Customized massage for mental health care

Years ago, I was seeing a spa guest for frozen shoulder pain. She’d been in a few times previously. This visit was different. I tapped at the door to see if she was ready, and she was wrapped in the sheet, standing and sobbing. I offered her some water and sat with her on the massage table. When she was able to slow her breathing, she explained that she was having a panic attack. She had just had an MRI for her shoulder a few days prior and had a panic attack in the machine. She said it was terrifying. When she put her face in the face cradle of my massage table, the same feeling washed over her and triggered a panic attack.

We decided we’d continue with the treatment, but we modified it to the sidelying position (think sleeping on your side) on the table with the sheet covering her, but draped lightly with her arms and feet out so she felt free to move. This position made all the difference and we did sidelying massage for the next few visits.

The sidelying massage position is helpful for people who experience claustrophobia

Guests prone to anxiety or panic attacks may also benefit from shorter sessions and slower techniques until they get used to the idea of massage. Sometimes faster massage techniques can be too stimulating for someone who is already on alert. Taking slow, deep breaths before and during the session can help as well. It is also helpful to ask your therapist what you can expect during the session (I call this a “road map”) so you can relax your mind instead of wondering what is coming next. Know that you have the right to ask your therapist to stop or take a break.

Slower massage techniques are sometimes helpful for people who are anxious.

Some guests, especially those who have a history of abuse, no longer feel comfortable in their own bodies. Massage can be a safe way to experience touch and massage therapists can even share self-massage techniques to help with stress management and to reconnect an individual with his or her body (American Massage Therapy Association.)

Some clients who have experienced abuse feel more comfortable receiving services where they can be fully clothed. Treatments we offer that can be done without disrobing include foot massage, assisted stretching, Craniosacral therapy, acupressure, Shiatsu, and even facials or nail services. All of these include safe touch and allow guests to control the session. They can stop or modify the service at any time. It is important for guests to share their needs with their provider so their provider can check in more frequently to ensure comfort or see if adjustments can be made, allowing their clients more control of the session.

Many massage and spa services can be performed fully clothed. Talk to your provider about your comfort level disrobing. He or she should be able to modify the service.

Guests who experience PTSD also benefit from massage therapy. A 2012 study found that veterans who received massage therapy reported significant reductions in physical pain, tension, irritability, anxiety, and depression (Collinge et al, 2012). Again, it is important for massage therapists to ensure guests are in complete control of the session. Therapists should ensure adequate time to address questions before and during the session. Guests should feel comfortable speaking up, whether they need more or less pressure, a change in position or technique, or to take a break or stop a session entirely. At East Village Spa, we understand the need for massage therapy to address PTSD for our military personnel. We offer a specially priced “Military Massage” to make massage therapy more accessible.

Whether you are living with a mental illness or are anxious about trying massage therapy, know that modifications can be made to ensure your comfort. Your massage therapist is not a mental health counselor, but he or she should be a good listener, able to suggest or accommodate changes to your session so you feel entirely in control. If a therapist is unable or unwilling to honor your needs, or if you have had an uncomfortable experience in the past with massage therapy, consider trying it again with a different therapist. Communicating your needs and preferences before the session is essential to ensuring you will get the massage you deserve.

Learn about the our massage therapists here. If you’d like to discuss the options that would be best for you, feel free to call us at (515) 309-2904! We would be happy to help you find the best service and providers for your unique needs.

Resource: Collinge W, Kahn J, Soltysik R. Promoting reintegration of National Guard veterans and their partners using a self-directed program of integrative therapies: a pilot study. Mil Med. 2012;177(12):1477–1485. doi:10.7205/milmed-d-12-00121

Ending the Stigma: Cassie’s Mental Health and Massage School Story

I’ve never shied away from talking about my own mental health challenges. Starting from my early teen years (did you know half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14?*), I visited many doctors and GI specialists for digestive disorders that had become life limiting, to the point of agoraphobia (fear of leaving my home or comfortable spaces). I had to take uncomfortable tests that showed everything was fine. This caused more frustration because everything was not fine. Sorry if this is TMI, but I was eating Immodium like candy to survive high school.

The issues worsened in college, to the point that one year, I developed such an extreme fear and anxiety of being in the claustrophobic dining hall because of my digestive issues, that I ate only what I could make in my dorm room. It wasn’t until after college that I realized that all of the abdominal problems that triggered such panic were actually caused by anxiety in the first place. Once I managed the anxiety, I managed my digestive issues and got my life back.

Talking openly about mental health was a key to managing day-to-day life. In the late 90s and early 2000s, this was not the norm at school or work, even though anxiety disorders affect over 40 million adults (Anxiety and Depression Association of America). It wasn’t until I started massage therapy school in 2005 that I found a place where this was encouraged. In fact, we regularly checked in as a group on how we were feeling, how different types of massage techniques impacted our bodies and minds. It was normal and expected to share the changes and emotions we experienced. Some techniques alleviated anxiety, some techniques exacerbated anxiety.

Cassie teaching at Body Wisdom Massage School with colleagues.

Sharing this information helped all of us gain a broader body of knowledge so when we saw clients in the real world, we’d have a basis for understanding their experience with massage massage therapy and we learned helpful modifications to sessions. By working on students with diverse health needs, we’d see things like a class partner having a panic attack and stopping a session in class, we’d learn other ways to position a client who feels claustrophobic with the head rest, or even how to fine tune our massage speed to help calm a classmate with a racing mind. When we encountered these sessions in our practices, they weren’t new or scary, and we were able to help provide our clients with whatever the needed to feel comfortable, whether that meant ending a session, changing a technique or position, or taking a break to just breathe.

Many of our massage clients live with mental illnesses or go through challenging mental health periods. We understand because these are issues that our providers or their loved ones experience too! In my next post, I’ll share some of the ways massage therapy can be beneficial for people struggling with mental health challenges, and how we can modify services to meet your individualized needs.

Massage techniques for anxiety and stress management at East Village Spa

Book your East Village Spa massage at www.EVDaySpa.com. Curious about massage therapy as a profession? E-mail us! EVSpaDesk@gmail.com. I’m happy to share about my own experiences and help you find a good school.

What’s the deal with dip nails?

Dip nails aren’t new, it is an old acrylic nail application system that has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years. At our spa, we’ve seen a big uptick in clients coming in with dip nails, thinking they are the same as a gel polish manicure (think CND Shellac) or can remove like a regular polish. Unfortunately, not all salons that offer dip nails full explain that these are acrylic nail enhancements and don’t remove the same as a CND Shellac gel manicure. We don’t offer dip nails or dip nail removal, so we hope to clear up the confusion! Don’t get us wrong, we’re not opposed to dip nails (and some of our employees occasionally get dip nails), they just don’t align with our mission of providing safe, natural nail care.

Why do people want dip nails?

Dip nails are popular for people wanting more of an enhancement look. They tend to look more “built up” on the nail. They’re also billed by many salons as lasting 3-4 weeks. While the product does adhere very securely to the nail (more on that in the next section), you will still see nail outgrowth at the base after a couple of weeks like you would with any gel polish like Shellac. Some people who use Shellac can extend their wear past 2 weeks, but most choose not to because of the look of the outgrowth.

For people who want an acrylic nail, dip nails are a less fussy application system. Just be aware that there are more sanitary forms of application than double dipping into a shared jar of product, as so often seen in images of the dip technique. If your salon doesn’t use individual powder applications, that’s a red flag.

Why can’t you remove my dip nails?

Some brands of dip nail products claim they can be soaked off with acetone, but we’ve found this is usually not the case, even after manual filing of the top layer. There are many brands. Often, the product is layered. To get the effects of nail art, additional gel polish coats may also be applied and layered on top. We have no idea what products were used and what the manufacturer’s recommended removal is.

Many salons use e-files (the drill) to speed up the process. We won’t use this because of the risk of damaging your nail and also because we don’t want our guests, employees, and massage clients in the next room breathing in the acrylic dust. More than one client has told us to just rip the dip acrylic nails off because that’s what their usual salon does. We definitely will NOT do that, and recommend that you don’t either!

Will you ever offer dip nails?

No, acrylic nails and nail enhancements fall outside of East Village Spa’s mission to provide safe, natural nail care. That said, we will not be offended if you’ve been a CND Shellac devotee but are dying to jump on the dip trend. This is a great story from the Today Show about a gel polish enthusiast who tried dip nails, and how the two services compared to each other.

If you want to try dip nails, we can refer you to another salon and I promise we won’t be mad. Like I said, some of our employees have even tried dip nails so we get it, it can be fun to see what the fuss is about. We just ask that when it comes time to remove your dip nails, you visit a salon that offers this service so they can do so according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Licensed Nail Technician Cyerra giving me a CND Shellac maniure. Full disclosure: I’m a Shellac enthusiast who has never tried dip nails. I have seen the frustrtaion of my team members and their guests in trying to remove them, which has served as a powerful deterrent!

Cassie Sampson owns East Village Spa, offering skilled massage therapy, Rhonda Allison facials, Hydrafacial, and safe, natural nail care with CND Shellac, Vinylux, and Zoya polishes. Click here to learn more or schedule!

Rosacea Awareness

April is Rosacea Awareness Month. Many people don’t understand rosacea, which is frequently confused with sensitive skin. According to Shannon Esau of Rhonda Allison, “Rosacea is a chronic and progressive disorder that impacts 16 million Americans. Rosacea will typically present as redness on the cheeks, nose, chin or forehead that will come and go. It is a complex condition, with three stages of progressed symptoms.”

More progressed rosacea with bumps and thickening of the skin.

Mild rosacea causes some redness or flushing that is exacerbated by certain topical products, improper skin care, some foods, alcohol, drugs, or other triggers. According to the Mayo Clinic, more progressed stages of rosacea can lead to bumps that look like acne, a thickening of the skin on the nose leading to a bulbous appearance, and eye issues. Rosacea is not caused by poor hygiene. It may be hereditary, but people with fair skin with sun damage, people who drink or smoke may be more at risk.

Things to avoid

Rosacea symptoms may be lessened by avoiding triggers. This can include using a sunscreen daily (which you should do anyway), reducing sugar, and stopping smoking. Studies show that alcohol consumption may cause rosacea or worsen symptoms for some people, though it is important to note someone who never drinks can also develop rosacea.

People with rosacea should also avoid “scrubbing” their skin or using manual exfoliation (gritty) products. These can cause irritation which may worsen symptoms. A product like Rhonda Allison’s Mandelic Arginine serum can gently rejuvenate skin without an aggressive scrub.

Managing Symptoms

Rhonda Allison Skincare

In addition to avoiding triggers that can worsen symptoms, proper skincare is essential to treating rosacea. For more severe symptoms, people may wish to seek assistance from a dermatologist.

At East Village Spa, we offer Rhonda Allison professional skincare which has several options to help ease rosacea symptoms.

Sensitive Skin Complex: This serum supports inflamed, irritated, infection-prone skin while providing a high degree of environmental protection. This product also eases facial redness and burning.

Creamy Milk Cleanser: Formulated for sensitive and traumatized skin, gentle with milk proteins to soothe and hydrate.

C-Stem Cell: This complex strengthens skin and protects against environmental stress.

Milk Mask: A cooling, calming, and hydrating mask

Wasabi Mask: It may be surprising that wasabi would be an appropriate ingredient for sensitive skin and rosacea, but this mask purifies and hydrates acne and rosacea-prone skin.

If you have concerns about your skin, you can visit with a licensed esthetician for more guidance, regular facials and proper home care can make a world of difference in your skin health. To book a facial with one of our licensed estheticians, click here.

Resources

Differentiating Rosacea From Sensitive Skin, Shannon Esau, Rhonda Allison Cosmeceuticals. Available at Skininc.com

Mayo Clinic: Rosacea https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rosacea/symptoms-causes/syc-20353815

American Academy of Dermatology: Does Drinking Cause Rosacea?
https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne-and-rosacea/rosacea/does-drinking-cause-rosacea

American Academy of Dermatology: 6 rosacea skincare tips dermatologists give their patients:
https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne-and-rosacea/rosacea/6-rosacea-skin-care-tips-dermatologists-give-their-patients

5 ways we’re reducing environmental impact

Spa owners and employees, by nature, care about the health and well-being of the people we serve. That extends to the environment in which they live. One challenge in owning a spa is that there are many environmental challenges in this industry. Some of these challenges may come as a surprise to our guests. We are continually taking steps to reduce our environmental footprint.


1.We LOVE Recycle Me Iowa.

East Village Spa employees with recycle me Iowa storage containers

Haven’t heard of them? They are located in Des Moines and offer convenient, affordable recycling if you live or work in a building that doesn’t have recycling as an option, you need this company in your life.The amount of cleaning supply and product containers, packaging and shipping waste is overwhelming, but we make sure to recycle as much as possible. Every 2 weeks Recycle Me Iowa takes it all away.

2. Reusable cups reduce waste

East Village Spa Manicure, guest holding ceramic mug.

Since we switched to glassware years ago, we’ve saved hundreds of cups per week from going in the trash. We still have to-go cups for our hot and cold beverages, but we encourage you to bring your own and we’ll happily send you on your way with a full travel mug of our yummy hot or cold Pure Inventions teas!If you’re enjoying a complimentary beverage in the spa, please choose a reusable cup instead of paper or plastic.

3. Reducing robes = reducing water and energy waste

East Village Spa Robe on Hanger

Did you know that the average home washing machine uses 41 gallons of water per load? Drying laundry accounts for a large amount of energy use as well. We are happy to provide robes for convenience for guests enjoying both a facial and a massage at our spa, but we do not offer robes for guests who are enjoying a single service. This helps us to save over 200 gallons of water (on a single Saturday!) reduce energy and detergent use.

4. Eco (and human!) safe pedicures

East Village Spa guest getting a pedicure and talking to nail technician.

Did you know, our pedicure chairs use 80% less water than traditional pedicure chairs with whirlpool jets? They also don’t require us to flush gallons of harmful sanitizing chemicals down the drain every time they’re used! We choose our nail care products carefully, for the safety of our employees, guests, and the environment.

5. Eco-friendly products and packaging

Rhonda Allison Citrus Gel Cleanser with recycled glass dish full of fruit

We partner with companies who have safe, ethical business practices. Farmhouse Fresh is headquartered on a farm, where they source some of their ingredients. Their packaging is often reusable (like ice cream dish candles-see how we re-used the dish in the photo).Rhonda Allison’s packaging is designed to preserve the products without synthetic preservatives, and can be recycled.Zoya and CND nail polishes are non-toxic and Zoya will even recycle nail polishes from ANY company during their Earth Day campaign.

Our environmental initiatives are always a work in progress. Some things we can’t control for regulatory and safety reasons (for example, we’d never, ever re-use wax sticks. This is dangerous and a violation of sanitation rules.) We’re always brainstorming together ways that we can minimize our impact without sacrificing on service quality and safety and it is my goal to have several NEW initiatives to share with our guests by Earth Day 2020.

Post by Cassie Sampson, BA, LMT. Owner, East Village Spa in Des Moines, IA. East Village Spa was established in 2008 and offers massage therapy, esthetics, and natural nail care.

Pedicure Safety Myths

‘Tis the season to prep and polish toes for spring break trips and soon-to-be sandal weather! It is also the season of pedicure safety myth-busting.

Myth #1: A good pedicure will leave your feet baby soft.

We have calluses to protect our feet. A safe pedicure will gently soften the callus, but won’t cut it. Razors and graters that cut or aggressively file calluses are illegal in Iowa and many other states (though some salons still use them) Cutting calluses can open you to infection and will make them grow back harder. We use a safe foot file that we send home with you so you can continue gently softening your calluses safely over time.

Myth #2: You should to bring your own tools to a nail salon to avoid infection.

If you feel like you need to bring your own tools to your nail salon, you probably need a new nail salon. Salons are required by law to properly sanitize tools in an EPA Registered disinfectant like Barbicide (the blue liquid), or by heat or steam sterilizing them. We use both Barbicide AND heat sterilization for our metal tools. Sterilized tools are then sealed until use. Porous tools like files, buffers, flip flops, toe separators and wooden sticks must be immeidatly disposed of or given to our guests to take home. If a salon re-uses disposable tools, it is likely they are cutting other safety corners too.

If you bring your own tools, it is unlikely that they are sterilized to our standards. If they’ve been rolling around in your purse, car, or make-up bag in a punctured Ziplock, they are likely contaminated with bacteria or debris that can cause infection. Just because those tools are only used on you doesn’t mean they are clean! If you have any doubt about your salon’s sanitary standards, ask them! Salons that do things the right way are always proud to discuss their sanitization proceedures.

Myth 3: I need to bring my own nail polish to a salon.

Nail polish at a reputable salon is safe. By the time it is applied to a guest, their nails have been cleaned sanitized. Our polishes are also selected for safe ingredients. Guests who come with a diseased toenail are required to go without polish or purchase a bottle to keep. We do not use shared polishes on these guests for everyone’s safety.

If you bring your own, it might not look as great as we’d like. Different consistencies and brush sizes mean that our nail technicians aren’t going to get the same results they get with the brands they trust and use every day, plus they may not combine well with our top coats.

Myth 4: It’s “just a pedicure.” Laws and regulations are excessive.

Several states are facing legislation to try to reduce licensing in cosmetology professions. In Iowa, licensed cosmetologists and licensed nail technicians can legally do manicures and pedicures. They spend hundreds of hours training in not only how to make your nails look good, but to learn how to identify nail health concerns, infection control, safety techniques, and chemistry of products they use. They have to take regular continuing education including topics like safety, sanitation, and the law. Licensed nail technicians and cosmetologists are subject to oversight by the department of public health.

We’ve all heard nail salon horror stories. Many of these issues are caused by salons that are not following the laws. Insist that the person giving you a pedicure is educated and practicing legally. The salon license and every individual nail technician or cosmetologts’ licenses are required to be posted in the business.

Ready to book your safe pedicure at East Village Spa? Click here to book online! Remember, wherever you go, it is ok to ask questions. If your gut tells you something isn’t right, it is ok to end the service and leave. Your health is worth it.





Resolve to avoid these 3 skin health mistakes

New Year’s Day is always a good time to set goals. People often focus on nutrition or fitness goals, but neglect their skin’s health when creating a wellness plan for the year! We’ll make skin care resolutions easy with 3 common skin health mistakes to resolve to avoid this year.

From Camille Arbegast, Managing Esthetician at East Village Spa:

Resolve to exfoliate properly: That might not mean using an actual “scrub.”

Many people think that to exfoliate you need a scrub, any scrub. But more often than not, a manual scrub is not appropriate for your skin. Some scrubs are really aggressive and will damage your skin. For people with acne-prone skin, scrubs can cause inflammation, spread bacteria and increase breakouts. People think that Clarisonics exfoliate the skin but they really don’t (slightly, but not enough). They’re great for deep cleansing but that’s about it.

A serum exfoliates with acids instead of “grit.” The benefit of using a serum to exfoliate is they will likely have multiple benefits for your skin along with exfoliation.

From Lindsay Crowe, Licensed Esthetician at East Village Spa:

Resolve to stop getting skincare advice from social media celebrities.

People may use the wrong products because of social media influencers. They see what they are using and want to look like them or have their skin, but the products that work for the Instagram or You Tube celebrity may not be appropriate for the person watching the video. That’s a new thing happening in our industry and I have started to see it with my clients this last year… they see it on YouTube and they want it!

For example, you may see someone raving online about a clay mask, but those are only for oily skin or spot-treating blemishes. If someone with normal to dry skin uses that mask, it can lead to irritated dry skin and breakouts.

Getting the right products for your skin starts with an esthetician so we can talk and map out your personal needs. That’s why our facials and products are customizable, which I love!

Cassie Sampson, BA, LMT, Owner, East Village Spa

Resolve to quit picking at your skin!

2018 was a stressful year and stress translated to breakouts for me. Breakouts translated to stress relief in the form of “picking” my skin to try to do my own extractions. It was a vicious cycle that caused some scarring on my cheek and chin. I work with 7 licensed estheticians, so WHY I felt the need to try to extract my own skin is beyond me. (This is a lie, I did it because it was satisfying.)

Now I’m in repair mode to minimize the scarring. I use Rhonda Allison Perfection Clay to spot treat when I get a blemish to make it easier to extract if I feel compelled to try to do it, and I properly treat my skin before and after. Mostly, I’ve made it a goal to get a facial or Hydrafacial when I’m stressed. The services are incredibly relaxing which helps to reduce my stress and anxiety that causes my blemishes (and my desire to pick) AND they help with the scarring. Win-win.

East Village Spa Facial with Mask

Need help achieving your new year skin health resolutions? We’re here for you! You can book a facial online here. Not sure where to start? A Wellness Facial is a great option for people who are totally new to professional skincare. Want more stress relief with your facial? Book the EV Signature Facial which has all of the benefits of the Wellness Facial, plus lots of extra TLC. If you’ve tried facials before and want something that packs more punch, I strongly suggest the Hydrafacial. It is a game-changer!

You can also stop into the spa and see if one of our estheticians is free to consult with you about the best service or products for your needs. Cheers to healthy skin and a low-maintenance routine designed for YOUR needs in the new year!

Top Holiday Gift Picks-2018

I’ll admit it, my family and friends can always expect gifts from East Village Spa for special occasions. Some of our team members shared their top gift picks for family and friends. If your loved one works at the spa consider this your spoiler alert before you read further!

Custom blended essential oil lotion, body scrub, bath soak or hydrating mists are a gift that shows you put a bit of extra thought and effort in.  After making a few choices on our Body Bliss Aromatherapy app, we’ll develop a custom recipe for whatever you can think of: pain relief for athletes, “love potions,” stress relief for expectant mothers, TLC for people undergoing chemotherapy treatments…you name it! 

Eurospa Eucalyptus Mint Shower Mist

Our Licensed Massage Therapist Becky suggests our EuroSpa Eucalyptus Shower Mists. “My entire family and my fiancé have terrible sinus issues and the smell is very cleansing, invigorating and yet simultaneously calming. I’ve even sprayed it in my car and room, not just the shower or diffuser! The variety of different aromas blended with the eucalyptus are pretty great too! Something for everyone!”

Kelly, our spa director, is constantly replenishing our Zoya limited edition holiday sets. These are our best gifting value. Zoya nail polish is normally $10/bottle but these 4 packs sell for just $15! They are perfect to separate for little value-priced stocking stuffers or creating gift sets for a group. Zoya polishes are salon quality, vegan, and made with safe ingredients.

Both our Guest Experience Manager (and esthetician) Molly and Licensed Massage Therapist Hannah plan to gift Thistle Farms items. This organization provides programming and employment to women who have survived sex trafficking, drug addiction, and abuse. Plus, their essential-oil based candles, room sprays, and oil rollers are beautiful gifts. Molly loves tucking some literature about the organization into the gift bag to let the recipient know how their gift makes a difference.

Rhonda Allison IllumiColour lip glosses are a very popular gift this year. Conny said that her mom and sister who never wear make-up love them. Our esthetician, Cammie, said that she loves sharing these lip glosses because they look great, but also feel great because they contain nourishing, pro youth ingredients.

ALL of our Farmhouse Fresh products make beautiful gifts. Plus, this line supports animal rescue. Their headquarters is even on a farm animal sanctuary! Jamee is giving the mini-sets like this face mask trio. Cassandra suggests Farmhouse Fresh Sweet Cream scented lotion because everyone appreciates lotion in the winter and it is a perfect light scent. Kristiana’s mom loves their Caramel Coffee Shea Butter Scrub.

Licensed Massage Therapist, Brandi, said her family is getting Kneipp Bath Salts because they need to chill out! The arnica Joint and Muscle salts are great for relatives dealing with pain and inflammation. Many of our team members regularly give the gift of a relaxing aromatherapy salt bath to ourselves.

We have a huge selection of beautifully locally crafted earrings by designer Heather Morphew Nelson, from tiny studs to drop earrings, necklaces, and more. She has a huge fan club among our clients. Stop in to browse her ever-changing selection!

Need help with gift ideas? Stop in! We can help you shop and we’ll even wrap your gift while you enjoy a complimentary chocolate. East Village Spa is open Monday 10a-7p, Tuesday 9a-7p, Wednesday 10a-7p, Thursday 9a-7p, Friday 10a-6p, Saturday 10a-5p, and we’re closed Sundays. We will close at 2pm on Christmas Eve. Learn more at www.EVDaySpa.com!

Don’t get scammed by diverted beauty products

Confession time: I’ve bought diverted products in a moment of despiration and I KNOW better! A couple years ago, I realized that I didn’t have enough foundation to last through an upcoming trip. Because of my poor planning, I didn’t have time to run to the store that carried the brand, and there wasn’t enough time to have it shipped directly from an authorized retailer. I caved to the temptation: I ordered it on Amazon Prime for 1 day shipping. My foundation arrived and I immediately realized it wasn’t quite right. The label didn’t match the original label. Instead of the shade being printed on the bottle, it was attached with a crooked sticker. It was orange. I’d been fooled. Not only was I out the money for a fake bottle of foundation, I was still out of foundation for my trip.

What does it mean if a product is “diverted?”

Diverted products are not sold through authorized channels. Many people think of shampoo and conditioner, but this is common with skincare and cosmetics too. Some lines are intended only for sale by licensed professionals or authorized distributors. Products sold outside of these channels are likely to be expired, diluted, adulterated, have not been properly stored, and are definitely not gauranteed by the manufacturer. Sometimes, these products contain dangerous additives or ingredients that are not on the label, so you can’t be certain a diverted product doesn’t contain ingredients you are allergic to.

How to spot a diverted product:

If you see a salon or spa brand, or any exclusive cosmetic or personal care product at a drug store, grocery store, or discount clothing and home goods store, chances are it is diverted. This In-Style article offers helpful tips for spotting diverted items, including looking for inconsistencies in the labels or packaging, covering bar codes to make them harder to track (look for bar code stickers or markered out bar codes), and prices that seem significantly lower.

This bottle of hair spray has a telltale sign of diversion: A sticker over the real barcode. Note how old the product and sticker are. This was on the shelves at a Des Moines grocery store today.

Am I getting a better deal at a big box store? 

Many professional quality hair and skincare lines dictate the prices that their authorized distributors can charge. No authorized licensed professionals or distributors are allowed to charge less. Ironically enough, many diverted products cost as much as, or more than, a guaranteed product sold from a legitimate distributor, and you truly can’t know what you’re buying if it isn’t from an authorized retailer.

This bottle of Redken Shampoo sells for $15.99 from an authorized salon, but was on the shelf at a local grocery store with a sticker over the real bar code today for $19.99.

Professional skincare lines like Rhonda Allison, our exclusive skincare line, are only available through licensed estheticians or dermatologists. According to Rhonda Allison:

“Consumers need to be aware that if they purchase from an institution such as eBay or Amazon, their product may be diluted, expired, or counterfeit. Such product may not be safe to use or perform as tested and Rhonda Allison will not take responsibility for the purchaser’s dissatisfaction…these products are considered “diverted” and constitute a high risk to the consumer.”

A quick check of Amazon showed a few Rhonda Allison products, and almost all of these diverted products were priced higher than our products! Some appear to be bottles that are either older designs or not “quite right.”  For example, I found a bottle of Rhonda Allison’s Drops of Essence today on Amazon selling for nearly $50 more than we sell it at East Village Spa. Our product is guaranteed to be exactly what it says, comes with expert advice, and we’ll happily ship it to our clients!

Diverted and seriously overpriced product on Amazon.

If diversion is so bad, how are stores getting away with it?

According to Consumer Affairs, the illegality comes from people within the supply chain diverting the products to stores like big box or online retailers, which is a breach of their contract. For example, if a distributor unethically sells their products, including those that are expired, damaged, or used, to a big box store, they are breaching their contract with the manufacturer. Some individuals sell stolen goods. The products then go to a warehouse where the products bar codes are destroyed or covered to make them hard to track. When a big box store buys diverted products from these unethical operators, this is not illegal, but it is unethical because the retailer cannot guarantee the authenticity or safety of the products.

The only way to reduce this practice, short of passing legislation making it illegal for retailers to purchase unauthorized products, is to educate consumers about product diversion and encourage consumers to purchase directly from their salon, spa, or wellness professionals. This is the only way to guarantee that you are getting what you pay for, and more often than not, you’ll end up saving money. Plus, you will be supporting small business owners instead of online or big box retailers engaging in unethical practices without concern for your health.

We are thankful

The first time I got a massage, I was 24 and had just gotten injured at work. I booked a 30 minute massage on a whim to try to help. I literally had no clue what to expect, I even kept my tank top on under the sheets. That massage was so incredible that when I was done, I knew that I needed to help people feel that way too. Within a year, I enrolled in massage therapy school.

Our team is so fortunate to do what we do, and Thanksgiving is always a time to take a step back and really reflect on how grateful we are to be in the spa profession. I asked the crew at East Village Spa to share their favorite part of their career and why they are thankful to be in this line of work.

Brandi: My favorite part of being a licensed massage therapist is making space for others in a compassionate way. And, I am thankful for my co-workers!

Jamee: I am thankful for being able to help people move past challenges that are holding them back from leading their best lives. I would normally be begging people to let me treat them, but now I get to make a living doing this!

Kanika: Being a cosmetologist, esthetician, and massage therapist, I am thankful for the gift of human touch. My career cannot be completely taken over by a robot, computer or technology.

Becky: I like that I never stop learning! I love helping educate my clients and myself. I’m thankful that I get paid to hang out with friends at work!

Jennifer: I love building trusting relationships with clients. My favorite part is getting to see them again and again. I am grateful for the community that therapists bring, they share knowledge and information.

Hannah: I really enjoy the process of talking to my client and listening to what is going on, then helping to put all the clues together. It is like doing a puzzle, but you are still “working.”

Molly: I’m thankful for being able to build relationships with co-workers and regular clients. I love getting the chance to educate and help clients with skincare needs. Oh, and I LOVE doing extractions!

Cassandra: I enjoy getting to know my clients. I learn where I need to travel, eat, and other fun stuff! Also, I get to play and have fun. I say play, because I get to use all the nail polish colors at the spa, not just the few I have at home. Plus, we get to mix things like masks in the facial room and get to test out and play with all the new products.

Camdine: I love getting someone back to what they love doing (running, biking swimming, chasing grand kids) following an injury or surgery. I’m thankful for a job where I can help people get back to “normal” life when dealing with an injury like frozen shoulder. One of the best compliments I can get is someone telling me they can do something without pain anymore or they don’t have to take pain meds or muscle relaxers to get through the day.

Lindsay: I love customizing things to meet someone’s needs so I get to do something different almost every treatment or service.

Conny: I get paid to be relaxed!

Kelly: I am thankful to work with like-minded people who happen to all be amazing. I love my team.

Cassie: I’m so thankful I found a career where I can be my true self and I get to see other people reveal their genuine personality too. Every day I work with caring people and witness incredible acts of kindness and compassion. In our stressed-out world, we get to see people at their most relaxed. It is truly a gift.

Visit a wellness provider who lives his or her career, I promise you’ll notice the difference! Click here to book your appointment with any of our incredible licensed massage therapists, estheticians, and nail technicians.