I’m seeing a trend in more non-invasive treatments and that really pleases me. Less surgery equals less risk. Women and men are now able to achieve face and body goals without having to undergo major surgery and that’s a step in the right direction.

As a part of our series about how technology will be changing the beauty industry over the next five years I had the pleasure of interviewing Elena Duque. Elena Duque is an accomplished Esthetician, On-Air Beauty & Lifestyle Expert, and savvy med-spa owner in New York City. Elena has been featured in publications such as Oprah Magazine, Insider, and New York Magazine for her expertise on spas, skincare, beauty, and business. Elena has worked hands on with various esthetic devices and has demonstrated many skincare tools and gadgets on national morning shows as well. Elena has a true passion for educating consumers on new and innovative beauty & skincare products, treatments, and procedures. Elena’s mission is to help all women feel confident in the skin they’re in.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I grew up in a single mother household, and funny enough, my mom was not into skincare or beauty at all. I naturally had a real affection towards anything related to skincare and beautification. Looking back I think it was my way of coping with my parent’s divorce, and the loneliness I felt. I would read the latest magazines to find out what the makeup trends were, create my own body scrubs, and use my allowance to purchase skincare and makeup. I used my little sister as my guinea pig and would apply highlights in her hair (which looked terrible!) and she would also allow me to do makeovers on her, needless to say, we had a lot of fun! At that time, I didn’t even know what an Esthetician was, but I was already creating my path without even knowing it.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

In 2017 a colleague of mine casually mentioned that her friend was a producer at Good Day New York, and was looking for someone to do a segment on skincare. At that time I was two years into owning my spa, but still felt something was missing professionally. You see, I always wanted more. I grew up watching morning shows and dreamt about becoming a “beauty expert” on television, as well as a beauty writer. So, when my colleague offered me that opportunity, I pounced on it, and my life was forever changed. I got booked for an in-studio segment on Good Day New York and I was to feature and demo esthetic devices from my spa for a segment on Spring skincare. I performed an oxygen facial as well as skin tightening with radio frequency on a live model. Stepping into that studio, and getting mic’d up was exhilarating and nerve wracking all at the same time. After I got a taste of what it was like to be on television, I wanted more. I didn’t really know how to go about getting booked on more segments but I just put myself out there, and through trial and error I began to pave my own way, and now have officially become an On-Air Esthetician, Skin, & Beauty Expert.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

There was a definite tipping point in my career in the very beginning of 2019. At that time my daughter was diagnosed with ADHD. I was doing all kinds of research, googling ways to cope with it, finding strategies to help her cope with it, learning about symptoms and characteristics of ADHD, and everything else under the sun. I put in so much time and research because I wanted to know everything about it, and how to handle it. One night, while I was sleeping, I shot up out of bed, almost unable to breathe. I had a real-life epiphany. “I have ADHD” I said aloud to no one. All the pieces to my erratic life’s puzzle came together for me. All the mistakes I made, struggles I faced, and feelings of inadequacy seemed to make a little bit of sense. I always felt different, like I didn’t belong, out of place, not good enough, and disorganized mentally and physically. It was as if I’d been sitting in the dark for 38 years and somebody finally turned on the light for me. That week I immediately went to a psychiatrist, underwent testing, and was in fact diagnosed with ADD inattentive type, an anxiety disorder and depression. I had a lot of mixed emotions, but mainly I was sad because I felt I was cheated out of a better life, I kept wondering what my life would have been like if I had been diagnosed at an early age, and gotten help. I always struggled to stay in school, hold down a job, finish a project, and stay the course, and like most people with ADD/ADHD, I would blame myself. After receiving my diagnosis I began therapy sessions and taking medication. In the last 18 months I’ve been able to accomplish more than I’ve ever thought possible. My confidence and my career have sky rocketed. I’ve been able to complete tasks with more ease, and I’ve learned how to be more organized and efficient. The biggest lesson I learned from this experience is that mental health is so important and so often goes undiagnosed or just gets ignored. I also learned that it’s never too late to follow your dreams, and if you want something, you have to go out and get it.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I’m a very lucky person to be surrounded by a loving and supportive family, but the one person who has been my rock, and my biggest cheerleader, is my husband Matt. We’ve been married almost 9 years, but we’ve been together for 12 years. In the 12 years we’ve been together, I’ve come up with more plans, Shark Tank Ideas, and business proposals than I can even recall. Never once did he discredit any of my dreams or ideas, and trust me I had some pretty bad ones. I always felt supported and encouraged by him, and I’m so lucky to have such a positive and dependable partner by my side. He is so proud of me for always going after what I want, and for finally seeing my dreams come to fruition.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. The beauty industry today has access to technology that was inconceivable only a short time ago. Can you tell us about the “cutting edge” (pardon the pun) technologies that you are working with or introducing? How do you think that will help people?

Right now I’m working a lot with microneedling and radio frequency and I love combining the two treatments. Microneedling uses a bunch of tiny needles to build collagen, reduce scars and dark spots, and improve skins texture. The treatment is paired with a topical medical grade serum. Radio Frequency is a skin tightening procedure that uses RF to heat skin, and stimulate collagen production. By combining them I’ve noticed quicker, better results. These treatments are non-invasive, regenerate collagen, and enables the skin to naturally lift and tighten. Best of all there is little to no pain, and no downtime. Patients leave with a natural looking brow lift, visibly reduced lines around the nasolabial folds, and a more refined jawline. Women will feel more confident, rejuvenated and refreshed, without having to break the bank or go under the knife.

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

I love your reference to Black Mirror, it’s a favorite of mine! There are a few potential drawbacks to microneedling, one in particular is a newer form of semi-permanent makeup on the market called BB Glow. BB Glow uses microneedling to infuse makeup into the skin, specifically foundation. You can literally say “I woke up like this” and mean it. I say, proceed with caution. This procedure is not yet approved by the FDA, and not enough studies have been done on what the long-term effects are. You’re also running the risk of infection, an allergic reaction to the makeup, organ toxicity, and contact dermatitis.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the “beauty-tech” industry?

I’m seeing a trend in more non-invasive treatments and that really pleases me. Less surgery equals less risk. Women and men are now able to achieve face and body goals without having to undergo major surgery and that’s a step in the right direction.

Personalized and customized beauty is becoming more and more popular. Many makeup retailers have software that virtually allow you to try on hundreds of lipstick and eyeshadow shades whether in-store or through an app. I’ve personally tried this technology and it’s incredible how accurate it is.

Skin analysis through artificial intelligence is growing with the big beauty brands. Virtual skincare may sound futuristic, but it’s been around for a few years. This technology hasn’t gotten the best feedback, but companies have been making strides to tweak and improve their flaws. I predict that once it’s perfected, people will be prefer to use this technology, and the need for an in-person consultation with a skincare professional will be obsolete.

Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?

At-home Esthetic devices such as laser hair removal and microneedling concern me. As an Esthetician I know how potentially dangerous these devices can be when not used properly. People who are not educated in skincare and use these tools at home can self-inflict burns, micro tears, or worse if they don’t follow the proper protocols, not to mention these devices are not as effective as a machine that is used in a med spa or dermatology office.

I feel that the beauty and beauty tech industry is becoming over saturated and inundated with gimmicky treatments, products, and services. It seems as though these new trends are being created to top the competitors, and not created with the actual consumer in mind. Sometimes, simple is best and people just want results, without all the bells and whistles.

There’s a huge gray area when it comes to Esthetician’s and what they (we) can do within their scope of practice, and it varies by state. The amount of hours required to obtain an Esthetics license also varies by state. My concern is that the education and guidelines are not consistent and it needs to be more uniform. Esthetician’s want to keep up with new and trending treatments and the latest devices to hit the market, but at the rate the beauty tech industry is growing, technology is evolving faster than individual state legislation can keep up with. This is leading to even more concern and more unanswered questions when it comes to what procedures Estheticians are allowed to perform legally.

You are an expert about beauty. Can you share 5 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”? (Please share a story or example for each.)

Beauty and feeling beautiful really does start from within. I have a mantra that I say aloud every morning with my daughters while I’m getting them ready for school. “ I am beautiful, I am kind, I am loved”.

A mini self-facial massage will make you look and feel beautiful, refreshed, and relaxed. Add this to your morning routine and you will feel and see a glow.

Create beauty around you. Buy flowers, a new plant, or declutter your space. You will instantly feel beauty when you see your surroundings in a positive light.

Put on your favorite outfit. Sometimes our clothes can really change our attitude and boost confidence.

Fill your mind with beautiful thoughts and you will exude beauty. Think about positive experiences you’ve had, places you’ve been, and the people you love. When you focus on the happy elements in your life, you will feel beautiful and full of gratitude.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 😊

As I’ve mentioned before, beauty starts from within. I want to inspire women to first work on themselves on a mental level before a physical level. We have to stop and ask ourselves, “why do I want to change/altar/tweak my appearance”? Make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. If you’re feeling sad, depressed, imbalanced, or unstable, seek professional help. I think that social media can give a lot of women a false reality of what beauty is, and it is causing a lot of women to get plastic surgery to look “Instagram perfect” and it’s very alarming. You are perfectly imperfect, embrace it.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My life lesson quote actually comes from my mom’s famous words “Do the right thing”. Of course as a teenager it annoyed me but that one simple phrase has stuck with me throughout my life. As an Esthetician and entrepreneur I always act with honesty and respect towards my clients and I take pride in the fact that I only work with brands that I believe in, and when I work with spa clients I will only recommend products or services that they need. I try to be ethical and practical and do the right thing, because in the end, I have to live with my choices and I want to give myself the respect that I deserve.

How can our readers follow you online?

My website: https://www.elenaduquebeauty.com/

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.


The Future Of Beauty: “We’re seeing a trend in non-invasive treatments” With Elena Duque was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.