Looking younger has never been so important. Now, more than ever, people are willing to spend a few extra dollars in order to maintain a youthful appearance. Look at the boom in cosmetic surgery, for instance. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, since baby boomers crossed the 50-year mark, cosmetic surgery for 51-64 year olds has risen 47%. Cosmetic surgery in this age group rose from 164,662 procedures in 1996, when the first boomers turned 50, to 242,427 in 1998.

This desire to look younger has usually focused on the face. Other parts of the body, including the hands, have been largely ignored. Hands tend to suffer abuse by our everyday life, whether it is through environmental stress or simply working with them. And that doesn’t bode well for women who are trying to maintain a youthful appearance overall.

“Hands are a giveaway to a woman’s age,” says Tony Cuccio of Valencia, Calif.-based Cuccio Naturalé.

That’s beginning to change. “Women are realizing that taking care of the skin on their hands is just as important as taking care of the skin on their faces,” Cuccio says. Now, women aren’t only stepping into salons for a manicure or facial, they’re also asking for treatments that will revitalize and bring a glow to their hands. That can mean big business for salons that are looking for a new way to attract new clients. Adding one or two specialized hand care services to a menu gives salons a chance to offer more than a simple manicure. It makes clients want to come back for more, and it also gives salon owners a chance to charge a bit more for one of these new services.

Not Just Baby Boomers

Much has been touted of the fact that baby boomers, the group of people born between 1946 and 1964, are nearing or have already turned 50, and have more time and money to spend on themselves than any other demographic. Since this age group has more money to spend, it makes sense that these people would choose to pamper themselves — hand care services included.

“The surge in requests for these types of services is definitely driven by the maturing generation,” says Dixie Eklund, vice president of sales for FPO (Farmington Hills, Mich.).

Nancy Waspi, national sales manager for Nail Tek (Nesconset, N.Y.), adds “I’m at the baby boomer age myself, and we’re definitely concerned about aging. It doesn’t help that our hands are exposed to everything.”

That doesn’t mean older women are the only ones concerned about their hands, though. Eklund says that health-conscious Generation Xers are just as concerned. The only difference is that these 20-year-olds don’t have to worry about delaying the aging process or reversing the appearance of sun damage. Instead, they are more concerned about protecting what they have and preventing future damage.

Jan Arnold, president of Creative Nail Design (Vista, Calif.), says Generation Xers are just as willing to spend a little more on a specialized hand treatment. “They really have a disposable income,” she says.

Those aren’t the only reasons why specialized hand care seems to be on the rise, however. Lauren Breese, who’s in charge of new product development for OPI Products (N. Hollywood, Calif.), says that people are beginning to recognize that the appearance of the hands and nails is a significant part of one’s total look “Ragged, overworked hands can ruin an otherwise professional appearance,” she says.

Ellen Genco, marketing director for Orly in Chatsworth, Calif., agrees. “People are realizing that the nails are part of the hand. It’s the whole treatment trend,” she says.

Whatever the reason, hand care is here to stay. Cuccio predicts that in the next five years, there will be a boom in hand care. Waspi adds that these services will go beyond the hands, and to the arms. “It’s not a fad; it’ll be around for a while,” she says.

For Cuccio, whose product line devotes attention to the hands, this trend made perfect sense. “Nobody had pinpoint-marketed these types of products before,” he says. “They were available for the face, but not the hands. The ironic part is that the nail industry has only taken care of the nails, not the hands.”

Not Just Paraffin

Salons have been offering paraffin and exfoliating hand treatments for quite some time. In fact, many incorporate both in their age-defying treatments.

At l.a. vie l’orange in Los Angeles, clients both young and old receive the salon’s Non-Surgical Hand Lift treatment. First applied to the hands is a seaweed kelp exfoliant, which owner Kelly Brown says can be used all over the body, except the face. Then, a hydrating mud mask is applied and left on for a few minutes. Grapeseed oil, which acts as an antioxidant, is then rubbed into the hands, followed by paraffin, which is brushed onto the hands. Finally, a lemon oil skin-lightening serum is applied, followed by an acupressure massage. The service fits in with Brown’s commitment to using all-natural products. “I think there is a whole new direction of natural products and taking care of yourself,” she says.

Golden Shears Salon in Runnemede, N.J., has an extensive hand care menu with several different treatments to choose from. In fact, co-owner Linda Champion recently revamped the salon’s menu to include all-new services. “After attending a spa manicuring class, I looked at my menu and it seemed boring,” she says. “We basically offered a manicure, a massage, or a paraffin treatment I wanted to create some excitement for my clients and staff” The salone features a Glycolic Age-Defying Treatment among its services, which uses alpha-hydroxy acids to chemically exfoliate the skin. A hydrating lotion is then applied. Champion recommends that clients receive the treatment for about four to six weeks for maximum results. In addition, a glycolic lotion is given to clients for at-home use. Another popular treatment is the Dead Sea Mud Manicure, which claims to increase blood circulation, heal imperfections, and purify and tone the skin. A peppermint arm and hand exfoliation is performed prior to the mud treatment. After the mud is applied, the arms and hands are massaged with a lotion containing Dead Sea minerals, botanicals, and marine extracts.

Good for Retail

Not only can salons charge a few more dollars for a specialized hand service, they can also bring in even more revenue by offering their clients at-home maintenance products. Brown encourages clients to take home a bottle of grapeseed extract oil or lemon skin lightening serum for best results. “We encourage at-home maintenance. We tell clients it’s like taking vitamins,” she says. The same goes for Rosemary Weiner, owner of The Brass Rose Spa & Salon in Blairstown, N.J. In feet, Weiner says that retail sales account for about 28% of her salon’s business.

And manufacturers are making it easier for salon owners by offering client-pleasing packaging, in-salon displays, and even home-maintenance guides.

“Hydrating and caring for the skin is not something that can be done weekly or biweekly and then forgotten,” Eklund says. “At-home maintenance is critical. The key to retailing is to realize that clients do buy products. When products are not available from a nail professional, the client will simply try the drugstore for substitute products. When it comes to retailing, other salons are not the competition; retail stores are.”

FPO’s Pinnacle Natural line looks like something one might pick up at a department store, and the variety of lotions and creams the company offers is enticing to consumers. Other companies such as Cuccio Natural have a similar idea in mind. The line features attractive packaging and several products for clients to use at home in between services.

And at-home maintenance was exactly what Nail Tek had in mind when it debuted its 7 Days to Beautiful Hands treatment last year. Clients are instructed to take home and use the Advanced Hydrating Créme daily. By the time their next appointment rolls around, they’ll be asking to buy a bigger bottle of lotion, Waspi says.

And although their hand care products are usually meant for use in a salon service, Creative Nail Design and Orly both say that nail techs are selling them to clients. “The finishing lotion in our SpaManicure is a good retailing item,” Arnold says.

So is it time for salons to jump on the hand care bandwagon? “These types of services give salons more profit and offer clients an added benefit,” says Genco. “It enhances the whole experience of going to a salon and makes it seem like it’s more than a simple manicure.” Not only that, she says, these services help enforce a nail tech’s image as a professional.

Cuccio agrees. “The biggest problem is salons that want to be spas. They put a candle and a massage table and think they’re a spa. What really makes a spa are the types of services offered,” he says.

Getting Started

So how does a salon get started? Weiner says the first step is talking to clients about their lifestyles and what they are looking for. Then, based on the clients’ needs, she says salons should add one or two new services, such as a moisture manicure, to their menus. “If you have an esthetician in your salon, talk to her. She can give you lots of information on moisturizers and humectants,” she says.

Arnold says it is important to consider the age group a salon is working with. “Generation Xers are more cramped for time, while baby boomers have more time to spend on themselves,” she says. She suggests shortening a younger, busier client’s service to 45 minutes. Those with more time to spare won’t mind being pampered a bit longer. She also says it’s important to make a service as enticing and imaginative as possible.

“Nail techs need to realize a service like this is as important as making a fun purchase, such as sunglasses,” she says.

Eklund suggests describing in detail the experience and service in the salon menu. Also, at first, it may be a good idea to provide a new service at no charge if it is given in conjunction with another service. Chances are, clients will get hooked on that deep moisture manicure and will want to come back for more.

In the end, it all comes down to the choices a client is given. “Imagine going to a restaurant and only having one choice on the menu,” Eldund says. “Offering customized services and personalizing services to the individual needs of the customer will give her choices.”

Surgical Hand Care

Salons aren’t the only ones offering their clients soften smoother and younger-looking hands. Plastic surgeons also offer their own fountain of youth, albeit at a much higher price.

For about $ 1,200, patients can get a hand lift, Similar to a facelift, a hand lift surgically tightens aging skin on the back of the hand. According to Patrick Hudson, a plastic surgeon based in Albuquerque, N.M., a hand lift can remove wrinkling, loose skin, and enlarged veins on the back of the hand, Hudson has been doing this procedure for about 15 years, and says that so fan only women have opted for a hand lift He says the procedure works especially well On older clients, as they have a tendency to form less heavy scars than younger patients do.

Hudson removes larger veins through small incisions in the crease lines on the back of the hand. He warns that a surgeon performing this procedure must take care to preserve enough veins for blood drainage, or prolonged swelling will occur. The skin is then tightened through transverse incisions along the tension lines on the back of the hand or wrist However, the resultant scar may thicken.

Wrinkling can be treated by resurfacing with light chemical peels. However, this can cause scarring and a noticeable line between the treated area of the hand and the untreat­ed wrist, Hudson says.

A hand lift takes about 30-40 minutes to complete and is generally performed under local anesthesia. Some patients may require bandages for a few days; others may simply need a few pieces of tape applied to their hands. Patients can usually resume their normal activities after a few days. “Most people feel fine within a day or two, but complete healing takes several weeks,” Hudson says.



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