A journey outside the comfort zone at a psychedelic-assisted therapy retreat.
Two Canadian spas take it to the next level
Sometimes, you need to know that someone cares about you. Knowing that there’s someone out there who’s willing to reach out and lend a helping hand can make all the difference if you’re struggling.
For Shereen Magnus, a medical aesthetician and owner of SKN Med Spa in Saskatoon, her desire to help others was deeply rooted in her own personal struggles dealing with self-harm. “I had been thinking about this for a while,” she says, “but I needed to wait for the right time to offer this type of treatment. I needed to have the right space to welcome them.”
Magnus laughs when she recalls that she was “one of the crazy ones that opened a spa in November of 2020.” She could see that, during COVID, young adults were struggling with mental health and self-harm, and this was an opportunity to give back. “There’s not a lot of help or resources to deal with this issue. So, we started The SKN Initiative in May of 2022, which we mainly announced through our Instagram account.”
The SKN Initiative offers microneedling sessions for clients who are dealing with self-harm scars. Magnus originally used a basic needling pen, but when one of her suppliers, Cutera, heard about her plans, they stepped up and offered to supply their radiofrequency microneedling cartridges free of charge for these clients. “Since I usually see these clients two to three times over the course of their treatments, I use the basic pen a couple of times, then the microneedling cartridge to finish.”
Magnus points out that the surface area of the scar determines how many sessions are required. “A larger area of scarring can take up to two hours. Sometimes it takes longer to numb the skin with the numbing cream than it actually takes to do the procedure.” On average, there is four to six weeks between appointments.
SKN Med Spa supplies the numbing cream, but Cutera’s cartridge contribution is a game changer. “The cartridges are expensive—up to $100 for each head. The fact that Cutera is covering that is huge.” It also makes a difference in the treatments. One radiofrequency microneedling session is equal to five sessions with the regular microneedling pen.
Magnus is also clear about results when treating her clients. “I tell them the procedure will not completely erase the scar, but it will minimize the appearance of scarring, bring back the colour and pigment of the skin, and smooth out the scar.”
Magnus says clients see a big improvement over the course of their treatments. “The difference in their self-esteem from when they first come in to when they finish is amazing. Many of these clients are self-conscious about their scars, and this treatment gives them more confidence to wear clothing—like a short-sleeved shirt—that some of them haven’t been able to do in a decade.”
The reaction from clients has been pretty emotional. “Usually when they come in with a parent, the parent usually cries. It’s the fact that we’re simply just offering this service. They’re so touched by it. I wish there was more I could do—the simple act of offering this has touched a lot of people.”
Magnus is the only one in her spa offering this service because she wants to make sure clients feel comfortable. “I’ve struggled with this, too, and I can relate personally—it brings a level of reassurance to the client. Knowing your boundaries is important, too. We’ve partnered with a mental health and wellness counselling clinic in Saskatoon for additional therapy or counselling. For me, I know what it feels like when people are trying to help and then make the situation worse. I’m not trained in trauma therapy—sometimes even knowing what not to say is important.”
Being part of a community also means supporting it in a way that makes sense to you. At the Waters Spa in Waterloo, Ont., Carly Kuntz, chief relaxation officer, directs charitable giving in the form of free spa treatments, gift certificates at charity auctions, and even a percentage of the spa’s treatment sales on specific days to the Breast Cancer Society of Canada. They even donated a half-day spa certificate to two deserving frontline workers, chosen by a draw from local nominations.
Magnus has some good advice for other clinics that are considering charitable work. “Do something from your heart—as cheesy as that may sound. We all have a past, and a story. I strongly believe that life happens for us, not to us. We can use our own pain and struggles to help those in our community on a personal level and build deep, meaningful relationships. Start small, and don’t worry about what it will cost you. The love you put in always comes back tenfold.”