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Thursday 8 November 2012

Five Minutes with Justine Grier of the Skin Gym

Being a girl is tough. Being a girl in Hong Kong is even tougher.

Our work hard, play hard culture coupled with high pollution levels, year round air-conditioning and harsh UV rays can play havoc with your skin. How many of us have dull, sallow complexions, random break-outs and a general lack of glowy, healthy radiance? 

Then there's the grooming - keeping brows neat, lashes pretty and the perennial need to be junk/ beach ready at a moment's notice cue a military waxing regime....

And finding a crack team of beauty experts up to the job of meeting all your beauty needs is a massive undertaking in itself. 

Just thinking about it all is leaving me exhausted...

Well, we have a little secret to let all the HK girls into... It's guaranteed to make beautifying a whole lot less stressful and leave you looking so amazing that everyone will be asking why you're so goddess glowy... step up beauty maven, Justine Grier (AKA the skin whisperer) and her brand new beauty boutique, the Skin Gym...

We were lucky enough to grab 5 minutes with Justine and got down to some serious chatting on everything from her can't live without products to where to get the best coffee in Hong Kong...

Tell us a bit about the Skin Gym, what services do you offer and what was the motivation for setting the business up?

The Skin Gym offers a wide variety of skin related treatments from from corrective facials (including acne, rosacea, pigmentation and broken capillaries) to the hydrating and anti aging facials. Most of my clients will know I am a huge believer in state-of –the-art machinery, knowing that technology has come so far in the beauty industry; I wanted to get my hands on the most up to date machinery and equipment, which we are now using at The Skin Gym! For a full list of our product menu check out

As far as motivation goes, there comes a point in a person’s life when you have to take a leap of faith, to spread your wings and fly. After years of training and research as well as working for the same company for almost six years, I decided I wanted to set up on my own shop and to provide my clients with the best products and treatments. I wanted a change from a salon environment within a medium sized company to something more personal for one-on-one treatments with clients in a more delicate and elegant setting. I wanted to focus all of my energy on my clients, rather than managing a bigger team in a busy shopping centre.

What does the Skin Gym offer that other beauty salons don't?

The Skin Gym offers a personalised service where you see the same skin care technician who will provide you with the ongoing skills, tips and tools to maintain a skin care program that meets your concerns/issues in a systematic fashion over a realistic time frame to achieve all your goals. In Hong Kong it can often be difficult to find a boutique beauty salon that can truly understand your individual needs according to your lifestyle, time & budget constraints.

You offer IPL hair removal - how is this different to laser and what made you go for this over laser? 

IPL or intense pulse light can be considered the modern version of laser that is equally effective for hair removal, reducing skin pigmentation and freckles, as well as red veins, but uses a safer delivery system. The pulses of light used in IPL in contrast to the direct constant laser beam, allows the skin milliseconds to cool down between delivery of light and heat, thus avoiding side effects such as scarring, burning or blistering. IPL can be used on a wide variety of skin colours and hair colours whilst laser is more suited to a very pale skin with dark hair. Laser treatment is also usually more costly, and unfortunately in most cases more painful.

What would be the top treatments that you'd recommend to any girl looking for a quick-fix pep-up?
  • Diamond tip microdermabrasion for a deep effective exfoliation of the skin without any side effects.
  • A TCA Peel to release the top layer of dead skin that leaves the fresh skin glowing. 
  • Any facial that involves extractions (which all of mine do) to unclog the pores and alleviate the skin of congestion that is such a killer in HK due to all the pollution and generally sweaty environment.
  • EXFOLIATE!!! 2-3 times a week at home with a skin appropriate exfoliant and a mask once a week, it truly does make all the difference!
What are your can't live without beauty products and treatments?

I'm a mascara and lip gloss junkie! If you are addicted to wearing thick lashes and dark eyes, a demure yet shiny lip gloss is sufficient to avoid looking like a drag queen. Mascara Max FactorCalorie 2000 is a favorite or YSL faux effect for a bit of a splurge.

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Environ AVST treatment moisturiser with different levels & dosages of Vit A, C and anti-oxidants. 

Elemis Skin Buff phytoplankston extract granulated exfoliant - always a sell out & I am a stickler for a good non-greasy hand cream since my hand are on water and products all day they need their own nourishment too :)

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Finally, I cannot live without my IPL facials and microdermabrasion, I do a course of 4 a year. Unfortunately it isn’t as relaxing when self-administered!

Any  insider beauty secrets?  

Have facials with extractions once a month - your skin WILL change. Keep your pores clean by emptying out the oxidative oil and pollution of HK. Don't leave the house with out a good sun block! You never know when the sun is going to ATTACK! I’m also addicted to Bioderma Sensitive solution for make up removal. Use a good vitamin C and keep a light water based serum or hydrating gel for past work out vs. a heavy cream or lotion.

It's hard to stay in shape in HK, how do you keep yourself fit & healthy?

TIME MANAGEMENT!! You simply have to make the time to exercise. If you just see if it can work itself into your day, it never seems to happen! 

Prioritize some time each day for a yoga class, a quick interval run or gym class of your choice. If all else fails a good uphill walk or a set of stairs can always be a good 20min sweat and de-stress. Most of all I suggest finding a sport or exercise you LOVE and always look to improve against yourself. And the same focus on eating healthy food, preparing meals ahead of time if you don't have access to healthy food during your work day. I’m always carrying around protein bars, meal replacement bars, apples and nuts just incase I’m in that type of situation.

What's the best advice you've ever been given?

Don't pick at your skin! Don't skip a dental check up! Learn to meditate/settle the mind. Took me 31+ years and that's giving away my age! 

Describe your perfect Hong Kong day?

Something simple like a healthy breakfast with friends, even better if they bring along animals and babies. Followed by a gym or yoga session and a good coffee which means either FUEL/Wagyu. As you can guess I also like a good treatment or foot massage. Having one day off a week makes you realise how important it is to give back to yourself. Oh and a good Skype session with Mamma G. She is the BOMB. 

What next for you and the Skin Gym?

Onwards and upwards hey… watch this space and see what happens! In the pipeline is a new machine to combat the dreaded cellulite we all hate. Definitely email me if you want an update of when it is ready to go!

The Skin Gym
Room 603B, 6th Floor Printing House,
6, Duddell Street,
Hong Kong
Tel: +852 9819 7116

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