We don’t always imagine a career in beauty for ourselves. Sometimes we simply admire it from afar, or simply hold an interest. Robyn McAlpine found herself on such a journey into the world of beauty, the slow and steady path however reaping rewards unimaginable.
“I never thought I could do that, it just didn’t fit my world,” says Robyn who grew up in a small country town with no beauty salon or beauty therapist, “Mum was never into skincare, we never owned makeup, so it was never something on my radar”.
Robyn’s interest however piqued in 2004 and she started saving for beauty college. Graduating as a therapist she took positions in a day spa and later an aesthetic skin clinic.
“I really didn’t know what it was about, it was a slow journey for me,” Robyn explains, “I was just interested in making people feel good. Yet what I realised early on was that I didn’t have the skill set to really treat skin, what it takes to create healthy skin. I was making people feel relaxed but I wasn’t having a therapeutic effect. To be honest, I felt like a bit of a sham”.
This sense of ‘imposter syndrome’, often defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy, forced Robyn down a path of self education with a focus on skin anatomy and skin cell physiology. It allowed her to understand skin first, followed by treatment protocols and ingredients, to have greater influence over a clients’ results. And so a skin nerd was born.
“It was not an overnight thing. It has been inch by inch, book by book, to understand what I do now,” Robyn explains, “Repetition, asking questions, trying to cement concepts, and then finding a way to translate this field-depth knowledge for clients…and now readers”.
“Skin is like the perfect storm of so many other things that are happening and it’s never simple. There are so many complexities. And that’s the tricky part, teaching clients that we need to take stock of the whole. Your cells are always listening!”
Work presentations, uni exams, not enough water, relationship breakups, not enough sleep, Robyn describes the pieces of the ‘healthy skin’ puzzle like wedges of a pizza – a delicious pizza ultimately meaning that many things comprise great skin. Yet as Robyn attests, it can be hard to deliver so much delicious skin knowledge in a one hour client consultation. And when you want to empower those around you with knowledge, you get pen to paper – in 18 months, Skinside Out was born.
“The book came about because when you’re a Facialist there’s a lot of information for the client to retain, you just can’t cover it all!” Robyn says of the book that was inspired by questions from clients.
“Every person who ‘wears’ skin needs to know this stuff. We inherit information from our family, our friends but then advertising comes in. I wanted to remove product bias, discuss what you need to know about skin to have the healthiest complexion possible and really blow up some common myths out there”.
Building upon a successful salon business, Robyn is no one-hit wonder so expect a series of books over the coming years while she tries to learn how to relax alongside everything else she has going on (and there’s a lot). But she practices what she preaches; loves being outdoors, eats healthy, gets enough sleep, enjoys a perfectly brewed chai and admits her skincare is basic, but the best. As lovely as it sounds though, skin is never simple, but Robyn’s humble nature ensures she’s always there for clients and for skin cells. “For those having trouble with their skin, there is help out there. Don’t give up”.