AST MD Heather Harrison Shares Her Path to Success

With more than 25 years in the industry this budding entrepreneur reveals her passion for skincare. By Anita Quade

Anita Quade: Heather you have been such a leader in the industry for more than 25 years – what inspired your passion to get into skincare originally?

Heather Harrison: “Since a young age, I’ve always been passionate about beauty and skincare. I remember reading my favourite magazines and turning to the beauty pages to devour as much information as possible. The how-to guides were the holy grail on all things beauty and the more informative pieces on skin health were my first introduction to the importance of good skincare.

In early adulthood, I began working in retail as a divisional sales manager. This was a massive turning point because it provided me with the opportunity to explore the depths of my love for skincare and skin health. One of my proudest moments was when I was 20 years old and was awarded Junior Retailer of the Year SA. I knew instinctively that I was on the right path and I will always be grateful for the opportunities that presented themselves. My hard work and commitment led me to fulfilling my dream role as Estée Lauder’s Education Manager where we launched the physician service to support medical aesthetic clinics. A role I will always be grateful for.”

AQ: Was there any standout moments on your journey?

HH: “In 1994, things shifted significantly for me when I decided to take a leap of faith to join a friend’s new business venture – Advanced Skin Technology (AST). At AST we intentionally moved away from cosmetic skincare and entered the untouched territory of cosmeceuticals. Our first ambition to distribute Australia’s clinical grade glycolic acid range in Australia and that was a huge success.

Looking back now, it’s clear that working at AST was the best decision I could have made. AST has been established for nearly 30 years now and to this day, I continue to be inspired by the new innovations and advancements that emerge every day.”

AQ: How have you seen it change over the past decade?

HH: “When I first started at AST, I was determined to build a successful path while also balancing the demands of raising a young family. It wasn’t always easy, but my ambitious and driven personality pushed me to keep going. And now, 27 years later, I can say that my passion and desire for the industry are just as strong as it was when I started.

One of the most rewarding aspects of working in skincare is seeing how it can change people’s lives for the better. I truly believe that taking care of our skin not only improves our physical appearance but also has a positive impact on our mental and emotional well-being. When someone feels good about their skin, it can build their self-esteem and confidence in ways that are truly transformative. That’s what keeps me motivated to stay at the forefront of this industry – the knowledge that I can help make a difference in someone’s life.”

AQ: What has been one of your biggest challenges during your career?

HH: “Over the course of my career, I’ve witnessed the evolution of the aesthetic industry firsthand. When I first started out, collagen injectables were just starting to gain popularity, and we had to educate therapists and doctors about the benefits of using cosmeceuticals in conjunction with medical procedures to achieve optimal results for their patients. It wasn’t always easy to get them on board, but once they saw the value in combining aesthetics with medicine, it really elevated the industry as a whole.

Despite the economic uncertainties and global crises, the skincare industry has proven remarkably robust. With the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a surge in people seeking comfort and solace through self-care. This trend will endure for many years as individuals continue to appreciate the profound satisfaction of caring for themselves during these trying times.”

AQ: How does AST support their clinics?

HH: “At AST, we remain steadfast in our commitment to supporting our clinics. For instance, we provided training to 7,000 therapists on skin health that is not specific to any particular product. We also opened this training to the entire community, not only our customers. We aim to help people feel their best by providing them with the tools and knowledge they need to maintain healthy, radiant skin.”

AQ: Anything you wish you had have known starting out?

HH: “When I first started in the skincare industry, I wasn’t fully aware of the complexities and depths in creating high performance skincare. Skincare that delivers the results you can trust and rely on. The time and effort that goes into the development is staggering. There are so many factors involved to ensure the efficacy of a product ranging

from sourcing the best ingredients, delivery systems, the vessels, the packaging… the list is endless. You need a lot of patience when creating the perfect product.”

AQ: Education is at the forefront of business – how important is that to you and tell us how you implement education as MD?

HH: “At AST, we’re passionate about helping clinics succeed, which is why we prioritise providing therapists with comprehensive education and support that covers all aspects of their business. Whether it’s marketing, recruitment, or anything else, we’re committed to building them up and helping them achieve their goals over the long term.

We understand that every clinic is different and has unique needs, which is why we offer an extensive range of products to cater to different demographics and support each clinic’s specific business vision. This personalised approach to education has been instrumental in our success, and we continue to prioritise education in all areas, from skin and product education to business development.

As we expand our product lines and add new brands, we’re constantly learning and adapting to ensure that these new products fit seamlessly within our existing offerings without cannibalising anything we already have. It’s a learning curve, but we’re excited about the possibilities and the opportunity to continue to grow and evolve as a company.”

AQ: What’s the best part of your job?

HH: “I am truly passionate about helping our clinic partners elevate their skincare businesses by delivering outstanding results to their clients, while also ensuring they receive the support and service they need to succeed. I believe in going above and beyond for our partners.

It’s incredible to see the impact that great skin can have on a person’s overall confidence and success. We often receive heartwarming stories from clients who have experienced a total transformation in their lives or in their businesses, and it’s incredibly rewarding to know that we played a part in that. Witnessing these changes and seeing the joy and confidence it brings to people is truly amazing and one of the most fulfilling parts of what we do.”

AQ: Anything you don’t enjoy about your role?

HH: “Haha..This is a great question! If I had to think of something that I don’t enjoy, I would say admin. While it is an important element to all businesses, it doesn’t have the same reward as seeing our clients grow and succeed.

On the flipside, I recognise where my strengths and weaknesses lie and am grateful that I have an incredible team at AST that I can rely on for support and guidance in that area. I am a firm believer that by building a team of diverse talents and perspectives, we are better equipped to tackle any role that comes our way.”

AQ: What’s been your favourite career moment?

HH: “The most rewarding part of my career is watching Aspect Skincare grow and evolve into the incredible brand it is today. We first started with our signature brands Aspect and Aspect Dr and over the years have expanded to Aspect Sun, Aspect Minerals and now Aspect Platinum. The success of Aspect Skincare goes beyond my wildest dreams. Knowing that our Australian brand is so loved and trusted by Australian women is a huge career highlight and one of our proudest achievements.

Outside of this, supporting other businesses to grow and achieve great things is another career highlight. There is nothing more gratifying than helping others accomplish their dreams.”

Read about the launch of the Aspect Professional Power Peel here.

AQ: Best advice you would give people in the skincare industry?

HH: “In my experience, networking is a key component to success in any industry. It’s important to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve, and then actively seek out opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals who can help you get there. Of course, it’s also essential to have a genuine passion for what you do, and to surround yourself with positive, supportive people who can help you grow and develop your skills.

In addition, it’s important to approach every day as a learning experience, to stay open to new ideas and perspectives, and to give back to others whenever possible. Whether it’s supporting your team or contributing to your local community, these actions not only make a positive impact on others, but they also help you develop important skills and experiences that can benefit you in your own career. Above all, be confident, be authentic, and always strive to do your best.”

AQ: Tell us about your plans for the ASPECT brand this year…

HH: “At AST, we understand the importance of sustainability and the role we play in reducing our impact on the environment. That’s why we’ve taken steps towards becoming more sustainable, such as creating recyclable vessels for our products in both the Aspect and Aspect Dr range. We’re committed to continuously looking for ways to improve and reduce our carbon footprint.

We’re also dedicated to innovation and bringing the latest advancements in skincare to our clients. That’s why we’ve introduced Aspect Platinum, a revolutionary addition to our skincare range that delivers incredible results. We believe in offering our clients the best possible products and treatments, and we’re always striving to stay ahead of the curve.”

AQ: Favourite beauty treat to yourself ?

HH: “I love Indulging in a steamy bubble bath, it is one of my favorite ways to unwind and treat myself to some well-deserved self-care. Once I’m fully relaxed, I give my skin the care it needs. I am very fortunate to have plethora of skincare brands to choose from.

To keep my skin clean and bright the Aspect Purastat 5 cleanser is my favourite because it not only removes all traces of dirt and impurities, but it also gently exfoliates my skin, leaving it smooth and glowing. And when I want an extra boost of antioxidants, I reach for the Aspect Extreme C serum – it’s like a shot of energy for my skin! And for my flushing red skin Aspect RedLess is essential!

To top it all off, I use the Aspect Dr Optiboost Complex and Aspect Sun as a final layer of protection. It’s the perfect way to keep my skin looking and feeling its best throughout the day.”

AQ: If we didn’t find you as MD what would we find you doing?

HH: “I would be spending time with my family. Especially with my three adorable grandbabies who are all under the age of three. Witnessing life through their bright and curious eyes is an absolute thrill and always reminds me of the beauty and wonder of the world. Every moment spent with them is a treasure beyond measure!”

To inquire about partnering with Advanced Skin Technology or stocking Aspect Skincare visit

This story was originally published in Professional Beauty’s March-April 2023 print issue.

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