This will come as a huge surprise to my sister Lara when I write that I really admire her for the way she has, over the last 20 years, established and grown her ‘Lara – Beauty & Therapy’ business.
The pandemic, of course, has been devastating for beauticians, therapists and hairdressers, amongst so many others, all who have been unable to work. However, throughout the last year, Lara has remained positive and optimistic and has used the time to continuously research and improve her knowledge and to source new natural products for the various treatments she offers. She also took advantage of the opportunity to pursue her new hobbies of decoupage and cooking!
Lara had always been interested in hairdressing, often cutting and styling family and friends’ hair when she was younger, but she did not pursue this career believing that it would be too hard to get her own salon set up where we lived in London. Instead, she worked for seven years as the office manager for the Portuguese UK Chamber of Commerce in London and then for a Brazilian Bank.
When the branch closed and she was made redundant at the age of 26, Lara embraced the opportunity and her redundancy pay to take a three-year International Beauty Massage and Holistic Therapy course. She was voted student of the year and subsequently offered a job at the college. Eight months later, in 1999, our whole family moved back to Portugal.
When we had settled into our new lives in the Algarve, Lara began to treat friends who recommended her to other people and she soon established a regular client base offering the traditional manicures, pedicures, massages, waxing, facial and body treatments, lymphatic drainage but also holistic therapies of aromatherapy, reflexology, shiatsu, hot stone and Indian head massages amongst many others.
Lara is not only professionally trained in all the services she offers, but she makes sure that she provides her treatments always using high quality products such as Decleor, Skeyndor and her new range of organic and naturally sourced Natura Siberica bio cosmetics.
Although there are a lot of beauty therapists, it is not always easy to be successful. As Lara says: “This is not an easy business to run, it is not a get rich scheme because there is a lot of competition out there and, if you use good quality products for your treatments, these are very costly.”
Lara has never been afraid of competition and often gives other therapists work, believing that everyone has their strengths and weaknesses and that there is room for everyone. “You have to be dedicated, which is why I strive to keep learning and to improve. I believe in myself and in the treatments I give. I aim to holistically treat not just the body or symptom but to always do my best for my clients by treating their body, mind and well-being. I ensure they are happy with the results and that they are confident in the success of my treatments.”
Her motto is ‘professional treatments using quality products at sensible prices’.
Lara also continuously re-invests in her business and tries to find new ways to expand her services. Her love of make-up led to her volunteering for face painting at charity events and she has been the Algarveans Theatre Group’s make-up artist for many years.
These led to her training professionally in face painting and body art and thus, three years ago, Lara’s ‘Zig Zag Face Painting & Glitter Tattoos’ began with Lara working at public and private events and local council fairs delighting many children and adults with her artwork. She also successfully organises children’s beauty themed birthday parties.
Lara’s ‘Glitter Bar’ can be found at wedding receptions or events like the Carvoeiro Black & White Night with a queue of customers wanting their faces or arms decorated. It is very popular with men wanting their beards glittered!
Lara has always kept up with new treatments but, over time, she has found that her strength is in her hands and so she is now offering more ‘hands on’ treatments with the emphasis on pampering and healing.
Four years ago, she became an advanced Bowen therapist and has since healed many people who had long given up hope of living pain-free.
Bowen Technique is a gentle manipulation of specific areas of the body to transmit a message to the brain, through the connective tissue and nervous system, to investigate and promote self-healing. Amongst many conditions, it is used to treat pain, muscle and skeletal disorders, depression, stress, fertility and even bed-wetting, often in just a few sessions.
Lara herself was healed of terrible lock jaw by a Bowen therapist, which was what encouraged her to train in this therapy. “With the Bowen, I feel I am truly making a huge difference to the quality of my clients’ lives.”
This is an example of how Lara continuously strives to find ways of assisting more people and she finds her job extremely rewarding. She loves helping people, which is evident in the fact that “I have clients that have been loyal to me from the start and keep coming back for the same or new treatments. I reward my clients with a loyalty points system where they can save up for discounts or free treatments.”
I have never really shown my sister how grateful I have been over the years for her treatments for my own ailments. Her massages and reflexology are amazing, and she professionally did my wedding make-up too, another of her many talents.
Lara is a true example of how someone with dedication and perseverance and belief in themselves can pursue a career doing something that they enjoy. She never loses her enthusiasm for her profession and is making a difference to so many people’s wellbeing and self-esteem.
Lara, I am very proud of you and what you have achieved, sometimes under difficult personal circumstances, but you have always been there for others and so this article is my thank you to you.
Please, can I now book a reflexology?
If anyone wants to have a treatment with Lara, mention this article and she will give you 20% discount on one treatment of your choice to celebrate her 20 years in the business.
So now you know!
Lara – 969 053 036
▪ LARA – Beauty & Therapy
▪ Zig Zag Pintura Facial / Face Painting
By Isobel Costa
Isobel Costa works full time and lives on a farm with a variety of pet animals! In her spare time, she enjoys photography, researching and writing.