Denice Williams on the true nature of beauty and the hidden cultural divide in skin care
MEET THE PROFESSIONALS:
The owner of Skin Deep Spa in Sunrise, Florida on the true nature of beauty and the hidden cultural divide in skin care.
“Skin is skin,” says Denice Williams, owner of Sunrise, Florida’s Skin Deep Spa, where the mission is rejuvenation for the entire being, not just the skin. She believes the differences in treating dark skin tones has as much to do with culture as it does complexion.
“In our culture, we didn’t grow up seeing our parents get facials. We’re not raised going to the dermatologist. It’s considered a luxury. It became something that I was passionate about because I wanted to teach women, especially black women, about taking care of their skin, while also increasing their confidence. I suffered with acne as a young girl. My dad did too. He had the craters and all the imperfections in his skin. I didn’t want to be the girl with that. I wanted to learn to take care of my skin. I basically started as a makeup artist, just really trying to get to love, literally, the skin I’m in. I wanted to treat it. I fell in love with the whole idea. So I got started for self, not for a career. I was basically trying to fix myself.”
Denice Williams' tips for treating darker skin tones, men's skincare, and inner beauty.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU GIVE TO WOMEN FOR TREATING BLACK SKIN?
You know, we have little sayings like black don’t crack. It does. We get sunburned. We get discoloration. You see hyperpigmentation. Not from products, but from the sun, from diabetes. So it’s just trying to help them to learn about themselves. It’s just teaching them to care for their skin, to drink water and get facials.
ON THE SUBJECT OF HYPERPIGMENTATION…
Once you encourage your clients and educate them on the importance of sunscreen, there is no issue. And no spot treating. I teach them to use the product all over. The only thing is, with our skin, you need to make sure you’re not going in too deep. You have to go in slowly to introduce something, and once you gradually increase it, there’s no backlash. The skin does really well. It’s just that our skin is more sensitive than Caucasian skin. And that’s the biggest issue that other cultures have. We’re dark, so I think we look strong in appearance, but the skin is extremely sensitive.
ARE THERE INGREDIENTS THAT YOU DON'T RECOMMEND FOR BLACK SKIN?
Just benzoyl peroxide at a high percentage. That’s not something I would give to my clients because it causes bleaching and therefore it discolors us.
WHAT ABOUT HYDROQUINONE?
Black women love hydroquinone. Lightening our skin just a little bit gives the appearance of rejuvenated skin. It makes us look younger. And it doesn’t cause discoloration once it is married to sunscreen.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR ESTHETICIANS THAT DON'T NORMALLY TREAT DARK SKIN TONES?
The only advice I have for them is to gradually increase percentage when it comes to serums or vitamin As, and they’ll be just fine. Don’t be scared of it. Just understand that our skin is actually more sensitive than Caucasian skin.
DO YOU TREAT MANY MEN AND DO YOU FIND THAT THEY'RE LESS AWARE, OR LESS INTERESTED IN SKIN CARE THAN WOMEN?
I do treat a lot of men. They’re usually referred by their wives. They do tend to ignore skin care more than women do. Men aren’t judged by their face the way women are. I find once you get a man engaged, it’s very important to educate him. Once you talk to them and get them engaged, they’re the most loyal clients. Wives will cancel, reschedule, those men are on the bed and happy to lay down and get their skin cleaned up.
IS THERE A DIFFERENCE IN THE WAY MALE SKIN IS TREATED?
No, the verbiage is just different. I’ve learned not to say, “moisturize,” for instance, because it makes them feel feminine.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO HAVE A PROFESSIONAL FACIAL?
If someone tries to do extractions on themselves, they’re going to end up with dark marks and discoloration. They need a professional steamer that’s really going to soften the skin and get things to the surface. And a professional is going to go through every pore. It’s important to go through every inch of the skin because you always find something lurking in there. I’ll go ahead and do extractions on myself. I mean, let’s be real, I’m an esthetician, we’re addicted to getting things out. And even with myself, I can’t go over every inch of my face. I have to have one of my staff members do it for me. And also, I think it’s important to get pampered.
WHAT'S YOUR SKIN CARE OR BEAUTY PHILOSOPHY?
My philosophy has nothing to do with skin care. Beauty is from within. Beauty is just definitely a personality, it's a warmth that comes forth. It’s never surface.
BEST ADVICE FOR ANY SKIN: Icing. Especially after facials.
MOST IMPORTANT THING FOR SKIN HEALTH OTHER THAN PRODUCT: Drinking water.
BEST THING ABOUT THE JOB: Making someone feel beautiful.