Super-Chic Miami Spa Owner Celene Gee Can Help You Maximize Your Winter Beauty Downtime
Once upon a time there was a gorgeous gal from Toronto, a place known for blustery winds and bone-chilling cold. And this gorgeous gal - Celene Gee - along with the other fabulous females in her family (including her sis Natalie, the beauteous blonde pictured here, next to Celene) decided to head south and open a stunning spa in Miami, a place known for the polar opposite of blustery winds and bone-chilling cold.
The spa, Gee Beauty, is muy caliente, attracting both high-profile Miami types and hard-working local beauties who just want to look incredible on a daily basis. And when I found out how much Celene knows about skincare, I called her and plagued her with questions about the best ways to maximize our regimens during the so-called Florida "winter."
Off we go with our little Q + A:
FBP: Is it nuts for us Floridians to try to take advantage of the cooler months to repair our skin from damage done during the blazing hot sunshine of the rest of the year? Specifically, I'm talking about brightening sun-induced brown spots. Do you feel there's enough of an actual winter down here to do that?
GEE: I would definitely say that living in Miami, there's a summer and winter in terms of activities. In the summer, everyone's on the beach, or a boat. People are still outside and enjoying themselves year-round, but absolutely - with style and dress, for sure - you kind of embrace the season.
During the winter here, women do want to try to target their pigmentation issues. Everyone is using retinol, and talking about brightening. We have so many different nationalities, ethnicities and demographics, but the goal for everyone is bright skin.
So we think about how we're going to try to illuminate the skin. Because bright skin = a youthful complexion. So yeah, everyone is incorporating brightening, everyone is doing work with their facialist, with their dermatologist.
I don't think women here say, 'September strikes - time to target the pigmentation!' It's more about when they know they've been enjoying themselves, and indulging themselves, and they look dehydrated and in need of exfoliation.
FBP: Well, beauty and great skin and sexiness is 12 months a year here, for sure.
GEE: You find your balance though. Natalie and I always joke that when we first came here, we were very influenced by all the different styles and trends, and the Latin vibe. You think you'll be wearing a beach tunic 24/7, but you don't. You go back to your leather jacket and you make your style work. It's 73 degrees here right now, and Natalie's wearing over-the-knee boots!
FBP: Does Gee Beauty cater to a wide range of ages? And if so, what do you do differently for each one?
GEE: We treat and take care of any skin type and any age. So we have a lot of girls who come in and start with the teen facial, which is more extraction-focused, and it's about clearing the skin. They range in age from 13 to 18. By about age 25 and up, we start incorporating microdermabrasion into our treatments. It's incredibly lifting, and does a multitude of things. It plumps, refines, builds collagen and it also helps with pigmentation. We can really target spots and work together to lift them in a series of treatments.
FBP: I always think of microdermabrasion as being blasted with a face full of teensy weensy crystal bits...
GEE: That's the old micro - those really bad crystals that left you feeling red, and exposed, and raw. This is Diamond-Tip. It's crystal-free and it has a beautiful tip that really refines. And we use different tip-heads. We have smaller ones to contour around the eyes, and exfoliate those areas. You can do your chest and hands as well. Micro's really come a long way.
We also offer a series of treatments called the Medi-Multis. And we can combine them. Basically, it's stacking or layering different technologies and modalities to...not 'shock' the skin, but to give it something unexpected so it starts to repair and build collagen. We can layer a peel, we can do LED lights, we can do Micro. And we have HydraFacial, which is extremely popular here.
FBP: Love HydraFacial. I blogged about it while I was at Brides. It's really incredible.
GEE: HydraFacial is an amazing piece of technology. It basically vortex-infuses and simultaneously refines the skin like a microdermabrasion. At each stage, it infuses serums, peels, anything you like. You can 'cocktail' it. You can infuse salicylic or glycolic or peptides, or anything you want, and create the most perfect facial. You can add LED lights. It's really like the creme de la creme in terms of getting real results. And then you can add intraceutical oxygen to really firm the skin.
FBP: What products do you swear by for brightening the skin?
GEE: Retinol is the gold standard. There are a few serums we use. We like to work on a very one-on-one, customized basis. You tell us about your lifestyle - what you do and don't like, your skin sensitivities, anything you've used before and really love - and from there we cross-reference and choose the right products for you.
SkinCeuticals has two retinol serums that are quite powerful and strong, very refining - they're amazing. There's an amazing retinol from an LA facialist named Shani Darden, it's called Retinol Reform, that's a little gentler because it's infused with aloe. You can use it around the outer eye area, as well as all over the skin. And one of my favorite products is Good Genes by Sunday Riley. It's like an alternative to retinol, but it has lactic acid and it's a phenomenal refiner. Plus it plumps. It's my absolute favorite.
FBP: Do you recommend rotating products? Like, say, rotating Good Genes with a retinol?
GEE: You can definitely rotate products, or go through different phases with products, but I wouldn't use them one after the other, every other night. Natalie loves Retinol Reform, but I find I get the best results with Good Genes. That's because my skin texture is a little tougher, with large pores, and it's oily. I feel like Good Genes does the most for me.
FBP: If you're a retinol newbie, it's important to proceed with caution at first, right?
GEE: Oh yeah, for sure. We always do a consultation with retinol. You can't use any glycolic with it. And you really have to be careful with it. Especially with pure retinol, like the SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.5. A lot of people can experience a bit of redness, itching and flaking. Which is normal, but you need to know how to balance it, and re-hydrate.
And you also want to make sure not to layer a lot of other ingredients on top. We really believe that the best way to get the best result from an ingredient is to use it in its purest form possible. When someone tells us they have SPF in their moisturizer or face wash - well, you're really not getting the best benefit from it. The best form is a serum. We really encourage purity.
FBP: One more retinol Q - only at night, correct?
GEE: Yes, especially down here. You're just exposed to so much sun and sensitivity here. And then during the day we always recommend vitamin C - that's the most preventative. It strengthens and also helps with pigmentation. We always say that vitamin C is like skin insurance.
FBP: Would vitamin C go directly on clean skin? Under moisturizer or sunscreen, yes?
GEE: Yes. Thinnest to thickest. So vitamin C would be the first thing on the skin during the day. We love SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic, or Phloretin CF. And Dr. Sebagh also has a vitamin C powder that is phenomenal. Women sometimes don't like the color of CE Ferulic, but we think it's the best.
FBP: What about clean? What do you like in that category?
GEE: We definitely offer alternatives to everything, so there's a nice mix. We have about five or six non-toxic, natural lines. Tata Harper Concentrated Brightening Serum is amazing, as is Dr. Colbert. We have Colbert MD here and all of his products are really designed to brighten the skin. He has these unbelievable Facial Discs. The Tone Control disc can be used every day. The Intensify is a little stronger. Also, we love Joanna Vargas.
A lot of people talk about 'brightening,' which I find is just a gentler way of saying that you're treating pigmentation. It's probably a more glamorous way to say it. You have to work it morning and night, for sure.
FBP: Thank you! So much great information, and I now have a gigantic list of products I want to try. The next time I'm in Miami, I am so popping by to see you!