In Conversation With Adeela Crown
The celebrity facialist on her love of high-tech gadgets and the skin's ability to speak volumes about our overall well-being.
As someone who has a true passion for skincare, I just had to connect with celebrity British aesthetician Adeela Crown, one of its most exciting voices. She already had a devoted clientele before becoming the resident skin magician at the renowned spa inside the The Dorchester, London’s iconic luxury hotel, and since then she has achieved the kind of international acclaim that lands her on “World’s Best Facialist” lists. Similar to Vintner’s Daughter, Adeela combines the time-honored with the latest scientific advances in her approach to skin. Her famous ‘Skindance,’ a massage technique with elements of gua sha, Hungarian massage and acupressure, is used alongside advanced, high-tech treatments like microneedling, toning microcurrent and LED therapy. The results experienced by clients of this self-professed “gadget girl” are legendary. But, in a space where some pursue results at all costs, Adeela advocates for treating skin with love, respect and honoring all that it does for us and, in the process, honoring ourselves.
I was thrilled to have a chance to ask Adeela about some of her favorite new techniques. It is always such a treat to spend time talking to someone who shares my passion for supporting beautifully healthy skin and I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did
Thanks so much for making the time to talk. Would you share a bit about your journey into the beauty world?
Well, I belonged to the world of finance initially. I went to business school and really, I have a financial and mathematical brain. I started my career as a forensic accountant working at a big investment banking firm in New York. If you want to catch a big financial crook, I'm your girl. It challenged my brain. However, it didn't challenge me creatively. Also, that life took its toll on my body, my health, my sleep patterns and my skin was at its worst. I reached a point where I couldn't face people because my skin was so bad because of the stress, lack of sleep, lack of water, bad food, takeaways and late nights. When I came back to London, where I grew up, I used to visit a dermatologist recommended by a friend. This was 15 years ago, so they were using pretty primitive versions of lasers and derma rolling, which was like a medieval torture instrument. But my skin was changing for the better and I started to feel good. I could face people. I didn't have to hide my face with my hair. I could face people for presentations again and take the credit for the work that I had done.
There are many examples of the beauty industry creating fear and insecurity in people, but that's such a great example of the beauty industry helping you address an issue to give you back a sense of confidence.
And empowerment as well. It gave me the confidence I was severely lacking, despite being accomplished. That was the first time I actually enjoyed being in my skin. That's when it hit me that I’d been hiding in my work, the reality of how unhappy I felt and how psychologically the stress has affected me. I went back to the same dermatologist who treated me for 18 months and said, "Look, I'd love to work with you. This is amazing. This has changed my life.” I started working at that dermatology practice, which had so many people including a facial plastic surgeon, just shadowing and learning. At the same time, I was doing a part-time BSc (Bachelors of Science) in cosmetic chemistry.
Why did you decide to pursue that kind of a degree as opposed to something like cosmetology training?
I think the financial, mathematical brain inside me said, "If you want to do this, you have to understand it from the ground up. You have to understand the fundamentals.” I was literally growing bacteria in labs and just studying anatomy, physiology, chemistry, biology to understand what skin is. What do we need to do in order to preserve skin health? Is it so important to understand how the skin works from the inside in order to offer results on the outside. Meanwhile, I was working part-time with these amazing professionals to apply the science I was learning theoretically in a practical environment which helped a lot.
What do we need to do in order to preserve skin health? Is it so important to understand how the skin works from the inside in order to offer results on the outside.
We developed our products based on the belief that there are universal needs shared by all skin. What are your thoughts on that?
Yes, internally skin is skin, and all skin has exactly the same physiological and chemical structure across the board. The moment you understand that, as a practitioner, for example, it kind of demystifies skin a little. Genetics, of course, play a part, but it is really chemical imbalances in our skin that actually determine things like the pH level or how dry we will be. If you want your skin to behave well, you have to treat it with the love and the respect it deserves.
In your case, do you think leaving behind the late nights working, not eating well, stress, and all the other things that took you out of integrity and balance was just as important as all the other things you were doing topically to your skin?
Definitely. You see, I created that chemical imbalance which was the determining factor for why my skin was behaving the way it was behaving. I was the one causing stress, not sleeping well, not eating well. Although, of course, the blame is not all on me. Sometimes it's just the environment that you find yourself in, but what we do to our skin is 80% of the work.
If you want your skin to behave well, you have to treat it with the love and the respect it deserves.
I always think of beauty as connection. That connection to ourselves, that connection to our world and how we see our place in it. The belief that just standing here you are worthy. To me, that is the truest beauty. When you have that, it shines through regardless of what's actually happening.
Yes, and when you’re not treating your skin well or yourself well, it shows through. Our skin is very transparent in terms of what's happening within us, and it communicates that outwardly. After investing so much time and effort in getting a finance degree and going down a career path, to walk away was the hardest thing, but my skin was one of the ways I knew it was the best thing for me.
You really defined your own personal idea of success.
That was the first time I listened to my body and my skin, and it spoke to me and put me on a path. To be honest with you, where I am today in my career, I think I have my skin to thank. It was my body and my mind and how I was feeling which allowed me to take that leap. I probably wouldn't have had the courage to do that otherwise.
That's extraordinary. So, you have experience with almost every device, laser, all of it. Which ones do you think are actually the best for skin and really make the biggest difference?
I'm a gadget girl and I'm proud of it. There is so much that your hands can do, and you need to connect with your body through the power of touch, but there is also so much that technology can do. My clients often ask me about lasers, which belong to a family of treatments that change skin in a nanosecond, but leave you with post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, a kind of post-traumatic stress, on your skin. The healing is actually coming from within your skin, not through the laser, which just facilitates that healing by kind of shocking and hurting your skin to a point where it knows it needs to heal itself. It's your skin cells, your collagen fibers, your mitochondria that go into repair mode. Radiofrequency therapy is another one, where heat causes your skin to go into repair mode. It doesn't give you results immediately, but the results multiply over weeks and months. And of course, microcurrents are also interesting technologies which have developed a lot over the past five years so that now the devices are often a handheld size which you can plug in and use at home, such as NuFACE. My favorite, I have to say, over the years has been microneedling. If done correctly in a professional setting, it can really transform your skin. It transformed mine. It picked off my deep scarring, my pigmentation, and actually helped to regenerate so much collagen.
When you’re not treating your skin well or yourself well, it shows through. Our skin is very transparent in terms of what's happening within us, and it communicates that outwardly.
Are those the kind of rollers that you can buy and use at home?
No. In a home setting, you can go from 0.2 to 0.5 millimeter safely. At home it is essentially just for maintenance reasons. If you really want to get results, you have to see a practitioner who is very resourceful and very knowledgeable about controlling the device, which is usually a Dermapen. Those are fantastic because done at the right depth, you can create a change in your skin without lasers or peels. There is no burning the top layer of your skin as you do with lasers, no shocking the skin like you do with microcurrent and no heating of the skin like with radiofrequency. You're actually doing it just through tiny micropins which go in and out of your skin at the rate of maybe 8,000 reps per minute, depending on the device you're using, to create amazing change that multiplies over weeks and months and can sometimes last for a very long time.
Interesting. I have a professional roller at home, and I always put Active Treatment Essence on before and then afterwards, and feel like the vitamin C and the hyaluronic and all the other active ingredients can go even deeper.
And because Active Treatment Essence is also water-soluble, the molecules are so small that even without the help of microneedling, the skin just drinks it in. That's where the change happens, inside. Penetration is key because once the low molecular weight travels into the deeper layers of the skin, that's where it will bring about the change you want to see.
Similar to what you were saying before, that’s how it really triggers your skin to become the very best version of itself. It's not that you're changing the skin, it's that you're giving the skin everything it needs to perform all of its extraordinary functions.
Let me give you a car analogy. You can have the most extraordinary car, say a Porsche, in your driveway. If you do not put fuel in it, you cannot drive it. That's exactly what your skin needs. Your skin needs the fuel to perform well. That's where Active Treatment Essence is so helpful. Give the skin the right fuel and it can actually do so much. I like it for expression lines, for the lip area, for the neck and for the eye area. I think if more people understood how brilliant the product is for these key areas, we’d all look very awake and very hydrated all the time.
You can have the most extraordinary car, say a Porsche, in your driveway. If you do not put fuel in it, you cannot drive it. Your skin needs the fuel to perform well. That's where Active Treatment Essence is so helpful.
Active Botanical Serum is obviously oil-soluble, but we formulated it so that it also has a really low molecular weight. It's still your moisture and creates that occlusive layer, but the smaller particle size allows it to absorb as deep as an oil can.
When clients ask what is so different about it, apart from the botanicals, I just tell them it's literally liquid gold for your skin. The way it effectively treats such a broad ranges of skin types and skin concerns, it’s just in a completely different league. There’s something called TEWL in skincare, or transepidermal water loss. You can put all sorts of beautiful products onto your skin, but if you don’t protect them they just evaporate. Your skin is a barrier, a membrane that has an in and out flow of water all day long. If you do not seal in the hydration that you put in with moisture, which only oil-based substances can do by creating an occlusive barrier, then all that water is simply lost.
This idea of hydration and moisture is why we only have two products. When people really understand, their minds are blown. They say things like, "You mean, I don't really need that much else?" No actually, you don't. I think, for many people, there’s a huge freedom in not having a 12-step routine.
You're absolutely right. I think the aspiration of consuming as fast as you can, and as much as we can, has really been driven by marketing and has led to so much waste. There is also so much information out there now, that unfortunately it has resulted in a lot of misinformation, which has made it hard to know what's right from wrong in the skincare arena.
It's literally liquid gold for your skin. The way it effectively treats such a broad ranges of skin types and skin concerns, it’s just in a completely different league.
Now it’s time for a few quick questions. What's something people would be surprised to learn about you?
That I actually work a lot with my hands outside of a treatment setting to create pottery, design jewelry and I draw a lot. I've been drawing and sketching mostly Renaissance art from the age of fourteen. It's my hands, they just cannot sit still. I'm full of so much pent-up energy that I need many outlets of release.
If you could go on holiday anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you want to go?
I’d go to L.A. because it's my second home. I associate L.A. with a place where I can switch off. I’ve been to places like the Maldives, Seychelles and Mauritius. They are beautiful, but it gets boring for me after a while. I have so many friends in Los Angeles that it just ticks so many boxes for me. It's my happy place. My sunshine place.
If you could have anyone's singing voice, whose would you choose?
Lady Gaga. She's soulful and just very connected to her voice and the way she communicates beautifully through it. She touches I think something in everyone.
Last question. Favorite charity or non-profit?
My uncle in Pakistan runs an NGO which is focused on protection for children against abuse and child labor. It's called PAHCHAAN, which in Urdu or in Hindi means identity. Most of these children are faceless and nameless to most people. PAHCHAAN works at the local level in the Northern part of Pakistan mostly to rescue street children who would otherwise be trafficked or malnourished and help them get rehoused, reeducated and teach them skills so they can have a better future.