How UCo Considers Brands/Products

If you prefer to read rather than watch the video, the transcript is available at the bottom of this page.


3 Teams Review New Products / Brands

Because we hold you in high regard, we hold ourselves highly accountable. Every product we carry has been vetted so it meets your standards

Vetting is performed by 3 teams:

  • Licensed professionals on staff
  • Sustainability / compliance
  • Marketing

Licensed Professionals

We have massage therapists, nail techs, and estheticians on staff. They test products in our onsite spa.

Sustainability / Compliance

Social and environmental causes are important to you. But you’re busy running a business and having a life, so research isn’t always at the top of your list.

Good thing that it doesn’t have to be!

Before you invest your money into a brand or product, we invest our time.

We bounce ingredients against marketing claims. Some of the marketing claims we review are as follows: natural, organic, clean, and social initiatives.


Our definition is that the natural substances are from botanical or mineral origin with certain exceptions. No synthetic fragrance or artificial colors. All “natural” personal care product ingredient declarations undergo intensive review.


The first question we ask is: Is it certified?

This is important for two reasons:

(1) Transparency. There are standards for farming practices and ingredients that must be followed to achieve organic certification.

(2) Compliance. Some states have strict laws about marketing organic. One of which is California. California law has regulations for products marketed as “organic.” COPA (California Organic Products Act), includes personal care and food.


Could mean natural, organic, or nature-identical ingredients that are safe for humans and the environment.

We look very closely at preservatives, surfactants, and other ingredients that can be controversial. For example, are the preservatives formaldehyde-releasing? If so, we would not market the product as “clean.”


Examples include, but are not limited to, cruelty-free, vegan, and fair trade.

If there are no certifications, we dig to find out about the chain of custody, who handles it, where is it made?

Vegan claims can be obvious or more digging is required. For example, almond carrier oil is clearly vegan. But some ingredients aren’t as obvious, such as cetearyl alcohol. It could come from plant, animal, or synthetic origins.


Our first question is: What sales and marketing tools are available to you?

From protocols to ready-to-go social posts and brand FAQs, we gather everything you need to boost treatment and retail sales.

Need more information about our sustainability / compliance vetting? Contact me at






Hi, I'm Lisa Sykes, Director of Sustainability at Universal Companies. Thank you so much for your interest in our product and brand vetting process. Because we hold you in high regard, we hold ourselves highly accountable. Every product we carry has been vetted so it meets your standards of quality and performance. Vetting is performed by three teams, licensed professionals on staff, sustainability and compliance, which is my area, and marketing.


Licensed Professionals

We have licensed professionals on staff. Many of them work in our contact center and in product development. We have massage therapists, nail techs and estheticians, all of whom test any products that we pick up in our onsite spa. Many of us have had a chance to be a lucky employee and get a spa treatment on site because our product development team is testing products, so it's really, really cool.


Sustainability & Compliance

Sustainability and compliance is another area of course that I've mentioned, where we bounce ingredients against any marketing claims that the brand provides. Natural is one claim that we see a lot and to us natural really means substances from botanical or mineral origin with certain exceptions, no synthetic fragrance or artificial colors. All natural personal care product ingredient declarations undergo intensive review. Organic is also another claim that we really try to qualify and we do that through the first question we ask, “Is it certified?” Because number one, transparency is really, really important. So there are standards for farming practices and ingredients that must be followed to achieve organic certification. A product can't have 2% organic content and call itself organic. There are percentages that are factored into this and it excludes water and salt. The other important thing is compliance. There are states that have very strict regulations for products that are marketed as organic. California is one such state. It has a law called COPA, C-O-P-A, and COPA is the California Organic Products Act and it does include personal care in addition to food.

So before you can even market a product in California as organic, it really has to be what it says it is. Clean is another term that you've probably heard regarding personal care products. It can mean natural, organic, or a product that contains nature identical ingredients in addition to natural ingredients. And these are all safe for humans and the environment. So studies have been done a lot of due diligence. Again, we do a lot of research, you know, about ingredients. Some of the things we look at are preservatives. How is the product preserved? If it's a water-based formulation, we look at, okay, are there parabens in the product? If there are paraben preservatives or formaldehyde releasing preservatives, we do not say that it's a clean product. The same can be said for cleansers. If there are surfactants used, we look at what type of surfactants are used and surfactants are the ingredients in a product that make it foam. We look at that and that really does make a difference as to what those are. And there are other ingredients that we look at as well, but those are just a few examples.


Social initiatives are also claimed with certain brands, so we look at these as cruelty-free, vegan, is it fair trade? And of course we ask the question, “Is it certified?” If it is not certified, we really start digging around as you know, “What is the chain of custody?”, “Who handles it?”, “Where is it made?” All of those things make a difference into these claims. For example, if the claim is vegan, we look at the ingredients and sometimes it's pretty obvious it's a vegan product. For example, almond carrier oil, if that's all that's in it, it's going to be vegan. However, some ingredients aren't so obvious. So cetearyl alcohol, which is a very waxy alcohol, it's more of an emollient. A lot of times, cetearyl alcohol can be made from either plant, animal, or strictly synthetics. So we really ask that question to make sure if that particular ingredient is in a product, whether or not it's vegan. It makes a difference. Cruelty-free is another area that we look into if it's not certified. “Is it made in Europe, where animal testing is banned?” These are all questions again, that come up and we look into that chain of custody.



Marketing is another area that we look at and our first question when we look at onboarding brands is “What sales and marketing tools are available to you, our customer?” We really want to make it as easy for you as we can to sell and market your treatments and retail. Here's an example for Bellabaci that shows you a little bit about what we can do by providing you a resource center.

So we start off this particular page with FAQs. These are questions that you or your massage therapists may have about cupping, Bellabaci cupping specifically. So one question may be “How do I care for the cups?” And so you can click on it and see the proper washing technique, how often it should be done, how it should be stored. We also have “How do Bellabaci cups minimize wrist strain?” and it goes into detail about that. Protocols is another way that we try to help you. Here are some turnkey protocols. Here's something you can add to your menu. And these go in depth.

We also have a merchandising guide for this particular brand. And it tells you how to sell Bellabaci in your retail area. “How much space will it take up?” “How should the products be positioned?” All of that is touched on there. The trend report is a really cool look on taking a look at the number of searches for cupping since 2004 and you can see from 2004 to 2019 how it is just shot up over the years. So that's really important for you to know. You know, “Should I add cupping to my treatment menu?” This shows you that perhaps it's probably a good idea. Web tools, you're really busy every day, treating your clients and booking appointments. You may not have time to create social media posts and it does take some time to find images, write out what you want to say, and, you know, figure out what hashtags you want to use.

So we've taken the guesswork out here and you can download this document and it will give you the photos, it will give you the copy, and it will give you the hashtags to use. All you have to do is cut and paste into your social media and post it. It's that easy. We also have a Create a Near Me page, so this is how your spa can get found. It gives you instructions on how to set that up. We also have Google Ads keywords. All you have to do is provide them to your Google Ads team and they can apply them to your specific area and it helps boost searches and helps visibility for your spa.


So I hope all of this has been really helpful to you. I know that we've definitely enjoyed putting these things together because we really want to help your business grow. It’s very important to us. So if you want to dig deeper and talk a little bit more about the sustainability and compliance angle of this vetting process, let’s chat. Here's my email. I'm happy to schedule a call and talk more with you about it. Thank you very much.

Universal Companies is proud to have a team of experienced spa advisors on staff and welcomes you to consult with our professionals about spa products and supplies, including ingredients, equipment, and retail. Dedicated to the success of spa professionals everywhere, we're grateful to be recognized with the American Spa Magazine Professional's Choice Award, Favorite Distributor of the Year for many consecutive years. (Thank you!)

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