Category:  pro talk

Pro Talk: Dr. Barbara Sturm

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“I started out as an orthopedic surgeon and I worked with a doctor who pioneered this system of taking a patient’s blood and processing the blood to create heated factors that works fantastically against osteoarthritis. It’s a substance you re-inject in the joints and it takes out the inflammation. I was always interested in aesthetics; I was always an artist, so I became interested in skin and  face art.

About 15 years ago, I started doing injectables like Botox and fillers. Then I transferred the knowledge of orthopedics into the skin. Skin cells and cartilage cells work the same way. So, I used those proteins that I created out of the blood to inject in to wrinkles, together with hyaluronic acid. Then I created this anti-inflammation cream for the skin. We started by creating base creams – everything without preservatives: no fragrances, no mineral oils. We put the blood into the base cream and that’s how my MC1 cream [a.k.a. blood cream] came about. It’s very good to make the pores smaller, take irritation and redness away, and heal the skin. You can also use it for scars. I mix it in a pharmacy fresh and it lasts for 5 weeks.

The method is, if you cut your finger, you know how fast the wound heals, so we trick the cells in a syringe with glass beads. The white blood cells recognize these glass beads as a broken wound and then they start producing healing factors.

I basically invented the vampire facial; this blood cocktail is highly anti-inflammatory. It has growth factors and regenerative proteins. I mix it with hyaluronic acid in different strengths. I then inject it into deeper layers or put it superficially as a topical cream. The difference between the vampire facial and the MC1 cream is that the vampire facial is a PRP technique, meaning that it’s just the blood without the glass beads in the syringe. So, what the cells create are growth factors but not all of the anti-inflammation proteins, which are super important for the skin.

About 14 years ago, after I developed Mc1 cream, I went to Hollywood and everyone started using this cream, and then they would ask me “what cleanser should I use…” I have always been very much into pure hyaluronic acid because of the benefits of injecting it into the skin so I wanted to give to my clients topically, too. I always wanted a pure hyaluronic acid in the purest concentration possible.  So, I developed my hyaluronic acid serum which are made up of short chain and long chain, allowing it to penetrate into deeper layers of the skin. It has long term effect and short term, direct boosting effect, which plumps up the skin very nicely. I also make hyaluronic acid ampules, which are a little more medical and you can take it in your bag and carry it with you wherever you go. These serums are my signature products.

I also created a cleanser that is very pure and gentle and a foam. Some men just use the cleansing foam. Men also love the hyaluronic acid ampules.

In 2009, there were two Nobel prizes given on the topic of telomerase activator, which is really the basis of my skincare line. My skincare line is the only one with the telomerase activator. In every product, there is a telomerase activator. Chromosomes have little ends, or caps, called telomeres, and with every cell division, these get shorter and shorter until it mutates or dies. So, the telomerase keep the ends of the chromosomes long so that the cell won’t die. Harvard did a study on mice which proves that the only substance to stop aging is the telomerase.

My product line has a lot of science behind it. It’s for all skin types. Some people have said that my eye cream is the best that they’ve tried.”

Dr. Barbara Sturm of Dr. Barbara Sturm Skincare

*Dr. Barbara Sturm has teamed up with actress Angela Bassett on skincare range, “Darker Skin Tones by Dr. Barbara Sturm,” that will launch in July.

Pro Talk: Colorist Amanda George

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“I grew up in the countryside of England, on the outskirts of London, and my mum used to grow loads of herbs and vegetables and flowers, and she would make bread and wine and jam. I was influenced by this early on and I would make potions and perfumes from all of the flowers and herbs. My grandma collected empty perfume bottles and every time we would go around there I would sneak a couple out. At Christmas, I would wrap them all up with the potions and perfumes and give them as gifts. Everyone would recognize the bottles and have a laugh, but that really impacted the roots of who I am. It was my start.

My father was in the movie business and when he was working at Pinewood Studios, which was close to where I lived, he would sometimes take me with him. I couldn’t really go on set so I would sit in the makeup van with all of the girls doing everyone’s makeup and hair. They’d let me play with the wigs and hold the pins… So I thought, ‘one day, I’m going to be a makeup artist and a hairdresser,’ and that’s all I really wanted to do.

So I left school and I went to a local college to get a City and Guild qualification for hair and beauty. I went for two years and when I finished, I realized that it was completely useless because to go into London and be a top hairdresser, I needed to go and do an apprenticeship, so I kind of had to start all over again.

I had decided that I didn’t want to go work on a movie set and be there at 4 a.m. because my life would be miserable, so I decided that the salon life was going to be for me. I started training with a group of salons outside of London; the guy was partners with Daniel Galvin and he trained me as a junior colorist. I then moved into London and worked at some of the top salons there, and started my career amongst the society ladies of London. At the time, I had a big love affair with London; the fashion, the music scene, Vivienne Westwood opened her store, it was all going on on King’s Road. It was really a fantastic time to be there.

In 1990, I had decided to open a salon-slash-health club with my friend who was in the gym world. It was a little cutting edge for the time as nobody was really doing it. We got a lease for a place in London, we had the plans drawn up, and then the ’90s recession hit really hard and I lost everything. So then I needed to get out of London and I moved to America with 500 dollars in my pocket. My friend who I was going to open the business with rented an apartment in Los Angeles and I decided to go with him.

I arrived, not thinking that I was going to stay, and I met someone; he was a hairdresser and he worked at Juan Juan in Beverly Hills. Within two months, I’d been offered a job there as a colorist, and Juan offered to sponsor me for my Green Card. I remember thinking that the two years in college was a complete waste of time because it was more geared towards doing the movie stuff, but it was the one thing that differentiated me from a lot of other people and helped me to get my Green Card. So, in the end there was a reason that I had done the schooling.

At this point, my career just took off; I had opportunity after opportunity, starting with working on a shoot with Oribe and doing a complete color change of Niki Taylor for the cover of Elle Magazine. I worked alongside Johnathan Gale, who was fabulous, and as soon as I had completed my five years for my Green Card, I was offered a position at the then Prive Salon on Melrose Place. I took the job, and I was surrounded by people like Andy LeCompte, who was 18-years-old when I started working there, Byron [Williams], Leanne [Citrone], Andy’s partner, Kim Vo, Laurent [Dufourg]… We were all young and just starting. It was a great time for me; I started doing color for so many celebrities, like Kate Hudson, Charlize Theron, Brittany Murphy, Rebecca Romijn.

Andy LeCompte left to go to Chris McMillan and I decided to go as well. At Chris McMillan, I met Neil [Weisberg] and that’s when I decided to open a salon with him, and we became Neil George, which was a really hot celebrity salon. We also started a product line, which was sort of a dream come true for me and a nightmare for him.

About five years ago, my friend and client Kelly Wearstler, who owned the Viceroy Hotel Group at the time, asked me if I would be interested in doing an amenity line for the hotels. The Neil George product line had already started, and I said yes and I developed a line for her within the Neil George portfolio. Simultaneously, the other part of my business – the product formulations – started to grow as well.

In 2012, Neil George disbanded and we discontinued the Neil George product line. I repartnered with Jonathan Antin, who is a reality TV show star and a hairdresser, and we started the Jonathan and George Salon. I am now procuring a new line for the Viceroy on my own called Roil. This is a lifestyle brand, not a haircare brand.

Even now, 30 years later, I never look at my job as work. I just love painting, and I’m never bored. I really love doing what I do. With products, I’m just in awe at how it always reinvents itself and how it’s always really new and exciting. I’m just thrilled to be a part of it.”

– Celebrity colorist Amanda George of the Jonathan and George Salon.

Pro Talk: George Northwood

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“My Nan was a hairdresser and she used to have these old ladies around her house and she would be doing their hair for them. I remember smelling the perm lotion and  I saw her chatting and socializing with these women and making them feel and look better. She became my inspiration and I thought it was a really fun job because to me, it was just about hanging out, chatting, and catching up. My Mum also used to have a lady come around the house every week or so to do her hair and I was fascinated by that from a young age. I used to have a loft at my parent’s house and I would play salon. All the kids would come and I would put rollers in their hair and try to perm it. Mid to late 80s, everyone had a perm so I was obsessed with trying to make hair curly.

I went to drama school for two years after graduation because I didn’t want to do hair, thinking it’s not normal for a boy to want to do hairdressing. I was beginning to be very aware of what other people might think because I was grew up in quite a small town. Drama school was great because I found confidence in myself. Alongside of that, I worked at a restaurant bar part-time to pay for school and when I finished drama school, I took on management responsibilities at the restaurant. One of the staff at the bar was a lecturer at a hairdressing college and I still very much wanted to learn about hair. She offered one-on-one training at her home and instantly, she told me I was a natural. Everything she was showing me, I was picking up very quickly. I thought to myself, I need to find a job at a salon.

I was out drinking in Bristol and I met a friend of a friend and we started chatting about how I wanted to work at a salon and go to hairdressing college. She told me to come by her salon called McQueen’s at the time. She said that she’d never trained someone so quickly and known they would be a success. She offered me a job on the spot. I had no experience, except a few one-on-one training sessions, and had just enrolled in hairdressing college which I attended once a week. To be honest, hairdressing school doesn’t teach you that much. They teach you the basics but you learn in the salon. The great thing about learning hairdressing in Bristol was that she threw me into the deep end. She gave me clients straight away and I learned about colors as well. After a couple of years there, I wanted to move to London. My sister, a colorist, had been working at a salon in London and she gave me a rundown of a few good salons.

My sister went to hairdressing school and was working at a salon called Michael Van Clark. I went about hairdressing a little differently but the profession is all in the family. I was offered a job at Daniel Hersheson, which is a big, amazing salon in Mayfair, and I went in and met them. They gave me a fast-tracked training program being a stylist, because I was already qualified from my prior experience. My starting title was as a Junior Stylist and I went back to shampooing hair. They re-trained and I built a London clientele and took on some managerial responsibilities. Part of the gig as a new stylist, you looked after the new models and new faces on the floor. One of which was the lovely Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and the other was Alexa Chung. They were 17 and 19, and I was 25, at the time. I met these girls as models and started doing their hair. Rosie moved off to New York after awhile, Alexa just landed the T4 gig, which is a weekend show for teenagers here in London.

I remember Alexa coming in with this long hair and telling me she wanted really messy, f-ed up hair but no one would do it for her. So I shredded her hair and chopped it right up. I realize now, that I’ve never been scared to do things. I just did what the client asked me to do and Alexa loved it. Alexa doesn’t deliberately try and set trends, she just does. The haircut that I’m known for is sexy and undone, basically you leave me and the whole time you’re away it looks beautiful, you don’t need to have blow dries, you don’t need to style it too much, it just sits and hangs. It couldn’t be further from the Vidal Sassoon way of working. It’s very freehand; I work visually, not technically. I move with the shape of the face. I do so many bobs a week – that’s the look – but what’s really exciting is that you’re creating something new and fresh and it’s not about a high maintenance haircut. It’s not about harsh lines, it’s about soft hair that moves and is natural. I hang out with a lot of girls and I feel like I have a good sense of what girls want and what they like. I’m really into fashion and I’m really into style and I feel like I work with girls like Rosie and Alexa and we create what we feel is right together. I work with them on trends and I keep a close eye on the shows.

Alexa said at the time – she must have been 19 – that no one else will ever cut her hair again! Around the same time, editors started to refer clients to me and as a result, I began popping up on people’s radar in London. My clientele started to really grow and then I started to do this guest spot for Shu Uemura when they launched their hair care line at Harvey Nichols. On the back end of that, I gained exposure to all of the top journalists, worked with an amazing hair care brand, created stories around hair, and in the meantime, both Alexa and Rosie’s careers were growing.

Alexa was doing a cover shoot for Company Magazine and she invited me along to do her hair. Then we did ES Magazine, Stella Magazine, and she was getting all of these requests for magazine shoots and she would request that I be the hairdresser on site. I was on these shoots at the talent’s request but at the same time, I was meeting photographers and booking agents too. In the last year, I did hair for Rosie and Alexa for UK Elle Magazine, which was amazing. The three of us have grown together, which is really nice. Most recently, Rosie and I did the Marks & Spencer campaign and with Alexa, I’ve been with her all through Fashion Week.

After 8 years at Hersheson, I really wanted to brand myself and I wanted to become my own person. I met Josh [Wood] through a mutual friend and we got along really well. He has this concept for a salon [Josh Wood Atelier; Notting Hill, London] where we’re all freelancers and we’re all self-employed, we come and go as we please, and with this idea, I have creative freedom and I can be a brand on my own, within a brand. I’m doing more freelance work, such as photo shoots, and when I’m in the country I’m at Josh’s and when I’m not, it’s because I’ve been booked for another job. In London, most celebrities and well known profiles will come into the atelier. These salons are geared for that clientele and we’re also very discreet. On the other hand, I do make home visits as well. What’s great with the atelier is that I’ve met a lot of interesting people such as Elizabeth Saltzman, Gwyneth Paltrow’s stylist, who then connected me with Gwyneth. I was really honored to work with her on the Goop Project, teaching people how to blow dry their own hair. I feel like I have a really amazing clientele and they each bring something so different as well.

Right now I’m freelancing, I’m my own boss and I love it. Who knows what’s next? I want to tap into the LA clientele in the states, maybe New York as well. I’d love to do red carpet, an Oscar season, a MET Ball season, and ideally, I’d like to split my time between here and there. London is my home and it runs in my veins. I’m very much based here and I’d like to take a little bit of London to America and vice versa.” –

Celebrity hair stylist, George Northwood

*top 3 images by Beauty Banter; bottom 3 images courtesy of George Northwood, hair styled by George Northwood

Pro Talk: Nicky Hilton X Smashbox Cosmetics

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“My sister [Paris Hilton] introduced me to makeup when I was 16 and we started going out. I never really wore makeup and when the fake I.D.’s failed, she put makeup on me and said, ‘this will make you look grown up.’ I’ve loved it ever since.

As for the cat inspiration, I think there are dog people and there are cat people. I’m definitely a cat person. I always had cats growing up. I love them; I think they’re elegant, they’re mysterious, they look after themselves, and they’re just easygoing and chill. I have two cats right now; one rescue that I found on the beach in Miami at the Soho House.

Davis Factor [of Smashbox Cosmetics] has been a friend of mine since I was a teenager and we always wanted to work together. Six months ago he called me and said that he wanted me to meet his team. We all met at the Polo Lounge and they brought bags and bags of all of their latest products, and they said, ‘What would you want to do?’ I immediately said, ‘Cat eye. I love cats and I wear a cat eye in some shape or form every single day. And I want to make a really cute kitty cosmetics bag to go with it.’ At the time, they were launching their new gel eyeliner [Photo Angle Pure Pigment Gel Liner] so we knew we wanted to put that in the kit, along with an eyeshadow trio which is reflective of my favorite cities, the places that I spend the most time in: New York, Los Angeles, and London. All of the colors in each Cat Eye Kit are reflective of the lifestyles in each city: LA is bronzy and beachy with neutrals, New York’s a little more sophisticated with a black, brown, and beige, and London is more colorful and poppy with purples. I love Smashbox’s Full Exposure Mascara, which is also in each kit.

I was very, very involved in the process and would fly from New York to LA to go to the studios and sit with the team for hours going through every color; all of the new products, the pigments, the technologies. We really spent time making these kits, and it was very important that, if I was going to put my name on something, it’s going to be very me.

All of the colors in the shadow trios really compliment each other, so you can blend them to make really pretty, different looks. With the New York Kit, I even use the brown eyeshadow as a brow powder. I use the beige shade as a highlighter and a base color for my lids. I think the secret to creating a cat eye is just being confident and going with it. A lot of people trace before and overthink it and they end up with uneven cat eyes, which is any makeup lover’s worst nightmare, including me. So I think you’ve just got to flick, and I usually get a Q-tip and makeup remover and edit any mistakes.

One of my favorite makeup application tips that I’ve picked up along the way is using white eyeliner in your waterline to make you look instantly woken up and your eyes pop.

Another tip that was passed down to me was about using eye cream and moisturizer before putting on primer. I never used to do this, but it really makes a difference. I actually started using age-preventative products when I was 17-years-old. Anti-aging eye creams, night creams – you’re never too young to start.

When it comes to makeup, if I could have only three pieces in life, they would be mascara, lip balm [Nicky is a die-hard fan of Rosebud Salve], and brow powder.”

To buy Nicky Hilton X Smashbox Cat Eye Kits ($54 each), click here.


Pro Talk: Facialist Susan Ciminelli

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“I started doing my skin when I was really little because I was prone to rashes and irritations at a very young age so I was obsessed with my skin. This started at about 5 years old. I was very active, very outdoorsy, a tomboy so I was always affected by the elements and my skin would get raw. Growing up, it was my job to do the dishes and I would feel how food touching my skin would change the texture and this got me thinking. One time I remember seeing a cousin of mine get stung by a bee and my grandmother dug deep into the ground to get to the clay level and she put it on him. At the time, it freaked me out but it took the swelling down and he stopped crying. I made that connection again. Around the same age, my feet would ache, really hurt me badly. I would dig into my foot to do reflexology, not knowing that I was actually doing reflexology on myself.

By the time I was 15, I could spot problems in people’s skin and just know how to help them and encourage them with food and lifestyle changes: how to clean their skin, how to give themselves facials at home. All because I was obsessed with learning how to take care of my own problems. It taught me so, so much. When I would go to the mall with my friends as a teenager, I would duck out and go to the health food store and sit on the floor and read all of the books. I was like a sponge for all of the information. My nickname growing up was Florence Nightingale. If you had a boo-boo, I was all over you. I would put my hands on people and they liked my energy. It would feel good to them and it was soothing. So, between teaching people how to take care of themselves and then soothing people with my touch, I had that golden combo.

At 15, my parents sent me to live in Italy. I lived with a Florentine doctor who was an acupuncturist on the side. He was able to tell me why when I touch my foot in a certain place, I would feel energy coming up my body and it would make my stomach ache go away, etc. So, he confirmed what I knew instinctively. It started me on this trajectory. This has really been my career my entire life, I was born into it.

I got my esthetician’s license when I was 19. I was living in Buffalo, New York and I started working locally. I started attracting a crowd. I’ve always been into all natural. Back then, for my massage cream, I would pick off a big, juicy aloe plant, open it up, scoop it out and use it. People would stop me on the street and touch my skin because they didn’t believe that it was real. I’ve always used essential oils, aloe, seaweed — basically, my same obsessions as now.

In 1980 I moved to New York City. When I first started doing facials, I would make my creams in the kitchen while my clients were sitting on the couch. I would go in and make stuff with my blender, melt beeswax and add stuff to it. I started on my line of products in 1983. I’m never done, I always add one or two products a year. My line is a wellness brand; it’s a natural, organic, holistic approach to aging.

Because I turned around so many people’s skin in the fashion industry, and hairdressers, who were working with the supermodels of the 90s, my clients were people like Cindy Crawford, Stephanie Seymour, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Karen Mulder. I was doing Jerry Hall at Mick Jagger’s house, Giorgio Armani, Iman.

I do shiatsu, reflexology, lymphatic drainage massage, reiki, crystal healing, and facials. I don’t only help my clients get to the root of the problem with energy flow and increasing circulation and balancing hormones naturally, I try to create homeostasis, which is a balancing in the body. When you have a problem with your skin, your skin is telling you to look inside. My approach to facials is a holistic one – mind, body, spirit balancing. It’s not only important what you eat, it’s important what time of day you eat – for example, breakfast to jump start your metabolism, and you shouldn’t eat after 8 o’clock at night because your digestive organs are on their own clock and they shut down. When you mess with the balance, you get skin problems, cellulite, water retention, low metabolism.

When I’m with a client and I’m touching them, I see how they respond to each product in my line that I’m using on them for their skin type. Every facial I do is custom because the skin is an ever-changing organ. It’s always influenced by what you do internally, even how you think and on an emotional level, which is why I use crystals. If you’re somebody who can’t take in love or can’t take a compliment, you build walls around your heart, and this actually effects circulation and makes it harder to absorb nutrients from your food and moisture from the creams that you are using. This is why I bring guided meditations into the treatment – to clear out the emotional stuff. It doesn’t really matter whose products you use or what foods you eat if you don’t have the root of the problem under control.”

— Celebrity facialist Susan Ciminelli



About Beauty Banter
Beauty Banter was launched in July of 2006 as a comprehensive beauty blog covering trends, tips and tricks, insider secrets, and weekly must-haves. Beauty Banter has a reputation of being on the cutting edge of emerging trends and product launches so our readers are always the first to know what’s hot and what’s just not.