With clients’ increased awareness of product ingredients, sourcing and regulation, it's no surprise that they are coming into our spas and medical spas with more questions, concerns and demands.

Clients regularly consult the Environmental Working Group's website, study the Goop newsletters and watch their favorite TV doctors for advice. It's our role as spa professionals to be cognizant of the current demands of our clients so that we can steer them in the right direction while meeting their needs.

Clients crave clean products.

With the rise of common food allergies and sensitivities, clients are not only aware of what's in their food — they are also keenly aware of which ingredients comprise their skin care products.

Don't be surprised if clients regularly inquire about the presence of synthetic fragrances and preservatives, parabens, hormone disrupters, colorants and sulfates, just to name a few. Because so many clients recognize that their skin is "not a barrier but a carrier," they are skeptical of many controversial ingredients potentially getting into their bloodstream.

Can you blame them? They are quite aware that the FDA in the U.S. regulates so little of the personal care sector. So make sure to have ingredient lists available and check to see if your products contain these components when asked.

Cruelty to animals is a common concern.

Be aware that clients are making conscious decisions about skin care products based on whether they are cruelty free and/or vegan. Oftentimes, clients will consider this above the product's efficacy or skin-improvement claims.

With the increased number of celebrities and influencers "going vegan," the lifestyle has become a household name and something that the average consumer is considering more and more.

Even if clients are not vegan themselves, cruelty-free products are a common ethical demand. Clients do not want to support companies that practice unscrupulous animal testing and will seek out alternatives.

Gender-neutral products are here to stay.

Restrooms aren't the only thing getting attention, in terms of gender neutrality. Beauty companies are also formulating products, packaging and marketing campaigns that are non-gender-specific. It seems that the consumer is looking to see how the product addresses their concerns and not how it stereotypes one gender or the other.

The thought is: skin is skin, right? Consumers don't want to be pigeonholed as either pink or blue and want their skin care to look more clinical and androgynous. In fact, Sue Nabi, the former worldwide president of L'Oreal, created a skincare brand in 2017 called Orveda, which embodies gender neutrality as one of its foundational elements.

Nabi, after decades working in the beauty industry, knew that product quality and efficacy is more important than assigning a gender stereotype to a brand. We will most likely see more mainstream brands follow her lead.

Make room for gluten- and nut-free products on your shelves.

As I mentioned before, food allergies seem to be more prominent than ever these days, and affect adults and children. Common food allergens are gluten, nuts, soy, shellfish, eggs and dairy. Those people who can't eat them also want to avoid them in their skincare.

The challenging part for skin care practitioners is that the FDA isn't required to do allergy labeling on products, so it's up to us to identify the forbidden ingredients for our clients. The most common perpetrators are gluten, tree nuts (e.g., almonds, cashews, macadamia, walnuts, pecans and pistachios), peanuts and milk byproducts.

Gluten ingredients are a bit trickier to spot and may include: bran extract, wheat germ, avena sativa, enzyme-modified gluten, fermented grain extract, hydrolyzed wheat gluten, hydrolyzed wheat protein (HWP), triticum vulgare, wheat hydrolysate, and wheat peptides, for starters. If you find that a large portion of your clients are requesting products free of any of these allergens, then it may be time to consider investing in products that specifically address these concerns.

Clients are proponents of probiotics.

Probiotics are a household name. We are encouraged to consume them via yogurt, kombucha, fermented vegetables and in capsule form. They are revered by M.D.'s and natural practitioners alike for their gut-boosting and microbiome-enhancing capabilities.

Probiotics are the "friendly bacteria" that can fortify our immune systems and ward off and/or balance pathogenic or harmful bacteria. So not only are these friendly bacteria great for our gut they are beneficial to our skin as well.

Clients are turning away from harsh retinoids and alpha hydroxy acids and looking to incorporate ingredients like probiotics that work to strengthen the skin without irritation. Probiotics are a new sector of skincare constituents that aim to alleviate acne, rosacea, eczema and inflammtaion. Even OTC brands like Aveeno and La Roche Posay have hopped onto the probiotic bandwagon, along with a slew of spa and professional-grade product lines.

Your clients may already be using face mists, lotions and serums with these microscopic bugs so be sure to counsel them on the topic and create your own unique offerings, as well.

Take my expert advice and make sure that you and your spa staff are up-to-date on some of the latest trends in the industry. It may be time to rethink your spa menu and revamp your retail inventory if you are not on board with some of these offerings.

Our informed clients vote with their dollars, so if your sales are down or you've got too much dust on the retail shelves, then consider bringing in these types of products into your spa today.