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Esthetician and President Teaches Industry

By: Elizabeth Ulrich
Posted: July 22, 2008, from the March 2007 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

Laura Todd is a scientist at heart. As a young girl, her wide-eyed fascination with how things worked blossomed through practicing middle school lab experiments. Today, as a licensed esthetician with a bachelor’s degree in biology and a candidate for a master’s degree in education, Todd applies her natural scientific curiosity to her work as the director of the Institute of Advanced Medical Esthetics, a division of The University of Professional Sciences, in Richmond, Virginia. She now imparts knowledge about her dual loves—science and skin care—to the burgeoning experts of tomorrow. “It’s a profession with a scientific basis,” Todd says. “It’s not just about facials anymore; it’s about skin care.”

The hundreds of students who enroll in the school each year learn that Todd’s brand of instruction is about much more than treating the skin with today’s techniques. She recalls that when she enrolled in esthetic school in 1990 the industry itself was relatively new and didn’t include microdermabrasion, chemical exfoliation or laser hair removal.

As the profession has developed, Todd’s education has evolved, as well. “New technology is always out there,” she notes. “If you don’t stay on top of it, you become obsolete. The clients sometimes know more than the estheticians. We need an education that not only teaches present-day information, but future information as well.” It is that mind-set that has taught Todd’s students that education truly is a lifelong process.

For her, this process recently led her on a trek across the world to Regina Isabella, a thermal spa nestled on the island of Ischia, Italy. In this natural oasis, the once violent eruptions of Mount Epomeo have given way to thermal water that flows upward from the fertile soil into the island’s many springs. The spa, which sits on the edge of the Gulf of Naples, harnesses these gushing hypothermal pools to repair, regenerate and detoxify skin. Todd recalls how the resort’s technicians harvested pail after pail of the spring’s famous mud, which steeps for six months before its collection. “I attended a school in Italy to further my education in lymphatic drainage and to learn advanced techniques in lymphatic drainage for the face and body,” she explains.

Now, in the medical spa housed in her institute, she not only taught others to capture the medical and cosmetic properties of lymphatic drainage and the added benefits of integrating into every day treatments, but she also has imparted the European spa’s approach to life, energy and beauty. Todd’s clients have reported clearer and more refined skin, and her students have benefited, as well.