Mum-of-two went from surveyor to beautician
Mum-of-two Aine Lavery, from Co Down, went from chartered surveyor to beautician, writes Stephanie Bell
Local beautician Aine Lavery's conviction that good skincare is not just about what you put on your face, but also about what goes inside your body, has seen her recognised at national level as one of the best in her field.
The busy mum-of-two, who trained as a beautician after a successful career as a chartered surveyor, is thrilled that her holistic approach to helping women push back the years and tackle skin problems has seen her singled out for the prestigious Excellence In Beauty award.
The awards ceremony in England last month is an annual event where the best and brightest stars in the complementary and beauty industries are recognised.
Such recognition means the world to Aine, who has been working quietly from her gorgeous period home in Hillsborough, building up a solid client base through word of mouth.
The award, organised by the Federation of Holistic Therapies, now puts her up with the best in the country, as the competition is known to spotlight high-calibre practitioners and noteworthy businesses in the industry.
Aine is genuinely taken aback by the accolade: "Normally I wouldn't dream of entering an awards ceremony, but a woman I know talked me into it and I just thought 'Why not?'. I never expected to win.
"I'm over the moon - skincare is my passion and my clinic specialises in skincare and facial treatments. It is lovely to be acknowledged by my peers.
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"I really believe that good skin takes a double-pronged approach and nutrition is central to that.
"Next month, I am beginning a three year diploma in naturopathic nutrition, which will underpin the thinking behind my treatments and advice to clients."
Originally from Ballygawley, Co Tyrone, Aine (42) moved to Belfast to study at Ulster University to become a chartered surveyor. She met her husband Brian (55) through her work - he is managing director of property firm CBRE.
When the couple bought an old house, dating back to 1840, in Hillsborough, its renovation proved such a major undertaking that Aine decided to take a year off work to project manage it.
She also started her family and as she became a new mum, a year stretched to three as she opted to stay at home to look after her babies: Morgan, now 16 and Anna (12).
Returning to work when Anna started school coincided with the collapse of the property market and that gave Aine - who had always been obsessed by beauty products - the idea of changing career.
She says: "The bottom had fallen out of the property market, so there were fewer opportunities for me to go back, but I saw it as a chance to look for something different.
"I've always been a lotions and potions girl. I was constantly buying and reading books on skincare and beauty, so I decided to train as a beautician and enrolled with the Roberta Meekin College."
That was around seven years ago and after launching her own business at home - A Haven at Harty's - she initially offered an extensive range of treatments before opting to specialise in prescriptive skincare.
She had personal reasons for searching out the best products.
When she was 30 and pregnant with Anna she developed the skin complaint rosacea, a condition which affects many people and can be triggered by a variety of things, from the environment to food or even stress. It causes red flushes over the face and can prove embarrassing.
Aine believes it was triggered by hormonal changes in her body. She tried many products to control it and finally found one that was highly effective, which she then introduced to her salon.
Environ is an advanced skincare range, using vitamins and antioxidants to help heal, repair and protect the skin against free radical and UV damage.
"I started getting redness across my cheeks and nose and it would flare up quite often," says Aine, who struggled with the conditon for some time. "Different things triggered it for me - being outside in the cold, drinking a glass of wine, eating hot food.
"It also used to leave little bumps on my skin, which I found impossible to conceal with make-up. It does make you very self-conscious.
"Finally, I tried Environ and it worked. I can honestly say, hand on heart, that my skin has never been better. I still get the odd flare-up, but it is minimal.
"I remember waking up one morning and rubbing my fingers across my face, and it was smooth for the first time in years."
Aine sees her prescriptive facials using the Environ range as bridging the gap between beauty therapy and modern medical science.
She has advanced equipment which she uses to enhance penetration of the products and has introduced a monthly service with a machine which gives clients a look at what is going on underneath the skin.
The equipment is like an X-ray machine for the face and what it shows allows Aine to develop treatments tailored to tackle an issue before it actually shows on the face.
Aine says: "Environ uses active ingredients which penetrate into the fifth layer of the epidermis. To get those ingredients that far down into the skin is good - you are basically getting past the epidermis junction into the dermis of the skin."
The skin diagnostic device enables Aine to target and treat issues such like pigmentation, redness, broken veins and sun damage.
While she is not medically qualified, Aine believes her service bridges the gap between beauty therapy and the medical side of treatments. That is why she has committed to study an advanced nutritional programme for the next three years.
"I always felt there was more to skin care than a bottle of cream, no matter how good the ingredients are," she says. "With facial treatments you can only go so far, but addressing it internally as well with supplements and diet provides a double-edged approach. If I'm educated in nutrition, I will be better placed to advise clients holistically about underlying causes of any skin conditions."
Reflecting on her career change, Aine adds: "I've never looked back and would encourage anyone who wants to take a new direction in life to embrace the change. You have to love what you do in order to become really good at it."
- You can find out more about Aine's work at www.ahavenatharty's.co.uk
Recipes for glowing skin
Environ Active Vitamin Treatment, £55
The freshest, most active forms of vitamins A, C and antioxidants are driven deep into the lower layers of the skin (dermis) using gentle electrical pulses and sound waves to gently enhance the penetration of the nutrients during a one-hour treatment. The scientifically proven approach stimulates collagen, softens lines and improves elasticity while increasing hydration and boosting radiance. Skin is left nourished, supple and radiant.
Hydraboost Treatment, £75
The perfect antidote to dry, lacklustre skin, this one and a half hour intensive treatment deeply hydrates while plumping and firming the skin. Based on Hyaluronic Acid - which holds 1,000 times its own weight in water - it helps to reduce fine lines caused by dehydration and increase the plumpness of the dermis for glowing skin.
Acne Treatment, £75
Although commonly found in adolescent skin, blemish outbreaks also happen to women in their 20s, 30s and 40s. A Haven at Harty's takes a multi-faceted approach to spot-prone skin. A nutritional programme is recommended, including a multi-vitamin and antioxidant home care routine alongside a series of salon treatments (1.5 hours each).