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Melanie Grant

The skin whisperer on advocating for clinical beauty, the perfect skincare routine for our Singapore climate, and her secrets to treating acne, dark circles and clogged pores.

There’s so many ways we could introduce Melanie Grant, we don’t even know where to start. She’s a facialist and one of the biggest names in the beauty business in Australia. She’s a celebrity obsession, with the likes of Lara Worthington, Nicole Warne, Jessica Gomes, Christine Centenera and Phoebe Tonkin all opting for Melanie’s blessed hands to treat their beautiful faces (have you seen their enviable, luminous skin lately?). She was also named Chanel Australia’s first official Skin Expert in 2016.

Having given her first facial at the age of 10(!), Melanie knew from early on that she wanted to dedicate her life to skincare. Combining clinical treatments with ‘old school’ practices, she specialises in customised facials using state-of-the-art technology and prescriptive beauty regimes.

When Melanie first launched her treatment menu after working for 15 years, people were sceptic of her methods. Now, laser treatments and high-tech tools are commonplace, and her business is booming. Simply put, Melanie saw the results, she saw them quickly and she identified the potential of the holistic approach. Her own sparkling complexion is proof that she practices what she preaches.

With two clinics in Sydney and Melbourne, and expansion plans on the way, it’s only a matter of time before Melanie’s magic goes global. In the meantime, we have her “Notes on Skin Health” page bookmarked in our browsers, and we got the As to the Qs on the most problematic skincare issues we need saving from.

Go forth to beautiful, glowing skin.

Melanie Grant Clinic in Sydney

Melanie’s clinic in Armadale, Melbourne

“A good skincare regime requires a holistic approach inclusive of a great diet, sufficient sleep, minimal stress, as well as great skincare products and treatments.”

How did you become a skin expert?

I always knew that I wanted to be in beauty from a really young age, so I studied skin therapy as soon as I left school. It’s actually the only job I’ve ever done. I loved the ritual of the spa treatments, facials and massages. However, as soon as I started using lasers in 2002, I loved the results. Working for several cosmetic doctors was great and I learned so much about the skin. But I really disliked the clinical environment and the constant upsell of procedures and injectables. I’ve since completed many graduate courses and certifications in laser and light therapies, and continue to study, grow and learn. The great thing about my industry is that it’s constantly changing and evolving so it never gets boring.

Why do you champion clinical beauty, and how do you see your focus evolving and assimilating with the natural beauty movement as it continues to gain momentum?

My philosophy is to combine innovation with my heritage in beauty, and to give my clients the best of both worlds.

The secret is to focus on what you’re good at, and not be a one-stop shop. It’s more about collaborating and sharing with people from other disciplines to make your work better. There are so many contributors to good skin and a holistic point of view is essential. My historical work in clinical environments was fulfilling in delivering results but there was also a lot left to be desired. The more my clinical experience grew, the more I saw value in bringing together the disciplines from beauty to create something new and modern.

Melanie Grant_Après Avant

“I believe a modern approach to beauty is about taking responsibility for ourselves and others.”

Your skin is — no surprise — healthy, radiant and highly enviable. We know your morning skincare routine. What about your night-time routine? Do you do any special weekly rituals?

My night-time regime is fast, yet effective. I always double cleanse, first with an oil cleanser to remove my sunscreen and eye makeup, followed by an AHA cleanser to deep clean, brighten and gently exfoliate. Next, I apply Lotion P50 by Biologique Recherche two to three times a week to balance and exfoliate my skin. Then I apply a retinol serum. Depending on how my skin is feeling, I’ll occasionally apply a restorative face oil over the top before applying my eye cream and night moisturiser.

I love to give myself a weekly facial at home, in the bath. It’s a really simple routine of a double cleanse, exfoliation and then a mask which I leave on for 20 minutes while in the bath. After removing my mask with a warm face cloth, I layer three or four serums underneath a thick night cream.

What is the best ‘active’ and ‘calming/nourishing’ products that every woman should own to achieve a balanced skincare regime?

While we’re so lucky to have wonderful, effective ingredients in modern skincare, it’s important to balance your regime to ensure that you don’t cause any irritation or sensitivity from using too many actives. I love to use active serums with ingredients such as retinol, lactic acid, salicylic acid and vitamin C with organic oils and creams loaded with gentle botanicals and plant extracts. I’d recommend seeking guidance from a skincare professional to ensure that you’re using the right products for your individual skin type and specific concerns.

What regime would you recommend for our hot, sunny and humid Singapore climate?

Choose gel and AHA cleansers over oily or milky formulas.

Avoid rich, heavy or occlusive creams and balms. Instead, opt for lightweight lotions or gel creams to prevent congestion and blocked pores.

Incorporating a vitamin C serum into your morning routine will not only enhance your sun protection but also protect your skin from free radical damage, promote collagen production and lighten and brighten skin tone. It’s a true multitasker!

Find a broad spectrum SPF 50 sunscreen that you like the look and feel of to ensure that you wear it each and every day.  So many of us skip our sunscreen application because we don’t like the heavy, greasy formula on our face. Sunscreens have come a really long way — there are a lot of different textures including breathable and mattifying formulas. Remember that the sunscreen in your makeup doesn’t provide sufficient protection and always apply the equivalent of a heaped teaspoon to cover your face, neck and décolleté.

Exfoliate at least two to three times a week to remove the build-up of dead skin cells, oil, makeup, sunscreen and debris. Try swiping an exfoliating water on a cotton round over your face, neck and décolleté. If you’re prone to bumps or blemishes on your back, butt or arms, use an AHA cleanser or body wash in the shower and try a body lotion with AHAs to prevent build-up from sweat and oil.

Our skin produces more oil in summer so swap heavy foundation and cakey powder for a tinted moisturiser or BB cream to prevent congestion and breakouts. Light, dewy makeup also looks nicer and fresher in the summer.

I always like to apply an anti-pigment/brightening serum at night to prevent brown spots or uneven skin tone. For those of us with melasma/hormone-induced pigmentation, remember that this condition is stimulated by heat and sunlight. Staying cool and avoiding the sun will help to prevent and manage excessive darkening.

Stay hydrated by drinking at least two litres of water each day. This will keep your skin plump, supple and juicy.

How is skin health linked to body health?

Our skin is a visual indicator of our internal health — sometimes it’s a leading indicator, other times a lagging indicator. Stress, gut inflammation, vitamin deficiencies and hormone imbalances, just to name a few, can all show their effects on our skin. A good skincare regime requires a holistic approach inclusive of a great diet, sufficient sleep, minimal stress, as well as great skincare products and treatments.

Dark circles are one of the hardest — if not the hardest — complexion issue to solve. What do you recommend?

This really depends on the cause. For those of us who have pigmentation or capillaries along the tear trough, laser treatment can be very effective. If it’s caused by thinning of the fat pad, then fat transfer can be a viable option. Food intolerances, dehydration and allergies are other common culprits.

Consult with a reputable skincare professional or doctor to ascertain the cause of your dark circles so you can decide the right treatment. In the meantime, Sisley and Becca make great concealers specifically for dark circles.

Most complexion issues begin with clogged pores and it seems impossible to be completely free of them. How can we keep their profile to a minimum, and what are the best ways to cleanse and exfoliate our face?

For regular day-to-day care, try using a cleanser with salicylic acid or lactic acid, ensure that you exfoliate two to three times a week and go easy on oil-based makeup and rich, heavy skincare. Use a retinol or AHA serum at night, and always remove your makeup before bed. It’s also important to change your pillowcase regularly and clean your mobile phone with an antibacterial wipe at least once per week.

What’s the best way to treat 

a) acne that hasn’t surfaced,

Firstly, don’t try and squeeze it. This will only cause inflammation, redness, swelling and possible scarring. Begin by icing the area with an ice cube to reduce swelling and inflammation. The following day, apply a warm compress by placing a face towel in hot water, wring it out and apply to the area to stimulate blood flow and lymphatic flow. This will help to flush the area and draw the pimple to the surface. Apply a drawing mask with kaolin and zinc to further draw out impurities and finish with a spot treatment or drying lotion.

b) zits that have reared their ugly head,

If you really must squeeze a spot, ensure that it’s ready. A good way to tell is when the surface appears white, with a translucent look to the skin on top. Then, with clean hands, sterilise a fine sewing needle with a flame or alcohol.

Be sure to let the needle cool if using a flame, then gently pierce the head of the pimple with the needle to create an opening. This prevents breaking the skin further than is necessary. Next, tear a tissue into two, and wrap your index fingers around each part. It’s important to first press downwards, roll both fingers in, then push up, as this ensures that you don’t spread the sebum further under the skin. Stop squeezing once blood appears. Finish off by applying witch hazel or an antibacterial drying spot treatment.

Melanie Grant for Apres Avant clinic

Even though she practices clinical beauty, Melanie wanted to create a sanctuary that wasn’t clinical by any means

“It’s important to balance your regime to ensure that you don’t cause any irritation or sensitivity from using too many actives.”

 and c) dark spots that get left behind?

The inflammation in the acne lesions can cause our skin to produce excessive melanin resulting in these dark spots, known as macules or post-inflammatory pigmentation. For home care, try a retinol or niacinamide brightening serum. For clinical treatment microdermabrasion, peels and light therapy offer great results, as does laser treatment. However, seek out a reputable provider as laser is definitely not suitable for all skin types and can often worsen the condition.

What does conscious beauty mean to you?

I believe a modern approach to beauty is about taking responsibility for ourselves and others. It’s why I started my first clinic. I wanted to create a place with a pure focus on beautiful and healthy skin, and to do it by gaining an understanding of the whole person. By understanding the connections between our outward appearance and our inner health. By understanding the connections between our wellness, the wellness of our environment and even the people around us.

Melanie Grant's Clinic in NSW for Apres Avant

Images courtesy of Melanie Grant