At just 16 years of age, Sophia Wyatt contracted a rare disease called Meningitis Septicaemia (also known as sepsis) or Invasive Meningococcal Disease (IMD). As a result, she had both legs and most of her fingers amputated to save her life. Meningitis Septicaemia is a severe and life-threatening illness that can permanently damage the brain or nerves. It can affect anyone, but is most common in babies, young children, teenagers and young adults. In England, Public Health England (PHE) Meningococcal Reference Unit (MRU) confirmed 461 cases of IMD from 2019-20, 12% lower than the 526 cases reported in 2018-19.

In this guest blog to coincide with International Day of People with Disabilities on 3 December 2021, NHBF Member Sophia Wyatt tells her extraordinary story and how her disability has not stopped her from reaching the pinnacle of her chosen career in the beauty industry.

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During the four months Sophia spent in the hospital with her illness, she met a media makeup artist researching for a film in the burns unit. The makeup artist also volunteered for the charity Changing Faces and visited the burn patients teaching them how to camouflage their scars. Sophia saw how life-changing the beauty and cosmetics industry could be and the fantastic results it can offer to those with life-limiting conditions. There and then, Sophia knew what she wanted to do as a career. Sophia says, “I understood how it feels to look in the mirror and hate what you see, so from that point on, I decided this was the career I’d like to follow”.



Driven by determination and an overwhelming need to help people, Sophia learned to walk, and within three months, she walked into her local college to enrol on a Beauty Therapy course. Sadly, though for Sophia, her passion and determination weren’t enough for the tutors, who made it very clear beauty wasn’t the industry for a disabled person. Sophia recalls their exact words to her were, “You have to be beautiful to work in beauty”. These unkind words came along with testing Sophia’s ability to unscrew a nail varnish bottle.

Not be deterred by the words and the tasks given, Sophia said, “I completed all the tasks set to me and was then informed that due to the fact I had no legs for my peers to practice waxing on, I would have to “model” back and full arm waxing instead. Throughout my training, I was left to feel totally inadequate. What I faced in my initial training prepared me for a career that I can only describe as one of the harshest industries a disabled person could enter.

“I’m proud to admit my experience never stopped me and, in fact, made me all the more determined to succeed. I initially worked as a freelancer as a media film and TV makeup artist, travelling internationally with some incredible projects ranging from film, documentaries, period dramas, commercials, music videos and live events. I then moved into bridal hair and makeup and worked all over the UK and Europe with over 1,000 brides”.

Family Life

Sophia eventually settled down, married, started a family, and decided to focus more on beauty treatments to work around having young children, training in permanent makeup and aesthetics. Sophia continues, “Now my career has turned full circle. I am proud to be using advanced aesthetics treatments and laser to treat people affected by scarring, burns, surgical trauma, hormonal conditions, cancer and hair loss.
“I have built a vast client base and have become known for my expertise in treating medical conditions, offering those suffering from conditions a more sensitive experience, many of whom don’t feel confident to visit a “beauty salon” setting. I pride myself on offering a fully accessible setting for anyone living with a disability and all treatments for all skin tones and all gender.

“I consider myself a fantastic example of how diverse our industry should be and feel. By sharing my experiences, I can open the minds of other therapists and encourage more disabled people to consider a career in beauty and aesthetics.”


International Day of People with Disabilities

International Day of People with Disabilities is an annual celebration of people with disabilities. This year they are celebrating the challenges, barriers and opportunities for people who live with disabilities in the context of a global pandemic. 

Further reading

Read our latest blog on The importance of inclusivity in barbershops and salons.