The cosmetics sector in Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to grow exponentially over the next few years. Overall, the African beauty and personal care market was estimated at €7.5 billion in 2018 and it currently increases between 8% and 10% per year against a global market growth rate of close to 4%. It is expected to reach over €12 billion in 2022 when the continent’s total population, the fastest growing in the world, will reach 1.5 billion inhabitants.
The largest market in the Sub-Saharan region, South Africa, represented €3.5 billion in revenue in 2018. The majority of sales in the country are made within structured distribution channels. By comparison, in other countries such as Kenya, only 15% of beauty and personal care products are sold in supermarkets. In Nigeria, the beauty and personal care market could reach €3.2 billion by 2022 making Nigeria the sector’s emerging market in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Responding to this demand is Venus Aesthetics skincare, a body care, and anti-aging clinic, which is a premium, state-of-the-art medical aesthetic and cosmetic center in Abuja, Nigeria to cater to the region’s discerning clientele. The facility is led by one of the finest in the medical aesthetics industry in Africa, Dr. Necca Opara, who hails from Imo State- South East Nigeria. She is a Doctor of Optometry from Abia State University and she holds an advanced degree in Clinical Optometry and Ophthalmology from University College London. She did her Masters in University College London, officially known as UCL in Occupational Health and currently in Queen Mary University studying for a diploma in Aesthetics.
We sat down with the Nigerian surgeon, who is internationally trained in Medical Aesthetics and advanced facial injection techniques to discuss current treatments, the most requested body ideals and what clients in the region are looking for.
As a leader in the aesthetics industry, can you tell us about some of your amazing services?
First thing, Venus aesthetics is non-surgical in nature, we do resurfacing facials, the non-surgical nose job, we do a lot with dermal fillers which is hyaluronic acid, so we can do the eye bags, reshape the face, get rid of the double chin, give one a very nice contoured face that you can wake up to without having to have a make-up, we do temple coloring, everything beauty with the face and then we also treat migraines with Botox, we treat excessive sweating and the rest. Coming to the body, we do skin tightening, neurons for people who have lost excessive weight over a short period, loose skin, improve the appearance of stretch marks, we do non-surgical fat loss using the safest methods. We pride ourselves in being the first in Africa to have a machine called the ultra-shaped power, it’s an Israeli and Canadian company that came together to develop this machine that uses focused ultra sound energy to destroy fat cells. It’s painless, it has no downturn, the last client we had, lost about 8 inches of her midline and it was non-surgical. We tell clients, that it is not a weight loss machine, it’s not a contouring machine, but you’ll lose huge mound of inches over the course of six treatments spanned two weeks apart. We also have a skin tightening machine that does a whole lot with contouring as well. We tend micro needling collagen therapy, what we call vampire facials most popular as seen on Kim Kardashian, everything you can think of with skin care and beauty, we offer here as long as it’s not surgical.
They say there is no crown without a cross, but I know that there are challenges you must have passed through, so we would like to know, what are the challenges you passed through to get to where you are today?
Firstly, being in this industry requires a lot of training. But 80% of what we use is imported, so forex is number one, enabling environment, I would say is number two that is the government policies. Furthermore, the issue of regulation. We do not have regulation in this industry the way we have NAFDAC having to control pharmaceutical industries, this industry is growing, we’re still taking baby steps, so regulation is key because if people are restricted from getting those brightening or lightening or even whitening cream that strips you off your stratum cornea, it really helps. Sadly, people are hurting, because they’ve gone through a lot having to use these substandard products and they come to us for repair and by that time, there is actually nothing we can do. So, I practice safe methods because that is what we stand for.
You mentioned earlier that you don’t run a spa but aesthetics, could you distinguish the two?
Yeah, a regular spa does have facials, massage, micro blading, brow, lashes and all of that and predominantly, you don’t need to have any medical idea of the medical field, so anybody can have a spa but not anybody can have a medical aesthetics clinic. First, your certification comes into play, you have to be a licensed practicing doctor to even go and train to use the injectable, and of course you have to know your anatomy and physiology. A medical aesthetics clinic is actually medical but we are ignorantly categorized as a spa. It’s like saying in medicine you have a plastic surgeon, but this is a non-surgical brand of plastic surgery, so everything with plastic surgery is with image enhancement. It’s more cosmetic but a spa is more like a body refresher. Venus Aesthetics Clinic is not a Spa, however, people tend to call us a med-spa just so that it’s still there but I want to differentiate it because of the knowledge requirements which we have.
How often in your estimation do people need this treatment?
As often as one desires it. It is not an emergency, everyone looks in the mirror and there’s something you don’t like. We are trying to push the power of your image. If you don’t have that confidence and self-worth, there are places you’ll feel you don’t belong. When you look good, you feel good, and that affects the way you relate with people and your output generally in life. So you need it as often as you live because every woman wears make up today. You get a haircut, trim your nails, it’s just as good as that. However, procedures like the dermal fillers do last roughly between 18 to 22 months but you find that the moment you start, you never stop. It’s like going to the gym, the moment you begin to lose those weight and begin to see those muscles, it becomes an addiction, so we built it likewise. It’s more like an anti-ageing clinic, which sets us apart from a spa, and indeed, we are an anti-ageing clinic. We see Jennifer Lopez looking 25 at 50, she started this early. So, I recommend that anyone who is image conscious should start early. It’s a good goal to begin with before you’re fifty. Mo Abudu looks this way at 50 because she started early.
What are your expectations for this great establishment?
My expectation is that I want to be the premium brand, I’m not there yet but I’ve had the manufacturers of the products that I use contact us to partner with us to be their distributor in west Africa. My expectation really is for people to come to Venus Aesthetics whenever they want to go to weddings, or other occasions, frankly, whenever they want to look more beautiful. So, we want to be the Nigerian and African brand. I also expect to be the brand for anything beauty that is non-surgical and non-cosmetic.
Are there any risks with the injectables?
There are risks and from the risks, I’ll tell you the worst is blindness. The blindness aspect of it is when you go to someone who just learnt it from YouTube. Really what happens is that injectables can go into a vessel, a vessel is what we call an artery so if you do not know your anatomy and know the pathway, how the vessels run, where they meet and separate. If you’re ignorant of that, you could inject into a tissue that could cause tissue necrosis by dent of the skin, you’ll see a big scar or even blindness depending on the vessel involved. We tend to adopt lots of practice. Even till now I’m still training. In practice, we use what we call a Cannula, a cannula is a blank needle so you do not perforate the vessel, you either glide through underneath or above it, that’s if you want. If you’re around the vascular area, you can use your needles because needles give you precision. Again, everything boils down to anatomy. The risks are there with mostly injectables, the rest of the treatments are not as risky.
So what’s the advice for that girl on the street looking up to you even though she cannot come close?
You can be who you are and you can achieve whatever you set your mind to do, do not wait to make a whole lot of money to start, start small, keep your hands clean, don’t compare your life with another. I’ve personally had my struggles. I’m the last child of five, I didn’t have the best upbringing, so I grew up with survival on my head, that’s why work is part of me. I hawked, I would go and sell every day, I had to go and supply meat pie before I go to school. Success is really in the mind, it’s about the drive, knowing where I’m coming from is what propelled me to where I am today and it’s what keeps me going.
So when a client enters this establishment, what kind of treatment or service does the client get on the spot?
Firstly, I’m a doctor so I can only make recommendations. I would normally ask the client how we could be of service, some people say to me, “Look at me, what do you think I need”? And I’ll normally draw that question back because I want to listen to what the concerns are, so I can effectively advise. Some complain about their chin, eye bags and I tell them, okay, we could do this but you need a supporting procedure as well. This is because, you can’t do the eye bag without enhancing the cheek to support, if I do that, you’re fine but I tell you, in nine months you’re coming back because the eye bags will come back, the law of gravity will take place because it will drop. So, I just make recommendations and sometimes proffer solutions, but you must know, these services are not cheap.
You’re considered a veteran in this industry, can you tell us the areas or aspect of things that you feel is not yet perfect?
One is, anybody just coming up with a skin care line without having any history or background with the chemical components of a cosmetic. Number two is, anyone who is not a doctor should not inject those injectables, I’ve seen it happen and its very wrong, number three, because of the heavy competition, some people go as far as copying the idea but sadly for them, they can’t copy the dream. My dream is what makes me the veteran people say I am and that’s surely what no one can take away from me.
In your opinion, how can these anomalies be improved?
The regulations. Regulations cannot be over emphasized. It’s very key because, if you’re not a doctor you have no business using the injectable. That is one key area I think that the Nigeria Medical Association should look out for, in my opinion, they should go further to create a body that would over-see the beauty industry which is just emerging. I think that appropriate checks should be put in place to curb this ugly menace from sky-rocketing out of control.
What are your favorite beauty products?
I’ll say Botox. Botox is a neurotoxin that we use to relax the muscles, when you squeeze a piece of paper, it gives you that crease, that’s what happens with the skin. So the areas you tend to use a lot gives you the line. Over time your skin there will kink and make you look older. So Botox is one of my favorite and the second is micro needling. Those are the two things I get very often myself, I haven’t done any procedures outside of Botox and dermal fillers of course. They’re very minimal so one wouldn’t even notice but I get feedbacks that I’m looking younger. We take your age backwards, and on a lighter note though factual, we take 10 years off your age.
What is your advice for people who are coming up in this field?
My advice is this, first see that it’s something you can sustain. Secondly, you need to invest in training. I once spent 5,000 pounds in training. Sometimes I go on a one on one training. So training is indispensable. Think it through, this is something you’ve got passion for, don’t look at the money because that’s why people open businesses and then stop and move into another one.
Your final words?
If you look in the mirror, and you don’t like what you see, take that step, if you think you’re over weight, take that step. Begin first by cutting down lots of carbohydrates. The gene aspects gives you 20% but 80% is what you eat, therefore, even when you look in the mirror and you don’t like your size or complexion, and by the way thanks to the beauty of the filters that we find in snapchat and instagram, if you put those filters and you like them, do not let the idea of ‘what would people say’ come through, do your research visit any clinic. Of course I’ll say Venus Aesthetics has you covered but I prefer people go try others and then come because the difference is clear. One last thing, start early with the Botox so you can enjoy your old age.
Facebook: Venus Aesthetics
+234 (0) 9 220 2225
+234 (0) 809 155 5582
+234 (0) 908 155 5582