How Med-Spas Evaluate Brands For Their Retail Assortments

For beauty brands interested in jumping into professional distribution and scoring credibility points with consumers, red-hot med-spas are increasingly attractive options.

And it’s not surprising that they’re attractive. The med-spa market is forecast to surge as millennials age and social media continues to simultaneously convince people they should get aesthetics treatments to adhere to beauty standards and destigmatize them. According to the firm Data Bridge Market Research, it’s projected to increase by a compound annual growth rate of 14.1% to reach $41.37 billion by 2029, up from $14.4 billion in 2021. 

Not just any brand can crack med-spas’ retail assortments. As they seek to build client trust, most med-spa owners and executives are incredibly discerning about the products they add to their retail assortments. To learn about what distinguishes a brand they want versus one that they don’t, for the latest edition of our ongoing series posing questions relevant to indie beauty, we asked eight of them the following questions: Are you looking for new third-party brands to carry? What’s your curation process like? 

Kristen Eber Owner and Aesthetician, The Rosefinch Spa

When searching for new lines there are several factors I consider based on my experience in both traditional retail settings and in my med-spa, which has a robust retail presence. We are currently looking for a makeup line and skincare devices for clients’ home use.

1. Do we love it? I and my staff will not endorse anything we don’t believe in. This has led to a relationship of trust with our clients. They know we will not recommend anything if we wouldn’t use it ourselves.

2. Is it nontoxic, ethically-made and marketed? We choose to support lines that in turn support all ages, body types, skin tones, sustainability, health and that create luxury products that are results-oriented. These lines are out there more and more! I believe that negative messaging is simply unnecessary, and as an industry, we are learning to do better.

3. Will it look beautiful on our shelves? We adore beautiful, bespoke branding and packaging that is understated but luxe. Packaging matters.

4. Is the company easy to work with? A quick email response, lovely reps, an organized brand deck, retail support and education are all huge bonus points in securing our business.

5. Is it an extension of our services? One important lesson I’ve learned is that, whatever I bring in for retail, it really needs to have a direct tie in to our services. For example, when looking at cosmetics lines I’ve realized that a less glam, more clinical, SPF-focused brand will likely be more successful for us because it supports the sun health that we are constantly talking about anyway.

6. What is the minimum opening order? This can be slightly prohibitive at times although I have found that most companies will work with you if they think they’ll be a great fit.

7. Is the line sold in a mass or big-box retailer? We prefer to have a boutique vibe to our retail although those “in the know” when it comes to clean beauty definitely recognize that we have some superstars.

Rachel Lee Lozina Owner and Aesthetician, Blue Water Spa

I am always looking for what’s new, hot and cutting edge in the skincare arena. Currently, I’m looking at Margy’s, which is new in the U.S., but has been in Monte Carlo for the past 20 years. Some ingredients that are currently considered cutting edge are microbiome-hacking probiotics, next-generation retinoids (vitamin A) and peptides that inhibit wrinkles like topical Botox. 

There are so many factors that go into curating our retail skincare collection. I have been in this industry for 20 years and have long-term clients with whom I have deep, trusting relationships with. I won’t recommend just anything to them. They trust me for the best skincare recommendations.

Before I consider selling any brand to my clients, I look at ingredients, which is of the utmost importance. I’m making sure that the products are not loaded with chemicals that yield moderate results, but rather with effective vitamins, ceramides growth factors, stem cells, peptides and non-comedogenic ingredients. These are all paramount. 

I also look at the packaging. Even the best product in poorly branded packaging can send the wrong message.  

Last but not least, I look at how focused the brand is on educating its therapists. Understanding the brand and their products is at the core of sales. Some brands don’t have regular trainings or focus on the purpose of certain treatments or products. I really have to believe in what I’m selling or my clients won’t believe me.

Cira Marmolejos Director of Merchandising and Planning, Ever/Body

At Ever/Body, we are always interested in discovering new at-home skincare products and tools that will ensure we are supporting our clients' skin and body care journey. Before introducing a new brand to the Ever/Body client, our expert providers and retail team go through a very thorough review process.

We assess ingredients, clinical results and the efficacy of the products. Because of our brand promise of supporting every tone, texture, age, gender and body, we also test the products on an inclusive group of people. There are so many amazing products out there and our role is to curate the most effective assortment for our clients and then personalize an at home regime for them.

Tag Ceder Med-Spa Consultant and Purchaser

I am always on the lookout for the best products and technology on the market to make the medspas I work with a special and unique experience that keeps clients loyal. When curating for products, I stay as natural as possible when it comes to ingredients as long as I can still see the results. It's good to have a mix of organic and natural products as well as medical-grade ones in a medspa.

I avoid any formulations that have polyethylene glycols (PEGs), propylene glycol and other hazards. While I prefer to see white sheets, it is not a must-have as there are certainly variables.

Randa Jaafar Founder and Anesthesiologist, FILD Studio

We currently only carry Dermalogica products at FILD Studio. When looking for products to carry, we look at the ingredients that are used and the studies the company has produced to show results. We mainly go with brands that have double-blind placebo-controlled studies to prove the efficacy of their products. We’ve found it difficult to source other brands because a lot of them make claims that are not backed by real studies and/or scientific data.

Adrienne O’Connell President and Physician, Laguna Beach Aesthetics

As a physician in the aesthetic world, I’m always looking for new products that can benefit my patients. When selecting a new product, I always look at the ingredients. Full ingredient lists are crucial.

There are a handful of ingredients that can really make (and a handful of ingredients that can really break) a product. Ingredients that I look for are proven and effective. I recommend staying away from chemical preservatives that can be potentially harmful.

Jenapher Moguel Practice Administrator, La Belle Vie MedSpa & Wellness Center

We're always open to exploring new brands, though we approach such additions with a certain degree of caution. Medical-grade skincare products come with a higher price tag due to several factors. They not only help in improving existing skin issues, but also slow down the aging process and protect against future damage. Hence, our patients often prefer established and familiar brands.

As for our curation process, it's a blend of both subjective and objective evaluations. Our staff members personally trial each product, after which we gather to review and discuss their findings.

We also utilize a Visia Skin Analysis machine, a device that allows us to quantify improvements. This combination ensures our decisions are based not merely on personal experiences, but also on tangible, result-oriented data.

We believe this stringent process helps us maintain a high standard of quality in the products we carry, ensuring our clients receive only the best.

Vanessa Coppola Owner and Family Nurse Practitioner, Bare Aesthetic

The selection of retail products for a beauty brand or medical spa is always a delicate dance. On one hand, the line needs to meet the needs of the patients and consumers and at the same time reflect the ethos and identity of the brand. There needs to be consistent touch points throughout the patient experience that echo the quality and value the brand is looking to establish.

It's interesting that when looking for a new third-party line to carry. The process of creating a well-curated menu calls for a lot of introspection and questioning as to what the actual mission and identity of our brand is, and how we represent that to our patients while delivering cutting edge results with an excellent experience.

We always want to offer the latest and most advanced technology, but we temper that by utilizing products that are evidence-based with a strong clinical background and particularly products that do not deviate from our core brand values.

For this reason and in this beauty space, many brands choose to create their own line so that it can mirror their brand messaging, However, consumers often want third-party validation of a product and often look to a brand that they have heard about or read about in the media.

For us, we try to only carry three retail lines at a time, and we try to carefully select specific products from each line that are complementary to one another and reflect our clinical standards and brand identity, which is to be scientifically evidenced, cruelty-free, and fully inclusive of all genders, skin types and tones.

We find that approaching our selection from this perspective ensures a seamless patient experience. Plus, by having a well-curated menu, our team of providers are able to fully immerse themselves in the nuances of the brand and serve as expert advisors in this capacity which promotes sales, and most importantly, patient loyalty.

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