The original trailblazers…

In the 70’s when I did my beauty therapy training there was almost an elitism about the
profession. I was at High School when I first came across a book called Beauty Culture by
Wallace S Sharps. It described the fantastic careers which were available to anyone studying beauty therapy including an international dimension for those wanting to travel.

I had an Aunt and Uncle in the Diplomatic core who lived in exotic climes and my aunt who always looked amazing who inspired me. My fate was sealed!
It ignited a lifelong passion and I have to admit I borrowed, but never returned the book
from the school library and I still have it to this day! It was aimed at young women who had to be over 18, hold 5 O level’s (the forerunner of GCSE’s) and be able to pay the fees!

The target audience for beauty therapists was typically middle aged women with disposable income which in those austere times meant a limited clientele…..and their demands were high.

My tutor was a fabulous Hungarian lady, Katia Katz, she had moved from her native Hungary and ended up in the Midlands teaching beauty therapy to fee paying students. She had been the 1950’s Hollywood actress Sophia Loren’s make-up artist and had worked on the make-up team for a Hard Days night and knew the Beatles! Another inspiration!

The Sauna, Steam and Epilation units were taught by another formidable woman Mrs Grace Andrews, although we would never have dared to use her first name! Both women were pioneers in beauty therapy training being personal friends of the men (yes, men!) who managed all things beauty therapy.

The wonderful enigmatic Wallace Sharps (author of aforementioned book) who was the Chair of the International Health and Beauty Council (IHBC) latterly to become VTCT, who started it all. In 1962 he began the first UK beauty therapy training school, Du BarryInternational. In fact my college tools and equipment were all branded Du Barry international, I still have the cuticle nippers and comedone extractor, a testimony to the quality of these precision instruments!

The standards and principles he established have become the bedrock of all good quality training and education. In fact, it was he who first introduced the term Beauty Therapist rather than Beautician as he recognised that beauty therapy was about treating the whole person and not just the face. He was such a ‘name’ in beauty therapy that throughout my career I took every opportunity to attend his conferences and training events. I was delighted when in the early 80’s I worked for a number of awarding bodies, BTEC and C&G and would often meet him through his role in the Health and Beauty Therapy Training Board HBTTB. I also had the chance to tell him how his book had impacted on my career choices. He was genuinely pleased to be told this and smiled broadly!

Dr. William Arnould Taylor set up ITEC in the early 70’s. His passion was to ensure training truly reflected the skills required in the workplace and took UK training standards into an international marketplace. He was such an expert in anatomy, physiology and was a master at therapeutic and remedial body treatments. I remember being in a beauty training school in the late 80’s in Malaysia and discovered that I had arrived the day after he left, he seemed to have an international presence literally!

Once again, I was so fortunate to have been trained by both of these paragons of the industry indeed they were trailblazers and both were instrumental and responsible for setting the highest possible standards for beauty therapy training. I wonder what they would think of the state of education and training now, I am sure they would approve particularly where the highest possible standards are enforced.

I feel so lucky that I had the opportunity to meet, work with and thank these two goliaths of beauty therapy education and training. Sadly, they are no longer with us, yet their legacy lives on. The likes of these two men we will never see again.

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