Keen to be more holistic in your approach to skin? We talk to Chiza Westcarr at All Saints Skin Clinic in Sydney about how she has added nutritional medicine to the clinic’s treatment offering. The result? Tricky skin issues are being solved and business is getting a boost.
Always passionate about what is going on beneath the surface, skincare professional, Chiza Westcarr, decided to retrain in nutritional medicine. She is now working her magic as the nutritional and skincare expert at All Saints Skin Clinic, the practice of leading Sydney-based aesthetic physician, Dr Joseph Hkeik. We visit Chiza at All Saints to talk about the importance of getting the skin healthy; not only with good home care but with good health too.
Why did you decide to add nutrition to your expertise?
I like to not just treated what I see but to do some exploring. When I trained as a beauty therapist, we were taught to eat healthily but what does that really mean? There was never really that focus on skin and internal health and there was nothing in terms of supplementation.
I am very passionate about nutrition and believe you really need nutrition when you are making decisions about putting a skincare program together for your clients.
You have joined the medical arena rather than stick to a beauty salon, why is that?
As a skin expert who has come through beauty therapy, we often know more about the skin that the doctor does. There is a disconnect between mainstream medicine and nutrition. When I did my health science degree we did a complete unit on nutrition subject but there was no connection with skin. Nutrition was on its own. I think you will start to find more and more practices taking on a nutritional expert; clients are coming in for a solution and if she isn’t getting it from you, she is going to get it from someone else.
How often are skin issues diet related?
I try to look into their lifestyle to find out what the problems might be and 99 per cent of the time is comes down to what they are eating. Take thrush for example. I had one lady who had really red skin. She ate a lot of processed food and so I asked her if she suffered from thrush and she said “how did you know?”. Thrush feeds on sugar in the gut. It all starts in the gut. A lot of skin issues start in the gut.
Rosacea is another skin issue related to diet. I had one client with rosacea and she was eating a lot of processed food and drinking a lot of alcohol.
What do you do for a client who is unwilling to change their lifestyle…?
It is really interesting, sometimes when I bring up that it might be alcohol, suddenly the skin issue isn’t as important anymore – they just don’t want to change. I give them home care products and perhaps some laser to shut down the vessels but unless you address the underlying cause – that might be alcohol, or spicy food, or stress – you aren’t going to get the results you really want.
How do you get the gut functioning well?
You need to get the gut sealed – bone broth is fantastic for healing the gut. Fish oil is fantastic. And also probiotics. Thrush occurs when the bad bacteria has taken over and your gut is trying to bring the gut back into balance, causing all your inflammatory conditions such as rosacea and acne and eczema.
What if people want a quick fix?
Dr Hkeik’s approach is all about having a strong foundation. You start with a strong skin base and then you go from there. If the canvas hasn’t been prepared, Dr Hkeik’s work is not going to look good so Dr Hkeik will always bring them in to see us about their skin. We will have a chat and we will get them on a program that gets their skin healthy and hydrated, so that when Dr Hkeik does his work, the results will be impressive.
How long can people expect changes in their skin quality?
It depends. Everybody starts from a different baseline. So you might get someone who has been careful with their skin – aways worn a hat, always worn sunscreen and kept up a skincare routine, perhaps without the actives – they might only have more subtle signs of ageing so you would have less work to do. Alternatively, you might have someone who has been a surfer all their life and has really thick and leathery skin. But we normally say about 8 weeks to really getting the skin looking fantastic.
So you are really educating people on both skincare and their health.
Yes, we try to educated people on skincare products. We are all about skin health as a focal point. If people come in and say they don’t want to do all that [skincare] we say no to them; we tell them we don’t want work on skin that isn’t healthy. In the scheme of things, eight weeks is nothing, you’ve had your skin for 35 years, give us a couple of weeks. And you really can see the difference in two weeks.
What are some of the most popular treatments?
Lasers, skin tightening machines – and chemical peels are very popular. Our peels are all about skin building; Vitamin A has been amazing for us in the industry.
What role does social media play?
Instagram has been fantastic for us. A lot of young girls will hop on Insta and see who is using what and who is doing what. We get a lot of people coming in because they have seen beautiful skin on Insta. Our focus is definitely on the skin side of things – Dr Hekik [is known for his work with] injectables so people come in specifically for injectables and then he brings them over to us [to analyse their skin]. We have more people coming in to see us for skin than anything else now.
If they want injectables, like now, what happens?
He would give the patient what they needed and then refer them to us to put them on a skin program so that in a couple of months, the skin will look amazing and the treatment is enhanced.
What skincare do you recommend at All Saints?
Do you blend your brands when recommending skincare?
I am a purist and I tend to look at what is going to get the results, what is going to get the change that a client is after. I tend to stick to brands because I think they have a synergistic effect, but I there is something that is quite amazing in another brand then I will bring it in. We really try to get the best for the client so we tailor each treatment plan to the individual’s needs.
What is really special about having a skincare program tailored to the individual?
One of the things we do is listen to the patient. It is about what they think and what they feel. We’ve learnt not to say, ”oh you’re concerned about that…? what about the pigment on your cheek?” We let that patent guid the conversation. We get them onto the bed and analyse their skin under the woods lamp, which shows everything. They are holding the mirror and they can see exactly what is there, then we discuss the concerns together. I will discuss why they have got what they have got and then when I have done the treatment I can plan to work out how to treat your concerns. We also like to give them options.