A Crystal Clear vision | Pocketmags.com

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A Crystal Clear vision

Crystal Clear founder Sharon Hilditch MBE tells Lollie Hancock how the industry has developed, and how she’s stayed ahead of the curve

Sharon Hilditch was first involved in beauty long before launching her business, Crystal Clear, three decades ago. The female founder began her career journey seeking out innovation across both sides of the Atlantic.

Reflecting on the early days, she reveals, “I’ve always been in the industry. I worked for a plastic surgery surgeon and a cosmetic surgery hospital, exploring new treatments for the UK market.” The initial focus was on deep chemical peels, but the challenges of post-operative issues led her to seek alternatives.

The turning point came during a visit to Italy, where Hilditch discovered a medical version of microdermabrasion. This laid the foundation for Crystal Clear’s first microdermabrasion system, designed for weekly light resurfacing treatments with minimal downtime.

The success was evident and many older models are still in use today. “We’ve still got systems we built 29 years ago – that’s the problem with our systems – they last forever,” laughs Hilditch. “We got one in for a trade in a few months ago and I couldn’t believe it was still working.”

When asked about significant shifts she’s noticed since Crystal Clear’s inception, Hilditch points to the endless list of treatments now available, highlighting the multitude of clinics and salons offering an extensive array of aesthetic services.

This surge, she believes, has altered the landscape for smaller salons that once thrived on conventional treatments like nails, waxing and facials, as the modern consumer demands more, pushing salons and clinics alike to invest in high-end equipment to deliver results that match the evolving expectations.

Hilditch awarded Fellowship of the City &Guilds of London Institute in 2022

Change of scene

So what caused this change in consumer interest and expectation from treatments? “It’s the internet,” Hilditch asserts, acknowledging its impact on shaping consumer awareness and demands. With information at their fingertips, clients are no longer passive recipients but informed decision-makers seeking treatments backed by efficacy. “Customers do demand treatments that actually work now, but they also demand quick results,” says Hilditch.

The intersection of surgical and nonsurgical realms is another significant shift, as Hilditch explains, “If a patient is coming in for a facelift, it’s not enough just to do the facelift anymore. You have to prepare the skin pre treatment, post treatment, and beyond. I think that’s a huge market that’s suddenly really opened up.”

Crystal Clear’s Skinstorm device

Keeping up with trends

In response to the changing landscape, Crystal Clear launched Skinstorm, a platform aimed at optimising skin health through oxygen infusion and combined treatments. The device supports Hilditch’s trend prediction of education on skin types and personalised treatments in the next 18 months.

“So many clients come in and are asked ‘have you got thin skin? Have you got thick skin?’ – They’ve not got no clue,” she explains. “They don’t know what they have, and they don’t know what they’re trying to achieve. The therapist’s job is all about education and getting the skin to optimal health.”

Exhibition excitement

Crystal Clear has been a staple at beauty shows for many years, with Professional Beauty North being the platform for the brand’s launch back in 1995. Hilditch emphasises the value of shows in bringing the beauty sector together, not just for brands but for the therapists too.

“It’s important for professionals to come to shows because they see what’s around, and also they get to meet the people behind the brands they work with,” she says. Hilditch sees shows as a vital educational opportunity for therapists and industry newcomers. “Without shows, one wouldn’t see what’s out there, talk to different brands, and gain insights into emerging trends,” she notes.

In the Crystal Clear ball

As Crystal Clear gears up for its 30th anniversary in 2025, Hilditch reflects on the brand’s journey, as well as wider industry changes during that time. Despite setbacks like recessions, Brexit, and the Covid-19 pandemic, Crystal Clear, like a reflection of the industry it sits in, stands strong, a testament to the brand’s commitment to innovation.

But while Hilditch acknowledges the brand’s longevity, she remains focused on the future and is commited to developing British-made products and personalised skincare solutions.

This article appears in February 2024

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February 2024
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