When you hear the words “medi spa”, you’re likely envisioning bright lights and a very clinical setting. This couldn’t be further than what it feels like to step into My Beauty Doctor. Besides the fact that it’s quaintly situated inside a Yorkville hair salon (more on that later), it’s female-run and feels incredibly inviting and comfortable. Here, you aren’t judged for wanting to try injectables and the team is warm and instantly puts you at ease.
Launched in 2019 by actual doctor Dr. Leah Smith, My Beauty Doctor is all about ensuring that every client who walks through the doors, leaves feeling better than when they walked in. After an incredibly prolonged closure due to, you know, COVID, MBD is now back and better than ever. Dr. Leah is passionate about providing the best care to not only the patients in the women’s health and maternity care sector but also those at MBD.
If you’re curious about custom facials, peels, injectables and even microneedling, then this hidden gem of a media spa needs to be on your beauty radar. I had the opportunity to chat with Dr. Leah herself about not only opening up her own clinic but also what it’s like balancing her own practice at the same time.
1) First and foremost, you’re a medical doctor! What was it that drove you to open up your own medical aesthetics clinic?
I started the business out of my own frustration looking for a place to get Botox. I wanted a place that was physician-led but still felt warm and inclusive not stuffy or overly clinical. For me, Botox is a big part of my self-care akin to getting my hair or nails done. I have had experiences where you go in asking for one thing and leave with recommendations for a whole new face, which just isn’t a vibe for me. Honestly, nothing is worse than treating yourself to a luxury item like Botox and leaving feeling worse than when you walked in. There is a culture of pointing out flaws, preying on insecurities and imposing a very narrow definition of beauty on patients in order to upsell products and services, and to me, that’s the most toxic part of this industry. I wanted to create a safe space for people to explore their options with medical aesthetics without the pressure or stigma.
2) What sets My Beauty Doctor apart from other medi-spas out there?
My Beauty Doctor exists to try to abolish the stigma associated with medical aesthetics and create room for more honest beauty ideals. We believe that the promotion of “natural”, “effortless” “woke up like this” beauty, adds even more pressure, especially on women. Now, you don’t just have to be beautiful, you also can’t look like you’re trying too hard to be beautiful and it’s exhausting. We want to open up the dialogue about medical aesthetics and for people to know a lot of people are doing this, they didn’t just wake up like that! I always compare it to where the online dating industry was a decade ago. I remember feeling a sense of shame when I was an early adopter of online dating. It was like I had failed because I was unable to meet a partner organically or naturally and didn’t want to admit that I had resorted to online dating. A few brands really revolutionized that industry to the point where it’s totally acceptable and normalized now. Our goal is to revolutionize medical aesthetics in the same way.
3) How do you balance your duties as a doctor and running My Beauty Doctor?
It’s challenging at times but I really thrive in an environment with lots of variety. I actually love having such a broad scope of practice. I am also extremely lucky to have an incredible team of women who are super talented and really truly believe in the brand and the work we are doing. That makes a huge difference.
I trained as a general practitioner and still have a part-time family practice. I did extra training in low-risk obstetrics and still practice maternity care. I work alongside a plastic surgeon assisting in the OR. My real passion in medicine is women’s health. In my opinion, self-care is becoming increasingly a legitimate part of women’s healthcare practices and I love being part of the holistic approach to improve how women feel and live their lives.
Photo: Liz Salzman
4) What would you say to someone who’s curious about the world of injectables?
First of all, it’s a lot more common than you would think and there is absolutely no shame in wanting to explore injectables. Don’t be fooled by the fact that people aren’t talking about it openly. Botox is a multi-billion dollar industry so some of your friends, family or colleagues are definitely doing it! I would just say choose a place that makes you feel safe and looked after. A place that won’t pressure you into things you don’t need or want.. You should never leave feeling worse about yourself or feeling like you aren’t enough exactly as you are, whether you choose to try injectables or not. It’s a personal choice, gather all the information you need and make the right choice for you!
5) There’s such a misconception that filler and Botox will make you look not like yourself, what do you say to that?
Well done Botox or filler yields very natural results. An injectable treatment shouldn’t ever change your appearance. It’s really just a way to prevent fine lines and wrinkles, fill in areas of volume deficit and give you an overall relaxed and refreshed look even when life gets hectic. Filler can alter proportions a bit more but again when it’s well done, or as we call it “minimal” it’s more about enhancing your natural features than concealing or morphing them.
6) I’m sure it’s like choosing a favourite child but do you have a fave or go-to service at MBD?
Wow ok we are going there! I always say Botox and micro-needling are like air and water to me. Dramatic, yes but I really do need both for survival. One is the perfect skin treatment for glowy plump healthy skin and the other addresses the fine lines and wrinkles. The combination yields the absolute best results in my opinion.
7) How has it been navigating opening and running a business during COVID?
Terrible. Small brick & mortar businesses were really hit the hardest and it’s been tragic to watch some of my favourite small businesses have to close their doors. We are all very fortunate to be health care workers who had other important work to fall back on during the pandemic. I will say, during the endless lockdowns I saw a lot more women in our industry come together in support of one another in a way I had not seen before. It was magical to have time to connect with other entrepreneurs and collaborate, something I think we miss out on when we are all so caught up in the day-to-day grind of being business owners.
8) The original MBD location was on Avenue Rd, just around the corner from where it sits now inside Medulla & Co. How did it come to be that MBD would be inside the salon?
It’s funny, originally I was looking for medical office space but something felt wrong about it. As important as it is to have very qualified medical professionals performing injectable treatments (which we all are), I think medical aesthetics for a lot of people is more about self-care than anything. MBD being in a beautiful relaxing space was important to me. Our location on Davenport has essentially been in the works since 2019 and finally being able to work in it is a dream come true. The concept of getting a blowout and botox in one space is something I haven’t seen in Toronto. I should give credit where credit is due as the idea was one of my best friends Luis’s who owns Medulla Co Yorkville. Our businesses really complement each other and I couldn’t think of a more perfect location for us.
(Story by Contributing Editor, Blair Stutz, Feature Image: Liz Salzman)