“You can be dressed in Chanel from head-to-toe, but if your nails look like shit, no thanks…”
The entrepreneur and beauty salon founder of U’nique- Personal Grooming by Demee, cuts to the chase with her no fuss beauty approach with customers, the importance of basic skincare, and why ‘natural’ cosmetic products aren’t exactly all that.
On a cold misty afternoon, a week before Christmas, I find myself riding a tram through an orderly and clean Central European city – Zurich to be exact. As I reach my stop and step out into the cold, I instantly regret leaving my gloves at home. My hands are dry and in desperate need of moisturising. Fortunately, I have reached my destination. As I enter through the door and gaze upon the sleek interior of white, black and pops of purple, I receive a warm embrace. Hello Demee, long time no see.
After working in the beauty and luxury industry for nearly seven years in Dubai, Filipina born Demee Koch ventured from the sandy Middle East to mountainous Switzerland to pursue her MBA. After obtaining her degree, she saw an opportunity within the Swiss beauty market and decided to combine her savvy business brains and passion for beauty by opening her so-called “one stop” salon U’nique- Personal Grooming by Demee in 2010.
Front entrance of U´nique. Image credit: u-nique.ch
“I noticed that a lot of the local businesses here specialised too much,” says Demee, dressed in black leather leggings, a grey peplum top and heeled black boots. “For example, if you were to get your nails done, you would have to go to one place and for waxing another. Salon hopping is just tiring and you can’t revolve your entire beauty regime around that.”
As I sit across from her on a royal purple-cushioned sofa chair that is usually meant for customers, the mother of two young children explains the core concept of her business. U’nique mainly revolves around no fuss basic grooming. She is a firm believer that it’s all about practicing basic grooming regimes rather than solely relying on fancy products, designer clothes and quick-fix treatments.
“Our Skin has to deal with so many factors within our daily lifestyle, which is why cleaning it is so important.”
“People here are rather conservative, so I decided to focus my approach on looking clean,” she says. “It’s important to have clean nails, nice hands, etc., and I always say that improper grooming is the death of an outfit. You can be dressed in Chanel from head-to-toe, but if your nails look like shit, no thanks…”
Many of the treatments Demee offers pretty much have your basic beauty needs covered, including eye lash extensions, hair, nails, waxing, facials and massages. But despite the array of services, she urges people to look after their own skin first and foremost.“I always tell my clients to maintain a daily skincare regime because it’s not about me, it’s about establishing long-term relationships with them,” she says.
Inside the U´nique salon. Image credit: Geneve Anderson
“Our Skin has to deal with so many factors within our daily lifestyle, which is why cleaning it is so important. For example, wearing makeup plugs your pores, which isn’t good because your skin needs to breath. Back in the olden days, there wasn’t a huge range of skincare products available. However, people were less stressed and the food they ate was a lot different. Today’s mass-market foods contain a lot of preservatives and chemicals and are not as organic as they used to be.”
In addition to cleansing, moisturising is essential for basic skincare especially if you are regularly exposed to sunlight since this can cause premature aging. With a range of moisturising products out there on the market, such a great array of choice can perhaps be a bit overwhelming – especially when reading the label with all the different ingredients. Because let’s face it, product descriptions might as well be in Chinese because the vast majority of us don’t know what most of the terms listed actually mean. So, what should we look for on our next venture to the likes of Boots or Superdrug?
“It’s a BS fancy term really because any product sold on the market needs to have preservatives.”
“Products that contain hyaluronic acid are usually best for moisturising,” says Demee. “However, there is no such thing as the ‘best product’, and I can’t generalise and make the mistake of recommending something to everyone because each skin type is different. The next time you go to a pharmacy, browse around, try out different products and speak to the people who work there. The skin consultants would be able to help pick out products suitable for your skin type. If you are on a budget, there are so many basic skincare products out there such as Vichy or L’Oréal. Do not get the impression that the most expensive creams/lotions are the best ones. That’s not always the case.”
As we continue to chit chat, we get to the subject of so-called natural products. Ironically, we are each drinking a green ‘vegan’ smoothie brought to us by one of Demee’s staff as we discuss this. By walking into any store that has a makeup/cosmetics section, the chances of coming across a product labelled ‘natural’ is pretty high these days. But what’s the deal? Indeed, the food industry has widely embraced the terms ‘organic’, ‘vegan’ and ‘natural’ for a while now, but why are cosmetic brands suddenly using those same labels for their products?
Natural products- fact or farce? Image credit: myglowingscences
However, before we get to that, a slight interruption has occurred. Demee´s niece who is visiting from Dubai quickly fetches her regarding a client on the phone. Apparently, the client will be arriving after my time with Demee.
So, regarding natural products, one of the reasons consumers have become attracted to ‘natural’ label is due to environmental changes within their lifestyle, including developing allergies. However, natural-labelled products aren’t as natural as they claim to be.
“There’s no such thing as 100% pure unless you take it from the tree and put it on your face.”
“It’s a BS fancy term really because any product sold on the market needs to have preservatives. My husband is a doctor and we both have a BS detector whenever we hear about certain facts. It’s quite funny really,” says Demee.
“And just for the record, it is certainly not a bad thing, but just don’t completely buy into the whole natural hype because it’s current in pop culture. Do your own research and figure out what it means exactly. It’s sad that some companies use these terms as a marketing gimmick. Of course, they gotta do what they gotta do to sell, but there’s no such thing as 100% pure unless you take it from the tree and put it on your face. And in some cases, pure isn’t necessarily good either. Like pure lavender, for example. Sure, it’s praised for its calming properties, but it’s also very strong and putting pure lavender directly on your skin would be a bit too much.”
Radio frequency skin treatments are going to become more popular. Image credit: skintighteningsage
After discussing the present, Demee and I look forward to what the future holds in store within the realm of beauty. What trends or treatments will drive the industry forward?“Trend-wise I’d say that radio frequency treatments will become more popular in the future. I’ve done it myself and the results become effective just after one treatment,” she says.“With high-tech laser machines being able to repair and regenerate skin, plastic surgery will become less popular with all these new technologies coming out. Lip fillers will certainly take a back seat, and people will want to go back to more natural beauty. The simplistic side of beauty will be more embraced.”
As Demee sees me looking at my dry hands, she kindly offers to do my nails before I go. After choosing a colour from her wide selection of nail polish neatly aligned on a glass shelf, I sit back, relax and watch a bit of Fashion TV on mute as I am being papered. Hence, I’m able to take away from the interview some acquired beauty-relevant wisdom, as well as some nicely painted, taupe-coloured nails and smooth soft hands. And it looks like both are now ready to withstand the cold outside.
Image credit: Geneve Anderson
For more information on U´nique Personal Grooming by Demee, check out u-nique.ch
Credit of cover image: Sara Julia Art