By  on March 3, 2006

LOS ANGELES — In its third year here, the Spa & Resort Expo & Conference sold out exhibitor space — at 225, the number of booths was up 45 percent over last year.

That's because a growing number of national and international companies are joining the spa, medi-spa and resort arenas, according to conference organizers, and they're selling everything from state-of-the-art laser equipment to inexpensive and practical aids for applying moisturizer.

The two-day event, which took place Sunday and Monday at the Los Angeles Convention Center, took its cues from Hollywood — much like everything else in the beauty industry.

Considering many global beauty trends start here, numerous exhibitors used the event as a showcase for new products. Trends included supercharged peptides at one extreme, and all-organic and natural products at the other.

Antioxidants are still a major component in skin care, although exhibitors say the emphasis now is on a more concentrated blend. Among these are matrix metalloproteinases, or MMP.

"These contain the highest number of peptides," said Krista Davis, regional sales manager of Caleel + Hayden, Denver, which was previewing its new Glo Therapeutics skin care line.

The range was founded on technologically advanced ingredients, including spin trap, which is also known as phenyl butyl nitrone. The laboratory-produced superantioxidants are said to be far stronger than traditional antioxidants like green tea and vitamins A, C and E.

Glo Therapeutics, designed for professional use and sale only, features 20 skin care items, including seven peels. One of these is called gloModified Jesnner and it is said to reduce the appearance of freckles, acne and rosacea. There's also gloSalicylic, which is a deep cleanser for pores and helps skin rejuvenation. Glo Therapeutics' take-home products will retail for between $36 and $115.

Noted French brand G.M. Collin was doing healthy business with its Bota-peptide Concentrate, which was launched last year. A new addition was Retinol Advanced, a night care product that has strong antioxidants such as Coenzyme Q10 and bowed in December. Nick Mockridge, the company's Los Angeles business development manager, said peptides were the "in thing" in skin care, but that the success of a product depended on how it was formulated."We combine five peptides," he said of the Bota-peptide Concentrate. "They all work in different ways, but they basically relax the muscles to erase wrinkles. It's not aggressive to the skin." Mockridge said a new peptide eye cream would be launched next month, and another 10 products were planned later in the year.

North Hollywood, Calif.-based company AISC was seeing a lot of demand for its antioxidant-laden products, which are meant for private label customers. The company's chief executive officer, David Kohan, was officially launching the three-stockkeeping-unit collection at the show. He said a big draw was the polypeptide formulations.

"The combination of peptides we use are 2,000 times stronger than vitamin E," he said. Numerous orders had been placed for the Four Minute Face Lift, which reportedly leaves the skin wrinkle free for six hours.

"This is our first trade show, and there has been a tremendous response," he said, adding that the line could be sold only to doctors and medi-spas, and would retail for around $72 to $75.

Even centuries-old antioxidants are being given a new lease on life. D'Vine, a company based in Cedar Falls, Iowa, was introducing a complete line of skin and body care products based on vinotherapie. The thinking, said company ceo Richard Mauer, M.D., was to use ingredients noted for their nourishing properties, such as grape seed extract, L-tartaric acid and wine polyphenols. The 38-item collection, in the $50 retail range, was popular at the show. On day one, he said, some 400 new clients stopped by.

"We think this will start a whole new trend," said Mauer. "It's a continuation of the healthy aging concept. Our clinical studies showed very good results, and there is nothing harsh in these products, so it's completely safe."

State-of-the-art techniques like lasers and LED pulses now are being applied beyond the face. Skincare Technology Inc. in Chicago, which makes the Revitalight LED Photopulsation equipment for the face, has modified the technology for the hands.

"People have generally been concerned only about their face and not their hands, but that's starting to change," said Barbara Leonardi, vice president of sales for Skincare Technology. The new HandSpa is meant primarily for nail salons. The compact piece of equipment is powered by 64 lights, which give off the power of 334 LEDs. Clients spend 10 minutes with their hands nestled inside the machine, and four to six treatments later should see more youthful-looking skin. The HandSpa is also meant to treat age spots and arthritis. The machine was selling for $2,995, although Leonardi said the initial cost can be recouped quickly because spas can charge $10 to $30 a session, and there is no need for an aesthetician to monitor it. The HandSpa already had been picked up by distributors in London, Australia and the Middle East.Lasers are being combined with massage at Cynosure, a company based in Westford, Mass., that makes the Tri-Active LaserDermology system.

"It's a three-pronged approach to cellulite," said Larry Laber, the company's Western regional sales manager. He said the combination of approaches was a new evolution in anticellulite treatments.

"Several years ago, everybody was looking for that one thing, the one modality for every application. But now it takes multiple things for results — a combination of lasers or injections or topical applications. The Tri-Active takes that premise to the next step."

The machine, which sells for $44,000, works by stimulating and deep massaging skin on the body and face, improving circulation. It also is intended for use before and after liposuction.

As avant-garde as some procedures are, however, there continues to be a burgeoning demand in the market for New Age-influenced products.

Alcanz International in Sausalito, Calif., was introducing its Kama Ayurveda line, which is made in India and uses traditional Indian holistic therapies. The 16-item collection includes herbal powders, exfoliating masks and pure vegetable soaps.

"They are really for anyone and everyone," said Randy Boba, the company's North American sales and marketing manager. The clean, high-end packaging scored orders from top spas in the U.S., as well as customers in Switzerland and other parts of Europe. Boba said the initial success of the line, which was priced at wholesale from $7.45 to $150, was due to the fact it had no parabens or sulfates.

VB Cosmetics in Chandler, Ariz., was showing its newly packaged Abrione line of masques color-coordinated to the body's charkas, or healing points. While the facial treatments nourish and moisturize the skin, they also pertain to specific needs; the red represents vitality and physical strength, the yellow is for the nervous system. The masks, which come packaged in small pots, contain ingredients such as pomegranate, prickly pear, shea butter and cypress.

Company president Vivian Valentz said response to the line was enthusiastic. It retails for $25 for a set of seven. Valentz said, "A lot of our customers are still into everything natural."

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