offer exfoliating treatments

If you are looking to expand the spa add-on services you offer, consider developing a signature treatment around one of the many exfoliating scrubs on the market. These may also be sold as a retail product—and if your client enjoys the treatment, selling her the scrub for home use becomes that much easier.


What’s in a Scrub?

Each scrub tends to contain one primary ingredient, such as salt, nut shells or sugar, as its scrubbing base. Scrubs often contain essential oils as well.

“Sugar scrubs, salt scrubs and anything else with exfoliation fits the definition of a scrub,” said Kristina Smith, a massage therapist at Essentials Skin and Wellness Center in Moses Lake, Washington.

Smith said the primary goal of every exfoliator is to remove dead skin cells, leaving skin looking smoother and brighter.


Read Ingredient Lists

High-quality ingredients are a must for exfoliation products, according to Smith. She recommended carefully reading labels and choosing exfoliators containing natural, botanical-based ingredients, which are usually much better for your clients. Botanicals also have the added benefit of providing pleasant scents, adding to the sensory experience of massage therapy.

“Add essential oils to customize scrubs. You can buy scrubs with essential oils, and you can add your own also,” Smith suggested.

Jean Shea, CEO of BIOTONE, which manufactures scrubs and other exfoliating products, said high-quality ingredients also impact how well the scrub feels and performs. Buying a higher-quality scrub makes your work as a massage therapist easier.

“Not only does the shape of the scrub affect the feel, but the amount of scrub material affects the overall quality of the product and the ease of use,” Shea said.


scrub in jar


Sell Scrubs

Buying the right scrubs also means your clients will be able to purchase a better product for home use. Many popular scrubs contain salts or sugars, though some scrubs use other ingredients for exfoliation, such as white cornmeal or fine pumice.

Plastic microbeads were once a popular method of removing dead skin cells, but plenty of environmentally friendly alternatives now exist that are just as effective and much healthier for the planet.

In 2015, due to concerns about microbeads accumulating in and causing harm to U.S. waterways, President Barack Obama signed legislation that bans the manufacture of products containing microbeads, beginning in July 2017.

For clients looking for alternatives to plastic microbeads now, Smith recommends jojoba beads or another biodegradable option.

Shea said scrubs are generally ideal for retailing because they are an important part of skin care, and also very affordable. Many clients are interested in the potential anti-aging properties of scrub ingredients and the benefits they may receive from these products.

“Scrubs are designed to remove the dry skin top layer. As one gets older, this layer does not turn over as fast,” Shea said. “Without this layer … moisturizing products are given more chances of hydrating the skin.”


Scrubs as an Add-On

Scrubs may be applied directly to the skin and rubbed into the skin to mechanically smooth away the dead layer. Smith also suggested using dry brushing to stimulate the skin and lymphatic system before using a scrub.

Smith recommends marketing scrubs as an add-on service, as long as you stay within the scope of practice for massage therapy. Therapists should be careful not to go beyond their own expertise and experience by implying that they are offering complete skin care services, she said. To offer the best therapy, you should obtain as much education as you can about the services you offer.

As with any product, scrubs are not for every client; you need to have a conversation with your client before offering them.

Smith said the primary concerns are allergies to scrub ingredients; and using scrubs on sensitive skin or broken skin. Damaged skin can be further damaged by the use of scrubs, so you should avoid using a scrub with your client if skin damage, including sunburn, is present. Breakouts, open wounds and rashes are all signs of skin damage that may become worse if you use a scrub.



Add Exfoliating Treatments & Products to Your Practice

Choosing to add scrubs to your service and product offerings represents a simple way to increase your revenue per client, while providing a relaxing spa treatment your clients will want to book again and again.


About the Author

Kaitlin Morrison is a freelance health and wellness writer living in Moses Lake, Washington. A former chiropractic assistant and health care publicity person, she now follows her passion of informing and educating her readers about health care, business and marketing. She has written several articles for MASSAGE Magazine and, including “Sports Massage Students Get Their Hands on Detroit Pistons” and “Massage Cream vs. Gel: Make the Right Choice.”