Skincare learning curve from a self-tanning specialist after adopting the beautiful Isabella

She dedicated her career to creating the perfect golden glow, but self-tan developer Leah White found herself doing the opposite when she adopted her beloved Thai daughter Isabella. In fact, life changed in every way for the Belfast businesswoman when Isabella came into her world three years ago. Leah is best known for developing the successful self-tanning brand Lusso with her two sisters, Lynsey Bennett and Sarah White who, along with her sister-in-law Teri White, run two busy beauty salons, The Secret Day Spa in London. east of Belfast and Sistine Beauty in Holywood. Women have played an important role in the world of beauty, creating their own unique line of products that has gone global. But Leah from East Belfast freely admits that despite her expertise as a skincare specialist, she was shocked to find her knowledge hadn’t prepared her to take care of Isabella’s Asian skin.

Ironically, it was when she couldn’t find self-tanning products in Thailand that she realized Asian cultures had a very different approach to skincare.

“It really shocked me how naive I was,” admits the 44-year-old. “I’ve always thought Asians have such beautiful skin without blemishes. I now know it’s because they stay out of the sun. Their skin is so sensitive that they really need to take care of it.

Leah took the first step towards adopting a child as a single parent at the age of 38. An invasive and time-consuming process, it wasn’t until two years later that she finally met her daughter Isabella, who was then six.

Now nine years old, Isabella and her mom have become inseparable, and for Leah, life without her baby girl is unthinkable.

Adoption was something she had wanted to do for some time. She chose to try for a Thai child after falling in love with the country and its culture on multiple visits.

“It all started when I hit my late thirties and got out of a long-term relationship,” she says.

“I always had in mind that I wanted to adopt a child. I was so career driven that having a baby was not a priority.

“I just decided to go there myself, not to fill a void but to share the love and affection I always had to give.

“There have been so many ups and downs, mostly downs if I’m being honest. The process is rigorous and there were many times when I doubted my strength to continue.

“It was more than worth it in the end. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to bring Isabella into my life.

Leah vividly remembers flying to Thailand to meet her granddaughter three years ago. His sister Lynsey and seven-year-old twins Scarlett and Sophia accompanied him.

“I will never forget the flight,” she said. “It seemed endless as the excitement and apprehension grew. Would we be related? How would we communicate? What if she refused to leave with me?

“I can’t begin to describe how I felt when I finally held my beautiful, kind, funny and smart Isabella in my arms.

“This feeling far outweighed the experience of the adoption process and made me forget all the challenges I had encountered.

“The first thing we did was jump into the pool with the twins. Even though Isabella didn’t speak English, we quickly found a way to communicate.”

Adoption rules meant Leah had to spend 10 weeks in Thailand to finalize paperwork and get a visa for Isabella.

She took the opportunity to learn more about Asian culture and how they view beauty and skin health differently, which she describes as an eye-opener.

“As the co-founder of a sunless tanning brand and a trained skin therapist, there’s nothing I love more than a safe golden glow,” says Leah.

“Short of my favorite products to add some color to my fair skin, I visited the colossal beauty departments found in every mall in Bangkok.

“In my naivety, I assumed they would cater to Western skin types as well, but the shelves were full of skin lightening products, the opposite of what we were looking for.

“You would only see Westerners sunbathing during the day by the pool, hoping for bronze on their skin. Once the sun went down, the pool came alive, Asian families took advantage of the warm evenings to cool off and relax. having fun in the water.

“In Asian culture, fair skin is associated with a comfortable life away from the sun. In Western culture, the opposite applies.

“In the past, you could tell if an Asian was wealthy or less fortunate by their skin color. In contrast, Westerners believe that tanned skin is a sign of beauty and wealth, indicating that you can afford to going on vacation and soaking up the sun. We also feel that tanned skin is healthier, more toned and younger looking. So my first concrete lesson in taking care of my daughter’s skin type was to away from the sun.

“Of course, beauty standards aside, we all know today that a healthy tan only exists if achieved through self-tanners.”

The more she investigated, the more she learned, finding that Asian skin was prone to irritation because it had a relatively thin outer layer. This makes it susceptible to environmental factors and chemicals and is one of the reasons why sunscreens are so popular in Asian countries.

“Asian skin also has more problems with pigment disorders, such as hyperpigmentation, melasma, freckles, and lentigines compared to other ethnic groups,” Leah explains.

“That’s why you see a lot of Asian cosmetics (with) brightening and lightening ingredients.

“Again, the FPS is a daily essential, whatever the weather. Vitamin D deficiency is also a widespread problem for Asians in the UK.

Leah’s new knowledge came in handy soon after she returned home with her daughter.

“When we finally got home, Isabella felt very lethargic and had a white coating on her tongue,” she says.

“Our GP has warned of an alarming rate of vitamin D deficiency in the UK among people of Asian and black descent. Once Isabella started taking vitamin D tablets the symptoms disappeared .

“She also developed eczema from her lack of vitamin D, so her skincare routine includes using a body moisturizer every day.”

Isabella is a student at Penrhyn Preparatory School, and her proud mum describes her as “very smart, happy, kind and generous”.

Leah adds: “It’s the best feeling in the world to be Isabella’s mom. We have a special bond and we are so alike in our ways and tastes in music and fashion. Sometimes I feel like it’s just me and her against the world.

“I try to teach him as best I can and also help him maintain his Thai culture.

“We mainly eat Asian food. She forgot how to speak Thai, so we are learning it very slowly. We are also members of the NI Thai association, where she meets other Thai children.

“The lockdown has made traveling difficult, but I’m looking forward to the day when I can bring her back to Thailand.”

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