Beyond beauty: The rise of new hybrid spa and health centres

It used to be that your visit to the podiatrist clinic was seen as something completely separate to say, booking your next manicure appointment. In the consumer’s mind, the word podiatry was equated with health, and the word manicurist = a more vain, beauty appointment. But, increasingly now, the lines are blurring as the consumer wants a more transparent beauty experience, backed by scientific evidence. This more conscious consumer is concerned with what he or she is eating, and putting on their skin (as we’ve seen with the rise of natural Farm to Face beauty), so it makes sense that they are concerned with the beauty treatments they’ve signed up for too. As a result: science, medicine and a healthy mind and body are the focus for a new range of stores, spas and services.

The NHS has announced plans to roll out Health Hubs that site GP offices close to spas and fitness centres, in a bid to slash rates of illness in the UK and make it easier for patients to prioritise fitness and wellness. They will be piloted in 10 Healthy New Towns as early as 2019. At the same time, ‘Medical spas’ have seen a marked surge in popularity globally. The American Med Spa Association estimates that in the US, the industry has grown at a double digit-pace since 2010 and by more than 20% since 2013, currently standing at a value of $4 billion.

the health centres and spas merging beauty and wellbeing

Margaret Dabbs

In the UK, one brand that specialises in this type of beauty/health hybrid treatment is Margaret Dabbs, offering her best known treatment, The Medical Pedicure. Dabbs realised back in 2004, when she first started in practice as a podiatrist, that the industry was missing that bridge between the medical knowledge of a clinical treatment with the aesthetics of a mani-pedi style beauty treatment. She felt that both beauty and health could sit nicely side by side, and this forward-thinking attitude within the beauty business over 13 years ago is now helping her to become a leading figure in this new rise of hybrid health and beauty centers. Her rapidly growing business currently has four London clinics, with plans to grow to have 12-15 clinics open by the end of 2017 in the UK and more worldwide.

So what does a medical pedicure entail? And how is it different from the many nail salons pitched on every high street offering a pedicure for £20? First up, the entire pedicure, a 45-minute treatment, is performed on dry feet (no water bowl on site). The aim of this dry pedicure is so that the trained therapist administering the treatment can see any problems with your feet in their natural state, from hard nails, to nail discolouring to any calluses. The nails are then filed with a glass nail file which is gentle on the nail to create a good square shape, and because the therapist is trained she can also offer a full foot type evaluation, as well as orthopedic treatments and even toe joint rehabilition. The session is finished with an oil, used for its anti-ageing, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and moisturising properties.

Speaking about her signature treatment, Margaret Dabbs said: ‘Your feet are critical to your life and wellbeing- not only how they look but also how they feel – think of a life in which you could put no weight on your feet or be unable to wear the shoes you want. Identifying and dealing with issues early will prevent these life-changing problems occurring. It is always worth nipping any problem in the bud but particularly those which involve feet.’

With consumers looking for more from standard beauty services, education is key, and brands should be transparent about their product offering, indicating both negative and positive aspects through immersive, knowledge-led, in-store tools. While, spas and stores need to take note of the rise in health-driven treatments, putting as much focus on the experts and advice, as the treatment, in order to cater to the rising consumer who is becoming more and more concerned with their overall wellbeing.

For more on how brands, clinics and retailers are offering more 360 health and wellbeing beauty services, subscribers can check out our latest beauty report here

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