devices offer clients cutting-edge results—while boosting the reputations and bottom lines of tech-savvy spas.
From microdermabrasion and oxygen infusion to light therapy and lunchtime lasers, high-tech beauty offerings that address a range of skincare concerns are in demand, and spas are answering the call. However, as innovators develop increasingly effective treatments, the plethora of options can easily overwhelm. “What makes clients repeatedly return are results—and cutting-edge technology provides them,” asserts Christie Lavigne, director of skin care for Oasis Day Spas, with locations in New York City and Westchester, New York. “It’s crucial for spas to stay current with what’s trending and new, but finding the right fit can be confusing and expensive to navigate.” To help sort through the range of available treatments, pros in the know share their takes on top-selling technologies—and why clients are clamoring for them.
A longtime spa standby, microdermabrasion removes dead skin cells mechanically, using either crystal powder or a diamond-head tip wand paired with suction. “The technician performs one to two passes over the skin to exfoliate, and results can be remarkable, as multiple layers are removed during each treatment,” notes Lavigne. “It provides an immediately smoother texture and allows products to penetrate the skin more effectively.” Clients may experience slight sensitivity or redness after treatment, usually dissipating within 24 hours, but the painless and affordable service remains a favorite.
According to Cynthia Malcom, founder and education director of Edgar Renee Aesthetic Education & Consulting Group in Columbus, Ohio, microcurrent is also one of the most popular treatments in spas for tightening and firming facial muscles and skin tissue. “A low-intensity modified direct current produces low-frequency pulses with different wave forms to treat the loss of muscle tone in the face due to aging, genetics, sun and gravity,” she explains. “Microcurrent increases energy in the muscles, collagen production and protein synthesis; stimulates healing on a cellular level (i.e., for treating scar tissue); and boosts cell permeability, which allows nutrients to easily pass into cells while more easily eliminating waste.” For best results, Lavigne recommends a series of 5 to 10 sessions over a three- to six-month period, although many clients notice an immediate effect.
Meanwhile, Alison Vandekraak, owner of Skin Deep & Beyond Medical and Day Spa in Tualatin, Oregon, says that one of her top-performing facial services incorporates microcurrent, microdermabrasion and an enzyme peel; she notes that microneedling treatments are also exceedingly popular. The modality uses fine needles to create hundreds of tiny, invisible puncture wounds in the skin’s top layer, she explains. This stimulates the body’s natural healing processes, resulting in cell turnover and increased collagen and elastin production, thereby reversing and preventing signs of aging. “Microneedling, also called collagen induction therapy (CIT), is my favorite—our go-to treatment for a number of concerns, including fine lines and wrinkles, pigmentation problems, acne scarring, sagging or loose skin, stretch marks and general signs of aging,” notes Vandekraak. “It’s minimally invasive, virtually painless—thanks to a specially formulated numbing cream—and incredibly effective.” She recommends that clients receive a series of three to four treatments, then maintain results with a session every
At The Beverly Hills Plaza Medical Spa inside The Beverly Hills Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, the top treatment is the Profound Microneedle RF, which combines microneedling with radiofrequency. According to esthetician Jeanie Bryant, client satisfaction with the service is very high—and for good reason. “With this device, heat energy is sent down the needles with couplers that measure the exact temperature at all times, offering more precise results and tackling wrinkles, rosacea, scarring and loss of elasticity,” she explains. “Plus, it stimulates collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid (HA) production—ideal for the neck and jawline—with natural-looking results.”
Bryant adds that clients also enjoy microneedling combined with LED therapy and a stem cell infusion mask—an affordable treatment that can provide a dramatic transformation in terms of texture, wrinkles, tightening, scarring and hyperpigmentation. “It’s a one-stop shop, and you can double your results by using retinoids beforehand,” she notes. “Or, add a cream chemical peel for a few minutes after microneedling to reboot stem cells.”
Spas can also tackle clients’ most common skincare woes with an endless array of therapies that enhance other services in addition to providing their own unique benefits. Some have been trusted for decades, like mesotherapy, which has been used since the early 1950s to deliver vitamins, plant extracts and other nutrients into the skin via a series of subcutaneous injections. Although results can take time, the treatment is typically successful in the long term, firming, diminishing fat and yielding smoother skin, says Lavigne.
Another popular multitasker is galvanic current, which creates two significant reactions: chemical (desincrustation) and ionic (iontophoresis). “The electrical currents both cleanse the skin of impurities and infuse moisture into its deeper layers—ideal when performing a purifying facial,” explains Malcom. “Regular galvanic treatments combined with a healthy lifestyle can take years off the skin, helping it tighten naturally and producing a youthful, vibrant look.”
When Lavigne’s clients request plumper, more hydrated complexions, she opts for oxygen infusion treatments. “Pure oxygen is generated and blown through a wand directly into the skin, which increases circulation and helps revive the cells at the surface for a fresher appearance and a dewy, healthy glow,” she explains. It’s also quick, easy and relatively inexpensive—and can be added onto almost any service for a final polish and complexion boost, continues Lavigne.
LED therapy is another multitasker ideal for damaged skin in need of repair, during which treatments implement color wavelengths of visible light to deliver specific benefits. The body uses the light as a source of energy to fuel the repair and rejuvenation of skin cells, and to kill bacteria when addressing blemish-prone complexions. “Blue light boasts antibacterial properties for the treatment of acne, eczema and psoriasis, while red light increases natural hydration levels, reduces redness and inflammation, shrinks pores’ appearance, regulates oil production, improves circulation and accelerates skin repair,” says Malcom. “Near infrared light is the most deeply absorbed wavelength, and it helps increase cell permeability and absorption, smooth fine lines, improve elasticity, reduce inflammation and accelerate healing.”
Busier clients may prefer no-downtime (aka lunchtime) lasers, medspa mainstays that boast fast results for issues including acne, scarring, large pores and fine wrinkles, says Lavigne. These lasers are typically nonablative, meaning that the skin’s bottom layers are stimulated and thickened to cause collagen, elastin and HA production, while the top layer may only look slightly red or pink—mild enough to go unnoticed, says Malcom. “We specialize in the Pro Yellow laser, which targets the tiny capillary system that feeds hyperpigmentation. It can also address broken capillaries and build collagen,” adds Bryant.
Finally, ultrasonic (or ultrasound) utilizes low-frequency sound waves in a three-stage system for mechanical exfoliation, molecular penetration and healing micro-amp therapy. “The device can combat signs of aging, clear acne, manage rosacea and control hyperpigmentation, in addition to helping many other skin challenges,” notes Malcom. “It can also be used for cleansing, electrical exfoliation, desincrustation and product penetration.” The waves are able to penetrate the skin and reach the second layer of muscles underneath facial muscles, where skin makes new collagen, producing results that are more than skin deep—literally!
—by Tracy Morin
This story first appeared in the July issue of DAYSPA Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.