Category Archives: Industry News

Green Revolution

By Heather Mikesell via American Spa Magazine

Learn how today’s spas are making a difference and saving money with a variety of innovative environmental initiatives.


Spas are in the business of helping people live healthier lives. It stands to reason then that adopting eco-friendly strategies for your spa is yet another way to practice what you preach. While that should be motive enough, there are also the added cost-cutting benefits that come from employing energy-efficient features, water-recycling systems, and more. Whatever the reasoning—health or wealth—there has never been a better time to go green. While spas built from the ground up to be LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) do have an advantage, there are plenty of other ways you can make your spa a healthier place while also cutting costs and reducing waste. In fact, many spas are doing so in ways that are truly groundbreaking, so learn from their successes on how easy and rewarding it is to be green.

Conserve Resources

Modest green measures can make a big difference to your bottom line, especially as it relates to energy and water conservation. According to Travis Anderson, spa director at Lantana Spa at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort (TX), the simple act of reviewing treatment protocols and decreasing the number of towels used in some services reduced the spa’s laundry costs by thousands of dollars. Kayantá Spa at The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun (Mexico) relies on eco-friendly bamboo linens, which require less water to wash.

Maggie Wagner, senior director of spas at Travaasa Experiential Resorts (Austin, TX and Maui, HI), encourages staff members to conserve energy by unplugging hot stone heaters, lamps, and coffee makers at the end of the day. Energy efficiency is also a priority at Hyatt at Olive 8’s LEED-certified Elaia Spa (Seattle), which features LED lights throughout the facility. The efficient lighting, however, doesn’t keep the staff from finding additional ways to reduce energy usage. “We have a one-hour period each day in which the lights are turned off in our 24-hour fitness facility, and the natural light coming in through the floor-to-ceiling windows allows our guests to work out,” says spa director Adam Estrella.

Reducing its carbon footprint has always been a priority at Complexions Spa for Beauty & Wellness (Albany, NY). In fact, the spa was the first in the country to receive Gold LEED certification for new construction in 2009. According to owner Denise Dubois, the spa saves more than $10,600 annually on its utility bills, thanks to a variety of energy-efficient measures, such as using motion-controlled light sensors to automatically turn off lights when a room is not in use. “The greenhouse gas savings is estimated to be 56 tons annually—the equivalent of the CO2 emissions from the electricity use of nearly seven homes for one year,” says Dubois.

Choose Eco-Friendly Products

More than just a passing trend, the green movement has had a profound impact on the development of spa products. “The best practice we have for our spa is utilizing only organic or natural product lines for all of our spa treatments,” says Estrella. “Not only does it offer better benefits for our guests and therapists, but also the everlasting effect on the land from the agricultural process used is truly the ultimate win.” Eco-focused brands continually strive to reduce their impact on the environment by relying on sustainable farming and green practices.

Sage Springs Club & Spa at Sunriver Resort (OR) is also dedicated to purchasing organic and locally made products to further reduce its carbon footprint. “Roughly 90 percent of our products are handcrafted and locally farmed, which means no shipping footprint,” says spa operations manager Tifany LeGuyonne. According to her, the spa’s choice of skincare line has had the greatest impact on its bottom line. “Our ability to source a line that is not only organic but also affordable with no shipping costs means we can maintain our profit margins while supporting local farmers,” she says.

Not limited to health and beauty lines, green manufacturing practices can also apply to any items your spa retails. Hotel Terra’s Chill Spa (Jackson Hole, WY), for example, looks to partner with an array of vendors that share its green philosophy, such as Alō Yoga clothing, which features a solar-powered design house. “By supporting vendors who have the same passion and drive for green initiatives, we can make a difference,” says spa manager Sara Dolentz.

Product packaging is another area in which your spa can make a change for the better by  teaming up with product companies that use recycled and eco-friendly packing materials. “Even though we recycle most of the packaging the products arrive in, it remains too high,” says Estrella. That’s one of the reasons St. Julien Hotel & Spa (Boulder, CO) created a hotel-wide initiative to reduce and eliminate package waste by using only compostable or recyclable packaging.

According to Roberto Arjona, chief executive of Rancho La Puerta (Tecate, Mexico) and president of the Green Spa Network, there is much room for improvement in terms of product packaging, working with local green companies, incorporating more organic and biodegradable products, and relying on more recycled and repurposed materials. “Across the industry, I think the area in which spas have the hardest time transitioning to truly green practices is the packaging of the products we use,” says LeGuyone. “I think the next step is transitioning to biodegradable packaging across the board.”

Reuse, Reduce, Recycle

When The Spa at Laguna Cliffs at Marriott Resort & Spa (Dana Point, CA) needed a bit of an update, it was deemed the perfect time for a “green-ovation.” “We saw an opportunity to update the brand and look of the spa, but we didn’t necessarily need a top-to-bottom renovation,” says spa director Jessica Timberlake. “After several hours of meetings with designers, we selected a design partner with a great vision for repurposing our existing elements.” Instead of purchasing 70 new lockers, the spa opted to relaminate its current lockers. Existing glass display shelves were frosted to create a new look without producing waste. The spa also incorporated some upcycled art pieces, installations of reclaimed wood to add texture and warmth. “Design bids are a spa director’s best friend when presenting ideas to ownership,” says Timberlake. “Because we selected to work with a creative designer, we shaved 30 percent off the renovation cost, which was less expensive than if we were to purchase all new items.”

Ongoing recycling efforts are another way to reduce waste. “We have always had a paper and cardboard recycling program, but last year, we partnered with a local charity that collects recyclable plastic containers,” says Anderson. “I am amazed by how much plastic we no longer throw away.” At Sage Springs Club & Spa, old linens are upcycled into cleaning rags or donated to local animal shelters. The opportunities to do good are endless.

One of the most innovative initiatives launched at Rancho La Puerta involved replacing garbage bags with reusable containers throughout the property. The spa now reuses buckets originally utilized for food delivery. The spa also offers an employee-based recycling program in which staff members bring their recycling to work. When looking for ways to reduce waste, remember that involving your staff and clientele has the added benefit of raising awareness and instilling a positive feeling about your spa and its green philosophy.

Give Back

While there are many ways to make your spa more sustainable, you needn’t stop there. The folks at Calistoga Ranch (CA) certainly didn’t when they came up with the idea of helping to rebuild the honey bee population in Napa Valley and educate guests about the benefits of bees and their honey. “The comprehensive ‘Bee Well’ program not only includes eco-luxe honey-infused spa treatments but also a mobile observation beehive that is showcased when prearranged for guests to enjoy during weekly tours,” says general manager Coni Thornburg. “The bee population at Calistoga Ranch has now grown to five hives, with up to 30,000 bees per hive.” Other spas and product companies give back by planting trees and donating to green causes.

Just know that whatever your spa is able to do to make strides along the path to sustainability is definitely a step in the right direction. “Maintaining a green business is a journey not a destination, and there will continually be areas where newer practices can be taken into consideration,” says Dubois. The key is to keep looking for ways in which to green your spa. “What we have found at Chill Spa is that green is not a trend, it is a growing awareness,” says Dolentz. “By making eco-conscious decisions in purchasing, collaborating with green vendors, and continuing with energy-efficient systems, we are making a statement to our spa guests that we have a moral investment in the environment.”

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What Is Cupping & Will You Love It?

By Jennifer Dubowsky  via



Celebrities like Gwenyth Paltrow, her husband Chris Martin, Jennifer Aniston, and Victoria Beckham are all fans of cupping. This ancient technique is becoming trendy, and while I’m not usually a follow-the-crowd kind of girl, I do appreciate good publicity for Chinese Medicine.

Cupping is an effective remedy commonly used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and the more people who know about it and appreciate the benefits, the better. The earliest written documentation of Chinese cupping dates back three thousand years, when it was recommended for the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis. Cupping is not exclusive to Chinese Medicine. Similar treatments have been used by ancient Egyptians, North American Indians, early Greeks, and in other Asian and European countries.

Cupping uses suction applied to glass, plastic or bamboo cups (they often look like glass jelly jars) to pull up the tissue in an affected area . The suction causes a negative pressure, and the underlying skin is raised, or sucked, partway into the cup. You’ll usually feel a tight sensation in the area of the cup, and that often feels very good. Cups are left in place for 5-20 minutes, and sometimes the cups are moved around on your back in a gliding motion. Cupping relaxes your muscles, stimulates blood flow, lymph, and Qi to the affected area and throughout your body.

One important thing to know about cupping is that although it is an effective, safe technique, you will probably be bruised afterwards. The cups leave distinctive pink, red or purple circles or streaks where they are placed. The skin discoloration may last anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks. Generally, the bruises don’t hurt, though occasionally they may be a little sore. I always recommend that my patients drink plenty of water and take an Epsom salts bath after a cupping treatment because the salts are anti-inflammatory and can help prevent or relieve soreness. Cupping can be repeated once the marks have cleared up.

Cupping is often combined with an acupuncture treatment, but can also be used alone. It’s wonderful for treating many conditions, including stress, pain relief, allergies, flu, colds, back pain, anxiety, muscle aches, red itchy skin conditions (cups are not placed on areas of the skin that are inflamed), and fevers. Cupping also enhances circulation and pull toxins from your body’s tissues.

To some people, this may sound like an unusual treatment, but once you try it, you’ll understand why cupping is winning fans among athletes, celebrities, and all the rest of us who want to remain active and feel great.


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8 Biggest Spa Trends for 2015

Written by Vera Gibbons for MarketWatch

Hotel Spa

Now that the stress of the holiday season is behind us, how about a trip to the spa? After all, the spa experience is “more accessible than ever,” says Lynne McNees, president, International Spa Association. “And while we’re still frequenting spas to manage stress, and take that much-needed ‘time out’ to disconnect and recharge our batteries,” these days, we’re looking for much more than basic pampering. “We want to learn how to take better care of ourselves; an all-pronged approach to health,” says Beth McGroarty, Research Director, Spafinder Wellness.

Haven’t paused your frenzied pace in a while? Here are some of the biggest spa trends for 2015:

Wellness and Preventive Treatments

Have a bad back? You may be considering yoga. Allergies? Try naturopathy. Mysterious aches and pains? How about a massage or acupuncture? Maybe it’s time to work with a Kinesiologist (someone who specializes in body movement)? “Consumers want to support health and prevent problems, rather than address issues once they become problematic,” says Allan Share, president, Day Spa Association. “This urgency has come to the forefront because consumers are feeling uncared for in the medical community; they want to stay on track without running to the doctor, particularly given the rise in premiums and out of pocket health-care costs.”

Specialty Spas

In the past, spas were trying to please everyone, says Debra Koerner, co-founder of Well World Group, a spa consultancy firm. “They were expanding their menus and offering an overwhelming number of services.” Fast forward to 2015. “In the bigger cities, in particular, we’re seeing more niche properties and new franchises open up that offer convenience and affordability, specializing in one thing – whether massages (Massage Envy now has 1,000 locations across 49 states.), brows, lashes, hair or feet.”


This year, expect to see continued growth in treatments and services that are personalized, says McGroarty. You can customize your own scents and oil, blend your own lipsticks and shadows, or choose the focus of a facial, for example.

Treatments for Men

Men are becoming more open to the spa experience because they recognize the value of taking better care of themselves. And spas are taking notice, rolling out macho-sounding therapies – like the “sports massage” or “executive massage.” What are men looking for? Primarily stress relief and pain relief, says Koerner.

Express, Express, Express

Time: Nobody seems to have enough of it these days. Hence, the onslaught of express treatments, offered by the likes of Elizabeth Arden’s Red Door and numerous others. In fact, 77% of spas now offer treatments that are 30 minutes or less, according to McNees. “If you have a full hour and want four things done in one swoop with several therapists working on you at one time, you can do that, too.” And at a time that’s convenient for you. “Spas no longer keep banker hours,” says McGroarty. “They’re opening earlier – 7 am – and staying open later – until 10 pm to accommodate everyone’s busy schedules.”

Social Yoga

Social Fitness

How does an early morning rooftop yoga class sound, followed by a mini-facial or other spa treatment, and then a light lunch? Any interest in a ‘Girls Night Out’ or group outing that’s centered around working out and feeling good? Social fitness is a huge trend in 2015. As we continue to work lonely, extended hours, the “fitness-and-human connection-hungry demographic” will continue to grow, says McGroarty. “It’s like a party, but unlike going to a nightclub, you’re engaging in healthy behavior with like-minded individuals. And it’s fun.”

Expanded Spa Boutiques

Remember when spas simply had a designated corner to display candles, oils, and other small tokens? Those days are long gone, says Share. “Spas have figured it out – after people come in and have a treatment they’re relaxed, feeling out of this world, and in the mood to buy.” Hence, the plethora of “things” to buy beyond the “basics.”

Continued Care

Consumers are no longer just treatment-oriented, says Angie Day, Canyon Ranch’s corporate spa director. “They’re educated, and they’re asking more questions than ever, looking within to extend the benefits well beyond the treatment; they want follow-up, customized programs so they can incorporate what they’ve learned into their daily routine.”


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8 Salons That Let Guys Get Their Groom On

Written By Chanel Parks for the Huffington Post


Salons that cater to men and all their grooming needs are cropping up all around the country, offering guys a place to get a shave, manicure, or a casual back wax all in one stop. Instead of fiddling with complicated tools in the bathroom, guys can frequent these fine establishments to kick back and relax.

Some gentlemen still think that spas and salons are meant for women, but Mike Gilman, CEO of, believes otherwise.

“Every time a man frequents Grooming Lounge or a similar place, it helps to lessen the taboos that once surrounded men taking pride in their appearances,” Gilman tells HuffPost Style. He adds that such locations geared toward men should leave guys “feeling confident, rather than embarrassed,” which could promote “future visits, recommendations to friends and a general spike in handsomeness.”

If you or the man in your life is in need of some spa-like rejuvenation, check out these sweet spots below.

1. Grooming Lounge is a DC-based lounge that can groom guys from head to toe. As an added bonus, the salon has a line of products AND its companion site provides stellar tips and expert advice. Find a shop, here.

2. American Male is the place for those who are nervous about bacne. The salon has a whole treatment for that, among other things, that will leave anybody’s skin feeling nice and smooth. Find locations across the country, here.

3. The Gents Place offers a relaxed atmosphere equipped with shoe shines, messages and multiple hair services. Find more information about its locations in Kansas and Texas here.

4. Kiehl’s, the skincare brand often celebrated for its products like the Midnight Recovery Concentrate, has a salon that is a refreshing spin on the traditional barbershop. Get a facial, a body polish, or maybe a trim for that massive beard. The Kiehl’s salon is located in New York City.

5. The Art Of Shaving has a name that speaks for itself. With locations across the country, salons combine the brand’s beloved products with “Master Barbers” who take male grooming to a new, classy level. Find a store in your state, here.

6. Roosters Men’s Grooming Center has guys covered in the best ways possible. Sure, any hairdresser can give you a haircut, but what about one that comes with golf advice? Find more locations across the U.S. here.

7. Eighteen Eight Fine Men’s Salon has all the treatments that can get any guy out of a grooming slump. So go ahead, make an appointment. Find a salon near you here.

8. John Allan’s Premier Men’s Grooming Club is a place where a guy can enjoy a cold one while receiving a Sports Pedicure, because getting pampered is so much sweeter with a drink in hand. Find locations here.


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The Tattoo Removal Industry is Growing Rapidly

Increased social acceptability of and interest in tattoos has driven demand for them, which ultimately increased the pool of potential customers who may regret their initial decision and want their tattoos removed by this industry’s practitioners. Although the recession caused drops in disposable income that flowed onto the industry as reduced demand, heightened unemployment as a result of the recession actually supported the Tattoo Removal Practitioners industry because many job seekers sought to cover up tattoos in order to obtain employment. Enticed by fast growth and low barriers to entry, entrepreneurs and companies flocked to the industry. For these reasons, industry research firm IBISWorld has added a report on the Tattoo Removal Practitioners industry to its growing industry report collection.

The Tattoo Removal Practitioner industry grew quickly over the past five years, with revenue expanding at an average annual rate of 20.9% to $65.6 million in 2012. Increased social acceptability of and interest in tattoos has driven demand for them, which ultimately increased the pool of potential customers who may regret their initial decision and want their tattoos removed. Further pushing growth has been the recession, says IBISWorld industry analyst Justin Molavi, with “heightened unemployment increasing demand from job seekers who wanted to cover up tattoos to improve their job prospects.” At the same time, the recession did cause drops in disposable income, which mitigated some growth because it limited consumers’ ability to pay for tattoo removal.

Innovation has been a key focus in the Tattoo Removal Practitioner industry, with increasing use of Q-switching laser technology to remove tattoos, which allows less patient evasiveness and scarring. According to Molavi, “This move has not only resulted in higher demand for tattoo removal since consumers generally prefer this method, but also supported demand for tattoos because people now see how relatively easy it is to remove them with this method (in comparison to other methods used by the industry).” Industry players purchased this technology at accelerating rates to meet demand from customers who demanded tattoo removal.

The industry will continue to grow over the next five years, albeit at a slower rate. Although demand will still be high, given the ease of removal with laser technology, the boost in demand that resulted from high unemployment will fade as the US economy gains steam and unemployment declines. The absence of the high growth experienced during the past five years will result in fewer new entrants during the next five years. Although existing companies, such as MEDermis Laser Clinic, LaserAway and the Dr. Tattoff franchise, only comprise a small share of industry revenue, they will continue to increase market share through geographical expansion. IBISWorld estimates that most of the industry’s revenue comes from the Southeast, West and Mid-Atlantic regions due to their higher population densities and the presence of major metropolitan areas in these regions. For more information visit IBISWorld’s Tattoo Removal Practitioners in the US industry page.

Source: PRWEB on January 28, 2012 at

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Men, Boomers Fuel Growth in Spa Industry

Via Fox News

The spa industry is booming, particularly in China and India, as more men and aging boomers seek pain relief as well as relaxing and luxury treatments, including $1,250 facials.

Massage is still the most popular request, but people with deep pockets can opt for pricier treatments such as the ultra-expensive facial from New York skincare expert Dangene, who is booked months in advance.

Treatments ranging from plasma therapy, in which a patient’s platelet-rich plasma is extracted from their blood and injected into wrinkles, and infrared saunas to oxygen therapy and salt rooms are also giving a boost to the $250 billion industry.

“The word spa has become a global term. It has captured people’s imaginations and is a term they can relate to in a very positive way,” said Susie Ellis, the president of SpaFinder Inc, a global spa resource group that publishes a yearly report on the industry.

“There has been an explosion (in spas) in Asia,” she added in an interview.

China and India are leading in spa/hotel development, but there is also growth in Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Egypt, according to Ellis.

New Wave and Speedy Treatments

In the United States, men wanting to look younger to compete in a tough job market are heading to spas.

“Twenty five years ago hardly any man would go to a spa. Now in some spas half of their clientele are men,” said Ellis.

“We’ve got the men, the younger generation and the baby boomers that are fueling it.”

Day spa clients are predominately female but the number of men is increasing.

“Overall, our industry is showing about a 70-30 split.” said Ellis.

Baby boomers are shifting away from pampering treatments to pain relief and physical therapy, while their children, who grew up along with the modern spa industry in the 1980s, make up the new wave of clients, along with men.

“They come to improve their golf swing or they have an ache in their back. Relaxation is part of it but often times it is more results orientated,” according to Ellis.

And whether it is a 20-minute massage, a 10-minute workout, a lunch-time facial or a speedy injection of Botox before heading back to the office, quick treatments are all the rage.

“It’s huge,” said Ellis. “The whole idea of fast beauty, fast fitness, shorter workouts — that whole thing is trending.”

With everyday life speeding up and stress identified as the main reason for people visiting spas, most experts at the Global Spa Summit in Bali, Indonesia in May predicted that good times for the industry would continue, with preventive medicine and beauty and cosmetic accounting for most of the growth spurt.

“The whole idea of spa and wellness tourism is another trend I think is something to watch,” said Ellis.

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Report Forecasts Growth in US Spa Market for Next Two Years

By Jessica Tasman-Jones

Industry intelligence group Research and Markets predicts moderate growth for the next two years in the US spa industry as the economy picks up and drives discretionary consumer spending.

The research company this month announced the addition of spa services to its market research and data offering.

Its 2013 report on the US$13bn (10.1bn euro, £8.6bn) US spa industry is broken down into an industry overview, a quarterly update, challenges, trends, opportunities, call preparation questions, financial information, industry forecast and web links.

The company says the profitability of individual companies depends on efficient resource use and effective marketing.

While large companies have an advantage due to economies of scale, smaller companies can compete by offering unique services, catering to a local market and delivering a superior customer experience.

The report describes the fitness and recreational sports centres industry – which includes spa services – as fragmented with the top 50 companies accounting for about a third of all sales.

Research and Markets ongoing research in the spa sector will chart the US$250bn (195bn euro, £165bn) global tourism spa market and tracks developments with major players such as Canyon Ranch, Golden Door, Woodhouse Spa and Steiner Leisure.

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Spa workers can relax knowing job outlook is strong

Revised from By Saga Briggs

Considering a career in spa service? It’s a wise move. A yearly study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that the demand for spa and salon workers in 2011 outpaced the total percentage of economic growth in the U.S. the same year.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted a 25 percent growth in day spa jobs through the year 2020 – greater than the average for all careers. Houston, in particular, boasts an especially competitive spa market. But what do spa workers do, exactly, and how do they qualify for employment?

Day spa workers include estheticians, cosmetologists, manicurists, makeup artists, hair stylists, massage therapists and salon managers. Individuals who become estheticians also find rewarding careers in cosmetics marketing, purchasing or beauty consulting, while others move into the medical community as paramedical estheticians or esthetician training instructors.

Becoming an esthetician requires specialized training at a cosmetology or esthetician school. You will complete skin-care training with experienced instructors by studying theory and practicing techniques in a classroom, as well as student salon or spa setting. Once you’ve completed esthetician training at the school, you will then need to pass the state licensing exam to earn an esthetician license to begin working.

Similarly, cosmetologists attend beauty school to learn skills and techniques needed to pass their state licensing exam for hair, nails, makeup, safety and sanitation.

Every state has slightly different training hour requirements to be able to sit for the cosmetology board exams. Most beauty and cosmetology schools require a high school diploma or a GED equivalent to enroll and last four to 12 months, depending on whether students attend full time or part time.

To become a licensed manicurist, you must be at least 16 years old, have a high school diploma or its equivalent and complete a course in manicuring from a licensed cosmetology.

Required hours also can run between 200 and 600 hours (about three months), and usually involve a combination of classes and hands-on training. You will then need to complete a licensing exam to be hired at a spa or salon.

A salon or spa manager oversees the day-to-day operations of the salon, spa, beauty bar, or other beauty business. Day-to-day operations may include hiring and training employees and delegating tasks among them; ordering and selling supplies; managing paperwork, bills and payroll; handling public relations and advertising; and making sure everyone works well together so the business runs as smoothly as possible.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, esthetician and cosmetologist salaries average $28,920 per year, but depend on a number of factors. Many cosmetologists choose to work part time instead of full time, and salary has the potential to grow with experience, growing clientele, and increasing hours worked. The Bureau of Labor states manicurists can expect to make from $17,760 to $30,600 a year, but salaries vary. Some salons offer commission on product sales and bonuses to manicurists who bring in new clients. According to the National Salary Data, a salon or spa manager can earn anywhere between $21,000 and $54,000, depending on the size of the salon or spa and the region of the country.

Employers range from small family-owned businesses to large hotels and salon chains. At The Houstonian Hotel’s Trellis Spa, job candidates often go through a multi-step application process, beginning with a completed application and resume, moving on to an interviewing stage, and ending in hire or elimination.

Employment manager Kay Pyatt said that spa workers at Trellis are expected to have some customer service experience before applying for a position. Retail experience counts too, she said. For higher-level jobs, though, more experience is expected.

“Estheticians must have two years’ experience,” Pyatt said, “and hair stylists must have the necessary licensure as well as 10 years’ experience.”

At smaller businesses, such as Sunset Bodyworks, the hiring process can be different.

At Sunset, job candidates are expected to have the necessary state licensure, but other than that, hiring potential relies on whether or not you seem like a good fit for the business. Professionals at Sunset create their own schedules, too.

Many beauty schools and cosmetology schools offer cosmetology job placement services for their recent graduates. The admissions representatives can confirm if they offer such services when you request information from beauty schools you are considering.

If they do offer cosmetology job-placement services, ask what their job placement rate is after graduation.

Cosmetology programs in Houston can be found at the Regency Beauty Institute; Remington College; the Ogle School of Hair, Skin, and Nails; the Aveda Institute of Houston; and Natural Images Beauty College

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Unusual Spa Treatments

Many spa goers are familiar with the traditional treatments such as massages, facials, or other procedures like body wraps or acupuncture. However, some spas are offering more unique treatments such as wine baths, fish pedicures or massages with cactus.

Yunnesan Spa in Hakone, Japan offers visitors the chance to relax in hot tubs of wine, tea, sake, coffee or even ramen noodles. Sake is supposedly good for the skin while green tea can boost your immune system.

Chocolate is known to have antioxidants so Hotel Hershey in Hershey, PA offers treatments featuring the product the destination is most popular for. Guests can enjoy the signature Cocoa Massage, which uses chocolate scented massage oil during a standard Swedish massage. Some of the more unusual choices include the Whipped Cocoa Bath or the Chocolate Fondue Wrap. For the wrap, a mud and cocoa mixture is applied to the body before being wrapped in a soft blanket.

A cactus massage might not seem like the ideal way to relax, but fortunately the sharp thorns are removed from the cactus paddles. The Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Mexico uses the cactus to blend in a variety of natural ingredients into the skin such as nopal, pulque, cactus meringue and cactus blossom.

One of the more unusual way to exfoliate your feet is with the use of tiny fish. Guests stick their feet in a tub which contains dozens of these small fish. The fish nibble away at the dead skin on the feet, which might sound painful but is actually more ticklish because these fish have no teeth. This treatment originated in Turkey but is now found in countries all over the world including England, Japan and even the United States.

Hotel Heubad in Italy has an unusual body wrap treatment that involves being wrapped in wet hay. This treatment is supposed to fortify your immune system while also boosting your metabolism.

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Massage as Medicine

Massage therapy has been known for a variety of health benefits including stress reduction, pain management and improved circulation and flexibility. It can benefit anyone from pregnant women to premature babies. Despite numerous studies that prove these benefits, massage therapy has not always been accepted as a legitimate type of medicine. As of now, Washington is the only state that requires insurers to cover massage therapy.

Fortunately, this type of alternative medicine is steadily gaining acceptance. More hospitals are bringing in massage therapists and even acupuncturists as a natural way to help ease the pain and discomfort of some of their patients. Although these “integrative therapies” are usually not covered by insurance, their effectiveness compels people to pay extra.

Research on the effectiveness of massage therapy has increased over the last several years, perhaps driven by the increase of people getting massages. People in the massage industry hope that continued research will urge more insurers to cover this type of alternative medicine. Chiropractors and physical therapists are usually covered by insurance, but traditional massage therapists are often left out.

Western and alternative medicine have often been in conflict with one another, but alternative methods seem to be gradually gaining acceptance when used in addition to more standard healthcare. It may still take more time and research before massage therapy is widely accepted as a legitimate form of medicine but in the meantime, there will still be those who know and take advantage of its beneficial results.

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