By Chere Di Boscio
Here’s a sad but true fact: the beauty industry is full of BS. Everyone, from beauty brands to dermatologists, from hair dressers to massage therapists, is trying to sell you something and will say just about anything to get you to buy it.
Over the past 15 years, beauty expert Shannon Leeman has learned how to cut through the crap. She’s spent hours in operating theatres, observing just how world renowned doctors work, and has been both horrified and amazed.
She’s described her experiences in publications including W magazine, Grazia, Tatler, The Mail, The Sunday Times and more, and she is regularly shown on TV and at high level speaking engagements, advising on all aspects of the beauty industry.
We’re delighted to have Shannon on board as a beauty columnist, sharing her knowledge with all of you. Get to know a bit more about your own personal ‘beauty fairy godmother’ with our interview with this savvy, sassy woman, below – and of course, keep your eyes on Eluxe for her column, coming soon!
Tell us about yourself: how would you describe your expertise?
I am an expert in the field of anti-aging, specialising primarily in the disciplines of cosmetic surgery and dermatology. I am in the unique position of being able to tell the truth about practitioners and procedures, as I am not financially tied to anyone. When a client comes to see me I can give them a realistic appraisal of their choices of treatments and therapies. Who would best suit their needs and what are their safest and most effective options?
Doctors, surgeons and therapists are all practicing in a highly competitive market and as such may not have sufficient time to fully explain all aspects of their procedures. I have also noticed a worrying development in the present market: doctors who previously would have turned patients away, are increasingly accepting patients for economic reasons. I spend a full hour in my initial consultation carefully laying out a bespoke program specifically tailored to your individual needs. I often only see my clients once, and then follow up the visit with a full list of referrals and recommendations.
How have you seen beauty trends shift since you began your career in this field?
There have been huge shifts in beauty trends in the 20 years I have been writing, consulting and broadcasting. The biggest shift in aesthetic medicine is the disappearance of the once tight, wind-swept look of the last century which has been replaced with an emphasis on volume. Surgeons and aesthetic doctors realised that in order to mimic a youthful face you needed round, volumetric cheeks, curves, lips and thus the “filler” was created. Unfortunately, that emphasis on volume has been taken, in many instances, too far with the now ubiquitous grouper lip and over-blown Brazilian butt.
What’s your own beauty routine like?
I am not monogamous in my routine and am always on the search for the product or routine that will surprise my skin (in a good way). I travel a great deal and find that I need to vary my skin care regime according to climate, sun exposure, indoor heating or air-conditioning.
What’s the best – and worst – beauty advice you’ve ever been given?
Worst advice was to undergo IPL, with an inexperienced practitioner as the technician lasered my eyebrows leaving me with patchy, thinned eyebrow hair….ugh. I now use Latisse on my brows every night, which is filling them out nicely. The best advice which came from my mother was to wear sunblock and stay out of the sun. I wish I had paid closer attention to her as I am suffering the consequences of my youthful misdemeanour.
If you didn’t do what you do, which other job would you have liked to have done?
Just one? We learn as we grow into ourselves that we can have more than one incarnation. Like my six year old self, I would have loved to have been a doctor, midwife, actress or wildlife-presenter. I think that the most important life lesson that I learned from my mother is that, whatever you do, you must do it courageously, passionately and generously.
Which people in your line of work do you most admire and why?
There are a group of doctors whom I have worked with who donate their time each year to fly out to war-torn or under-privileged areas of the world to operate; reconstructing deformities or repairing physical damage. To have that ability and to use it to heal inspires me. Check out [email protected]
In which ways do you think societies treat beautiful people differently if at all?
The age-old system of rating according to traditional concepts of beauty, brains, wealth and position are still in full swing. Beauty can also be a burden for some people, as the public perception is that beauty is separate from brains. If you look deeply into a person’s eyes you can often see both beauty and brains.
Who, in your opinion, are some of the world’s most beautiful people, past or present?
I would say beauty for me is most intimately tied to relatability. I am drawn to warmth, a deep gurgling laugh and kindness. Cold beauty to me is an oxymoron and a huge turn-off. If there is no kindness behind the eyes then the exterior, whilst photographable, is harder to warm to. This is why I think women such as Oprah can be described as beautiful, without conforming to traditional concepts.
Soon you’ll be writing a column for Eluxe (yay!) What do you hope to bring to our readers?
I hope to be an honest, reliable source of information. Foremost I am a wife, mother, sister and daughter and I relate to my clients on that human level. What advice would I give my sister or friend? I hope to be a clear and sensible guide in the tangled web of advertising and commerce that sometimes dominates the beauty industry.
Where else can they see your work?
I post everyday on Facebook and Instagram[email protected] my website features all my archive and present features for W magazine, Tatler, Grazia and The Sunday Times as well as upcoming breakfast television appearances.
Any last thoughts?
I often tell my clients that, if they have to ask me if they should have a procedure, then the answer must be NO. Before undertaking any surgery there must be a level of knowledge and commitment and desire in my clients. These, in my view, eliminate any need to ask for approval.