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Let’s Hear It For The Boys

By Louis Silberman

The word “spa” conjures up a series of stereotypical images in the minds of most people. Lovely cucumber facial masks, sexy manicures complete with nail art and floral body scrubs are all things commonly associated with the day spa aesthetic experience. This begs the question, “Why does each of these things epitomize frou-frou girly bliss?” Up until the last few decades, spas, and beauty shops have been the sole domain of women, representing a social focal point for the pursuit of femininity and beauty. Yet, in spite of the growing demographic of beauty-conscious men, spas have been slow to update their marketing strategies, leaving this group and their disposable income largely untapped. This unfortunate business trend proved true when The International Spa Association (ISPA) reported that women account for nearly 75% of spa guests in the United States.

Due to the uncertain and shaky future of the economy, it is important now more than ever that the aesthetics industry look for new and innovative ways to market their services to increase their clientele. What most aesthetic professionals do not realize is that continuing to compete with everyone else in the market over the same slice of the pie, women, often proves to be an expensive exercise in futility. For savvy spa professionals looking to take their business to the next level, it’s time to take that first step into the unexplored final frontier of spa clients – men.

Men may not be the fairer sex. However, their desire to look younger and more attractive to their romantic interests represents an opportunity to expand your clientele and watch your business boom. To reach them successfully there are several straightforward and inexpensive steps you can take to maximize results and set yourself apart?

The initial roadblock many spa owners and treatment providers must first overcome is the male perception of the average spa. Unlike in most European countries, where men view spas as places to network with other businesspersons or show off their elite social status, men in the United States view spa visits as a female priority. It is a natural desire for a man to maintain his masculinity, so throwing him into a traditional, female-centric spa environment could very well make them uncomfortable and unwilling to spend their money. While considerations to the desires of men are necessary, do not go from one extreme to another, as it could alienate your existing female clientele. By implementing a few simple changes to the spa’s ambiance and marketing, you will be able to alter the male perception of the spa experience and open the door to a new world of clients.

Creating A Friendly Environment:

For men who have never been to a spa or received an aesthetic treatment, there is to be a certain level of apprehension when considering booking that first-time appointment. Do not let their rough exteriors fool you; men are just as sensitive about their surroundings as women are. It is this ‘spa anxiety’ that has kept many men away for far too long. Worrying about how and where people see them might seem silly on the surface, but even the slightest misgiving could cost you a potential client.

Something as simple as a new paint color on the walls can make all the difference in putting them at ease. Color schemes including rich, earthy and chocolate tones paired with relaxing blues are a great way to create a gender-neutral space. This will allow your spa to project a trendy, luxurious feel in which men will be comfortable, while still maintaining the soothing environment and luxury that women enjoy as well.

Many men also put a high premium on privacy during their spa treatments. Creating a separate ‘man space’ that allows men to relax and more fully enjoy their spa experience is very important. For spas with an open layout, consider separating one section of the space by setting up a simple room divider or a contemporary curtain panel. For spas with individual treatment rooms, revamping a few of the rooms with a more masculine atmosphere is also a great idea.

Where The Boys Are:

When considering marketing spa services to men, it is important to remember you are going up against a new breed of client with an entirely different routine. Whereas many women grow up enjoying manicures on the weekend, most men when given the choice will spend their Sundays watching football. This fundamental difference is why successfully marketing to men requires innovative thinking and an altered plan of attack.

Spas that use bright and flowery marketing campaigns with the standard “look younger and more beautiful” verbiage will need to think outside of the box to have the effect they want on men. The first step in any successful male marketing campaign is to identify where the guys are hiding. Places like gyms, golf courses, country clubs, arenas and sports bars represent ideal venues to reach men. Talk to facility managers and ask if they will let you put out flyers or small posters in highly trafficked areas.

When creating advertising content, be sure to utilize unique and creative artwork with focused bullet points. Avoid the urge to explain everything about your business, as this can muddle the ad with too many words and make it difficult to read. This ensures your ad will stand out amongst others, catching the eye of all those who pass. Some businesses may ask for a fee to advertise in their space. Instead of paying cash, do not be afraid to do a little friendly bartering. Offering free treatments is a fantastic way to get your foot in the door, while also increasing the likelihood of your advertisements receiving prime placement in the common areas.

Girl Power:

As you continue to reinvent your marketing campaign, don’t forget the most powerful promotional tool in your arsenal. Not sure what that is? It is hiding in plain sight – women! Making up 75% of the average spa clientele, women are a key player in reaching men. Remember that behind every woman you treat, there is an entire family of men. Whether they are brothers, fathers, boyfriends or husbands, women have instant access to a goldmine demographic that very few spas are attracting. Just because these men have not walked through your doors does not mean your advertisements will not reach them and get their attention through the women in their lives.

Women want men who look clean, fresh, and sexy. Do not be afraid to take advantage of that. Create special “Make Over Your Man” treatment packages that aim to fix issues with the male appearance that bother women most. The incredible advancements made in medical aesthetics technology have allowed aesthetic practitioners to easily correct conditions such as excessive body hair, wrinkles, acne and uneven skin tones and textures. This is also an ideal method to gain referral business because once the results are revealed, the woman in his life will want to tell all her friends.

When devising a menu of services to give to your female clients, consider using tag lines such as “Is your man’s back as hairy as his chest?” or, “Does his tattoo say Jane but your name is Jenny? Erase the ex today with laser tattoo removal.” Not only are these humorous, but they clearly call attention to popular male skin concerns, ones your client might not even know are treatable.

Holidays, special events, birthdays and anniversaries are all perfect opportunities to recommend your just-for-men treatments. Encourage your female clientele to forget the Father’s Day ties and consider a spa package as the perfect gift. With a successfully established female clientele, it makes little sense to overhaul your entire spa menu as a means of attracting more male clients. Instead, give your existing services a makeover of their own. With slightly altered phraseology and selling points, spa treatments can be just as popular among men as they are with women.

To get a head start, here are a few examples of how the hottest treatments on the market can be tweaked to make them more appealing to men.

The Mani-Pedi:

For most men, manicures and pedicures bring up images of high-gloss feminine nail polish and girl talk. As one can imagine, this is not something a man would typically want to do at a luxury spa. Before ignoring this type of treatment altogether, consider a man’s needs and add some creativity. Men are well aware of the corporate world’s demand for well-groomed employees. Consider introducing an Executive Manicure for the sharp businessperson and incorporate a deep tissue hand massage so that men will not feel as if they are “getting their nails done.”


In the past, sunscreen application and the occasional aftershave were about as far as men would go in the skincare regimen department. In today’s market, men are continually becoming more educated about the benefits of newly developed topical skin treatments. To best cash in on the male market, establish facials with masculine ingredients and exfoliates. Consider maple, beer hops, barley and even organic root and bark extracts. Much like other spa services, the word “facial” is mostly considered a woman-friendly service, so create new treatment names like The Stress-Melter Cinnamon Mask or The Gent’s 30-Minute Fix.

Laser Hair Removal:

Hair removal is only as gender specific as your spa makes it. In reality, countless numbers of body-conscious men choose to shave their arms and chest to gain a sleeker and smoother look, accentuating muscle definition and skin tone. Body shaving is also big among athletes, who notoriously opt for hairless bodies in the name of enhanced performance.

Unfortunately, shaving is only temporary and has a long list of unpleasant side effects, including razor burn, cuts and ingrown hairs. Capitalize on the demand for hairlessness by creating affordable packages that advertise the convenience of ditching the razor. Emphasize how laser hair removal improves the look of their physique making them more attractive to women. With a higher price point than waxing and shorter treatment times, adding laser hair removal services to your lineup is an easy way to boost revenue and make your clients happy.

While many aesthetic professionals have heard of laser hair removal, there is a lot of confusion regarding who is able to perform this type of procedure. Contrary to popular belief, having a medical background is not a prerequisite to becoming a Laser Hair Removal Specialists. While training requirements vary from state to state, the industry gold standard of certification is through a 14-day program of combined didactic classroom education and comprehensive hands-on clinical practice on multiple laser platforms.

When choosing a laser training school, it is important to do your research to ensure you receive the best possible education. This will not only provide you with better treatment skills, but will also ensure the highest level of safety for your clients. Asking questions like, “How much hands-on experience will I receive?” and “How experienced are the instructors in both the classroom and the real world?” can make all the difference.

These are just a few suggestions on how to add a strong male clientele to your already successful spa businesses. Use them as a jumping off point, a source of inspiration, but do not stop here. Before spending any money buying advertising or creating marketing materials, do some testing. Ask the men and women around you what they like and what they would change about your promotional campaign. They may just have some amazing ideas you never considered.

While men do not always realize it, they can benefit professionally and personally through receiving spa services. Implementing a few of these practices will go a long way towards getting them through the door. Once they have seen how great a day at the spa can be, your only challenge will be getting them to leave!

Louis Silberman is president and founder of National Laser Institute, the largest cosmetic laser and medical aesthetics training center in North America. As an expert in medical aesthetics, a medical spa owner and nationally recognized author, Silberman has been a driving force behind the organization of the most comprehensive courses for professionals entering the cosmetic laser field. For more information about training programs in laser hair removal and more, call 1 (800) 982-6817 or simply fill out the form on your right.