Q+A with Celebrity Facialist Adeela Crown
Adeela Crown on her signature technique of Serum Cocktailing, the must-have serums in her repertoire, and more.
Adeela Crown is an international celebrity and film facialist, whose work can be seen across the big screen and red carpets worldwide. As an on-set film facialist, she provides bespoke skincare treatments for actors following productions requiring the use of special FX and prosthetic makeup. Her intelligently structured treatments are a combination of facial massage techniques, sophisticated technology and highly potent, transformative ingredients, all tailored precisely to every client's unique needs. Read on to hear more from Adeela about her career journey, techniques, and favorite products!
Q: First and foremost, we’d love to hear about your journey as a facialist. How did you get started, and how have you gotten to where you are today?
The urgent need to fix my own awkward skin issues prompted a career change in my mid 20’s. I took a gamble to deviate from the world of finance to study cosmetic chemistry and dedicated the next three years of my life to developing a deep understanding of skin’s anatomy, physiology, biology, and skincare chemistry. What began as an obsessive drive to find lasting solutions for my own acne scarring and pigmentation led me to develop many of the key treatment and skincare principles I live by today. I first gained training working alongside various internationally recognised dermatologists and plastic surgeons, and then opened my own private Skin Suite to apply my knowledge and develop my own methods.
I got the chance to sharpen and fine-tune that knowledge even more when I became a film facialist. On fast-paced film sets I had to find a way to deliver downtime-free, camera-ready glowing skin on a tight studio schedule.
My finance background didn’t entirely go to waste either. I find that like in mathematics and in nature, there is a system of checks and balances. Skin (in fact, your whole body) keeps an account of what you deposit and what you withdraw – a process that’s more than just skin deep. That’s why, today, nurturing and educating people about their skin health has become the backbone of my treatments and overall approach.
Q: What do you love the most about what you do?
I get to live my dream of being a nerdy cosmetic chemist, without ever wearing that unfashionable white lab coat. I get to travel the world, and meet and work with my heroes. Being my own boss means I have the total freedom to hone a method I can call my own. Free from the inhibiting protocols I had to adhere to whilst working in a clinical environment, I can now allow my geeky cosmetic chemist-self to run wild with ingredients, blend and cocktail my own concoctions, and tinker with my skin-gadgets. With a little nod to the inventive streak of Doc Brown from Back to the Future, one of my clients coined me “The Skin Engineer”, and the name stuck ever since!
Q: You’re known for your technique of “Serum Cocktailing”, which is a signature practice you perform on all of your celebrity clients! Can you tell us how you developed this technique and what it entails?
We should all be cocktailing! Cocktails are a life analogy. When mixing a cocktail, you start with a base, then the spirit, then you add either sweet or sour, and finally garnish.
Similarly, I’ve found in skincare and in traditional facial treatments we have been following the rule of layering. This routine has also seeped into our AM and PM skincare rituals. Again, my inner skin-nerd speaking here, from a formulation and ingredient delivery point of view, when combined into a mixture (even in the palm of your hand) you can get the various levels of benefits from the very same ingredients by cocktailing them.
I want to stress: my serum cocktailing isn’t a lesson in laziness, nor is it meant to encourage a blind blend of incompatible ingredients. For example, hyaluronic acid and vitamin C + ferulic acid (or other antioxidant boosters) are superb in providing multi-level benefits like hydration, brightening, and environmental protection. However, blending, say, AHA + retinol + vitamin C will lead to over-exfoliation and high irritation, leaving skin vulnerable to sun damage. So, get to know your ingredients before you start cocktailing. If in doubt, seek the advice of a professional – Instagram is a great way to connect with a larger network of skincare experts. I’m always happy to give little tips and tricks to those who reach out to me in my comments or DMs!
Q: What are some must-have serums in your repertoire, and how do they all work together?
I am a self-confessed Serum-Girl! I am a fan of the new “pre-cocktailed” Renergie H.C.F Triple Serum by Lancôme. 111SKIN’s Vitamin C Brightening Booster is another amazing booster to mix with another serum to supercharge your daytime brightening routine. Elemis’ Pro-Collagen Super Serum Elixir is a long-standing favourite for skin firming. Lately, I have been pretty impressed with N°1 de CHANEL Revitalising Serum-In-Mist, a sprayable bi-phase mist, which I find is a perfect handbag-size travel companion that you can even mist on top of makeup for a quick hydration-boost, without smudging!
Q: For those that might not be familiar with Serum Cocktailing, we would love to hear you talk a bit about the skin benefits of this practice.
Serum Cocktailing is a smart practice to enhance multi-delivery of active and hydrating ingredients in one shot. A low molecular weight hyaluronic acid, for example, will help bind and carry the molecules of, say, vitamin C or niacinamide deeper into the skin. An ingredient which may otherwise only sit on the surface of the skin can get the chance to penetrate deeper by figuratively “holding hands” with another ingredient, travelling deeper into the skin.
However, I wouldn’t recommend just reaching for any serum on your bathroom shelf and randomly cocktailing. Having a good knowledge of compatible ingredients is key. A little tip is to always throw in a hydrating ingredient like HA, glycerin, or panthenol when cocktailing, with resurfacing actives like retinol, vitamin C and AHAs.
Q: What do you wish people were talking more about in skincare?
I find the negative connotation of the word anti-aging so jarring. Our skin cells begin to oxidise from the moment we are born; through this logic we are aging, even when we are babies and teenagers. From our 20’s onwards, collagen levels plummet and we are forever chasing bouncy, plump complexions. So, I feel we should be focusing more on the health of the skin, on prevention and maintenance, rather than age-reversal. One of my long-standing mantras is “prevention is smarter than a quick cure”, which is why I feel we should be focusing more on skin health, preservation, and intelligent aging.
Q: What are some of the skincare products that you first fell in love with?
I’ve been a long-time fan of drugstore products, when as a student, that’s all I could afford. But now, as I’m wiser and more clued-up on ingredients, I’ve found some of those early products I used actually stood the test of time. Charcoal soap turned out to be an amazing cleanser for my oily, teenage skin. Dr. Hauschka’s Rose Day Cream Light, which still comes in a metal toothpaste-like tube and smells heavenly (ah the nostalgia!), remains one of my go-to’s.
Q: On top of receiving treatments at a spa or clinic, at-home skincare is of the utmost importance as well. What are some ways folks can achieve results like that at home or extend their treatment results further?
Treat your skin like a pro and follow these 5 simple steps:
1. After cleansing, apply a gentle peel, like Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel or ReVive’s Glycolic Renewal Peel.
2. Apply a sheet mask like 111SKIN Rose Gold Brightening Facial Treatment Mask or Fresh Rose Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask – and read a book or answer emails in the meantime.
3. Wash off the mask and apply a cocktail of Medik8 Hydr8 B5 Intense mixed with a shot of 111SKIN Vitamin C Brightening Booster + The Ordinary Buffet + Copper Peptides.
4. Apply your favourite day cream — I’d go for Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream.
5. Apply sunblock (or you can mix step 4 and 5 and blend 1 part SPF, nearly ½ tsp with 1 part cream).
Q: Finally, we’d love to hear what your current nighttime skincare routine looks like!
I always cleanse, even when I’m not wearing makeup. I use oil control pads like Nip+Fab Glycolic Fix Night Pads to lift any remaining impurities. I follow with a super serum like La Mer Regenerating Serum and Medik8 Intelligent Retinol Eye TR containing retinol (safe enough for the eye area). I then give myself 20 mins+ of CurrentBody’s Skin LED Light Therapy Mask or Lyma Laser around the expression lines, every couple of nights whilst watching a Netflix show with my husband.
I finish with the U Beauty Barrier Bioactive Treatment to seal in hydration and repair the skin overnight.
Rapid Fire Round
Q: Worth the splurge:
CurrentBody Skin LED Light Therapy Mask.
Q: Favorite drugstore or budget find:
Dr. Hauschka Lip Balm Stick and Nip+Fab Glycolic Fix Night Pads.
Q: Latest beauty empty:
Crème Iso-Placenta by Biologique Recherche.
Q: Recent discovery:
Everything U Beauty! Especially the Barrier Bioactive Treatment.
Q: Product you can't leave home without:
Shiseido Urban Environment Oil-Free UV Protector SPF.
Q: Brand you wish more people knew about:
Vintner’s Daughter. They pack skin-nutrition in liquid elixirs! One of my ultimate favourites is the Active Botanical Serum.
For more of Adeela's favorite products, check out her shop below: