Samantha Wright is a Senior Esthetician at the Institute of Skinovation, a full-service skin treatment facility at the CORE: Club. Samantha came to New York expecting to be an actress, and instead ended up improving people’s quality of life by transforming their skin. She’s someone who can fully relate to her patients – she had bad skin and overcame it using the techniques she now applies to others. She says, “I feel incredibly lucky. I’m a far better person from having bad skin than I would have if I hadn’t had it. It’s a blessing in disguise.” For more on how the twists and turns of life can lead you to something unexpected and wonderful, read on!
Tell me a little bit more about what you do.
Basically, we get rid of anything skin-related that a person doesn’t like that they weren’t born with. So if it’s brown, red, lumpy, bumpy, veiny, scarred, or unhappy looking anywhere from the top of your head to the bottom of your toes, we develop programs – just like a personal trainer would – to take it off of you. Our goal is to make people feel good about themselves, whatever that means to them. A lot of people wear a lot of makeup because they don’t like something about themselves. We take away every reason that a person would have to cover up their face.
It’s head to toe care. What does that involve?
We do total overhauls. So we address anything that’s going on anywhere on your body. If the skin’s scaly, we do dry, microderm abrasion. We get rid of freckles, moles, and broken capillaries. The doctor we work with also does veins. There’s nothing we can’t address. It all depends on the individual’s concerns and needs.
Do you do nutrition with that too, or is it mostly treatments?
It’s mostly treatments. We don’t want anyone to feel like they have to live their life in some other way. If you know you have an allergy to something – if you have a skin reaction to certain foods – don’t eat that food. We don’t say that you can’t have chocolate or that you can’t have potato chips or that you can’t have something. Dangene [the founder of the Institute] always says that the most important things are water, happiness and sleep. That’s the prescription. And our treatments.
How did you get into this line of work?
I started as a client of Dangene’s. In September it will be seven years ago that we met. I never had any interest in skin care. I didn’t need it, I didn’t know anything about it, I didn’t have a problem. I moved to New York from Kentucky with the idea of being an actress and a dancer. Good skin is essential. When I moved, everything about my skin totally changed. I developed a severe case of adult acne along with scarring, because acne scars on its own. I tried to deal with it myself, and I couldn’t. I did everything you’re not supposed to do. I was uneducated. Thankfully, I ended up meeting Dangene. She took me on as a client, and she fixed me. I thought I was beyond repair. I met her the day before I was supposed to do Acutane, and I didn’t have to do Acutane because I met her. She fixed everything about my skin and the scarring that I had.
How did you guys meet?
When I first came to New York, I was working two different jobs at a high-end physical training company on the Upper East Side. I didn’t know anybody – I don’t have any family here, and I didn’t have any friends. The way I felt about my skin got so bad I didn’t know what to do. I called my boss at the time. She was a client of Dangene’s, and she said, “I know this woman who’s the best in the world. You should talk to her.” So I went in for what I thought was a conversation, and as soon as Dangene met me, she said she could do all of these things, and I said, “That sounds amazing.” She said, “Well, hop up on the bed.” I was totally unprepared for what she was about to do to me. I thought it was a conversation about products. She took the reins, and she told me exactly what to do, and she said that I had to follow the rules, and do exactly what she said, and show up to my appointments, and I would have the skin that I wanted. And that’s what I did, and that’s what I got.
What were her rules?
My first appointment was not fun. It was four hours of extractions. It was like being tortured for four hours straight. We believe – Dangene believes – that acne is like a fungus, that one bad apple spoils the bunch. The reason acne treatment isn’t successful is that you can’t get in front of things all at once to get rid of it. So, during my first treatment, Dangene took everything out of me that she could find, and beat me up with a lot of love. My treatment was very aggressive because I had a very severe condition. Dangene told me, “You’re going to look worse. You just have to trust me.” She looked me in the eye when she said those things, and I believed her. And I never really believed anybody before. I knew she actually cared about me. She worked on my skin five days a week for six months, and that’s how I got the skin that I have now. The treatment is not a replacement for Acutane, because it doesn’t stop your body from producing things, but it puts your body in a happy place so that it produces things less. Most of the time, people are treating their skin improperly because they don’t know any better.
How did you end up doing what you do now?
Well, after all the work Dangene did on me, I just sort of ended up with a job. At the time, she was only working with one other person. That was Talya. There was sort of an assistant I’d seen around the office, and then one day she wasn’t there anymore. Talya was doing a checkup on my skin, and I asked her where the assistant was. Talya said, “Well, it didn’t really work out, but we need the help, so let me know if you know of anyone.” And I said, “I’ll do it.” Talya jumped up and left the room, and then 30 seconds later she came back with Dangene. Dangene said, “Do you have a license?” I said I didn’t, and she said, “Okay, pick a school, and you can start in two weeks.” I ended up quitting my other job, and I went back to school for esthetics, and I worked for Dangene full-time. Dangene taught me everything I know.
Are these treatments affordable for the average person?
Let’s just say the Institute of Skinovation is pretty much the only place in the world that does what we do. We put people on programs and make a promise at the end of the program. We guarantee the work that we do. And if we fail, we work until we win. It is expensive for some people but not for others. It depends on where in life you are, and how important it is to you. For me, it was invaluable. It gave me my life back. I felt really, really bad about myself. I don’t know that your life and your happiness and your self-worth has a dollar sign.
And it literally changed you life, right? Career, everything.
My whole life is very different from what I had imagined. I’m not sad for any of it. I learned so much from having bad skin. It made me a better person, it made me look at people differently, it made me learn, it made me grateful, it made me humble, it made me more compassionate, it made me smarter. I am in this completely different field because of something really bad. And I’ve met so many incredible people, people I would have never, ever, ever met. It’s crazy how things work out.
You said you learned a lot from having bad skin. What are the top three lessons and why?
- You should always be grateful for whatever stage you’re in in life. Things can change, and it could always be worse. I never really thought I was beautiful before – I never really appreciated what I looked like. I always picked myself apart, worrying about how my hair could be more perfect, my outfit could be more perfect, my eyebrows or whatever: Stuff that did not matter. Then, when I actually had a problem, I realized that I really should have been a lot nicer to myself before. I think that you should always appreciate where you are in your journey because all of it is important.
- You should have an open enough mind to follow an opportunity or path that presents itself to you. You should learn from your path, and be courageous enough to walk it. I had to tell a lot of people, my parents being two of them, that I was going to see this woman Dangene instead of taking Acutane and medication. My mom and I had a rather heated discussion because she wasn’t initially supportive. She always said that when something presented itself it was a gift, and I was doing it, but she was so upset for me and my situation that she couldn’t see the opportunity like I did. Then she called me back, and she said, “You know you’re right.” And I ended up seeing Dangene for treatment, and I ended up with this incredible career. My parents could not be more proud of me. So, be courageous enough to follow your path and seize opportunities as they present themselves.
- Be kind to everyone. You don’t know what has made them the way they are. No matter what you see on a person, don’t judge them for how they look. You don’t have any idea what they’re like inside. Having bad skin, or having skin that had a problem, I got tons of judgmental looks. I felt worse about myself because of that and because of how people treated me, the questions they would ask, the way they insinuated that I hadn’t washed my face, or that I had a bad diet, or that there was something wrong with me. None of that was the case. I was a healthy person, and I was doing everything that I knew to make it better, but everyone who looked at me was so judgmental. And they keep bringing it up, which makes you feel worse and worse about yourself. As cliché as it sounds, never judge a book by it’s cover, because you never know what another person is experiencing.