If you are alive and have skin, you need to read this.
My alternative title for this post was “Why I went to the skin whisperer for my wedding, before I even set a wedding date.” And that is the perfect setup to introduce Mary Schook.
I first learned about Mary from my close friend Carly who is the Beauty Editor at Cosmo.com. Carly’s skin had improved dramatically over just a few months and having known her since early 2006, it was remarkable how healthy and clear and even and glowing and flawless it was — now more than ever.
Of course I asked her what she’d been doing.
Now when you work in beauty, you have to test lots of products for your job and you are also offered complimentary services and treatments to test and review, but this was a next level change in her skin’s appearance and I had a feeling it wasn’t from a new night cream.
Carly told me she’d been going to a “skin whisperer” – a phrase she coined given Mary’s incredibly thorough and almost investigative approach to skincare and the magical results that can follow if you are disciplined with the “beauty homework” she assigns you.
To be clear, Mary Schook is not a doctor. Formerly a top fashion and special effects makeup artist, Mary is a licensed esthetician and an innovative product formulator. She is also a wealth of skin, nutrition, beauty and wellness information. Her understanding of formulas and ingredients mixed with her curious and inquisitive mind mixed with her holistic vantage point makes her so sought after she’s not looking for new clients.
That’s right. She doesn’t want to see you. But don’t worry. I’m going to share her beauty perspective as I know it from 5 straight hours (and some subsequent emails) with her. And then you can continue to learn as new products come to market… and new ingredients prove effective… and new learnings surface… through her Tuesday’s Tips site. Seriously stop reading and go bookmark it now!
Now, I did get in to see Mary and the reason I went, beyond seeing such an amazing transformation on a friend, was that this year will be one of much picture-taking for me — on top of all the IRL events. Once I got engaged, I didn’t look at dresses or venues or flowers or cakes, I looked at people’s skin. Being in my 30s (and engaged to someone in his 20s) I’m mindful of skin in a whole new way. And I started looking at skin more closely because as a makeup artist myself, I know that beautiful skin is the starting point for smokeshow makeup and flawless photos. And as you age, your skin changes little by little along the way.
I want my skin looking its very best always, but it takes on a particular new importance as a bride.
So off I went to meet Mary Schook, with baited breath in anticipation of the knowledge she would drop over the course of what turned out to be a 5 hour session.
To start, let me first share my take on The Mary Schook Philosophy on Skin:
In a nutshell, Mary believes in beauty from the inside out. “90% of skin issues, it’s what you’re putting in your body or what you’re not getting.” What you consume (or don’t) shows on your face. “Your skin is the window to your health.” “Your skin gives you messages, maybe your hormones are off, maybe you’re lacking a supplement.” Looking at these clues will allow you to uncover your skin solutions.
And it only takes Mary minutes upon looking at your skin to have a strong sense of your diet and lifestyle. She knew immediately, for example, that I ate red meat in my childhood but not in a very long time and that I drink red wine. I mean like, wait —- we JUST met.
Mary also suggests making positive changes to your diet and lifestyle as early as possible. Once you are in your 30s, “your cells only have so much time to be corrected before they give up on you.” If that wasn’t a warning I heeded, I don’t what is.
Mary works on a cellular level and if you want a quick fix, her methods won’t give it to you. To really improve skin and even turn back time, Mary strongly asserts most of it will come from your diet – and that requires commitment.
More, many quick fix methods (including lasers, devices and/or harsh peels) may actually work temporarily but do long-term damage. If your curious about something you’re using or thinking about trying, tweet her at @beauty212.
Mary has cleared acne, rosacea, and a host of other persistent skin conditions for clients who think they’ve tried everything. And again, most of it is diet — learning the triggers which may be obvious and may be hidden in what you’re consuming. That’s right. Skin expert Mary Schook doubles as a detective.
Another thing that sets Mary apart is that if you are able to get an appointment with her, she doesn’t want you to have to come back. Of course you may want to, but she arms you with all the information and all the tools to improve and maintain your skin on your own. Yes, she does special treatments as well that you may want (like cocooning and microcurrent facials — more on those later) but overall, she claims if a client does their homework (and this is literal, not a figment of speech) their skin will always look better than it did when she first met them.
That’s no small claim and one Mary, in her equal parts wisdom and warmth, states with assured confidence and years of experience backing her up.
So without further adieu, the 7 TRUTH BOMBS you came for…
1. Not all water is created equal. If you want beautiful skin, the water you need to consume throughout the day needs to be of a high PH level. We’re talking 8s and 9s here. Tap water or distilled water tends to be on the more neutral or acidic side of the spectrum. So you can search for and stock up on alkaline water or true spring water with a high PH or you can toss this small Mary-approved bottle of alkaline booster drops in your purse and add it to water as needed. Now for actually washing your face, distilled water is preferred. And for detoxing, hot lemon water is best and will improve the areas of your face that correlate to the liver.
2. Your face speaks for you before you open your mouth. Each area of the face correlates to an internal organ and just mapping where your skin issues occur on your face will unlock how to correct them. This ancient Chinese practice is old as time and by looking at the charts, you can identify the organ and then look for how to improve that organ function within your body. For example, I enjoy a glass of wine (or four) and also was taking my coffee with skim milk and 2 Splenda throughout the day. Before even mentioning that, Mary saw the skin texture in the center of my face on each side of my nose and noted that indicated the liver – did I drink red wine or have high sugar intake otherwise? PS, since my meeting with Mary, I’ve since cut down on the wine/alcohol, switched to decaf and cut out Splenda cold turkey. OH, and if you are constantly battling rosacea as several woman I know are, and don’t want to give up drinking altogether which is the best way Mary advises to clear it, Mary also recommends biodynamic wines from Eataly. The idea is to make positive adjustments that you can maintain over time to improve your target facial zones. (And in case you’re curious, I also switched to just a splash of whole or almond milk – as I learned from another event that skim milk is full of added hormones – and try to limit my dairy intake as much as possible, despite my love for cheese. “Dairy is the devil” notes Mary in an email on the matter.)
3. Supplements. Supplements. Supplements. But make sure they are quality — or you’re wasting your money and your efforts. Mary believes in taking supplements daily to reintroduce vitamins and minerals your body may be lacking (and she’s looking to your face to find those clues). Having said that, she does not believe all brands introduce quality products to the market, for a variety of reasons. She also is not a big proponent of multi-vitamins. Of all brands, Mary feels New Chapter has true integrity and you’ll see it appear many times over in her recommended supplements list. Of course, be sure to only take those supplements your body needs. One supplement Mary is very excited about is Sea Buckthorn. It contains an Omega 5 & Omega 7 that is difficult to get naturally and she emphasizes “is magic for skin.” You can get it from New Chapter or you can head over to Juice Generation and chug a Sea Buckthorn Shot. It’s not exactly tasty but it’s drinkable. [Note: I’m currently taking Sea Buckthorn, R-Lipoic Acid, Whole Fish Oil and a prenatal vitamin daily.]
4. A very small amount of organic, lean red meat once a week may do a body (and face) good (if you were not born and raised vegetarian). This one blew my mind. I had not eaten red meat since the end of high school. Prior to, I was raised on Sunday sauce and meatballs and London broil and burgers at barbeques. So beyond improving my iron deficiency, how would red meat really help specifically with my skin??? Especially such a tiny cut weekly. Mary contends that the amino acid glycine found in red meat creates collagen (which in turn creates that desired fullness, lift and bounce in the skin) plus a radiant natural glow. This amino acid is almost exclusive to red meat. Without it, especially for adults who ate red meat as children, skin loses its elasticity. Your body wants it back. It’s not asking for chicken, or turkey, or pork – it’s red meat only. If you ethically cannot do it, definitely don’t. But if you can work in this small amount, Mary says you will see the difference. (I’ve only been able to do this a couple of times – 3 to date – so I can’t fully speak to the benefits.)
5. Look to South Korea for the future of skincare and beauty. Ok, this isn’t exactly big news and K-beauty is obviously all the rage (Mary’s been touting it way before its recent surge in popularity) but Mary showed me some items that she said would be HUGE in the near future. With MAJOR skin benefits. One in particular, the silkworm cocoon pictured above. It’s used in Korea to eliminate blackheads but can also be used as a facial scrub/exfoliator and a collagen stimulator. In the latter function, it actually plumps skin in seconds, deep cleans pores and leaves you with radiant glowing skin. Seriously. Mary has cocooned me twice and it—-is—-INCREDIBLE. Turns out some of the sericin (silkworm protein) is left in the dry cocoon and once the cocoon is activated with warm water, you stick your finger in it, massage it all over the face, and experience instant magic. Just note it’s hard to source quality cocoons and if the pricing for a batch seems to good to be true, do some comparison shopping.
6. Chances are your hair is coated in plastic, which can cause you to lose more of it and for it to be less thick than it used to be. Mary advises an anti-plastic haircare regimen, as products with plastic plug up the follicles and don’t allow hair to breathe or grow. So if your mane of late is not the mane it used to be, she recommends the brand Bellegenza. Bellegenza describes itself as “silicone-free, but also free of Acrylates (plastics), Paba, parabens, petrolatum, mineral oil, phthalates, SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate), and sodium chloride.” I’ve been using the shampoo for over a month and feel like it’s actually cleansing while not harming.
7. Beauty from the inside out does not require you to be a naturalist. Mary believes in the power of microcurrent facial therapy (when done with the right machine and in the right hands) as much as she does lymphatic drainage massage. And she believes these things can complement your daily supplements and diet and topical skincare regimen. She also is confident stem cell technology is going to be a game-changer – “the next big thing.” Mary too is not against Botox “in the right artistic hands.” Nor is she against filler like Restalyne but does warm clients to be careful and conservative as over time, when filler gets put in and goes away and gets put in again, you can lose elasticity. So Mary’s approach can work in tandem with dermatologists for those clients who feel they need a bit more. Because Mary is not about over-promising. She can lift and tighten and bring elasticity back with many of her methods, but she cannot re-introduce mass (i.e. fat or volume) to the face. Which is why it’s imperative to start early on taking proper care of your skin (inside and out) and being consistent with it.
It’s been a little over 6 weeks since I first met Mary Schook. I left her office totally and completely fascinated and super excited, yet cautiously optimistic. I also spoke about her and the experience to anyone willing to listen. As someone who has a healthy self-image but can definitely scrutinize over imperfections (I am that odd mix of self-confident and self-critical all at once), I have noticed small improvements day by day that have added up over time. Plus I am overall way healthier today because of her approach– and it shows. And getting unsolicited skin compliments from people I see on the regular also doesn’t hurt!
NOTE: This post is not sponsored. All thoughts are unbiased and my own. Consultation with Mary Schook was provided at no cost although an attempt to pay was made and rejected and a subsequent gift followed.
Lauren Cosenza is the creator and editor-in-chief of DIVAlicious, a trusted beauty/fashion expert, an on-camera personality and spokesperson, a leading NYC-based professional makeup artist, a published contributor and writer, a brand consultant, a product junkie and an insatiable style seeker — with a former life at Cosmopolitan and Shape magazines.
Serving up style with a side of attitude, her site DIVAlicious gives women (and men) the confidence and permission to be fabulous. The site is filled with must-have products, pro tips and tricks, how-to DIY tutorials, makeovers, style inspiration and insider access. Topics range from beauty, fashion, culture, career, fitness, wellbeing, men’s and unisex offerings.