Name: Melissa N
Hometown: New Yorker, born and raised
So how did you get into skincare?
I started by watching my mother take care of her skin. I always liked to play with her products. I loved the smells and the different textures. Even as a little kid, I always read the back of bottles to understand what was in it and figure out why these items work. I'm an ingredient junkie, so I like to know everything that I can about everything.
In the back of my mind, I always thought I'd fit as an esthetician. People were always coming to me for skincare advice, but I didn't formally do it until way later on in my life. It was at the end of a bunch of jobs that I didn't love. I knew that I was going to be good at this, and it's something I'm so naturally passionate about that I figured it was a good spot to move into. I've been doing it as a hobbyist anyway, researching products, buying everything I don't need and then sorting through products to separate the good and the trash.
What is your favorite part of being an esthetician?
Being able to bring my knowledge to my clients. I also love empowering them to take care of their own skin and helping to demystify misconceptions about skincare and products. It has become such an oversaturated market, especially in the last few years. There's a lot of misinformation that isn't based in real chemistry and/or biology. I think because social media is such a resource now that is where people are looking for information. Also reality stars are driving the neuroses in many people. People think their skin should look like a filter on it all the time.
What do you think people think perfect skin is?
Everyone wants their skin to look like they don't have any pores! What you're looking at online and on celebrities is makeup and Photoshop. No one's skin doesn't have pores. You can't shrink a pore. You can make a pore look less prominent but you can't make it go away. People are chasing perfection instead of trying to make their skin as healthy as possible. I think that the perception of one's own skin is being skewed because of that.
Where do you go to find products if you don't use social media?
Oh, I mean I do. I like to do my product shopping online because it's quiet and I'm not overwhelmed and distracted by so many options for each category. This is where the chemistry part of me comes out, because the more you learn about skincare, the less you find the appeal of some of the products. A lot of it is packaging. I do love a nice package and design, it makes it more fun. It's like dress up. But it has to be good at its core.
Any general advice based on what you've seen with clients?
Cleansing the skin is really important and everyone knows that but unfortunately, they're cleansing inappropriately. People are subbing in micellar water and oil cleansing as their entire cleansing routine. Those things are good as a first cleanse, but you need to go in and cleanse after. Make sure you're rinsing thoroughly. If you don't, then you're filling your jawline with layers of debris that you're not getting rid of. Get back to basics before you start going in the realm of high tech modalities.
There's also a lot of myth around oil cleansing. It was popularized by Korean trends and it came over as an exotic type of skincare, but generations have been doing this in Korea. We're just now paying attention. Also, our grandparents were using cold cream to take their makeup off. None of this is new. Oil is not the be all, end all. Micellar water doesn't clog the pores but some oil cleansers can. Also you're washing off that oil immediately. You should leave oil on for a bit to get an active benefit from it. If you choose the right stuff it can be hugely beneficial but what is the point if it just comes off?
If you have oily skin it's important to balance your oil and hydration levels. You can mix an oil with a moisturizer that's super hydrating if you want. I really like the hydrating ingredients in the Ursa Major Fortifying Face Balm and the Ursa Major Golden Hour Recovery Cream. For nighttime, I like the Grown Alchemist Regenerating Night Cream.
What are three things that you like that don't have to do with skin?
- I'm an avid gym buff. I love to lift weights. I like really like Bulgarian split squats and deadlifting.
- I love retro vintage shopping. I don't do it in person, I mostly do it on Etsy. I'd rather sort through someone's old stuff. That's how you know it's good.
- I love animals so much. And nature. But I really love dogs.
How would you describe the style of your work?
A mix of holistic, natural, earthy, and science geeky.
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