On Monday 28th July we hosted the Future Skin Today event at the Sofitel Hotel, in partnership with the International Dermal Institute (IDI). There were over 130 attendees at the event with business owners and skin therapists travelling to Auckland from around the country. Our guest speakers for the event were Dr Diana Howard (based in LA, Vice President for IDI and head of R&D, PhD in plant biochemistry), Emma Hobson (based in Sydney, Australasian Education Manager for IDI and Dermalogica) and the fabulous Dr Libby (PhD in nutritional biochemistry).

The day really packed some punch! We promised that this would be ‘the industry event of the year’ and based on the feedback we had on the day and following the event, I am sure we have delivered! Our guest speakers were all experts in their fields and the presentations were informative, thought provoking and inspiring. The venue was five star and the food outstanding. The hotel has a kiwi flavour with its décor and traditional Maori artwork tastefully hung on the walls, and the outlook and water features are amazing. Auckland turned on a beautiful day for its visitors which made it even more incredible!

Some of the highlights from the day:

• First up we heard from Dr Libby who talked about modern day stress and the impact on beauty. WOW! What an incredibly inspirational woman. Every one in the room was captivated during her presentation and I for one could have easily listened to her all day. Dr Libby has a way of explaining the functions of human biochemistry in a very simple manner and I am a big fan of all her books. It occurred to me during her presentation that there are many things that we can do (as skin therapists) to enhance both the experience and the results that our clients receive when they visit us for treatments. Dr Libby discussed the importance of deep breathing or diaphragmatic breathing on reducing stress levels. Of course this isn’t news to any of us, but how often do we each practice this in our days? I know I am often guilty of forgetting to do this. Dr Libby recommends setting yourself appointments or reminders throughout the day to do so. As a busy therapist (who is constantly ‘giving’ to others all day long) why not take 2 minutes between clients and practice some deep breathing exercises? Or why not include this in to every treatment you give throughout your days. Great way to relax your clients, and also you at the same time!

• Next we heard from Emma Hobson on Oncology and the Skin. Emma spoke from her own personal experience of being involved with the Look Good, Feel Better charity, and also from nursing both parents while dying of cancer. We all know someone that is affected by this disease at some stage, and Emma shared with us the effects that cancer treatment options have on patients, and how as skin therapists we can work with clients during their treatment and recovery.

• Dr Diana Howard enlightened us on the Science of Exfoliation and chemical peels. This was a very popular presentation and it was very interesting to distinguish between the various types of ‘peels’ or exfoliation treatments on the market, and to learn which one’s are offered by skin therapists (very superficial peels, or superficial peels being the correct medical terminology) and by the medical profession (medium-depth peels and deep peels). Dr Howard shared with us the latest and greatest ingredients being used in peels today, and also educated us all on the importance of pH in determining the overall effectiveness of a peel.

• Following lunch, Emma Hobson got us all thinking about how we treat our customers with her presentation ‘Service is Back’. We’ve all experienced bad customer service at some stage and none of us want to believe that our company is guilty (and if you feel you constantly deliver exceptional service with each and every client then I say ‘well done you, you are probably a minority’). In Emma’s presentation she shared some scary statistics: 80% of companies believe they deliver superior customer service, yet only 8% of clients feel that these same companies deliver superior customer service. There is a real difference between delighting your customers and merely satisfying them. Chances are that if you are only satisfying them, then your customer service experience isn’t as good as your think it is. So how do we deliver exceptional customer service? Time to review the systems you have in place, dust off the policies and procedures manual, never say ‘no’ to a client, and ensure all your team are demonstrating the right behaviours and attitudes towards your clients. And remember, the only difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little bit ‘extra’.

• The final presentation for the afternoon was Dr Diana Howards ‘Fact or Fiction?’ This was another real highlight for me and Dr Howard touched on some popular ingredients that are being used in cosmetic formulations today: Bee Venom, Stem Cells, Peptides, Antioxidants, Dragons blood, Snake Venom, Snail Slime… it actually was quite hilarious and really makes you realise you have to question some of these quite seriously. We all know that Peptides and Antioxidants are fabulous ingredients and they both have a lot of science to back up the positive impact they have on the skin. However, some of those other ingredients are just plain ridiculous (snail slime… can you imagine that one in a facial?) and simply don’t have any scientific research to validate the claims they are making. Plant stem cells included. That last one was a subject that clearly rattled Dr Howard who believes that human stem cells are cutting edge and cosmetic manufacturers making claims that ‘plant’ stem cells can somehow benefit the skin are only discrediting the field of stem cell research in general. So, if you are looking at any products containing plant stem cells I would say do your homework, and if you are already working with something that contains plant stem cells and honestly feel that the product is delivering results, chances are that it is down to some of the other actives used in the formulation, not the plant stem cells.

But the real highlight of the day… ? The opportunity to connect with so many fabulous women from our industry. Women that I have not seen for a long time, women that feel like old friends or family, and women that I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time. Thank you to everyone who participated in the day – without you it wouldn’t have been the success that it was.