Name: Gregory V.
Born in: Flatbush, Brooklyn. I've lived there my whole life.
Why’d you get into skincare?
Oh man, how much time do you have. I got into it by accident. I have a computer science engineering degree. I worked for a startup that developed the e-mail application for Palm Pilots. I was basically paid to break things so that we could fix every potential problem before it went to market. In the Summer of 2001, 80% of company was let go. Two months later I went to London to spend time with some friends. My friend at the time had three nail spas and I found myself interested in the operation side of it. I came back to New York two days before 9/11 and the resulting tech bubble burst left me unemployed for a year.
I went to a small technical school in Brooklyn so I could freeze my student loans. Second semester, I took a class on strategic marketing and we had to do a case study for Avon. They were trying to push a new men’s division. That was my aha moment. How can I get into this big beauty pie? So I dropped out. I tried to get into technology jobs in beauty but was told, "Gregory you’re too much of a geek." So I stopped job hunting for technology. I picked up a trade. I went to Aveda for skincare. Their educational structure allowed for a lot of hands-on practice on real clients which isn't available at all esthetic schools. So when I graduated, I'd already worked with almost 200 clients.
I got a job right away at the first-day spa in New York doing guest relations. That gave me the window and the view-point to understand how operations worked in the industry. So from there I worked at a few spas and health clubs and pursued management. I’ve managed everyone: nail technicians, personal trainers, make up artists, kind of everything. Now I’m about to reach my 13th year as an esthetician.
Did you have a relationship to beauty because of your mom and sister?
I was always forced to go to the salon with my mother and sister so I knew a bit about the pampering aspect. We're Haitian so salons are a big deal.
What is something about skin you wish more people knew?
Use toner. Toner dissolves and softens up everything in your face, including blackheads. Toning to me is critical. Grown Alchemist's Balancing Toner is my favorite toner that we have. Tone, people!
What is your biggest skin pet peeve?
I hate the pressure to exfoliate really hard. People feel like they have to scrub to get a deep clean and it can actually be very damaging to your skin. However, I appreciate people being honest about it so we can work on it together. In the warmer months, you definitely want to make sure you’re covering everything, so I can kind of turn my back to that. 90º weather can be pretty overwhelming. But when it’s off-season, don't scrub too much.
What are your favorite products? Besides the Good Alchemist Toner, of course.
I love the Kantic Brightening Moisture Mask from Alchimie. I tried it for a flight to Miami and was unsure about the color because my skin is, well you know, and I was like, "what is it going to look like for me to wear a mask on this flight?" but it's really translucent. My skin didn’t feel tacky, it helped cool down the redness from laying on the beach. I saw short-term results and long-term hydration. It’s great for after I shave. I can sleep with it. I’ve also used it as a spot treatment for pigmentation when I need to brighten up a spot.
I also love the Vitamin C Serum from One Love Organics. The texture is amazing. Sometimes Vitamin C can be too thick and not everyone nails it. But One Love has made a perfect consistency. It’s kind of oily so I can cut it. I use it with damp hands because it feels like laying on the beach being fed oranges. It gives me a red carpet glow. I won't say it makes me dewy,... but it makes me dewy.
What do you use for your beard?
So I usually have a goatee but sometimes I have a few inches of a beard. Depending on the length I have to use different products. But at night I use an oil and then in the morning, I use a serum. Sometimes I might double up around lunch. A beard can be very drying so I have to make sure I keep an eye on it. Also I'm a serum, toner, and mask junky.
Oh man, so how do you feel about the influx of sheet masks floating around now?
All masks serve a purpose when it comes to hydration because sheet masks are drenched in a solution, so you’re going to get some type of hydration. But it's pretty much a winging it situation, especially if the ingredients are in a language you're not familiar with. A one time use doesn't do much for you. If you don’t use it in frequency, you’re not going to see a difference. Also someone at a trade show told me that companies drench their masks to overcompensate for shipping and manufacturing and travel, it’s stored in a box and they can't control temperature. So they cover it in extra liquid.
What do you like most about working with clients?
Clients keep me sane. I like to fix something on the spot. As a kid I'd take apart the VCR to see how it works, so I guess I just realized that is where that came from. If a client has an issue, I’m going to fix it or I’m going to break it to make it better. It's a technology concept that I can apply to my clients. It sounds weird, but I like working with clients who have allergies or are recovering from acne because we have to really pay attention to how we can turn it around. Even when your acne is gone, your skin has a long way to go and will be very sensitive, and I like that challenge. Also, the duration of how long to apply something is very important if you have sensitive skin or allergies and that is where I feel most comfortable.
What are three things that you like that have nothing to do with skincare?
I'm an uncle (they're 19, 18, and 9) so they are my favorite. The 9-year old FaceTimes me every day. I learn so much from how they look at the world. The way our conversations have evolved.
I like tennis and soccer. I don't have a specific team I'm a big fan of, but someone with good jerseys.
Also, this feels like cheating, but I love spa services. I'm the kind of person where all my friends go out to the pool and I go to the spa. I like body wraps and body scrubs. I'd recommend an aromatherapy body wrap. In New York you'd probably have to go to a hotel for it.
Interested in learning more from Gregory? Here is some of his advice on toner and why the Kantic Brightening Moisture Mask by Alchimie Forever is his favorite. Also, you can book your facial with him here!