Well-respected across the industry, both founders have developed a reputation as being the authority on no-nonsense skincare, and their expert commentary has been cited in leading publications such as Vogue, Forbes and Stylist. Self-proclaimed skincare fanatics, their mission is to help clients swerve the hype and empty promises to find skincare products, routines, rituals and techniques that truly work for them.
What gave you the idea of a virtual skincare consultancy?Ksenia: For me, I would say we found the beauty industry very confusing even though we are both very passionate about it. When we met during our masters, we instantly bonded over our passion for the beauty industry but also realized very quickly that we both shared the same frustrations. An example of this is that there are constant new product launches, but not enough continuous innovation in services to help consumers navigate those launches and find what is right for them.
Megan: Yes, completely agree! What we realized is that the beauty industry is built on hype, trends and cult products. Consumers are led down a confusing skincare journey, trying products that are not suitable for their skin type or skin concerns, as they fall victim to shiny marketing campaigns or cool branding. That is the main reason why we created Lion/ne to help men and women reach their skin goals, whatever they may be - in the most unbiased way.
How does Lion/ne’s service work?
Megan: Unlike other services that match you based on availability, our quiz helps you find the Skin Mentor that’s right for you, depending on your skin concerns, experiences or approach to skincare shopping. Once matched, you will meet your Skin Mentor virtually in a 1:1 video call. During this 45-minute Skinterview, your mentor will gather all the information they need to assess your skin and create an accurate Skin Profile. This in-depth, completely personalized assessment will give you the full picture of your skin, covering tailored, digestible and actionable skin advice, as well as insight into the lifestyle factors affecting your complexion. Now for the best part; you will then finally find the best products to suit your skin and your skin only. Your Skin Mentor will curate a bespoke morning and evening regime, and recommend ‘boosters’ that can enhance your overall routine. As always, these recommendations are completely unbiased!
What are the most common skincare concerns you've come across and what would you advise to treat them from home?
Ksenia: This is such a hard question to answer because we do have clients aged 15 to 80 years old suffering from underlying skin conditions but who are also annoyed by certain skin moods. All our Skin Mentors are fully trained to cater to every kind of skin going! Having said that, we do have some skincare concern “trends” depending on what’s going on. We do have a lot of clients that suffer from unusual breakouts at the moment, especially this year due to maskne but also the stressful work climate we are living in. Our best advice is to first work internally by trying to find different ways to lower stress hormones but also have some anti-inflammatory ingredients to slow down the apparition of
breakouts. We also do give some holistic recommendations by explaining how diet, lifestyle and other factors might have an impact on breakouts but those are completely personalized to someone’s skin and will entirely depend on their skin needs and lifestyle.
Megan: I would add to that sensitivity and inflammation! Having rosacea, an underlying skin condition, has taught me how to adapt my skincare regime and lifestyle to maintain my reactive skin. With COVID poor skincare choices, we saw a spike in clients dealing and suffering from sensitivity. In fact, what we found was that many of our clients are over-stripping their skin with multiple exfoliants and stimulating ingredients -add to this stress and poor protection (aka no SPF) and we have a compromised skin barrier. What we recommend is to have a streamlined skincare routine focusing on rebuilding the barrier function of the skin and really making sure to know what acids, for example, you can use on your skin and what ingredients you should avoid at all costs! We tend to recommend creamy cleansers, certainly not foaming ones! Also, adding ingredients such as PHAs in their routine which are fantastic for gentle exfoliation and skin’s hydration. Afterwards, it will depend on a case to case basis!
What are the most important products in your skincare regimes?
Ksenia: Sunscreen is my number 1, especially now that my skin is prone to pigmentation and maskne. Antioxidant serum - did you know that your skin is only protected by 55% with an SPF and that the protection can go up to 96% when coupled with an antioxidant serum?
Megan: For me my cleanser is essential, if I don’t get this step right and strip my skin back then I am fighting an uphill battle. I have VERY dry skin and Rosacea so the other two essentials for me are a hydrating serum and SPF - every single day.
What advice would you give to our readers that struggle with ‘maskne’?
Ksenia: Our skin needs to breathe, especially throughout the day to make sure that oil, sweat, and other substances are excreted naturally! By breathing into the mask and covering it from the outside world, we are increasing the humidity and moisture level within our skin’s environment. Therefore, it is essential to make sure that we control this “microenvironment” created by our mask by limiting the proliferation of bacteria.
Megan: This is the typical advice that we give to our clients who are dealing with maskne:
- First, you want to make sure that your skin has minimal products on the skin when wearing the mask. Make sure to apply minimal make-up! Antioxidants + SPF are your bare essentials in the morning.
- Avoid any comedogenic ingredients/products that don’t allow the skin to breathe, as they will, most likely, cause congestion such as blackheads, whiteheads, and generally dull appearance of the skin.
- Make sure to cleanse your skin once back home. This is essential to preserve the eco-flora of your skin.
- Choose your mask right! Synthetic materials will keep more moisture and create heat than those made with natural materials like cotton! And of course, if you are using a cotton mask don’t forget to wash it in the washing machine (just like you would wash your muslin cloths).
- If you’re on the go, you can also carry an anti-bacterial spray with you and mist your face once you reach your destination.
What is your favorite Irene Forte Skincare product and why?
Ksenia: The Hibiscus Serum because it is lightweight and smells divine, it works very well on my skin and layers perfectly with other products such as a moisturizer and a sunscreen which sometimes can be hard to find.
Megan: The Choose What’s Right for You sachet is so clever because I think that moisturizer textures are so hard since we all have different preferences. I really like the Aloe Vera Face Cream for the evening, it has lots of hydrators including B5, Hyaluronic Acid, and Aloe Vera which is great for dry skin!
Any skincare advice for our readers?
Ksenia: Be gentle with your skin with your skincare products BUT ALSO with the way you touch, apply or cleanse your skin.
Megan: Just because there is a new product launch every day, doesn't mean you need a new product every day! Find what works for you and make small tweaks to your regime as it changes seasonally and with your diet/lifestyle.
What's your favourite
- Ksenia: Totally unrelated to beauty - I am currently reading The Pillars of the Earth and it has replaced my Netflix nights for the past month! It’s crazy how a good book can help you to stay away from screens and really relax from a long day.
- Megan: I could go on and on, but my most recent favorites are Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid and The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. Both are going to be hitting the big screen so read them now!
- Ksenia: Supersize me is so old but it’s such an excellent documentary to explain how it is important to prioritize health and how education plays an important role to sustain that.
- Megan: My Octopus Teacher. Ksenia actually recommended this one to me, but it was such a beautiful story. The idea of watching an octopus for an hour and a half really didn’t appeal to me, but I was gripped once I started!
- Ksenia: JuiceBaby’s Berry Oxidant juice. So yummy, full of antioxidants and completely refreshing!
- Megan: Anything from Ottolenghi’s simple cookbook! I also LOVE Defined Dish by Alex Snodgrass, who is a Texas-based chef (where I am from). The ingredients for both of these are a little bit niche, but once you have them it is so easy to whip up after work - they are also impressive for a dinner party.