Soon, spring will spring. You'll dust every nook and cranny, throw the doors wide to welcome warmer breezes, and begin a new season of possibilities. Your customers, too, will be looking for a fresh start. And what better way to do that than putting on a fresh new face?
There's a big push in the naturals industry to elevate personal care sales to a level at least on par with how conventional groceries are, um, cleaning up. The sheer volume of face-cleaning products attests to the fact that they are desired and that there's money to be made if the message of cleaner personal care can get through.
However, the sheer volume can also drive a person batty. A few simple tips can help you and your dedicated staff give a big boost to customers' understanding of natural personal care—and to your bottom line.
Clean right for your type
Most people—women especially—have a vague grasp of what skin type means. This is a great place to start—sort of. There are different takes on how important skin type-specific formulations are to facial cleansing.
Jill Price Marshall, public relations manager of Hatfield, Mass.-based Dr. Hauschka Skin Care, says that while skin type and condition are important when making an analysis, the company doesn't offer a specific range for each skin type. The line leans heavily on its cleansing cream. "It really is a universal product in that we recommend it for people that have normal, dry, sensitive, oily or acne-prone skin. And it serves this very multifaceted function," Marshall says. Anthyllis vulneria, or kidney vetch, the main ingredient in the company's two facial cleansing products, works almost the same way a general tonic herb would help a person's overall condition—it helps the skin balance itself.
Palisades, N.Y.-based Weleda takes a similar skin-balancing approach. Jennifer Barckley, public relations manager and esthetics manager for Weleda, says the company uses iris in its two facial cleansing formulations because "in nature, the iris plant has a great, great ability to survive in different types of environments. It has an amazing ability to retain its own moisture and to balance itself between being too dry and being too moist," Barckley says. "At Weleda, we look to the plant and say, 'Wow, this is what it does in nature; let's see if it can do it for the skin,' which it certainly does."
Kiss My Face of Gardiner, N.Y., follows a slightly different approach with its Obsessively Organic line. The company does have three different products for sensitive, normal-to-oily and normal-to-dry skin, but according to Mia DiFrancesco, organic brand manager, all are formulated around the same base of alpha-hydroxy acid, green tea, rosemary and lavender, so are fine for all skin types. For instance, although the company makes a facial bar for sensitive skin, it's also "for people who like the feeling of a soap, although it is free of soap," says DiFrancesco.
Hauppauge, N.Y.-based Desert Essence also has three cleansers for consumers to choose from, but uses a more traditional skin-type system. All begin with a castile soap and coconut oil blend for cleansing, but contain extracts and essential oils specific for skin type. Desert Essence adds one more cleanser, a blend of sunflower oil, vitamins, ginseng and ginkgo biloba, to its Age Reversal line that, according to Jodi Drexler Billet, vice president of Desert Essence's parent company Country Life, "gently cleans the most sensitive of skin types."
In contrast, Holbrook, N.Y.-based Home Health has only one cleanser formulated, according to Dorie Greenblatt, director of sales and marketing, to be gentle for sensitive skin and to be suitable for all skin types. The company adds a cleansing lotion for the treatment of acne blemishes, pimples and blackheads. Salicylic acid is the active ingredient, which is combined with botanical extracts to "help reduce inflammation and allow the skin to heal."
For a nice bonus to any cleansing regimen, Marshall suggests adding a few drops of aromatherapy oil to the water used to wet the skin pre-cleansing.
One thing is for sure: The days should be long past when television commercials featured a young woman proudly wiping grime from her face with a toner-soaked cotton ball.
"It's really a two-step process. The cleanser is going to soften the pores and draw out impurities, while the toner is going to complete that process by providing valuable substances to the skin and firming the pores," Marshall says. "Also, moist damp skin is better able to access a moisturizer, so while the skin is still damp one would apply their moisturizer."
DiFrancesco adds, "The purpose of a toner is to—after having washed your face—bring your skin into pH balance so the next product you use is more effective."
However, Barckley says that people have a tendency to overtone, so customers should be advised to check how their skin reacts. "People have a tendency to throw a thing on their face and walk away and never think twice," she says. She recommends that those with dry skin especially consider using a toner only "during the spring and summer for extra refreshment."
Companies can help
Manufacturers know that not every store—in fact hardly any store—has the resources to staff its HABA aisles with trained estheticians ready and willing to dispense personalized recommendations. However, manufacturers are there to help. Companies can provide detailed point-of-purchase information to guide customers to the right choices for their skin. Also, most of the companies currently lining your HABA shelves are ready to send someone to your store to train employees on the bottom-line skills they should have to sell personal care.
For instance, Greenblatt says Home Health supports retailers with literature, in-store training, coupons and sampling programs. Hauschka provides a point of purchase fan brochure the size of a bookmark, as well as a magazine-sized brochure with a complete skin care chart and in-store training. Weleda provides two brochures, one for the body and one for the face, as well as in-store trainings for employees.
The bottom line on helping your customers achieve that spring-fresh face is that it isn't actually that hard. Spend some time familiarizing yourself with the range of products available and mastering a few tips—probably based on price point—and then let the products speak for themselves. Earning a natural convert should be easy.
For more on setting up a successful personal care section, see the March 2006 issue of NFM.
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVII/number 2/p. 32, 36