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Five minutes with: Anne Marie de Spa

By Milly Nolan

A pioneer of her times, Anne Marie de Spa opened New Zealand’s first beauty therapy salon in the mid 60s. For the last 22 years she has owned de Spa Cosmetics, importing and representing the luxury French skincare brand, Sothys, on MiNDFOOD.

What formal training did you receive in Belgium?

I obtained my diploma of d’estheicienne – technicienne de beaute at Lise Loriot school in Brussels, a two-year training course. It was renowned not only for its high standard for aesthetic training but also as a “finishing” school with subjects such as psychology, history of art, history of civilisation (a great help with character make ups) savoir/vivre and music.

In 1964 you opened the first beauty therapy salon in New Zealand. What inspired you to do this?

I decided before leaving Brussels to open my salon not thinking or realising that I was going to be one of the pioneers of this industry, so I arrived in New Zealand with all my equipment and products.

What services did you offer at the salon?

All aesthetic treatments face and body for both men and women, not too different from what you see today.

Was the salon well-received by the public?

With scepticism to start with because people were not of the mind set of spending money on themselves and it was something that was kept quiet, more behind closed doors. Moving to the airport two years after starting in New Zealand meant that I had a much more receptive cliental – the American deep freeze personnel wives.

What provided the need to import a professional range of skincare into New Zealand?

Because there was nothing available, expect for retail lines so one had to initiate your formulations to satisfy the different skin types. When the market opened I set out to find the product which I consider the best of the professional ranges – Sothys.

What was it about Sothys that appealed to you?

I was introduced to Sothys during my training in Brussels and always had it in the back of my mind as something to look out for. It’s a family-run business with transparent and honest policies plus of course excellent products which kindly take care of the skin.

What are the most remarkable changes that you have seen in the beauty industry over the last forty odd years?

The advent of products integrating almost medical grade ingredients has changed the way people view skincare and of course the current trend of cosmetic surgery is most notably the biggest change, it is difficult to say if this trend will continue to grow, what can be said is that people are prepared to take far more drastic action to achieve perceived perfection, which is indicative of peoples desire to look young longer.

What excites you about the future of the beauty industry?

Probably that no matter what technology can deliver in the future, the inherent trait of the therapist’s hands can never be replicated, it is this if nothing else that sets beauty therapy apart as such a valuable and essential form of healing and wellbeing.

The other exciting thing about this industry is the shift in attitude. Forty years ago when I began, my profession was viewed as something of a luxury, today it is far more routine for clients, they don’t perceive the treatments they are receiving as “fluffy treats” but as routine essentials to maintaining great skin health.

Like getting a great cut and colour at the hair salon, a monthly facial has exponential long-term benefits for the quality, health and appearance of your skin.

What is your daily beauty routine?

A light cleanse in the morning followed by my Sothys Hydroptimale Serum and Clarte & Comfort Light Cream, my Sothys SPF20 sunscreen and Sothys Lift Defence Foundation and a touch of Sothys Hydra Glide lipstick.

In the evening I cleanse, tone and finish with my new Sothys Continuous Renewal Care – I just love it! It doesn’t take much time but makes such a big difference long term. A daily routine is a very good investment.

What are three skincare tips that you swear by?

1 Cleanse, cleanse, cleanse. A good cleansing routine which includes a cleanser, lotion and a bi-weekly deep cleansing which includes a peel/exfoliate and deep cleanse. If the palette is not in perfect order it cannot receive the paint well.

2 Hydration. Using a good daily moisturiser appropriate to the skin type.

3 And most important in New Zealand would be sun care. It is imperative to wear a daily sunscreen if nothing else.

What is your favourite beauty product?

Sothys Hydroptimale Serum. And when I’m flying the Sothys Destressing Eye Mask and Hydroptimale Mask are musts. I also can’t do without my Sothys Total Cohesion Neck Care, Secrets Eye Contour Cream and Secrets Lip Cream.


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