Academy of Aesthetics may not be in your face (not yet anyways) but its something you should be definitely take notes about, specially if you are interested in taking courses and workshops in cosmetic dermatology, surgery, dentistry, and professional beauty salon treatments. Sounds Exciting? Well it is. This post, however, is not just about the academy but about the man behind it, Ghazanfar Rauf and what he is providing to the beauty and aesthetics industry.

Hold on to your devices (or laptops and whatnots) as this will be a long yet knowledgeable chat session. Let me just say that we didnt have just one cup of tea, many followed after. You MAY also end up high on caffeine at the end of this post but believe me it will be worth it. I wont be surprised if you copy paste it and press save ;)

Academy of Aesthetics came into being when Ghazanfar realized, after 12 years of selling to dermatologists, plastic surgeons, dentists and beauty salons, that there is no proper training available in their particular field. Started primarily to give trainings in aesthetic medical segment it later also extended to Hair and beauty courses as well as professional salon service training.

"Though there are many 'Salon & training centers', I believe it is not the ideal set up. There is no presentation or theory, rather just the practical demonstrations. In order to know the basics of any field, one needs to understand the core concept, science, and art of that particular subject. The academy has to have the basic facility, layout, and content in order to impart knowledge. A foreign affiliation is always a plus point, which we have" - GHAZANFAR
Explain the Medical versus Spa services offered here?
There ARE no SPA's in it's actuality found in Pakistan. The few Spa's found here mostly cater to men, while worldwide women indulge in the Spa experience more. The Medical Spa is a relatively new term which means one gets a feel of being in a Spa environment while getting a botox, filler or laser treatment done. Instead of the clinic setting where one would see people waiting outside for their turn, and the typical stark setting, a medical Spa would welcome a client to a more welcoming experience. There are no medical Spa's in Pakistan, but the existing ones can surely make a few changes in their environment to add appeal because the Spa going clientele is the ideal audience for aesthetic medical treatments since they look after their wellness on a regular basis.

What kind of treatments do you perform on a regular basis?
All our trainers are specialists in their own field so a person can come in for multiple services from hair cut and treatments to facials, massage and manicure/pedicures.

We also have machine treatments like iBeauty by Thalgo, Hydrafacial, Endymed skin tightening, iLipo, CoolSculpting, as well as cosmetic dental treatments such as teeth whitening, dark gum pigment removal and Lumineers.

For INJECTABLE treatments, there are occasional visiting EXPERIENCED doctors who perform the treatments at a price lower than other clinics while still using credible products.

What kind of Workshops do you conduct and how do you think it will help others?
The most popular workshops have been in make up, where the educators are both in-house and international artists visiting from abroad. Till now, we have had Wafa Khan, Saman Ansari, Rozia Kamal who are Dubai based make up artists, and plan to have Yasmin Karimi from UK, Mike Farho from Lebanon, CHRISTINA MACOVEL FROM RUSSIA and Helene Quille from Paris soon at the Academy for workshops.

What makes Academy of Aesthetics different from others? 
Firstly, it is the only academy which has training in both aesthetic medical and professional beauty subjects. Secondly, it has an international affiliation by MHD UK EXCLUSIVELY which is A totally online portal with constant new vdo's uploaded. Thirdly, the distinctive feature at the AOA (ACADEMY OF AESTHETICS) is that international artists are featured. Though there are some other corporate academy's, at the AOA, brands are not highlighted, it is education which one takes home, not product features.

What does your typical day consists of?
I am a late riser, so my day starts late but I am not proud of it. I believe work ethics though are different in different fields but starting early means more time for family and health activities. In my opinion people should start work at 8 am and finish by 4 pm.

I like to keep close contact with my customers which is not easy if there are 600. With offices in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and Dubai, and with distributor meetings, exhibitions, there is definate travel twice a month, but I still do not have a Gold frequent flier card, sigh! As usual, emails are high in number to answer. In a way, I miss the fax days, where people were stingy in writing words, and everything was supposed to fit in one page.

What are your favorite things about your job?
I like the beauty business. Well, I like to do business more with salons/Spa's than with doctors, because with all due respect to my customers, doctors have become unethical.

Since people have no clue what those certificates mean that are hanging on the wall, the difference between an FCPS and an Msc, one does not question their doctors even if they are running their sweet business of prescribing something where they get the most benefit in terms of a sight seeing trip, or getting their children's school fee paid. So, though I should be enjoying working with dermatologists and plastic surgeons as this is such an exciting field, I do not see clinics adopting good technology or products. Unless a patient or client asks for a certain treatment which has become so popular abroad, doctors would use whatever they have from China or Korea and term it as 'Thermage', 'Fraxel', Vaser or Ulthera. The machine ALMOST looks the same, it could be a $ 50,000 laser or a $5,000 copy device. So one needs to seriously do their homework before getting it from their local service provider.

Perhaps my most interesting part of my job, trying to educate my friends, their families and anybody who I can reach out to using Social Media and my magazine where I highlight new technologies, and products. I love the hair and make up industry, it is very dynamic and revolves around fashion and style. Do not ask me how much the salons make, just a hint, they make more money than doctors, ha!

What are your favorite treatments?
I try products and procedures on myself and there are so many I like. The testers SELDOMLY go to my wife, I myself would use a night cream or try different cleansers. For intance recently I was comparing an Obagi cleanser to a DCL one.The last treatments I had were with Ulthera on my double chin and CoolSculpting on my tummy which turned out effective.

I would say, I love the Hydrafacial which is super compared to a micro-dermabrasion USING SERUMS THOUGH the principle is the same. Obagi is my favourite cosmeceutical brand not because I sell it, but because I believe in it. If I had to just sell anything to make money, I would probably be selling cosmetics made in china. It is very easy to sell garbage, it is very difficult to sell quality.

What treatments do your clients like the best?
The women would rank hair removal as the most popular treatment in a clinic followed by skin tightening of the face, rejuvenation, resurfacing, and lastly body shaping. Since ladies usually wear clothing which DO NOT PRONOUNCE THE BODY SHAPE DRAMATICALLY, the body treatments have not become popular so far. It is only the face which is the center of all attention. More recently, women have gone hands-down on the whitening injections; Glutathione is an anti oxidant which has a side effect of getting lighter skin since it represses melanocyte production which is responsible for our skin color.

Are you glad that you chose to work in this industry?
Back in 2003, I was struggling with hospitals trying to sell my product. I soon realized it is not my field. Facing unfair competition, 'who bribes more contests' and tender documents were a night mare. Working with clinics was better, and working with salons is the most exciting business for me. Though it is a women dominated field, it is growing at a very fast pace. We are still far far behind compared to other countries. We do not even have good furniture at the salons, let alone good dryers or other tools. This means as soon as quality products are available in Pakistan, salons would use it. My objective is to stay in the quality segment, even if only a few salons buy it. At least I am making some difference in the industry.

Is there anything you don't like about your job?
People do not pay on time, and I hate 'requesting' them to settle their bills when all else has been tried by my office staff.

What's the Latest in Skincare/beauty Technology?
There are thousands of skincare brands out there, some have a more fancy box than the ingredients inside. The thing to note is that there are three levels of skincare; one which is available in the supermarket, the second level available at salons, and the third category which is available in clinics. The potency or effect will be the minimum at the retail level, though the advertisement will be maximum for such products. The most effective ones are those at clinics.

Then there are some more credible brands like Obagi, Skinceutical and LaRoche Posay amongst others. A good way to find out about products is to read reviews before investing money in such expensive creams and serums. In beauty, there used to be micro-current which was popular, not anymore. These days radio frequency devices have entered the salon industry which are more effective. I would suggest to try iBeauty by Thalgo available at Aliya Farooq's salon in KDA.

Any views about the awareness required regarding skincare, beauty treatments and products required in Pakistan?
I can only suggest that people use the internet as their most effective reference tool. There is so much information available which can help anyone find answers to their questions and assure the authenticity of a treatment. The next time your doctor or beauty therapists recommend a treatment, go and read about it. Ask simple questions like 'Is it FDA approved?' USA COMPRISES 50% of the total aesthetic market of the world. If something is approved for use in the USA, that product or treatment is surely a safe and effective one.

What is the future of Academy of Aesthetics?
I feel we have a long way to go. At the time, when we got the MHD UK license, I realized people do not want to pay for quality. Hence, we were forced to offer courses which did not have MHD certification.

I would like to lower down our pricing to the minimum while creating awareness on the on-online content education which anybody can go through sitting at their homes. Soon, there is going to be a very very economical module available for students for as low as Rs 10,000 and they will get a City&Guilds certificate issued from UK.

I also plan to have more international artists coming into the academy which acts as stimulus for learning. People want to see a foreigner, but it is so difficult to convince them to come to Pakistan due to political situation.

For more Details and queries you can also visit AOA's Facebook page.