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Published April 28, 2017
Published April 28, 2017
Haley Phelps

I recently participated in two spa/salon/wellness strategic brainstorm sessions—on two different continents, in two different contexts, and with two different desired outcomes. Yet as we debated innovative offerings, technology, business models, and consumer priorities, many of the same topics ended up making their way into the conversation. This made me wonder about how trends form (I don’t have an answer to that yet), and about what the most salient trends are. I turned to my industry friends (wellness experts), and to my girlfriends (wellness consumers), to figure out what is currently top of mind.

Flotation therapy. Indeed, sensory deprivation is now something we apparently crave, and also must—in a world of sensorial overload—re-create. While the concept is too claustrophobic for me, I can attest to the fact that a number of my girlfriends practice this regularly, and swear by it. This involves an enclosed tub in a lightless, soundproof tank filled with salt water at skin temperature in which you float. Benefits are compared to those of meditation. Indeed, flotation therapy has been described as “a shortcut to meditation,” de-stressing, reducing anxiety, improving sleep.

Quest for quiet. The quest for quiet continues. More spas are offering meditation, silent dinners, and silent treatments. Indeed, this is perhaps an expression of the same need for some sensorial deprivation as is described above.

Quest for sleep. Recent statistics suggest that as many as 40 million people in the US alone suffer from chronic sleep disorders. As such it should come as no surprise that sleep treatments and programs are proliferating at day, resort, and destination spas. Products that work at night are a growing category. Sleep apps are also proliferating. Could our addiction to technology be used to help us rest better?

Hair restoration. With increased recognition and conversations surrounding thinning hair for women, this field has blossomed. Ranging from hair extensions (clip-ins or semi-permanent) to hair loss treatments and clinics, this is no longer a taboo topic, or one reserved for men, and a segment of our industry that will continue to grow and innovate.

(Far-) infrared saunas. While a traditional sauna uses heat to warm the air surrounding the guest, infrared saunas uses infrared light waves to create this heat. The result is that the body is heated without the surrounding air being heated, making for a more comfortable experience. Traditional sauna benefits are achieved, including relaxation, elimination of toxins, and increased metabolic activity. Furthermore, there is evidence to show that infrared light waves have additional benefits like pain relief, and a decrease in inflammation.

Cryotherapy. Healing through cold is nothing new – indeed this is what we do when we put an icepack on a strained muscle. Cryotherapy has reemerged as WBC, or Whole Body Cryotherapy, which subjects the body to sub-zero temperatures for 3-5 minutes. This methodology was first embraced in Japan in the late 1970s. Professional athletes were then among the first to embrace this type of therapy, which is now going mainstream.

Single-treatment focus. Some in the wellness industry call this the “Drybar effect.” Drybar innovated by creating a salon with a single service—blowouts. This is now expanding into the world of facials and medispa treatments by companies such as Heyday and Skin Laundry. These single-treatment facial shops focus on quality of service, convenience, time-saving options, and price—all priorities for today’s consumer. Many in the industry suggest that multiservice-offering spas will have an increasingly hard time competing in the market, save for the ultra-luxury resort spas.

At-home wellness. At-home hair color, at-home spinning (hello Peloton), at-home laser devices. Expanding on the desire for convenience, time-saving models, and price approachability, at-home wellness models will continue to grow and thrive—as a complement, not an alternative, to “at-spa” options.

Instagram to drive bookings. Stylists are showcasing their work on Instagram to promote their salons and fill their books. Says Cindy Feldman of Progressions Salon Store: “One of our new talents went onto the floor in April and by December she had 125 new guests that came in because of Instagram. The power of social media is only getting stronger.”

Special thanks to the following friends and experts for their insights and opinions:

Debra Neill Baker, Neill Corporation

Mary Bemis, Insiders Guide to Spas

Joseph Britton, Spa Standard

Cindy Feldman, Progressions Salon Spa Store

Julie Keller, American Spa Magazine

Dr. Luigi L. Polla, Forever Institut and Alchimie Forever

Adam Ross, Heyday

Kassie Rempel, Lillybee University

Melanie Coburn, Cadre


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