Talk about beauty: Why beauty is important and why dermoi?

interview of the founder of dermoi Elena Reva about beauty and what beauty means to her

Interview with The Founder of dermoi! Elena Reva

Beauty – a dictionary definition tells us it is ‘The quality in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit’.
Sounds great, doesn’t it?
Who wouldn’t want to exalt someone’s spirit just by walking down the street?

Q: Elena, can you tell us about yourself?

I am originally from Russia where the gender ratio is currently 86.8 men per 100 women (compared to the UK where there are a whopping 97.19 males to every 100 females). It’s funny I sometimes wonder whether such demographics are responsible for how dressed up we Russian women are. People give you a funny look if you don’t have a blow dry and a full face on – its just the same look you get here when you do (ha-ha-ha)

My life now is very different to what it was growing up. I’m originally from a small Siberian town, which was, though you wouldn’t think it to look at me (winky) still behind the iron curtain whilst I was growing up. As soon as the Soviet Union collapsed my life changed forever.

I had grown up with no opportunity to travel and suddenly I had the right to explore the world. I was young and hungry for experience so, at pretty much the first opportunity, and with 10 dollars in my pocket, I made my way to Moscow in search of a better life.

I studied Russian Language and Literature and had a passion for languages so luckily I learned English quickly and did what any plucky 21 year old girl would do and…got myself a job selling construction silicones and other hi tech chemical products to extensive Russian market.

Really this ended up being the beginning of a really exciting journey, which eventually led me to become one of the most successful property agents working in Central London. When I am asked how I managed to succeed in property in London, which is such a male dominated business, I can’t help but laugh.

I spent years working in environments where I was the only woman. My Dow Corning office in Vienna did not have any women at all and I remember long, difficult days educating myself on chemistry and construction whilst simultaneously sending trucks and barrels to numerous construction sites of future skyscrapers. I knew I had to be strong and never expose doubt. On the top of it I was always Russian those days.. What it means?? – you always maintain an appearance that is flawless, the armour has to be perfectly on (HA-HA-HA)

Q: How did you get into property business in London?

After I met my future husband Chris, who is English, we decided to live in Moscow but luckily created a plan B – why not to try to establish a property business in London? And I tried.

Pretty much every door was closed in my face. London’s male dominated property business was neither charmed by my Russian glamour, nor by any promise to bring plenty of business from my homeland.

But I was persistent. I kept my head held high, my manicure immaculate and persevered.

I remember meeting with the biggest property developer in UK Land Security, when the PA of the Head of Sales Tom Ashelby strongly recommended him not to meet with me, as I might be a Russian spy.

Funny – right?? I may love a good trench coat and sunglasses, but I am not a secret agent.

I love good trench coat says elena reva the founder of dermoi

Q: What do you think helped you to succeed in property business? Half a billion of sales of properties and some fascinating property development projects – it’s not easy to achieve in such saturated market like London? Was it your luck, confidence, hard working or beauty, even?

Luck, confidence, hard work and beauty are all the same thing to me as all together they make your personality, and they are all interconnected.
Beauty forms confidence, confidence makes you beautiful, your luck is a result of you being confident and hard working. Hard working is an integral part of your confidence and beauty.

That’s why two years ago I decided to do a 180 and change my successful career in property and start to explore the world of beauty.

After all wasn’t that the best bit about working in property? Being part of creating beautiful spaces?

And I had the feeling that a vital part of my success story was my ability to keep hold how important it was to feel beautiful and fierce no matter how challenging the situation.

And I had the feeling that a vital part of my success story was my ability to keep hold how important it was to feel beautiful and fierce no matter how challenging the situation.

Q: Let’s talk about beauty. What is beauty for you? How will you describe it?

Beauty is a force that shapes our lives. Interesting to see how beauty has manifested over time. Have we always felt the same way about beauty?

What did it mean to be beautiful at different moments in history?

 

did standards of beauty change over time

Was being attractive in Tudor times the same as being hot in 2021?…

Or how about in the 18th century?

What was the body beautiful then?

beauty and different centuries in interview of Elena Reva to dermoi

Did Hollywood invent beauty as we know it today?

did hollywood invent beauty in dermoi interview

Or did the 90’s supermodels have it zipped up once and for all?

Or have anticipated the beauty dynasty that was to come with the Kardashians?

Its pretty clear that our idea of beauty is not fixed… its ever changing.

We might defend some idea about objectivity when it comes to beauty… by trying to define beauty as simply ‘symmetry’, ‘balance’ or ‘an appearance of good health’.

But we are capricious and inconsistent and easily influenced. Standards of beauty have always shifted over time. What was hot last century might be totally passé the next.

The beauty ideal is rooted in our ever-shifting cultural norms and is constantly in a state of recreation.

Of course it’s problematic for this reason. I’m well aware that I’m a reasonably tall, blonde Russian woman speaking to you about beauty. And maybe my particular brand of beauty is in vogue at this moment in history.

There’s a huge predominance of white women in movies and advertising… there’s still a very Eurocentric vision of beauty. I don’t know if anyone’s seen the wonderful Ted Talk by Cameron Russell, talking about her experience of being a high fashion model. She talks about how she’s won the ‘genetic lottery’ by being tall and pretty and white. Only 4% of catwalk models at the time of broadcast were non- white.

The fashion and beauty industry currently favours youthfulness and thinness and whiteness.

BUT if we recognize that this is just the type of beauty which is most celebrated right now then we can also acknowledge that it could change. If the concept is narrow and punishing it’s only a version and could transform expand to include a more multifarious vision of beauty

How do we expand our understanding and perception of beauty?

How do we all find a place to celebrate ourselves in all of our glorious variety?

My work at this moment is about trying to get under the skin of what beauty really feels like, to try to get to something essential and to make this available to as many people as possible.

To take it away from the superficial to something more complete.

BUT if we recognize that this is just the type of beauty which is most celebrated right now then we can also acknowledge that it could change. If the concept is narrow and punishing it’s only a version and could transform expand to include a more multifarious vision of beauty

 

BEAUTY IS IMPORTANT

If we can be brutal, for a moment … attractiveness/ beauty/ prettiness/ hotness … whatever we want to call it is a powerful force in our world.

The very unfair reality is, that so called ‘attractive’ people have an easier time of it.

-Companies with attractive CEOs might make more money.
-If you’re attractive, strangers might assume you have a happier life.
-People who are perceived as attractive are more likely to get hired for jobs and seem trustworthy

This is what we call the Halo effect… we instinctively associate virtue with beauty … as bizarre as that may be.
In 1972, psychologists Karen Dion, Ellen Berscheid, and Elaine Walster conducted a study to see just how beauty elicits the halo effect. The subjects, however, were told that the study was focused on first impressions. Each person received three envelopes containing three photographs that the researchers had rated on a scale of attractiveness—highly attractive, average, and not so attractive.
The subjects had to look at the photographs and then judge 27 different personality traits. They had to determine which person in the set of photos possessed traits like altruism, stability, etc. Then they had to judge whether these people were happy, along with their marital, parenting, and career status.
The results? With nothing but a picture to base their judgments, participants judged that highly attractive people possessed most of the positive traits, and possessed them more strongly, than others. They were also seen as happier and more successful, as better parents and as holding better jobs.

There’s obviously something profound going on about first impressions.

How we hold ourselves in the first moments of an encounter may set the tone for how the relationship to this person or situation will unfold.

I know this.

I am certain that my adherence to this particular cultural legacy as a Russian woman, of making myself feel put together each day, helped me in my work. In an environment where I constantly had to insist on having my voice heard I made sure I felt as confident and composed as was possible.

It wasn’t a case of having to feel like the most beautiful woman in the world, but rather the fiercest version of myself that I could be.

For me beauty is about feeling strong and vitalized and ready for anything.

My work at this moment is about trying to get under the skin of what beauty really feels like, to try to get to something essential and to make this available to as many people as possible.

To take it away from the superficial to something more complete.

Q: Do you think ‘Beauty’ and ‘Health’ are the same thing? Saying ‘Beautiful’ do we mean ‘healthy’ and vice versa???
And what is the connection between beauty and health?

There has always been some correlation between the two… beauty in men and women often having been described as appearing virile or fertile… in a state of healthy readiness to re-produce!

But beauty has, over the years, made cruel demands of us.

The beauty ideal has demanded that women wear corsets, which might restrict breathing and even break bones, men have been persuaded to pump themselves with steroids to get that Adonis look. And in recent years women have been taught to starve themselves to achieve that size zero appearance.

dermoi tech concept

But things are changing in earnest now as the gap between health and beauty closes.

This is exciting really… rather than looking beautiful in a way that might be damaging your health we are moving towards putting our well being at the centre of everything.

We’re working towards a beauty that celebrates vitality, strength and feeling well.

We’re working towards a beauty that celebrates vitality, strength and feeling well.

Q: Wellness is a huge trend right now. How is it connected with beauty?

Unless we were lucky enough to grow up in an Italian village eating fresh tomatoes and olive oil… most of us will remember growing up with a pretty different diet to what we have now. I am not even mentioning ‘Soviet Union’ diet when potato, eggs and bread were pretty much the only food we had in winter time. Fruits did not exist in winter and all vegetables like tomatoes and cucumber were marinated in summer to be consumed in long winter months.

It is different now – right?! This is something we all celebrate- eating well to nourish our bodies and maintain our health.

It’s the same thing with exercise… the importance of regular exercise for our physical and mental health is widely acknowledged…

I believe that skincare should happily live along side these principles and deserves to be taken just as seriously.

Like eating well and exercising, taking care of our skin is an active process, which makes us feel good.

fitness and skincare have to be hand to hand

I believe that skincare should happily live along side these principles and deserves to be taken just as seriously.

Like eating well and exercising, taking care of our skin is an active process, which makes us feel good.

Q: ‘Scientific skincare and Scientifically proved facial treatments’ – why science behind skincare is so important to you? Why scientific skincare became the basis and the main concept of dermoi?

Science and knowledge are the power.

The reality is that the beauty industry exists because of our dearest hopes to be beautiful and our deepest fears about not being quite good enough.
We all know those advertising campaigns where a woman becomes 20 years younger in a fortnight… a raisin becomes a grape… or cystic acne disappears in a couple of seconds …
I don’t want to burst too many bubbles… but the woman in a white coat holding a test tube in the advert for night cream is not a real doctor

The truth about most big skin care brands is… that they have huge marketing budgets… and this is where the money is going, on taking excellent photographs of the pretend dermatologist and not necessarily on developing high quality products. They are masters of creating a consumer experience but not necessarily at creating effective treatments.

These brands have completely saturated the market. I think as consumers we are naturally inclined to trust these companies. We’ve grown up with them… they have always been there.

These familiar brands exist on a scale from regular affordable products that most of us have in our bathrooms to high end luxury versions encased in beautiful boxes which could be mistook for containing the crown jewels or a highly dangerous nuclear compound. I know that I certainly looked forward to being able to afford one of these luxury products, which promised the earth and was sure they would deliver something wonderful.

The thing was that when I got to the point in my career where I was able to afford a really fancy cream I find myself a little bit confused when the effect was just the same as what I achieved from the regular affordable brands I had started out with.

What was going on?
This is when I began to become very curious about the ingredients and the science behind these products.
• What did words like Gluconolactone mean?
• What was urea doing in a day cream?
• What really was skin caviar? Could I add it to a crudité?

This was when I really began to realise what an advanced science skin care was and that that most of us never got anywhere near a product that would help us at all.

And the good news? There are really talented scientists and dermatologists doing incredible research all the time. There are laboratories making breakthroughs in skin science every day.

It’s just that these cosmeceutical achievements have mainly been confined to the niche market.

I’m excited about reshaping the beauty industry.

Rather than working with pipe dreams … we will work with realities.

I believe we’ve been held to ransom for too long… not knowing enough about what’s being sold to us.

Every tried reading the ingredients list on the back of a moisturiser?… aqua? Fine.. glycerin.. got it .. but then you’ll probably find something like microcristallina dimethicone alpha isomethyl ionone phenoxyethanol…

Who can possibly understand what these words mean?? And what exactly they are doing to your skin??? Ingredient list is to be shown on the bottle of cream or serum but in order to understand the meaning you need to be at least a graduate of specialized pharmaceutical courses .. it would be funny if it were not so sad!

It’s basically impossible to know what we’re slapping on to the most absorbent organ in our body.

When I was able to afford a fancy cream, what did I think would happen when I put this magical formula on to my skin? Hopes were high… but really I discovered that what I might find inside a jar of high end skin care product was pretty much identical, ingredients wise, to a tube of your basic moisturiser from Boots … after spending time understanding the science of the formulas I realised that it’s pretty much the same harmful stuff…

Caudalee serum ingredients list beauty article

Here is a typical example of a luxury serum which is selling at all big stores worldwide at £90 and claims that ‘its powerful formula regenerates the skin, restores its density and smoothes wrinkles’.
Majority of ingredients which we marked by red, yellow, blue.. all colors except black – are either don’t do anything to your skin or do a lot of harm. This product will not fight signs of aging because there are no ingredients that can do this job. It is essentially just a moisturiser with plant oils, a lot of fragrance and a few antioxidants.

This product is a not an exception – it is a rule.
But how it is possible for a normal person to understand all this science? How to avoid paying £90 for the product that burns your hope and damages your skin?

Q: Then is it physically possible to find at the market effective scientific products that can do real change to the skin? Those that do what they promise?

The science is EXCITING… there’s so much innovation.

Bona fide cosmeceutical products with active ingredients like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, peptides, growth factors (in high enough concentrations to be effective) are out there.

The difficulty is, that there is so much on offer. Take a look at the skincare aisle in any pharmacy and there’s a mountain of products plastered with scientific jargon and ingredient percentages. And with the influx of doctor-led brands comes the inevitable bandwagon of brands using medical terminology that is deliberately vague in order to jump on the trend. The words “clinical”, “professional” and “cosmeceutical” start to appear on labels and packaging of every brand of skincare, confusing matters further.

That is why I created dermoi! – the company that will never lie about the products, the company that you can trust.

Dermoi! is the place where you can safely buy any product and facial treatment and it will scientific. I want to bring all the best achievements in skincare in one place so people can choose according to their skin concerns, price level and other preferences. I think everyone deserves skincare that works and helps to keep us young and healthy!

I also believe that knowledge is power.
There needs to be a clear channel by which consumers can access products that will help rather than harm them. That is why our priority is to research and select highly scientific skincare products and treatments for the consumers and then educate consumers about what is beneficial for them.

That is why I created dermoi! – the company that will never lie about the products, the company that you can trust.

Dermoi! is the place where you can safely buy any product and facial treatment and it will scientific. I want to bring all the best achievements in skincare in one place so people can choose according to their skin concerns, price level and other preferences.

I think everyone deserves skincare that works and helps to keep us young and healthy!

Q: Why do you believe that skin is so important???

Skin and mental health

Skin is the largest organ in our bodies and the connection between its condition and our mental health is profound. In fact there’s a whole field of science devoted to understanding the connection between the two, called psycho- dermatology.

A new study reports that 10 million people in the UK have had mental health problems as a result of a skin condition. Why aren’t we connecting the dots between the two? In a study commissioned by E45, a massive 81% of us have experienced a skin problem, with a quarter (26%) saying it makes them feel depressed…

Our skin can be a signally system for how we are really feeling emotionally.

And when our skin is unhappy this can, in turn, worry and upset us so that it becomes part of a feedback loop where we can start to feel worse and worse.

They say beauty is only skin deep, well yes, skin deep is a lot. It’s hugely important.

When I started working with my skin care service I was really taken aback by how many of my clients were presenting with serious skin concerns, from adult acne to rosacea to eczema.

And the story I heard over and over was how difficult it was to get answers. People were experiencing a lot of frustration and disappointment.

One young woman who was working in my company had suffered terribly from acne. Whilst living in Spain she was prescribed a contraceptive pill as a treatment for her condition. Now at first this seemed to work like a charm and her skin looked great. But as time went on she began to really struggle with her mood. When she came back to the UK they didn’t offer the same options as Spain so she began experimenting with different pills, which eventually left her with very serious problems with her mood whilst her acne was returning. Now of course, whilst this form of hormonal contraceptive may work well for some people, it is certainly not for everyone. It is extremely powerful medication and can affect some women’s mental health profoundly. There is a problem with these sorts of medications being treated as a panacea when they may in fact be very dangerous.

You could say the same for Roaccutane that is typically used to treat adolescent acne. One of the main side effects of this drug is suicidal ideation.

Incidentally the girl from my company used a course of Accumax – natural botanical supplements that we had found in our research to be effective. Her acne disappeared within a couple of months.

Skin care is a totally unregulated industry. I don’t think this is fair when there is so much at stake.

People are spending their time and effort and really, a lot of their money looking for solutions.

The reality is that so much of what is on offer may actually be making their problems worse.

There needs to be more transparency.

The approach needs to be more scientific.

Then finally people can feel confident that they will be using a product that will actually help them.

Help them to solve their problem and help them to feel more beautiful…Fundamentally it will help them to feel better about themselves!

And as I was that girl with 10 dollars in my pocket, I want to make it clear that these solutions do not have to be expensive and exclusive. These products can be affordable and accessible. There should be the opportunity for anyone to feel and look beautiful.

I’m working towards helping people experience a true sensation of beauty for themselves.

The dictionary may describe beauty as ‘The quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind’. Let this mind be yours – take care of yourself, love yourself, be beautiful and have huge success!

There should be the opportunity for anyone to feel and look beautiful!

Elena Reva, the Founder of dermoi! had this interview with Roisin O’Mahony. We are really grateful to Roisin for her continues help!

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