The word “Skincare” might give you an impression of all the hypes shown on media, however, the roots of skincare concepts and practices can be traced back to ancient times. Attention to aging skin had been a priority in Egyptian culture back in 3000 BC, followed by the Chinese, Greeks, Romans, The Elizabethans, and now the Modern Skincare. The skincare evolution has gone from natural to harsh chemicals then to advanced technological developments. We can be overwhelmed by the abundance of choices.
When it comes to this topic, this month’s A-Lister knows it all. She is an Aesthetician, Skin Care Specialist, and Beauty Panelist - Florence Fatialofa. A British beauty, who was inspired from a very young age, by her mother’s success as a Holistic Therapist and Aesthetician. She later decided to pursue a career in a related therapeutic industry in Asia and has completed her studies at Champneys College in the United Kingdom, one of the world’s most prestigious and well-recognized health and beauty institutes. She is here to discuss skincare evolution and the perception of beauty.
Photography | Floreance Fatialofa / Unsplash
C O N V E R S A T I O N
NL | Nicole Lui @ NOIRSTONE
FF | Floreance Fatialofa
NL | As an Aesthetician, you’ve seen and helped to heal different types of skin over the years. What’s the most common misconception that the general public has when it comes to skincare and beauty?
FF | That one product or treatment can fix everything, and fast. Consistency is key and you could be using all the ‘best’ products and treatments in the world, but what goes on internally has a huge say in skins appearance. Some things we can control, like diet and lifestyle choices, others we cannot, genetics for example. That’s why as an aesthetician its important to find the root cause of the skin issue and not just treat and repeat. Treating internally and externally is key.
Also the ‘one size fits all’ approach is a misconception. Just because a product or treatment is suitable for your friend, does not mean that it may be suitable for you. It’s like comparing an apple to an orange!
NL | Cutting-edge ingredients and new skin treatment procedures keep popping up in the skincare world, it’s most likely become a fashion statement. How do you position it and find the balance?
FF | You’re right there is always new developments and discoveries. Just like any industry (food, fashion..) there will always be ‘trends’, some good, some not so good, so as long as we can decipher which of those are effective, beneficial, and safe then generally those will be the treatments and products you will keep hearing about time and time again. I’m constantly doing online courses, reading books or attending workshops to keep up to date with what’s out there. Always get a consultation from a skincare specialist and do your homework before trying something new on a whim.
NL | Would you go for Natural or Synthetic products, or both? Any ancient time skincare technique that still works nowadays?
FF | Personally I use both. As in, my product contains natural ingredient/s with the delivery system or encapsulation of something ‘Synthetic’ I.e. it’s produced in a lab by a chemist to regulate the stability and delivery into the skin. There’s a lot of confusion out there on this topic (As you and me know from our panel discussion/debate we were on last year!)
NL | (Air-Five) HA! I do remember that discussion at the panel and I completely agree. There are misconceptions that "Natural" gotta do no wrong, however, natural mechanism secretes toxins which need to be removed before used, or being processed in order to activate its own potentials. I think the concept of "synthetic" is equivalent to "toxic chemicals" in consumers' minds or vice versa, but not all are in the same case, it really is all about the quality and the right formulation.
NL | What do you see in Eastern vs Western skincare/beauty world? And, what do
you find is missing in this multicultural city?
FF | Asian and Caucasian skin are structurally slightly different, with Asian skin having a thicker dermis where our collagen and elastin live, giving more of a fullness and therefore generally not showing fine lines and wrinkles as quickly as Caucasian skin, but on the flip side they can have more pigmentation and post inflammatory scarring (lingering marks after a breakout or wound) which is due to their higher melanin production. Therefore, the skin requires to be treated a bit differently and the consumers' concern will differ which will be reflected in the products and treatments offered on both markets.
‘Glass skin’ is still in, so dewy complexions in Asia are popular. At the moment I generally find Eastern skincare has more steps than a typical western routine, with essences, ampoules, and lotions being slotted into routines. I find that my Asian clientele like to use home skincare devices whereas my western clientele do not as much.
When I’m in a beauty department like Harvey Nichols or Lane Crawford, if I look around I can guess which are the eastern skincare brands as they tend to emphasize more on making the packaging look attractive with bold eye-catching colours of golds, reds, whereas I find western sticks to quite simple colours and designs. Western world has a bigger makeup emphasis, so perhaps that’s why eastern spend more time and detail on their skin steps, because they tend not to rely on makeup as much? I’m really generalizing here and just speaking from personal experience.
NL | That is quite interesting data. You're right, it's completely the opposite preference, especially before the time K-beauty went West or Western community started paying attention to Eastern healing philosophy. Asians tend to focus on the "canvas", work on internal and skin health, I guess it's due to the long history and the philosophy of ancient medicine.
NL | What does beauty mean to you?
FF | It’s skin deep. Be happy and healthy in yourself and that will reflect.
NL | Has your husband ever asked you to help improve his skin? Do you think it helps couples maintain their intimacy through skincare?
FF | Hah. My husband has great skin I am so envious, it’s those Samoan skin loving genes of his. We definitely enjoy the occasional Netflix and face mask night, and he is certainly more skincare savvy than when we first met. He has gone from using shampoo and body wash on his face, to being meticulous at using micellar water on cotton squares - its so quick and easy for him to do, and I know he likes to see what comes off on the squares.. I hope he is okay with me saying this! Micellar water is also great for teens coming in from the hong kong pollution and humid summers.
Keep it by the door - A quick wipe over and go.
NL | It definitely is beautiful that you’re influenced by your mother. What was her best advice for your skin health and wellness?
FF | Funny I was just reminiscing through old emails that mum had sent me years back when I first moved to Hong Kong, and she was so knowledgeable and just spot on, on so many levels. She always maintained that you need to look after yourself as a whole and that that would be reflected, but also to accept there are some things that we can’t control. She was one of the healthiest people I knew, never drank, never smoked, exercised, ate organic food before it was even a thing, and the one time she had a McDonald's she threw up (I have a vague memory of standing in a McDonald's bathroom cubicle with her. I think I was around 5 or so) Yet like she said, some things you can’t control, and she was sadly diagnosed with dementia a few years back which meant she could no longer do what she loved, working as a holistic therapist.
So, change what you can and don’t stress over the things you can’t.
NL | As the skincare and wellness world continues evolving, what’s your vision of change in our society a decade from now?
FF | Robot aestheticians? Hope not! I think people are generally more time poor these days so naturally want things fast, the faster the better, so likely we will continue to see treatments and products pressured on emphasizing quick result time. Perhaps science will find a way to make our body recognize processes within the skin at a faster rate, a big ask and an unlikely one for the coming decades!
NL | I like what you're saying. Not to anti-science, the real improvement is about utilizing science in the right way to transform our skin and wellness instead of making consumers two steps forward one step back.
NL | If you were to meet your younger self, what advice would you give her?
FF | Hmmm. I would tell her to stay off the sunbeds and make better lifestyle choices because it will come back to bite you!
NL | Amen to that, violently! It's the most heard advice from who have gone thru that Sun-babies stage. I'd give my younger self the same advice.
NL | What’s that one question you’d like to ask our NS Insiders?
FF | If you could do or be anything in the world, what would that be? And whatever that answer is, how could you incorporate a part of that into your life right now?
NL | Thank you for your insight, Florence, I have definitely learned from you.
Home-made healthy banana bread
(with not-so healthy chocolate chips)
Very stereo-typically British, cups of tea!
Le Onde by Ludovico Einaudi is my current chill song.
And Only One - (Remix version!) by Sigala is my get up and go happy song.
Two totally different choices.
Spark joy by Marie Kondo.
Highly recommend for those wanting to de-clutter your mind, and home!
Justine Grier. aka The Skin Whisperer.
Cuddles with my 4 rescue furbabies,
Nonsense chats with my girlfriends.
Early morning walks with my hubby, and yoga.
| That 1 Thing You Keep Telling Yourself |
You can do it
| Daily Routine |
Hit snooze at least 5 times, much to husbands annoyance.
Get up and walk or gym. Work, wherever that may be that day.
Some days I’m in a spa setting, others in a clinic or conducting training workshops. Get home and relax with
hubby and furbabies. We are big homebodies.
Home Is my haven.