When Liz McMillan first discovered a natural approach to beauty, something clicked. She has been passionately pursuing holistic health ever since. For the last two decades, Liz has nurtured and supported clients at her Whakatane-based clinic, Face and Fragrance. As a beauty therapist and a qualified health coach, she complements her healing facials with nutritional coaching, helping clients to enjoy lasting health and beauty. Liz is a Slow Beauty champion, enthusiastic about yoga, Pilates, meditation, home-cooking and self-love.
Liz, can you tell us about how you started your career in beauty therapy?
I trained as a beauty therapist in the mid-seventies. At only eighteen years old, I was the youngest student in the class. At the time, my decision to enter beauty school was sort of going against the grain. I got told, more than a few times, to follow a more ‘normal’ career path by studying business, nursing or teaching instead. But pursuing beauty therapy was the best decision I ever made and has given me a lifelong career and passion.
Do you specialise in any one area in your beauty clinic?
I have been fortunate over the years to have experienced all sorts of things but my core practice always seems to come back to two main treatments: electrolysis and facials. The satisfaction I get in giving someone a beautiful facial – making them feel special by delivering the best experience possible – is unbeatable.
Being able to offer clients reiki healing with my facials is also very special. I love channelling this beautiful, healing energy, if the client should so desire it. It can be quite extraordinary what people experience.
How did you discover a holistic view of beauty therapy?
About 25 years ago, I felt like I just wasn’t on the right path. I wasn’t getting what I wanted out of the beauty industry and, in my heart, I knew there had to be another direction. Janine Tait and I bumped into each other around that time: we were both scratching our heads thinking, there has to be more to beauty therapy. What is it?
Although we were passionate about skin health, we were at a crossroads. Janine and I attended a talk by Janice Smith at the Parnell Rose Gardens in Auckland. Janice spoke about her skincare range, Janesce, and how she combined her products with nutritional advice.
At that moment, the penny dropped! Treating the skin with beautiful plant essences as well as wholefood nutrition completed the picture of beauty. It was a turning point in my life.
How has Janesce grown in New Zealand since those early days?
Back then, when I first discovered Janesce, programs needed to be developed in our country for therapists to feel confident about adopting this holistic approach. When Janine Tait became the New Zealand distributor of Janesce, she really brought about positive change in our industry. She truly exceeded my expectations in what was possible. Janine has developed highly professional training programs that allow therapists to feel confident about doing their jobs properly. She has created a supportive community around holistic beauty therapy. Because of this, I now feel truly accomplished as a skin therapist.
How has adopting the Janesce approach shaped your practice?
Everything changed when I started getting involved with Janesce and using their products in my clinic. The Janesce skincare range has an enormous healing capacity. Working with herbal remedies, cleansing the internal body, supplementing with oils, vitamins and minerals and correcting the diet – this range is really quite amazing.
I started seeing first-hand what results could be achieved when we change what people are eating and drinking coupled with the use of natural, plant-based products. I love educating clients about the basics of nutrition, teaching them to incorporate whole-foods and eliminate packaged foods, then supporting them in making small sustainable steps in the right direction.
Of course, this takes commitment from the client too; it’s challenging, but it is something I can really sink my teeth into!
How did you pursue your interest in nutrition and healing?
I followed up my passion in the nutrition side of skincare by training as a health coach. This has allowed me to work on a deeper level with my clients. I am an investigator as well as a therapist, and I provide more useful tools to achieve better results.
Emotions play an equally crucial part in our health. The impact that stress has on the body is huge. When we are stressed or constantly on the go, never taking time to slow down, chew our food properly and relax, this impacts our digestion, our sleep and our response to everyday life.
Having this knowledge has given me more confidence. It has shaped me as a therapist – I work more intuitively which is a beautiful thing to be able to do.
How does Bestow Beauty fit into your clinic?
The Bestow Beauty oils are high quality internal products which address the deficiencies in clients’ diets. I love handing out the Bestow recipes to clients: they can literally have their cake and eat it too! The Bestow Recipe Books fit in perfectly here. People don’t have to miss out on their favourite foods, they just have to prepare them differently and substitute certain ingredients.
Looking into the future, where do you see beauty therapy heading?
I think that working with nutrition is the sustainable way forward for the beauty industry. Skin is really a reflection of what is going on in the body, especially the gut, the immune system and the brain. All systems of the body are affected by what you eat, and the skin reaps and reflects the amazing benefits of improved internal systems.
Do you have any advice for beauty therapists who are just starting their career?
I think when it all boils down, the most important thing is self-love. Take care of yourself by finding a balance between career, relationships, spirituality and exercise. The most powerful practices for me personally, are meditation, affirmations and lots of self-care.
When it comes to your career, remember that quick fixes don’t last and the results are never what they could be with a more natural approach. Tune into your own inner guidance and trust those gut instincts. Choose a product range that works and reflects your values and find an area of expertise that is uniquely yours.