Name: Gina P
Hometown: Middletown, NY
So how did you get into skincare?
I took a kind of winding route into skincare, although I had always been interested in it. I have a background in holistic healing. I've been a yoga instructor and herbalist. I kind of suddenly decided I'd go to esthetic school because I wanted a good container for my skills. I wanted a space for herbs, hands-on healing, and presence. I had a grounding but needed the tools.
What was your relationship with skincare like?
I used to live in Switzerland and France as a young adult. I decided to go WWOOFing, which is traveling by working on organic farms. So I went across Switzerland for six weeks...until I ate unrefrigerated Swiss dairy and had to go home! I didn't want to work on a farm centered around animals, so I worked on one that harvested herbs. I wasn't a great farmer, but I was always into raw ingredients. I would use apricots from the Alps to wash my face with. I would just open them up and put the juice right onto my face. As pure as possible. I'd eat the other half because I didn't want to waste it. I wasn't into products. I was using pure oils and fresh fruits. Wow, I sound insane. Anyway, I was also a vegetarian at the time so it was really on my mind.
Then, I took a course on green medicine for four months and that is when I got my herbalist certification. I make infusions. I like to use herbal tinctures. I talk about herbal remedies during treatment and care a lot about the herbal elements in products.
Any general advice based on what you've seen with clients?
A lot of clients treat their skin like clothing or hair that has gone through a keratin treatment. They don't view it as a living organ. They objectify it. Most people get their information from friends, which makes total sense. We all want recommendations from people who we trust. That takes away some of the uncertainty. You know that it is something of decent quality, that it worked for someone you love. Or something is really trendy and then feels like it's everywhere and there is a weird pressure to interact with it. But that doesn't mean that it's for you. You need to respect your skin. That's something I try to teach as much as possible.
Also, people want to see linear progress, but it's not always that straight forward.
That is true, it can be really frustrating when it feels like you were in a good place and then your skin wigs out. How do you help clients through that process?
I try to develop trust with clients and then I'm able to give them strategies. I think trust is really important. I want to give them products that I think are tools they can use in their toolbox. You have to have something for when the shit hits the fan. But I also want to help people accept themselves. I work on self-acceptance. Some things are temporary, some things will just always be with you and we need to know how to tell the difference. It's face positivity. I just coined that. That's mine!
Anyway, you have to have some acceptance and be flexible. I'm reactive in the moment. If something isn't working or a client isn't getting results, then I'm very open to changing direction. I'm not prescriptive. I try to react to the skin with the nimbleness that it requires. If something is working, keep going with that but refine around it. You have to respond to the skin as it is. A lot of clients think their skin is a lot worse off than it is. I try to work with them to see the truth but without negating what they see because that is valid and where they're coming from.
How would you describe the style of your work?
Holistic, intuitive, thoughtful, and strategic
There is an intellectual component to my work and a really deep understanding of formula, but I try to keep a mindful element and sense of touch. It's not routine. My relationships with my clients are long lasting and I think that's because it's personal in nature. They're based in sharing and honesty and an understanding of skincare as a journey. You start here and want to go somewhere else by the end of it, so we do it together.
What are three things that you like that don't have to do with skin?
Witchcraft and tarot. I see witchcraft as a spiritual lens, not so much as a religion. My favorite shop is Catland in Bushwick.
Herbs and herbalism. I wish that that we'd look more into herbs around us as possible healers. For example, yarrow can work in microcirculation but can be a blood cleanser. And it's everywhere, so easy to find. You just use it in a tincture. I also think that everyone should have digestive bitters more often. People traditionally took bitters after meals to help you digest but the taste has fallen out of people's pallets. Now we like sweet and salty. We could definitely benefit from using bitters more regularly.
Vintage clothing. My mainstays are mostly in Greenpoint and Williamsburg.
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