When it comes to beauty, it can be said that most skin clinics are born from a place of compassion and benevolence. But with the human tendency to hunger more and more for the one thing that makes the world go around – a.k.a. money – the core principles and values of one’s business tend to get lost in the chase. In no way is this condemning those with ambition to lead and succeed. However, when it comes to an operation that prides itself in being able to help people heal and beautify the largest organ of the human body, you’d expect the practice’s ethics to be in line with this good intent. And you probably know where I’m going with this.
We’ve all heard a million times that “small businesses are the backbone of a country’s economy”. While that is becoming a falser proclamation by the day, with increasing mergers monopolising each industry, to the point where there is a term called Merger Mondays, and now you’re probably questioning where I’m going with this political analogy… it’s important to understand that (small) clinics with integrity are what will be the backbone of your growing beauty. When the wrong (i.e. cheaper option or sometimes a completely incorrect use) machine and (cheapest cost price) products are used by (business-minded) clinics and clinicians who aren’t wholeheartedly invested in their role as a ‘therapist’ – a skilled expert who intends to heal a disorder – guess who is the one to suffer? You, the consumer.
So, as hard as it is to carry out due diligence on skin clinics, which may be seemingly low priority until you’re crying in your car over your sore, burnt, beetroot-hued face; this process is mandatory if you want to ensure you receive a treatment and skincare system that is right for you and your needs.
R&R Skincare Clinic, is a small gem in Rothesay Bay that ticks all the right boxes in what you need from a clinic: kind-hearted, informative, thought-provoking and, most importantly, personal. Laura Clinton, answers all 213 of my skincare questions before, during and after each treatment… even at 10.30pm at night via texts. I’m a serial pest of sorts, a meticulous yet loveable one, I hope, but regardless of this, I still believe it’s best to get your facts straight as I’ll be living with this one face until the day I die – better to be aware of what’s going on, as ignorance does not always result in bliss.
Laura opened her own clinic to fill what she believed was a gap in the market – affordable skincare and treatments with good- quality service and results. “Working for places selling products or services that you do not ultimately believe in can be difficult,” Laura says. “By creating my own clinic, I was able to dictate the brands I sell and the treatments I perform.” What’s unique about Laura’s approach is that her skin consultations focus on education rather than sales: “My ultimate goal is to help people.”
With an educational background in biochemistry and microbiology, Laura worked at some of the world’s most well- known food manufacturing companies as a food technologist and quality specialist. “I was quick to realise that corporate life was not for me and whilst I have an immense appreciation for nutrition, health and well-being, the day-to-day events of these jobs were not quite up my alley!” she says.
Being an incredibly curious and nosy person, with very little understanding of the concept of boundaries, I pried further. “This was a huge change and risk for me. I absolutely despised the career path I was on, so I needed to make a change. Being surrounded by business men and women and ‘educated’ people who had been through university, it was difficult to explain to my fellow work colleagues why I was studying beauty therapy, especially when I didn’t know what the outcome was going to be myself,” Laura divulges. “I kept this part of my life on the down-low for as long as I could, but eventually had to make it known so I could leave work on time to get to school at night.” She continues to describe her daily grind in detail like it was yesterday: “It was a looong year – waking up at 4.15am to get to the gym before heading off to work in south-east Auckland at 6.30am and working until 5pm, travelling to school in time for night classes starting at 6pm, which finished at 9pm, and then driving home to the North Shore.”
The hardships during her time in the food manufacturing industry offer a classic case of dealing with insufferable gender stereotypes: women who work in male-dominated industries tend to jump over hurdles that vary from subtle to obvious barriers. For Laura, it was not only the fact that she was female, but also because of her youthful appearance. “Stereotypes and prejudice rule our society, and I absolutely understand this. However, it does make showing your worth and earning respect more difficult than it should be. I am not jumping on the ‘extreme feminist’ train here, but I do believe that it can still be difficult for women to gain respect,” she states. “People used to dismiss me due to age and appearance. Finding myself in influential career roles fresh out of university was challenging as I had to earn the respect of people (dare I say it – especially some of the men). Because of my short stature, people also often view me as younger than I am, and I feel this compounds the issue. I’ve always taken pride in my appearance; however, believe it or not, this does not influence the workings of my brain! People in my life saw my change to beauty therapy as a backwards step (some people were not afraid to directly share this with me). I’m determined to prove them all wrong. Happiness and mental well-being is far more important than financial or career status.”
Being a private and introverted individual, I was very grateful that Laura opened up to me in a way that she hadn’t before. It comes to no surprise that the daily ritual of heading into a working environment where one receives no respect and support resulted in the development of physical and mental dysfunction. Anxiety is an issue that seems to pervade society, especially among young women who either can’t pinpoint what it is they are going through, or are simply ashamed to share their seemingly trivial problems. The more we share, the more we become aware of the signs and are able to remedy anxiety much faster than having the modus operandi of just ‘toughening up’, as this just extends the period of suffering by indefinite periods of time.
“This is something that I have not spoken about with anyone at all apart from my partner and my doctor. I also had not planned to ever ‘admit’ this to anyone, however, I learned that I should not be ashamed of this,” she says. “For a good year or two, I struggled with what I thought were digestive troubles. I was bloated, nauseous, lacked energy and my skin became prone to inflammation and breakouts. It eventually got to the point where I was so nauseous I could not get out of bed.” Laura suffered panic-like anxiety attacks when preparing to go to work or out in public due to the fear of being nauseous. Incapable of leaving the house, Laura had no option but to leave her job and seek professional help for what she thought were ‘digestive issues’. The manifestation of stress and anxiety showed itself through physical symptoms. “Our bodies are a whole bunch of biochemical processes that can be offset by so many factors. And once I viewed it from this perspective, it was easier for me to understand and accept,” Laura says.
It took her three months to get back to a point of being a functioning member of society. “As a result, I believe that this journey was a HUGE contributor to me wanting to start my own business. It has also opened my mind and allowed me to approach skin health with a holistic approach.”
Laura spent her evenings in night school studying beauty therapy while maintaining her full-time role in the food industry. Following the completion of her New Zealand and international beauty therapy qualifications, she started from the bottom of the food chain once again as all ‘grads’ do.
“Opening my own clinic was not something I had always planned to
do,” Laura divulges. “But I realised to be able to ultimately provide the service that I want to give, this was the way to go. I believe in myself and the service I am providing, so going to work every day is easy! I love helping people to understand their skin through a holistic approach.”