Text Kamara Hakeem-Oyawoye
Whether you recognise it or not, Jasmina Vico’s work is known to us all via the fresh faces seen across Game of Thrones and The Crown. Growing up in Croatia, Jasmina trained in cosmetology and worked alongside several dermatologists as her passion for beauty tech grew.
Following her move to the UK and a tech revolution that made beauty and aesthetics more exciting, she built the techniques in lasers and skincare that she is now renowned for. In 2015, Jasmina opened the doors to her practice where she seamlessly fuses skincare with holistic wellness.
“I am sort of a biohacker” she explains, detailing her focus beyond the surface to the health and neuroscience behind it all. By working alongside nutritionists and other field experts, her methods take a closer look into your lifestyle to “work from the root rather than the symptom”.
Following my recent visit her studio, I had first-hand experience with such methods topped off with amazing skin chat. Besides the VicoGlow that is all it’s cracked up to be, I left feeling rejuvenated and with some handy facts that scroll through my mind as prompted.
What’s a common mistake that people make with skincare?
You need to have a well-balanced diet, according to your genetics. Everyone is different, so it depends on where your ancestors come from, and what kind of diet they had.
Through many years of treating skin, I saw the same dietary triggers repeatedly causing the skin to flare – dairy and wheat for example. Also, a consistent skincare regimen is important.
What are some skincare ingredients that you’re excited about?
Stem cells are something that I’m really excited about, that’s where the future is.
What do you think about personalised cosmetics that integrate epigenetics, or at least claim to?
I think it’s still a bit too far out. It requires a lot of data, medical software and research. We are for sure getting closer!
What does the skin need to be healthy and glow?
The best thing you can do is eat a well-balanced diet, sleep, stay protected in the sun, meditate and avoid stress. Most especially, reduce the heat in your body, which is commonly in the form of acidity.
On top of this, people eat a lot of foods that cause inflammation which is like constantly pouring oil into a fire. One thing I regularly recommend to my clients is that they do their own research into the benefits of intermittent fasting.
According to genetic professors at Harvard, it’s one of the best ways to increase your longevity, as it reduces the heat and inflammation.
How fast can you expect results after a lifestyle change?
Everyone is different. But if you’re mindful and give it a chance, you should typically see results between 3 weeks to 3 months.
After a brief overview of my lifestyle and genetic background, a treatment was mapped out to deliver the magic that only Jasmina can. Taking into consideration my skin concerns and texture, I was blessed with the Vico Glow itself.
If there was one thing I learnt when writing my dissertation, it’s that as a dark-skinned woman, I’m fortunate to have extra thick skin. But all this thickness means that I need to exfoliate frequently to prevent excess clogging. A fact that Jasmina reiterated as she recommended both better exfoliation and a stronger dose of Vitamin C.
I won’t lie, the lazy girl in me cried a little, but as she rightfully expressed “your skin reflects what’s going on internally.” As the largest organ that we have, how can we not keep it at its best?
Can you tell us a bit about your introduction to lasers?
Working with lasers was a natural process as the technology became available. Now there are many different lasers that target issues such as breakouts, acne, rosacea, inflammation and psoriasis. They can plump, tighten, lift and resurface the skin to treat scarring of different depths.
What do you think will happen with the advancements of lasers? We’ve seen it become a lot more accessible, especially with the likes of LED masks that you can use at home.
LEDs in their various forms have been around for a long time. They have almost become a skincare accessory, and they look cooler than they used to.
I focus on cause, not just the symptoms. That’s why I work in a 360 programme. If I can’t help you, then I will refer you to have a blood test. They will look at what’s happening internally, then we can progress from there.
If we dig into your history and lifestyle, we solve the problem. My holistic approach bridges the gap between medical and non-medical. I’m trying to educate people.
Don’t judge me but my diet primarily consists of carbs and sugars. A combination that I’ve learnt is a high-speed ticket to inflammation and lethargy. What potentially makes this worse is the fact that I’ve basically replaced the water I should be drinking with coffee and any other hydration vampire I can put my hands on apparently.
After shamefully disclosing this during our session, I was taught to “think of food more as a fuel” as my body is “consistently running on empty” hence my constant sugar cravings. “Once the liver is clean, the skin is clean. It gives a glow because it’s from inside” and just like that, I was sold.
Trying to regain brownie points, I gave a quick run-down of all the product swaps I was making as the weather changed. Once we hit body care, we dug into the topic of keratosis pilaris – a skincare condition unpleasantly dubbed ‘strawberry legs’ – a painful but accurate description.
While its a condition that can’t be treated, she broke down the best ways to maintain it. This included using moisturisers with the perfect balance of acids and thickness. So products don’t end up sitting on the skin’s surface but get through the barrier to do the work.
What’s the best way to decongest the skin without completely stripping it of oil/moisture?
It starts with the diet. There are things called Demodex mites that live on the surface of the skin permanently. They love to eat sugar, dairy and wheat. These foods also inflame the skin leading to acne, rosacea and redness.
The Demodex mites feed on the sebum of people that eat these foods. That’s why the skin gets itchy because they mate overnight. As they grow, your pores get bigger.
Sooner or later, your body will tell you that you can’t deal with these foods anymore. You may have eaten them all your life, and one day your body says it’s enough. For example, you may become lethargic, and your skin darkens around your eye sockets.
Do you think there’s a treatment that everyone should have?
Everybody should have a consultation to have their skin checked to see what it’s reflecting internally. From there, it should be tailor suited. It’s important rather than always looking for that quick fix. A quick fix will always be a quick fix.
What do you think about fillers and botox?
I have no problem with injectables but I think if you keep enhancing and changing your features that you forget about the health of your skin the effects will eventually catch up.
We get overloaded with new beauty products daily, how many products does the average person need? How do you know what is right for your skin and what products to pass on?
Not many. I would say you need the right ingredients. Depending on your skin type and if you wear a lot of make-up, you may need 2 cleansers. One to remove make-up and another to cleanse the skin.
With exfoliators, it’s either an exfoliating toner or chemical/mechanical. Followed by Vitamin C, a hydrator or moisturiser (depending on the time of the year) and then some stem cells and SPF.
But most importantly, you need to watch your skin. It’s not always going to be the same, especially as women. You can also do face masks, occasionally during the week to hydrate your skin.
You can also have CBD oil for emergencies. I occasionally get eczema around my eyes, and it sorts it out every time. It’s terrific to have in your cupboard just in case. For night-time, your cleanser(s), Vitamin A, peptides and stem cells.
How often do you need a facial?
It depends on what the treatment is, the person’s lifestyle and their skincare concerns. As the skin cycle is every 28 days, I would say around once a month. It depends on the person’s preference and their skin concerns.
To finish up stage 1 (deep cleansing) and 2 (exfoliation), the most delightful smelling, calming Phyto-botanical mask was massaged on to my skin. Not only did it leave my skin feeling as fresh as a baby’s booty, everything in me was left feeling a lot calmer.
Stepping into the next and final stage of my treatment, a tower LED mask was used to “diffuse any underlying inflammation”. “Blue is for acne” she explained, “the bacteria that breeds in acne gets excited by the light – it starves them from oxygen and they die.”
She also reiterated the necessity of properly cleansing your skin beforehand to “allow the light to penetrate the skin better, so it works more efficiently.”
For people with acne-prone skin, what do you recommend doing when you break out?
You should always clean your skin properly before applying your skincare and make-up.
This is essentially locking germs into your skin and clogging your pores. But you also need to be careful because over-exfoliating your skin can be damaging also. It can potentially dry your skin, causing it to produce more oils in the long-run.
I always relate things to lifestyle. Changing minor things like how you apply makeup can help the skin. When you apply make-up in a rush, you end up pulling and stretching the skin. This leads to your body releasing more cortisone which causes inflammation. So, people could potentially end up with eczema, acne or rosacea.
I would advise people to take those extra 5 minutes or so to take care of their skin properly, in a clean environment.
Can we talk about climate change? I’m so conscious of all the pollution. I always notice a massive difference in my skin when I’m on holiday and when I’m in London.
That could also relate to how the water is different. The water in London goes through filters about 9 times. It’s very hard water.
Rosewater or spring water is soothing and hydrating after cleansing with hard water. Use Vitamin C and SPF to ensure your skin is thoroughly protected.
Can you walk us through your skincare regime?
My skin is normal to dry so I only occasionally double cleanse. I know that if I over-exfoliate, it’ll make my skin drier. So in the morning, I use ice water to tighten my pores then rosewater to tone and hydrate. Plus Vitamin C, Hydration and SPF. At night, I cleanse then I use more rosewater. At night, your skin needs to renew so apply renewing, active ingredients.
Additionally, twice a week, I don’t put anything on my skin because I want it to reset, renew and regenerate. If you’re constantly force-feeding it, your skin stops knowing what it needs. In that way I think less is more.
I also quite like cucumber masks. I just slice it very thin and apply it everywhere. It hydrates the skin.
What’s the best way to clean your skin thoroughly but without stripping it?
I’m always surprised at how people clean their skin. They use a lot of flannels but, personally, I don’t use cloths. I always advise people to use their hands or biodegradable cotton wool. Although, depending on the skin, cotton flannels might be required.
You should wash your face with lukewarm water, but avoid washing it in the shower. Especially if you have rosacea or any form of inflammation, because the heat dehydrates your skin. Depending on your skin type, you might produce more oil or dry out and become flaky.
The skin needs to have a proper effective routine. Once you have a regime, then you should follow that. Ice cold water as well to tone and close the pores. If you have congested skin, then you should double cleanse. Ice cold water also wakes you up!