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Kerry Hanaphy on her rise to the top of the Irish beauty industry
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Kerry Hanaphy on her rise to the top of the Irish beauty industry

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by Shayna Sappington
16th May 2024
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Aesthetic nurse and clinic owner Kerry Hanaphy shares her inspiring career journey. Starting out as a single mum with a side hustle, she drew on her natural talent, determination and great instincts, to eventually establish a skincare empire.

Kerry Hanaphy, aka Ireland’s ‘Lip Queen’, has been at the helm of beauty tweakments for over 20 years. Her journey is an impressive one – beginning as an aesthetic nurse who went salon-to-salon offering lip filler training, she has since grown her beauty brand to include three clinics specialising in anti-wrinkle treatments and non-surgical tightening techniques, as well as a clinic-quality skincare range AND a collection of lip colour products. (Is there anything she can’t do?!)

Today, I’ve travelled to her principal clinic on South William Street and am greeted by a modern, sleek interior draped in Kerry’s signature red and black colour palette. Her expert team kindly greets me, and Kerry does so with a professionalism and ease that assures me of her vast experience and passion.

When we delve into her career journey, I’m surprised at how down-to-earth Kerry is, as she bluntly shares the struggles she’s faced to get where she is now at the top. Like all of us, she had to start somewhere. “In the 1980s, there wasn’t much work available, so when I was 17 I travelled to London to train as a nurse.” Kerry worked in clinics in various departments, including A&E, haematology, respiratory nursing and pharmaceuticals – gaining valuable experience along the way. “When I look back on my life, I realise I was working in clinics and learning how they operate,” Kerry says. “It was just a different type of clinic from the one I’d start one day.”

It wasn’t until Kerry was 23 and had her first daughter, Emily, that she was introduced to the world of aesthetic nursing. “I had my oldest daughter Emily, who was born with a facial birthmark – a port wine stain on her face. We went up to Great Ormond Street quite a lot for different laser treatments (I think there were at least 13!). It was my first understanding of the laser world back then. I had no idea I would end up in this field.”

I was 34, broke, a nurse and I had two kids. I needed to find something as an extra income.

Fast forward to today and, through her ample experience, expertise and affordable prices, Kerry has become the go-to for anti-ageing and skincare treatments for all ages from 18 to 80. But it wasn’t all smooth sailing – it was Kerry’s tenacity and drive to be the best in her field that carried her through to the top. 

After she had her second daughter, Alannah, she found herself at a crossroads. “So now, I was in London, and I was 34, broke, a nurse and I had two kids. I needed to find something as an extra income. At the time, they were just starting to talk about botox in London. I did a lip filler course for nurses and learned how to do laser and it happened to be that Emily’s laser consultant was on it too. It was all very freaky! So, the beauty side of it just became a hobby as an extra income.”

For two years, Kerry worked out of gyms and salons on the side, earning an extra £200/300 a month – and quickly realised that she “absolutely loved it!” Aesthetic nursing was her true passion. Soon, she felt it was time to return home to Dublin with her daughters and see if she could turn her hobby into a career, hustling like she never had before. “I went around the whole of Leinster really, and I’d knock on the doors of all these beauticians and ask if they wanted me to do a clinic on lip fillers. Over those years, I got into around 50 places and was eventually able to do clinics as my full-time job. Now, my patients come from the whole of Ireland.” She didn’t know it at the time, but Kerry was building up a loyal clientele for her one-day beauty empire, proving herself as a trusted voice in the industry and the go-to for beauty tweakments.

Exponential Growth

Over the past eight years, Kerry Hanaphy Aesthetic Clinic has broadly expanded, now offering a wide range of treatments in South Dublin, Swords and Citywest – and 2023 has been their strongest year yet. “It’s an industry that I was lucky enough to be a part of at the beginning. Now, as a business, we’re exponentially growing every year. We grew between 50-60% just last year. I recently heard someone say that it’s great to be at the top and doing really well but it’s hard to stay at the top. You have to change, and this year we’re very much in a big change.” 

Never complacent, Kerry is always looking for the next thing in beauty; she recently developed her own skincare range, including a gentle Glycolic Cleanser, Degreasing Cleanser, Firming Hydrator, Overnight Rejuvenator and Protect Factor 50 SPF – and it’s had great results. “The Degreasing Cleanser is great for oily skin or blocked pores from fake tan, but our best seller is the Overnight Rejuvenator which helps increase cell renewal for deep hydration and even skin tone. And, every single person should be wearing factor 50 daily, no matter the weather, so I always recommend our sun cream.”

What makes her products stand out, Kerry says, is their potency achieved by a high percentage of ingredients. “While most things are 0.05%, ours are 5-10%. That’s a massive thing in beauty. We’ve also just launched lip liners and lipsticks, so that side of the Kerry Hanaphy brand will be developed more and more this year.”

Powerful and proven treatments

While the Kerry Hanaphy Aesthetic Clinic is best known for lip fillers and anti-wrinkle injections, they offer a range of treatments. “The most popular treatments we offer are high-quality, natural-looking anti-wrinkle treatments – all levels of advanced filler (in your nose, chin, jaw, under eye and lips). We are the only clinic in the South of Ireland that has a ‘Clinic of Excellence’ certification from our supplier, Teoxane, for dermal fillers, giving us access to the best product. We’ve kept our price at the high street price with the highest quality of doctors treating – we’ve eight doctors working in the clinic at the moment alongside six skin therapists, two nurses and a full support staff.”

“We also offer skin-boosters – injectables that hydrate and rejuvenate your skin, and polynucleotides – which are the next generation in skincare. I’ve recently taken on the training of Polynucleotides for Ireland from our supplier, and I am very excited to upskill clinics and healthcare professionals across the country on the treatment. I also specialise in Profhilo; in fact, we were the first clinic in Ireland to offer it and I worked alongside the Profhilo team to train clinics across the country on the treatment. Across the three clinics, we do about 1,000 Profhilo treatments a year.”

Alongside injectables, the clinic has a variety of machine-based treatments, including Sofwave, for effective, non-surgical tightening; IPL, for getting rid of pigmentation, rosacea, and mild acne; and Focus Dual, a combination of HIFU and radiofrequency microneedling. If you’re not sure which treatment is right for you, the team can perform a skin analysis with our Observe machine and create a bespoke skincare treatment plan free of charge.

Then, of course, the clinic offers tailored facials (including a ‘Glow Getter’ package), alongside Mesotherapy, a hydration treatment that works beneath the surface and is best suited to those in their 20s. (I tried it myself with amazing results!). If you’re interested in a natural-looking beauty treatment, be sure to stop in one of their locations. 

Building lasting relationships

As she celebrates a sensational two decades in beauty this year, Kerry attributes her success to the strong relationships she’s forged with her clientele. “From the very beginning, the most important thing for me is the patient, that they’re happy with their results and that they come back. There are so many marketing benefits, but still, number one is your results. One client will go out and recommend you to 10 people, and they’ll come, so if your results aren’t there, the rest doesn’t matter.” 

Luckily, Kerry says she has been able to keep her prices down because of her sole ownership of the clinic with no investors. “It’s about having good results at the right price, which is a hard balance because the cost of everything is going up like our rent, and people’s disposable income is reducing. People sometimes wonder how can we do our prices and it’s because I own it. I don’t have to pay any shareholders. Many people want to buy the business and franchise it, but then it becomes a different thing and I’m happy doing what I’m doing. It’s important to me to support the people who have stuck with me for years. I have many patients that have been coming to me for 18 years. There’s one lady who’s 72 and she’s been coming to me since she was in her 50s; I would never change her price.”

These relationships are built on trust and Kerry says this includes honesty on her part. If a patient comes in looking for a treatment they don’t need, she has no qualms telling them so, especially for younger patients who’ve been influenced by beauty creators on TikTok or Instagram. “Nobody really knows what they need 100%. If you come in for cheek or lip fillers and you don’t need them, you won’t get them. We turn so many young people away who don’t need anti-wrinkle injections yet. It’s not until you have physical lines at rest that you maybe think about having it done. If you’re young, get mesotherapy, hydrate your skin and get into a good routine. 

“In fact, if any aesthetic clinic is injecting anybody under 18, they’re not insured. Also, be very careful about places that are selling anti-wrinkle treatments that are cut price because there’s a lot of unlicensed product sold on the internet that’s causing serious issues with people’s skin post-treatment.” As a reference point, Kerry warns us to be wary of any anti-wrinkle treatment that’s not administered by a professional. “The main thing with anti-wrinkle injection is it has to be administered by a medical doctor or dentist. Nurses or skin therapists can’t inject toxin in the south of Ireland; it’s illegal.”

When asked what her favourite treatment to do is, Kerry said it’s still very much lips. “My creative side comes out and it really relaxes me. It’s one of the nicest treatments to do because you see the confidence you give people. They jump off the bed, they hug you, they kiss you – you’ve changed their life. You can see how when it’s done badly, it can change people’s lives negatively, so it’s great to see them react so positively. Throughout the last 20 years of working in aesthetics, I’ve treated over 60,000 lips, with many of those first patients still attending the clinics regularly.”

Going forward

At the clinic, 2024 is all about “the year of me”, says Kerry. “It’s the year of my patients and looking at everyone in a holistic way. Everybody’s been through a lot. The human race has been through a lot. So it’s time to find things that make you feel good. It’s not for vanity – we’ve gone from that. Now wellness isn’t just for Hollywood stars, it’s a proper industry. Now it’s about what makes you feel better and what makes your skin looks good. It’s not about changing and filling it up with loads of fillers. It’s keeping you looking as you are for as long as possible. 

“Before the world of aesthetics was all about change, but now it’s about becoming comfortable in your own skin with a little tweak here and there. Recently, I had an elderly lady come into me for the first time, and she was dying. Her grandchild brought her in and she said, ‘I want to have my lips done before I die because everybody seems to be doing it’. And she loved it! So, there’s no age limit for it. 

“I’m 53 but I don’t feel 53. I still feel like I’m in my late 30s but I know I don’t look it. People in their 50s are not old anymore. Now everybody’s working and will be until they’re 70. We’ve changed the world, fortunately. I’ll probably still be sitting here when I’m 70 doing another interview saying I feel like I’m 40,” Kerry laughs.

It’s refreshing to hear from a beauty industry insider with such directness and expertise. Stay tuned for “the year of me” and all that comes with it from Kerry Hanaphy. As someone who never stays still, there’s so much more to come.

To learn more about Kerry Hanaphy Aesthetic Clinic, shop their products or book a treatment, visit www.kerryhanaphy.com.

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