Shawnda Dorantes of Beauty Lounge Medical Spa: “Do something for yourself”

Do something for yourself, whether it’s your nails, lashes, a facial, or a new outfit! I’m a firm believer if you look good, you’ll feel good, and go out into the world with a little more self-confidence. As a part of our series about how technology will be changing the beauty industry over the next […]

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Do something for yourself, whether it’s your nails, lashes, a facial, or a new outfit! I’m a firm believer if you look good, you’ll feel good, and go out into the world with a little more self-confidence.


As a part of our series about how technology will be changing the beauty industry over the next five years, I had the pleasure of interviewing Shawnda Dorantes, MSN, FNP-C, owner of Beauty Lounge in San Marcos, California.

Acclaimed female entrepreneur, Shawnda Dorantes, MSN, FNP-C (family nurse practitioner) is a master nurse injector, cosmetic tattooist and co-owner of Beauty Lounge Medical Spa, a leading, full-service aesthetic destination in San Marcos, Calif., a suburb of San Diego. A powerful force in the beauty industry for the past 14 years and registered nurse of over 11 years, Dorantes’ tailored expertise and innovative service offerings have paved the way for Beauty Lounge’s proven success. With an impressive 36,000 followers on Instagram, the popular med spa is best known for their non-surgical PDO thread lifts as well as their lip and nose transformations. Beauty Lounge’s service offerings include botox, fillers, laser treatments, micro needling, non-surgical face lifts, body contouring, permanent makeup, teeth whitening and results-driven skincare treatments. A recipient of San Diego Metro Magazine’s “Women of Influence” award in 2021 and listed as a “Best Aesthetic Injector in America” in the National Directory of Recommended Providers, Dorantes is making a huge name for herself both locally and on a national level. In 2021, San Diego Business Journal announced Dorantes as a finalist for two of their prestigious community awards, “Rising CEO of the Year” and “40 Next Top Business Leaders Under 40.” The acclaimed family nurse practitioner has treated thousands of patients including famed reality TV star, Farrah Abraham, Heather Minch of MTV’s “Young Moms Club,” Heather Martin of ABC’s “The Bachelor,” runner-up of season four of “MasterChef,” Natasha Crnjac and many more. Dorantes’ approach is to seamlessly enhance the natural beauty and self-confidence of all of her patients.

The renowned beauty expert’s entrepreneurial spirit was ingrained in her at an early age when she began helping her parents run their family-owned business, and she attributes their guidance to her robust career as a Latina entrepreneur. A longtime former in-demand makeup artist, Dorantes began as a Beauty Advisor for Estee Lauder and later became a freelance professional makeup artist for several other prestigious cosmetic lines. After securing multiple credits in film, print, and television for her work, she then joined Estee Lauder’s Regional Artistry Team while working her way through college. Upon triple majoring and earning baccalaureate degrees in Biological Sciences, Women’s Studies and Nursing from Cal State University San Marcos in 2007 and 2010, Dorantes worked as a nurse in the acute care setting for over eight years and specialized in medical, surgical, telemetry and hospice care before entering the permanent makeup industry and opening Beauty Lounge in 2018.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career pathway?

From a very young age, I knew I wanted to help people and I was always dead-set on becoming a physician, but switched gears my last semester of college, and changed my major to nursing. I earned three bachelor’s degrees; Biological Sciences, Women’s Studies, and Nursing. In addition to my love for academia and the sciences, I have always been obsessed with all things beauty, such as makeup and fashion. I grew up stealing my mom’s makeup and always got caught, as I was not allowed to wear makeup till high school. My first job after high school was as an Estee Lauder Beauty Advisor. From there I worked as a professional makeup artist for Estee Lauder’s Regional Artistry Team, and as a freelancer for many prominent cosmetic lines. I earned a few credits in film, television, and print, but ultimately followed my dream of becoming a nurse. I started my nursing career in hospice and transitioned to bedside nursing after 2 years and worked on the Float Team as Med-Surg/Telemetry Nurse. After 6 years of bedside nursing I stumbled upon the permanent makeup industry in the fall 2016, right before the industry exploded. I started my permanent makeup business in the spring of 2017 while simultaneously training in medical aesthetics at a friend’s medical spa. I became OBSESSED with the, medical aesthetic industry, leaving my steady bedside nursing job to go all in on my dreams of opening a medical spa. Fast forward a year later I established a thriving brand, outgrowing my 10 x 8 studio and opened a 1000 sq ft medical spa and permanent makeup studio. After COVID business really exploded and I had to decide where I was going to focus my efforts, as I was being pulled simultaneously in multiple directions. I decided to solely focus on completing my masters of family nurse practitioner and my aesthetic nursing career, officially retiring from permanent makeup. We have recently rebranded and now only offer medical aesthetic treatments and results driven skincare. Our new much larger state of the art location in San Marcos, California will open at the end of August.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

When I first opened Beauty Lounge vendors would often stop by and ask to speak to the owner. I was met with surprise when I would introduce myself as the owner, as I was a younger looking 33 year old woman. I was then asked on more than one occasion if my husband or father was around, as they assumed I could not possibly be the owner due to my age and clearly because I am a woman. However, it is my youth that has allowed me to be so successful and resonate with my patient demographic.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

When I first opened my medical spa, I was working part time nights at a local hospital and running my medical spa, in addition to being a mom and attending graduate school. I juggled all of this for as long as I could finally reaching a “tipping point” nine months in. My hospital job was unwilling to continue to accommodate my weekend parenting schedule, requiring me to make a choice between earning a reliable income or seeing my daughter. Not seeing my daughter was completely out of the question and I made the decision to quit the hospital, losing a steady paycheck and health benefits, to focus on my medical practice. Quitting my job forced me to fully commit to making my business more successful and profitable. Failure was not an option. Although it was completely scary at the time it was the best thing, I did for myself and Beauty Lounge, as I was now able to put all my energy and focus into the growth of my business. Right away I saw our bookings and sales increase, as well customer satisfaction and retention. But it really hit me that I had succeeded when I had several patients fly in from all over the US to see me. The biggest take away is that, if you don’t put in the time and effort, don’t expect the results.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I am so fortunate to have two wonderful women who have helped and mentored me throughout my aesthetic nursing career; Sajia Hamidi RN and Rio Calvert MSN, FNP-C. Sajia and I go way back to our bedside nursing days. She transitioned into aesthetics before me opening three medical spas in five years. When I came to her expressing interest in aesthetics, she took me under her wing and trained me. She is the epitome of women supporting women and I would not be here without her. It was sheer destiny that Rio and I crossed paths. I purchased a new laser for my practice and Rio was the trainer the company sent out to train our staff. As fate would have it Rio was not only a highly skilled aesthetic trainer with years of experience but she was also enrolled in the same Family Nurse Practitioner program as I. I can’t tell you how many late night calls we had discussing aesthetic treatment protocols and techniques and helping each other through grueling assignments. I honestly would not have survived grad school without her.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. The beauty industry today has access to technology that was inconceivable only a short time ago. Can you tell us about the “cutting edge” (pardon the pun) technologies that you are working with or introducing? How do you think that will help people?

Beauty Lounge Medical Spa was fortunate to be one of the first practices in San Diego to offer Qwo! We are so excited to be offering the first FDA approved injectable for the treatment of cellulite in the buttocks! Despite a healthy diet and regular exercise up to 90% of women have cellulite on the thighs and buttocks. Qwo is a real game changer in the treatment of cellulite and can even be used off-label in the back of thighs. Qwo enzymatically destroys the fibrous septae which causes dimpling, resulting in smoother skin and a reduction in cellulite. Qwo treats moderate to severe cellulite with visible results in as little as 10 weeks. As a woman suffer from cellulite on both my buttocks and thighs I cannot begin to describe how life changing Qwo has been for me! I can confidently wear shorts, dresses, and cheeky bikini bottoms now without worrying about my cottage cheese thighs. Qwo is a huge game changer for the industry!

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

I don’t feel this question is applicable to Qwo, as there has not been any clinical data to suggest any negative side effects, aside from temporary bruising.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the “beauty-tech” industry?

I’m constantly astounded in the nonsurgical Aesthetic treatments available. We are seeing amazing results in our patients from the Pixel8 Microneedling Radio Frequency device! It’s ability to tighten and retexturize the skin is miraculous! I love Non-Surgical PDO thread lifts! This is a great treatment for someone with mild to moderate laxity, who isn’t quite ready for a surgical facelift! I’m just amazed how much lift we are able to achieve and when paired with dermal fillers how youthful and fresh outpatients look! I’m really excited for all the advances and technologies yet to come in the body contouring industry. We will be adding some new body contouring devices to our menu real soon! Technology has gifted us so many non-surgical aesthetic options that didn’t exist even just a few years ago.

Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?

Lack of regulation specifically around the needle-less hyaluron pen. The hyaluron pen was originally designed for administering insulin. However the device has been adapted to administer illegal non-FDA approved fillers. Due to the device being needle-less unlicensed individuals such as estheticians, nail techs, and even lay people are performing these treatments on unsuspecting customers claiming these procedures to be completely safe and legal. These procedures when performed by unlicensed individuals are extremely dangerous and high risk for complications such as; vascular occlusion, and tissue necrosis.

I would love to see my state, California offer master esthetician license as well as a Laser Technician.

You are an expert about beauty. Can you share 5 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Be nice to yourself. Push those intrusive negative thoughts to the side. Tell yourself you are beautiful and worthy.
  2. Take care of your body! You only get one! Eat right and get active!
  3. Do something for yourself, whether it’s your nails, lashes, a facial, or a new outfit! I’m a firm believer if you look good, you’ll feel good, and go out into the world with a little more self-confidence.
  4. Leave that resting b* face at home and smile more! Smiling is an instant mood booster!
  5. Accept compliments! You are worthy!

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a mvement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

As a successful Latina entrepreneur with a background in STEAM I believe I will make the greatest impact by serving others as an educator, mentor, and leader for those who will come after me. I love teaching and hope to become a clinical nursing instructor at my alma mater CSUSM in the near future, and am excited to launch my new aesthetic training academy later this year. In addition Im looking forward to a recent opportunity to collaborate with my local Boys and Girls Club as a mentor.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” — Nelson Mandela

Every goal I have ever set for myself seemed impossible. I’ve achieved many of my “far-fetched” goals — losing 100lbs, running a half marathon, becoming a nationally qualified bikini competitor, completing not one but three bachelor’s degrees, saving up to buy my condo, opening a med spa, and completing my masters degree, all of which seemed IMPOSSIBLE! After achieving each goal, it really opened my eyes to how much more I was capable of, empowering me to go after an even bigger and seemingly impossible goal next.

How can our readers follow you online?

Readers can follow me at www.instagram.com/beautynursepractitioner and follow Beauty Lounge Medical Spa

www.facebook.com/beautyloungesanmarcos and www.instagram.com/beautyloungesanmarcos

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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