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Raquel Medina-Cleghorn, an esthetician and the manager of our New York Studio, slipped into my DM’s and the rest was history. A former stylist, who was embarking on a new career, Raquel was inquisitive, well educated, a fellow Aquarian, and got me from that first DM. She is a terrific student who was solely trained under me, and one of the strongest estheticians in the studio. She is calm, cool and collected, and a terrific problem solver with a great sense of humor. And, I, of course, appreciate and take advantage of her incredibly stylish eye.  

Where are you from?

I’m from San Diego. Although I’m very Californian, I have been living in NYC for ten years and I don’t plan to leave, so I’ve begun to consider myself a New Yorker.

Why did you become an esthetician?

Skincare has been my hobby and my passion for a long time. After several years in fashion, I realized I wasn’t feeling inspired or rewarded the way I once was. When I looked at what I spent my free time doing, it was researching ingredients and learning about skincare, so it felt like a very natural move to make.

What do you love most about your job?

Well, the first thing I love is that I actually have two jobs, managing the studio and seeing clients. The two roles utilize different skill sets, which is great because it keeps things fresh. As a manager, I love being able to oversee every aspect of the studio, and I get to use the logistical skills I developed as a stylist assistant when I was doing things like organizing location shoots. As far as being an esthetician, my favorite part is that every facial is like a new science experiment. I’m a natural problem solver, so I really enjoy trying to identify what my clients can change in their routine to get the results they want. That, and the extractions. 

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

Although you’d probably disagree, I’m actually really shy! It’s challenging for me to open up to so many people each day. I’m always really happy when I do, though, because the treatment room is such an intimate place and without fail, I learn something really interesting and unique about each client.

How did you decide to DM me?

I had my sights set on working with you! Your Instagram story which I replied to featured Eva with the Celluma LED panel over her hands. The way it was captured made the light look blue, which was odd to me because blue light is primarily used for acne. I DMed you out of genuine curiosity, and when you wrote back to say the light was red I knew I had to take advantage of that moment when I had your attention. The rest was luck, or maybe fate!

What are your top 3 must-have products and why?

Oooh, this one is hard. The three most important steps are Cleanse, Tone, Moisturize, but I could use pretty much any cleanser if I had to. I would never elect to go without Biologique Recherche P50 PIGM 400, and I could happily use Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream every day. The last product is technically two but we always use them together, so I’m going to cheat and say Environ’s Derma-Lac Lotion mixed with their Vitamin A,C,E Body Oil Forte. I have legit baby skin on my body because of that combo.

What are your favorite treatments and why?

LED therapy!!!!!!!! It’s truly incredible. Anyone who comes for a facial will get the whole history behind it, so I’ll spare you here, but suffice to say it is extremely effective for a number of skin concerns. I also love microcurrent for a dramatic sculpt and lift, and I’m really into needling therapies (dermal rolling or microneedling) to increase product penetration, induce collagen production and increase glow. 

What is your cardinal skincare rule?

I think ultimately it’s about treating your skin with love. It’s like how people say that if you talk to your plants and tend to them with love, they’ll thrive. It’s the same with skin. Our skin is constantly changing and responding to different stimuli, so there isn’t one product or treatment that will benefit everyone’s skin all the time. You don’t need a 12-step routine or $800 face cream to have beautiful skin. You just have to really feel what your skin is trying to tell you and respond to that with loving care. Take time to practice your skincare routine, make it a meditation if you can. Don’t be rough with it. And if your skin is giving you trouble, seek the advice of a professional. 

If you had to live in one (or two) designer’s clothing for the rest of your life, who would it be?

Only two??? That’s like asking me to choose only three products! ;) One would have to be Molly Goddard, to satisfy my rainbow-hued poofy tulle gown fantasy... the other would be Ann Demeulemeester for the slouchy goth wearing 19th-century undergarments look. Honorable mentions go to Dilara Findikoglu, Simone Rocha and Dries Van Noten. 

Tell me a secret.

I don’t know if it’s a secret, per se, but something not many people know about me is that when I was 20 years old, I wanted to become a professional taxidermist. I learned how to do field mounts while volunteering with the Natural History Museum’s Ornithology Department, and I wanted to take it a step further. I had narrowed my search down to two “schools”, one in Montana and one in Louisiana, and was scouring Craigslist for RVs to live in while I learned how to stuff animals. I don’t remember what caused me to abandon that plan, but I’m pretty happy with the direction life has taken me… and if you find a bird you want stuffed I’m your girl.