Interview with a skin specialist: Fiona Harlowe

Thanks to the magic of Internet, I got to connect with Fiona Harlowe, and I’d like for you to know more about her and her fascinating story.
Fiona Harlowe is an international facialist, with a focus on better ageing. She currently conducts her own skin care clinic in Spain, and is also about to launch her own skin care line. Fiona has an extensive knowledge about skincare, combining Western and Eastern beauty traditions (such as Ayurveda) and I find her approach to skin and overall beauty insightful. If you follow her, you’ll see that she’s never short of precious beauty and wellness advices. She was kind and gracious to answer several questions, ranging from the SPF debate to the impact of nutrition, and share her wisdom  for the blog.

What motivated you to become a Facialist?

I have always been drawn to herbs and massage, even as a child I used to try to make my own rose water by crushing petals!  I travelled up India on a motorbike in my twenties and begun a lifelong fascination with Ayurveda, ‘The Science of Life’. I retrained as a Beauty Therapist at 30 and was immediately drawn to specialising solely in massage and skin.  Not only did I discover an infinite passion for working with the skin, I found I had a natural, and powerful touch.  As someone with adult acne myself I also have an authentic empathy for those living with challenging skin conditions. My own skin journey and personal holistic approach to my own life has lead to me developing a unique integrated skin practice which combines a modern take on ancient techniques with technical, skilled skin work.  Built on the principals of love, touch, gratitude, grounding and intention this gets real results especially on difficult and damaged skin and translates, with dramatic effect, on those with younger, less challenging skin.

On a scale of 1 – 10 (10 being the highest) how much would you rate the impact of a healthy and active lifestyle on our skin?
Without a doubt it’s a 10! The longer I work with the skin the more I understand that the words we say and think, the food we eat, how we move, breathe, stretch and hold ourselves, the actions we take and how we live our lives literally shapes our features, our body and our skin.  The love that we have for ourselves is reflected in the care we take of our bodies and our life and this shows in our face.
What is the most common skin care mistake?
Not taking responsibility for our skin, which comes from a place of not loving ourselves enough.  Forgetting that our skin is a functioning organ of the body and that as such it simply mirrors our
inner health, balance and well-being.  Somehow we expect our skin care products to work miracles on our skin without fully acknowledging that they are just one piece of the jigsaw.  Not acknowledging our personal responsibility for the health, look and feel of our skin is definitely the most common mistake I see and this lack of responsibility comes from a lack of self love.
As a facialist, I love skin care products and using the right ones really does make a huge difference to our skin – to remember exactly how much difference they make I only have to try out products that don’t work on my own skin as my acne will immediately flare up! However, the role skin care products play in how our skin looks sits alongside eating a varied, vibrant plant-based diet, moving and stretching everyday, living an authentic life, being in healthy relationships, being grounded yet connected to our inner spirituality and of course all of this comes from the foundation of a strong and genuine self love.
Is less is more the way to go in our skin care routine?
It depends on the skin.  I believe there are some skins that benefit from multiple skin care products being layered but only when each product is specifically targeted to specific skin conditions.
There are also times when skin care rituals need to be stripped right back and the ‘less is more’ rule applies. This is particularly pertinent for reactive skin with flare ups and/or breakouts.
 
You have an extended knowledge about sun-damaged skin.  Now, should one wear sunscreen everyday?
Having worked in Southern Spain for 10 years my experienced answer is a resounding yes! There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that wearing sunscreen, avoiding harsh weather conditions and not having much direct sun exposure leads to a less environmentally damaged skin.  I see this every day in my Spanish Clinic.  If you want your skin to be less damaged my advice is to wear, and reapply your sunscreen every two hours (or sooner if your skin burns easily – remember the number of the SPF refers to the number of minutes it protects for after your normal ‘point of burning’).  Everyday in Spain I treat women who have a real skin age of 5, 10 and sometimes 20 or 30 years older than their chronological age and the majority of that accelerated skin ageing is caused by harmful UV rays in sun and daylight.
 
What would be your No.1 tip for (a) oily skin (b) dry skin (c) sensitive skin (d) mature skin?
My number one tip in relation to this question would be to not think of these skin conditions as separate. We can be experiencing multiple skin conditions at any one time and we need to build our own unique skin care ritual prescriptions around these multiple skin needs. However, if you are looking for just one product that I would recommend to help the skin whatever the skin conditions presenting I would give a general recommendation of oil.  In Ayurveda the word for oil is the same word as the word for love.  When we anoint our skin oil we envelop it in love. Pure oils are beautiful and balancing for all skins, although we can chose specific oils for specific skin conditions, oil will regulate an oily skin, nourish and plump a dry skin.  Oil also encourages us all to touch our skin more by providing the perfect base for massage and it’s by massaging our skin with the Intention of love and well-being that we create skin magic!
Do you have any favourite green Skin Care Brands?
I am known for being a very ‘fussy Facialist’!  I approach all skin care products with an open mind and a healthy pinch of scepticism – I believe the marketing in the Skin Industry is frequently more powerful than the products – and I’m afraid this applies to the ‘green’, ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ skin industry as well!  ‘Natural’ doesn’t always mean better, or even good and certainly it doesn’t mean it will automatically be good for our individual skin.  I work with a small selection of cherry-picked Products that I have tried and tested and are proven to get real results on even challenging skin conditions.  I also handblend my own products and teas with carefully sourced organic cold pressed oils, herbs, spices, clays, essential oils and crystals.
With these I create individually targeted skin prescriptions uniquely designed for each clients skin needs and have an ever expanding range to hand as I discover more Products that pass my strict tests! Other than my own, here are some of the skin care product ranges that form the core of my Skin tool kit at the moment:
Medik8:  Chirally correct and Industry acclaimed for its green chemistry.
Live Native:  Raw, vegan, organic and adaptagenic Live Native are beautifully blended and powerful.  Live Native gives very visible results on even the most difficult and challenging skin.
Mullein & Sparrow:  Handmade in New York, I love their makeup-as-skincare All Natural Tinted Lip & Cheek Balm.  This is my must-have better ageing make-up product (above and beyond the popular choice of mascara!) as what could be more vital than a dewy, fresh glow?
Dermalogica:  There are a handful of Dermalogica products that I couldn’t live without including their Super Sensitive Shield SPF 30 which protects and soothes even the most reactive skin.
What is your favourite way to unwind?
I cherish spending quiet time at home with my partner and five cats. At home in Spain I am blessed to be able to take early morning and late night swims in the long summer and I have an amazing yoga teacher whose guided mediation is guarenteed to help me switch off.  I love my work so much that I struggle to take time out, but I have a daily routine of stretching, meditation and gratitude which grounds and roots me firmly to the earth. I strive for balance in every part of my life and enjoy daily dark chocolate and herbal tea with strong coffee as a treat.
Do you have a favourite quote/or favourite book?
I love this prayer I learnt from Gabrielle Bernstein via Katie Dalebout (I have adapted it slightly) and I say it every morning or whenever I feel I need guidance, strength or courage during the day:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both of these prayers I have find to be transformative, powerful and grounding.

I saw that you are planning to launch your own brand, can you tell us more about it?
Yes!  Everything is very exciting at the moment! As a skin care consultant I am privileged to work with some inspiring skin care companies designing unique treatment and protocols
and developing skin and massage therapies in spas, salons, clinics and shops.   I am also in the process of opening my own Better Ageing Skin Space in Spain which will not only have beautiful treatments, skin specific yoga, meditation and carefully selected cherry picked skin care products and nutritional supplements I have sourced from all over the world but also my own most popular blends which will be available for the first time. You will be able to buy all of these, as well as virtual skin consultations with me, on my new website which will be launched shortly!
The biggest and most heartfelt thank you to Fiona for having taken the time to answer all my questions and share so many great informations! If you haven’t already, I can only invite you to follow her on social medias : Instagram and/or Twitter because her advices are incredibly useful, and she’s a wonderful person to connect with, kind and caring. Also, stay tuned for her exciting launch and new website here.


Take care,

Liz
Liz

Green hunter, wellness junkie and pun maker on the website, I'm on a journey towards a kinder and healthier life. @lizthegreenspirit on Instagram.

8 Comments
  1. I really admire her approach to health and beauty! I, as well, have a fascination with Ayurvedic practices so I found this enlightening. And thanks for the helpful information about SPF too.

    1. My absolute pleasure! Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂 I'm fond of Ayurveda too, especially when it comes to hair care. I had to ask about SPF, there are so many contradictory articles about it, I wanted to be able to know once and all 🙂 xx

  2. Great piece Liz! I loved this quote:
    "The longer I work with the skin the more I understand that the words we say and think, the food we eat, how we move, breathe, stretch and hold ourselves, the actions we take and how we live our lives literally shapes our features, our body and our skin. The love that we have for ourselves is reflected in the care we take of our bodies and our life and this shows in our face."

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