You Glow Girl

In today’s retail climate, wellness and vitality is not only aligned with vanity and looking good, but considered the key to unlocking a full, authentic life. Goodbye baking in the sun and hangovers, hello Instagram era #lifegoals. Daily skin-replenishing practices and the latest scientific breakthroughs in skincare technology – time-tested ways to a healthy glow – come together in thriving Erina medispa Dolce Vita Skin, whose clientele has grown year on year for the past five years, largely through word of mouth. The community response seems to be, “Can I have what she’s having?”

“We take care of people one at a time,” says founder and expert dermal therapist Vita Catanzariti, explaining why her venture has been a hit with locals. “It all starts in our consulting room when we talk and get to know you. That’s why we don’t do packages: I prefer a tailored, holistic approach that is exactly right for that person.”

The clinic’s soothing neutral aesthetic of organic design elements (think sisal floors and woven wall hangings) and a warm welcome from fresh-faced staff is deliberately homey and non-clinical. It’s not surprising that clients often open up about their lives and forge a strong ongoing bond when coming in to discuss their wishes and concerns. “We like to delve deep and discover the internal issues that are affecting skin inflammation,” Vita explains. “We have different analytical systems and take three kinds of technical photos of the skin. Then we talk through what we can do and develop a treatment plan.”

The fact that people now consider rituals and tweaking as mainstream health and beauty maintenance rather than luxury pampering echoes the wider changes that Vita has observed over time in the region.
“I have seen massive growth on the Central Coast since I moved here from the city. It has so much to offer: we’re so close to nature and life is far less stressful, but all the new openings and services that are coming to the community give us the best of both worlds.”

Like all small business owners, Vita rolled the dice when she went out on her own five years ago, leaving her role at one of the Central Coast’s most successful plastic surgery practices. She saw the technical brilliance of high-level surgeons in a medical practice and intuited the gap in the market. “I felt I had gone as far as I could with that business model, which is about efficiency and patients coming in and out quickly. I realised how amazing it could be to nurture the client over time, building a relationship with follow-up treatments, maintenance, and extra care rather than just post-surgery. Imagine what we could do with their skin!”

Vita opened Dolce Vita Skin in a tucked-away space in Erina, centrally located within easy reach of most of the coastal and peninsula suburbs, using Italian words for ‘the good life’ as a talismanic force for good.
“I thought, ‘You never know if you never go’. I never doubted that I would do well; I had no time to worry.”

Over the past five years a steady, increasingly diverse clientele has walked through the door. “We’ve had clients all the way up to 80-year-olds come in, which is lovely. The youngest ones, in their teens, tend to have specific skin issues like acne, which becomes the start of their journey,” says Vita. The team, comprising herself and two other practitioners, provides medi-facials and treatments that target SOS concerns like rosacea. “Once we clear up the problem, it’s an opportunity to then set them up with a great long-term routine.”

Dolce Vita Skin also offers everyday rejuvenation treatments that help the wider populace achieve radiant skin over time, or instantly brighten their appearance for a special event. Vita identifies the increasing influence of social media culture as an industry influence. “It is shifting how we think: now people from all walks of life care about their appearance. We even see a lot more men in the clinic now compared to five years ago.”

New techniques far surpass our old wash-moisturise-go bathroom routines: lasers, devices and medical-grade products can remove layers of dead skin cells, increase fresh cell renewal, and kickstart collagen production – the structural protein that gives young skin its plump, dewy appearance.

For those clients of a certain age who want to slow down the effects of ageing with more interventionist treatments, Dolce Vita Skin’s exclusive in-house doctor Dr Nik Davies works as a cosmetic injector and aesthetic practitioner. He uses injectables that can restore the facial volume that diminishes with age, freeze the muscles that cause wrinkling, even alter the silhouette of the face to look more pleasing or youthful. “We have come a long way from ‘Oh my god she’s having Botox’ to ‘Oh my god she isn’t having Botox’!”, laughs Vita, who asserts that the clinic’s mantra will always be ‘look your best for your age – but still look natural’. “Dr Nik is a practitioner who does beautiful work that is not fake-looking or obvious. You will never walk into our clinic and see the female staff or clients looking overdone.”

While the quest for flawless skin, once the province of high-society divas, is the new normal, the clinic sees its role reaching beyond aesthetics and anti-ageing –Vita and her team are, above all, champions of skin health. “Living so close to the ocean under a harsh sun, we see a lot of pigmentation and sun damage on skin,” states a concerned Vita, who is passionate about educating the community on the dangers of skin cancer. “Alas, the average person still doesn’t use sunscreen every day. Someone may come to us to deal with a tiny dot on their nose, yet I’ll see from their heavy pigmentation that they are a candidate.”

Vita learned first-hand the dangers of full Aussie sun exposure when tragedy touched her own family. “Skin cancer happened very quickly to my brother: he got fourth-stage melanoma in his sternum and lungs, then it spread quickly to his brain. He was robbed of life and his kids lost precious years with their dad. I still can’t believe it, even though it has been 11 years since he passed. I want to use that lesson to help others.”

She advises all her clients to add sunscreen to their routine, no ifs, ands or buts. “We get up and brush our teeth every day; in Australia sunscreen is just as essential every morning, before we get in the car, pop out to the post office, or hang washing on the line. It all adds up.” She explains to clients that if they invest in SPF50+ prevention now, they’ll be spending far less money on reversing signs of ageing and sun damage in five years’ time – and dodging the sun’s harmful UVB rays.Whatever your stage of life or skin condition, Vita believes Dolce Vita Skin has the right program to help raise the bar on skin appearance and wellbeing. “It’s never too late. Micro-needling is great for wrinkles.

We can help scars heal twice as quickly with miraculous white LED light. Sometimes someone just needs to start with a really good clean and a Hydrafacial.” The procedure – one of her most widely recommended – removes debris from pores by suction while bathing skin in hydrating antioxidants, a constant spiralling of clean and hydrate. “We get everything out of the follicles – dead skin, blackheads… It’s all about preserving that epidermis as much as possible. Once you have a nice, functioning barrier to work with, you can do anything.”

Clients are encouraged to support their treatments by best practices at home. In-house nutritionist Chiza Westcarr works with gut health and hormones to treat inflammatory skin conditions that come from within. Vita sources next-generation ‘cosmeceuticals’, products that contain active ingredients that correct skin problems, not just cover them, and names French brand Biologique Recherche and local brand Rationale Skincare as two of the world’s most effective. “I’m passionate about anything that goes on my clients’ skin.” Whether she is tucking you under a blanket and massaging your face with hands as fast as hummingbirds, or stocking your goodie bag for home, Vita likes to think she’s got your back as well as your face. “I just want everyone here to feel that they have come to a safe place.”

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WORDS – Cleo Glyde  
PHOTOGRAPHY – Claire Miles/Oak Street Creative