What’s Next: The at-home medi-spa

As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This is certainly true when it comes to professional skin care treatments. There are still extreme treatments where women will literally go under the knife for a nip, a tuck or a lift, but the treatments that have today’s women flocking to the doctor’s office are much more subtle and quite sophisticated. There are an abundance of options for lasers, fillers, microdermabrasion and light therapy that mean you won’t have to save your looks if you never lose them in the first place.

All of this face saving doesn’t come cheap. A single in-office visit can run several hundred dollars, but if you really want to see results you have to commit to a long-term regimen that requires deep pockets. Given the options, it’s no surprise that the at-home device market is ripe for growth. Dropping a couple hundred dollars on a device you can use at home while getting excellent results doesn’t seem like a bad deal. According to Kline & Co., the device market raked in $2.3 billion in 2013 and is projected to be around $4.5 billion by 2018.

While pricepoint may be a barrier for the average consumer, Karen Doskow, director of consumer products for Kline & Co., said that education is the bigger obstacle. “Education is critical to purchase. Up until a year ago, there wasn’t really any education on the mass market level. There was really nothing compelling either, until Illumask came and has been a real game-changer in terms of mass market device products.”

An LED light therapy skin care mask, Illumask has stormed into mass market retail with a highly effective social media campaign, excellent product education at point of sale and a mind boggling price point of under $30 compared with in-office light therapy sessions that hover around the $500 mark.

Fancy technologies that mimic the dermatologist’s office are quite popular, but research from Kline & Co. indicates that cleansing brushes lead the U.S. market with 41% of sales, followed by hair removal and then anti-aging devices. The gold standard and the best-selling beauty device by far is the Clarisonic with 30% of the total market share in 2014. Cleansing brushes are the leading point of entry into the device market for consumers.

Over the past several years there have been personal microdermabrasion devices like the PMD and Riiviva, but these have faded in popularity. Tria lasers, however, are probably the first brand to achieve success with fractional lasers for home use, and they continue to lead the U.S. and global markets as one of the top 5 selling brands.

“The benefit of Tria devices is that they are so easy to fit into your lifestyle or existing beauty routine. We find that people use our devices for a variety of reasons, and while price is certainly one of them, another big one is convenience,” said Lauren Henderson, global senior marketing director of Tria Beauty.

While home use devices provide a great alternative to expensive professional treatments, they aren’t exactly a replacement for women who have the desire and the disposable income to go to the doctor’s office. However, many women will supplement their visits with personal devices to extend their time between visits. Doskow noted that some medi-spas actually embrace the personal device market – even incorporating them into treatments and marketing them as an add-on in their retail sections. Henderson also found this to be true for Tria’s customers. “For hair removal, people use our devices as an alternative to professional, but also as a touchup option once they have had professional treatment,” she said.

While direct sales account for about half of the market followed by prestige retail, Kline & Co. indicated that mass market posted the highest growth in 2014 for skin care device sales in the United States.


What’s Next is a weekly feature of Drug Store News, written by consumer beauty blogger Lonni Delane. The goal is to help give beauty merchants the cutting edge they need to stay ahead of the latest and greatest beauty trends.

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