Shine bright like a diamond. Kate Dobinson orbits the beauty cosmos with AMRA cosmetologist Sue Jessop.
Fancy joining the illuminati? Sue Jessop has created a cult following among A-list celebrities she’s far too discreet to name, with glow-inducing AMRA skincare – now exclusively stocked at Emirates Palace Spa.
The former university lecturer in business and cosmetology was frustrated by the lack of ‘active’ ingredients in skincare available on the market. The abundance of bulking and polluting agents she found in department store lotions while pottering in the laboratory settled it – she would create her own brand.
Sue is a glamorous science nerd – yes those two things go together. She has created an uber-luxurious range consisting of pearl to purify, gold to renew, garnet to resurface, diamond to illuminate, platinum to tone and caviar to hydrate. ‘I simply love it. I love science, I love precious stones and love the results that products can give you,’ she says.
‘It represents what women want today, decadence and beauty that delivers results. I am also the brands biggest critic and I simply can’t leave home without it.’
TOAD talks to the beauty scientist about how skincare is getting a face lift, and why cosmetic science should be on the school curriculum.
Tell us about life as a lecturer in ‘beauty sciences’ – why did you go into teaching?
I never set out to be a lecturer. After graduating with a marketing degree, I became director of a soft drinks company in Chelsea, London. It was a stressful position and I would escape to the retreat of the spa. It was actually at a health exhibition that I decided to take a part-time course in massage studies. I had to complete a course in anatomy and physiology and I found the body simply fascinating, so I left my high powered career and retrained in complimentary health and cosmetology. I became hooked and opened my own day spa. At the same time I went back to university to study for a life sciences degree, and then a third degree in education. Shortly after graduating I undertook a role as lecturer on the beauty science degree programme. It was difficult as I was balancing two children and my own business.
Did you ever dream you could fuse business, beauty and science together when you were younger?
I didn’t do anything at school that would have fed into my career now, however, I always loved biology. So many girls get overwhelmed by the thought of STEM subjects – as a mother of two girls I always remind them that anyone can achieve their dreams as long as they work hard. I think schools have a responsibility to engage girls into the subject using mediums such as cosmetology to make it relevant and interesting. I currently visit my girl’s schools to do an afternoon of cosmetic science.
What gave you the spark to become a beauty entrepreneur?
It was during a practical lesson at university, where the products used had a list of ingredients that were either bulking agents, or not needed, and in some cases the ingredients were being researched for their safety. The first products I formulated were basic but I was proud of each and every one of them. The company was born and I quickly worked with Fairtrade Foundation. I undertook a month in India on a Fairtrade project to understand the concept of sustainable and ethical ingredients. AMRA has been created after six years of extremely detailed research, dedication and hard work.
Do you have any tips for anyone wanting to do the same?
There is no success in the comfort zone. So work hard and keep going. It’s not an easy path to take but anything that is worthwhile usually comes at a price. Immerse yourself in knowledge and get yourself known.
How about women who don’t have a lot of disposable income, but want to invest in their skincare?
If disposable income is tight then make sure your face wash and your moisturiser work for you. A good face wash should be able to remove impurities on the skin, if these free radicals remain on the skin they can lead to premature aging and give the skin a dull appearance. Moisturising the skin and maintaining hydration is important for two reasons; firstly dry skin can come under attack from bacteria. Secondly, the skin will look brighter and smoother.
Open daily, 10am-11pm. Emirates Palace Spa, Emirates Palace, West Corniche Road, www.kempinski.com, www.amraskincare.com (02 690 7978).
Book into: 24-Carat Gold Radiance Facial
Micronised 24-carat gold sheets are massaged into the skin under an ultra-sonic nano mist to target the skin on a supra-molecular level.
For the handbag: AMRA Diamond Illuminating Facial
In the presence of UV light this diamond deep cleanse, polish, mask, extraction and massage creates an optical blurring effect to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
Day in the life
5am – Alarm. Prepare breakfast for three children and find the missing shoe (there is always a missing shoe around the house).
9am – First meeting is usually marketing. We are working on a project for September which is big from a scientific point of view.
10.30am – Meet with designers about new packaging and concepts.
Noon – Where did my sandwich go? Oh, next meeting.
12.30pm – Meet with ingredients houses to explore the next generation of active technology.
3.30pm – I need coffee please!
4pm – Conference call with manufacturing to explore new formulations.
5pm – Leave the office and head home to oversee homework.
7.30pm – Meet graduates with ambition and talent at event.
10.30pm – Check on my three angels and head to bed, it’s another busy day tomorrow.