When ‘Cosmetic’ meets Personal Grooming and Confidence is the New Vanity

I want to introduce you to my next client. She is sitting in our reception waiting to be taken through to the consultation room.

You could be mistaken in thinking she is excited to be here, to be doing something for herself. But you would be just that, mistaken.

In truth, she has spent hours trawling through websites, forums and googling terms like ‘aged skin’, ‘sun damage’ and ‘wrinkle treatments’. If she’s brave enough, and has strong enough relationships with her friends, she may have asked them ‘would they have ever’… or ‘have they ever?’

It is doubtful she has asked her family – too fearful of their opinionated judgement or worse, being told she is being silly, that she looks just fine.

And of course she does – look just fine. She just doesn’t feel as ‘fine’ about herself when she looks in the mirror as she used to, and wants a ‘freshen up’ – to look less tired.

Now, sitting in the reception room, she is having an internal dialogue of doubt, guilt, anxiety, and an overwhelming sense of vulnerability. She isn’t sure what is about to happen but she knows it obviously involves taking her make up off, taking photos and scrutinising the thing that is making her feel insecure and less confident than she used to. It is an uncomfortable feeling.

Luckily for her, she has come to me. I’m no egomaniac and I say that only because I know exactly how she feels because I’ve been there. Teenage acne, became adult acne and, what I obviously now know as melasma, was covering my face.

For twenty years I had felt embarrassed, sometimes humiliated, by my face. It simply kept chipping away at my femininity.

I hadn’t felt beautiful for years.

It’s why I started the clinics and how I know that I can help.

I don’t ever approach improving clients skin from the perspective of cosmetic enhancement, but rather through the lens of repairing damage, improving the health, and hence the appearance of the skin. And yes, that can involve some of the treatments considered ‘cosmetic’.

It’s become a blurred distinction – when is personal grooming considered cosmetic enhancement and when is feeling more confident about your appearance, being vain?

I think I’m more qualified than most to pass opinion on this issue. Despite being a 40+ woman myself, as a nurse I have sat with thousands of women over the last 10 years and have heard all the internal dialogue they battle. For most, they are prioritising themselves for the first time, and they are vulnerable because of it.

In my opinion, it is up to the individual, and no one else, to decide where the line is between ‘looking after yourself’ and cosmetic enhancement. Just as there are many voices against the perceived media pressure on women to look younger, I am an advocate of feeling better about yourself by knowing you look better. After all, do we go the gym to get healthy or to look better? Are we really motivated to do a spin class by our dropping cholesterol levels or by our transformed image in the mirror?

I actually believe the opinionated and sometimes hypocritical views expressed in the media condemning women who look to the latest ‘cosmetic’ technology, hurt more than they help. I find women who have lost confidence in how they look, focus far more on themselves, are vainer, than women who feel free to address their concerns, in any way they see fit.

I understand this is a feminist issue. I have teenage daughters and don’t want them to feel pressured to conform to a certain look, but I think we are dumbing ourselves down to say that we do. In 10 years, I have never had a client come to me with a magazine image of a celebrity and said, ‘I want to look like them’. Normal, everyday women are smarter than that.

It simply comes down to one, irrefutable fact and that is we all feel more confident when we know we look our best. Its personal – confidence fuels positivity that spreads to every aspect of your life.

There should be nothing shameful about that.


For more information on how to care for your skin, contact a Clear Complexions Clinic near you. www.clearcomplexions.com.au.


About the author:

Suzie Hoitink is a healthy skin expert, founder of the Clear Complexions Clinics and a registered nurse.

Since graduating with a Bachelor of Nursing from University of Canberra in 1996, and nursing in a variety of clinical settings, Suzie opened the first Clear Complexions clinic in 2005. Her medical approach to skincare and expertise in light based therapies, combined with the use of cutting edge technology and a personal touch has led to a huge and loyal client base, and recognition and respect from within the industry.

Suzie is a recipient of the 2012 ACT Telstra Business Women’s Award and was a finalist in both the University of Canberra Distinguished Alumni Awards and the Nokia Innovation Award for developing the Clear Complexions Client Clinical Pathway.

She is an in-demand authority on skin care, appearing in the ABC as an expert panellist and regularly presenting at Industry Conferences Australia wide. She is a well-known and highly sought after keynote speaker on lasers and light based therapies and what constitutes ‘best practice’ in the rapidly evolving industry of skin rejuvenation.

Suzie has been on the iNova Advisory board for the development and refinement of therapeutic practices in Fraxel and Thermage and has represented the Australian College of Nursing at the Australian College of Cosmetic Surgeons (ACCS) discussions on Anaesthetic and Sedation in Private Health Facilities in NSW. In her capacity as a leader in Cosmetic and Aesthetic Nursing in Australia, Suzie worked with a National Australia Working Party, instigated by the ACCS, to develop Australia’s first draft of the Professional Practice Standards and Scope of Practice for Aesthetic Nursing Practice in Australia. Described as “…one of the best reps in the land for talking ‘round problem skin”, Suzie’s in-depth knowledge and experience has drawn praise from Grazia magazine where she was voted Number 1 in the “Names you can trust for specialist attention”. She has also featured in national publications including Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Australian Women’s Weekly, The Financial Review, The Daily Telegraph and The Australian Nursing Journal.

Expanding on her reputation as a champion of healthy skin and the boosted confidence that arises as a result, Suzie has launched her own magazine, Inner Confidence. Dedicated to the power of self-belief, Inner Confidence features advice, tips and inspirational stories of people who have overcome hurdles and fulfilled their aspirations. Proving that she is not all work and no play, Suzie trains and participates in triathlons, and has represented Australia at the Age Sprint Triathlon World Championships in Chicago in 2015 in the 40-44 age group.

Despite having over 50 people in the Clear Complexions team, five state of the art clinics in Canberra and Sydney and another soon to open, Suzie continues to personally treat clients and educate and mentor her nurses and doctors. Suzie works alongside her husband Alex, and together they are raising two beautiful teenage daughters.