What do a woolly mammoth, a mermaid, the Blue Nile, Jane Wurwand and the Little White Chapel have in common? Dermalogica’s Congress in Las Vegas of course! This August a group of 30 kiwis, made up of staff from S.H.E, Skin Centre owners and Skin Therapists traveled to the hot and crazy Las Vegas to attend Dermalogica’s first Congress in 7 years!

Congress is a phenomenal event where business owners, managers and passionate skin therapists from all over the world congregate to share new ideas, find inspiration and learn from one another. With 2,500 of the Dermalogica tribe coming together and over 30 fantastic presenters, there was no doubt that Congress 2015 was set to be the best one yet.

The NZ tribe kicked off our trip with a casual dinner catch-up at the famous Hard Rock Café, where we enjoyed burgers, beers and a bit of banter. From there, we all went on to do our own things that night (which for a couple of our S.H.E team was a Britney Spears concert and for others included 6 am finishes!)

I bumped into a few blurry-eyed kiwis the next morning at the Aria’s Buffet breakfast and we had a free day in Vegas to take in the sights, sit by the pool or hit the shops. All we were required to do was make sure we picked up our name badge and Congress welcome pack (tough!) The welcome pack did not fail to deliver, an amazing tote bag and travel bag filled with Dermalogica goodies and the best part, the travel bag was designed by our very own Andrea Read, who is our amazing Graphic Design Manager here at S.H.E! Proud moment!!

That night we had our first official Congress event, the Welcome Cocktail Party at the Cosmopolitan Hotel’s Boulevard Pool. Overlooking the heart of the Strip, the Boulevard Pool is a multilevel, open-air environment with unobstructed views in all directions. On arrival we were all given ‘Morning After Party Essentials Kits’ which included a Dermalogica fan and sunglasses, plus sachets of Vitamin C drinks to help ward off any hangovers! With an open bar, delicious canapés and music pumping, the welcome event was the perfect way to start Congress. The theme for Congress was ‘Only Connect’ and the welcome event offered us all many opportunities to connect with other tribe members from around the world. The evening finished with an intro from Jane & Ray Wurwand (founders of Dermalogica), which topped off the night.

Bright and early the next morning we headed to our first day of conference at the Cosmopolitan Hotel and there was certainly a buzz in the air. First up was of course, our founder and leader, Jane Wurwand with the first of her renowned inspirational speeches. The focus of this presentation was on reconnecting with ourselves and her vision to disrupt the industry. We also watched her 'Maker's' video, which gave us a glance into her background and how and why she is so passionate about the skin care industry.

The rest of the day was jam-packed with other speakers and highlights included Stuart Knight’s, Powerful Conversation presentation, where we learnt how to have deeper and more meaningful conversations with others and Charlotte Settle from Unilever’s presentations on the four big macro trends we can expect to see influencing our world in the near future. We also heard from director of FITE Natalie Byrne, who updated us on the impact of FITE so far (we have now helped fund over 60,000 microloans for women since it began) and launched new initiatives for the programme.

Congress is renowned to be the place where great new Dermalogica products, treatments and concepts are launched. Las Vegas definitely didn’t disappoint with the launch of three new Dermalogica retail products today. Dr. Diana Howard started us off with launching AGE Smart’s new Overnight Retinol Repair. Overnight Retinol Repair is a concentrated customisable nighttime retinol treatment cream with 0.5% microencapsulated pure retinol. I can’t wait to launch this product here in NZ on 14th September (NZ stockists make sure you join us for the launch events).

The next product launch of the day was the Hydrablur Primer, which will be part of the grey line and will be launching later this year in NZ. Emily Kate Warren a professional makeup artist took us through a demonstration of this product and then Sona Tolani told us more about this product which will transform the skin by “blurring” the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, mattifying oily shine and imparting a silky, smooth finish giving us the perfect canvas for make-up application. Finally Dr. Diana came back to share with us her personal favourite of the new products coming out the Charcoal Rescue Masque, which will also be part of the grey line and is launching in NZ in early 2016.

After the huge day at Congress, I whisked myself away to be a part of a very special vow renewal between co-owner of Pure Skin & Body in Wellington, Gabrielle Hayden and her hubby of 22 years, Dominic in A Little White Chapel in Downtown Vegas. Dom was dressed as Elvis (of course) and Gabrielle sported a teeny weeny bikini (t shirt)! I joined Chantelle Fox (Bridesmaid) & Denise Cronin (Best Man) from Pure for the ceremony, which was held in a pink Cadillac. Congratulations to Gabrielle and Dominic and thank you for letting me be a part of it - it was a blast!

Day two started with Annet King (Director of Global Education for Dermalogica and IDI) and Phillip Picardi from Teen Vogue discussing how best to market to Gen Z and the Millennials and what they’re looking for from a brand. Their presentation introduced the next product launch perfectly, which is the new Skin Soothing Hydrating Lotion from our Clear Start range for teenagers. Annet described this new product as ‘a brilliant product to address redness and flakiness’ and she believes it is going to be ‘a terrific hit’ (launches 14th September in NZ).

Emma Hobson (Education Manager of Asia Pacific) was up next and she spoke to us about customer service. She shared some frightening statistics such as 80% of businesses believe they are giving great customer service yet only 8% of their customers agreed with them! We took away some great tips for improving our service such as making sure we are really listening to our clients, and remembering that small gestures can leave our clients with big and lasting memories. Prior to lunch we heard from Wendy Palmer the founder of Leadership Embodiment and who holds a sixth degree black belt in Aikido. Wendy spoke to us about mindfulness and how this practice can help reduce stress in our lives and also give us more confidence in ourselves, in her words, more ‘noble, awesome and shiny’!

The afternoon was all about the treatment room and to start we learnt about the power of combining senses together to increase experiences for a client, for example combining smell with taste, you could do this by offering lemon water as a refreshment for your clients and then using products with lemon fragrances within your treatment. This will amplify the experience for the client, making it more memorable and special. The power of senses was illustrated with this Rubber Hand Video .

Following this we heard about the newly reformulated Professional Additives (launching in NZ in October 15) along with these new additives there is also going to be a new neck and shoulder touch therapy. To continue with our professional focus, Dr. Diana Howard joined the stage again to launch a brand new advanced product system (launching in 2016) called the Ionactive System. Skin Therapists - all I'll say is you should be very excited about what's coming for the treatment room in the next few months!

Jane Wurwand closed Congress for us with another of her amazing speeches. Her presentation continued with the mindfulness and connectivity theme that had been present throughout the conference. We all left Congress feeling motivated and inspired and were spoiled yet again with another goody bag which included the new Skin Soothing Hydrating Lotion and the new Professional Additives in it plus other Dermalogica goodies!

Congress ended with a party to rival all other parties at the Cosmopolitan’s Marquee Nightclub, the hottest nightclub in Las Vegas, which was hired out exclusively for the Dermalogica tribe. We were greeted by interesting characters from Cirque de Soleil including cats, woolly mammoth, mermaids (and mermen) and a Blue Nile cocktail was developed especially for us. The NZ tribe danced the night away and I think it was the perfect way to finish a trip that will be etched in my memory for many years to come.

Dermalogica stockists who missed out on Congress 2015 are invited to join us for a very special event on Monday 14th September in both Auckland and Wellington where we will bring a touch of Vegas to NZ and sharing more information about all the new products featured at Congress and promotions for the remainder of 2015 and beyond. Click here to learn more

View Congress highlights video here