Louise Thomas-Minns

Nestled on Bridewell Alley, and tucked away in the heart of the Norwich Lanes, sits one of the jewels in the crown of Norwich's local businesses, U and Your Skin. 

Opened by celebrity Skin Therapist Louise Thomas-Minns in 2013, U and Your Skin provides a bespoke skincare service, tailoring treatments to your exact needs, instead of following strict pre-determined regimes. Four years down the line, Louise is currently working on her passion project, her very own skincare range; I met with her for dinner at The Tipsy Vegan a few months back to discuss future plans. We were accompanied by Laura and Shelley, and between the three of us, spent the evening quizzing Louise about all things skincare.

In anticipation of the launch of Louise Thomas Skin Care (coming soon!), I decided I wanted to get to know the woman behind the brand. Without any further ado...

LSS: Where did it all start for you?
LTM: So, day one of training as a Beauty Therapist [I] had horrific acne. I thought that was the end of the world but actually it was that negative experience of my skin that led me to then become fascinated with skin health. Working as a Beauty Therapist, 22 years ago, my thing was always full facials, that was my thing, and then I started to heal myself, which then allowed me to work out the formula that is the U and Your Skin facial. Having realised that there was a formula, I then started applying that to healing other people.

LSS: Looking ahead to the launch of your skincare brand, how did you get to where you are today?
LTM: Having acne has helped, never thought I'd say that, but it helped because I can now empathise with the psychological element of having a skin issue, but also, my clients have taught me a lot along the way. They have educated me almost, as to what they want, what they don't want, what's important to them, what the gaps are in the market, so it's actually being a hands on therapist for all that time and interacting with those people, that has allowed me to hone in on what I want to create.

LSS: So, I follow you on Instagram and I'm a big fan of your Instagram stories. You always seem to be very busy, and balancing a lot of different aspects of your life at the same time - how do you keep motivated through all that?
LTM: I would say coffee and gin; that's probably not very on brand but that would be true! I'm naturally quite driven and quite competitive with myself, but I also take inspiration from other amazing entrepreneurial women around me. Instagram is a platform I love and which opens up so much so now I can see what those other inspirational women are doing, and that...
LSS: In turn inspires you?
LTM: Yeah, and brings support, almost, even if you're not always directly talking to them. I think I've just always had that kind of natural, gutsy ability to just keep pushing. Definitely I've had lots of highs and lots of lows over the years, but from that I've learned to keep pushing and not take no for an answer.

LSS: Okay, so you said you've had highs and lows. So when you have days when you're feeling unmotivated or a bit low, what do you do to turn it around?
LTM: Actually I think this is really important and I talk about this a lot to clients. Clients come and see me about their skin issues, and then we look deeper and there's always a root cause for why that's manifesting itself physically. For me, I now have a strategy of how I deal with those days, which everyone gets, and it's about actually being kind to myself and accepting, just accepting that I'm having a day where it's difficult to find that motivation. Maggie definitely helps, because you can't really have a down day, which is sometimes really tough but actually is also good because you have to go 'well I'm the adult here, and I'm the mum and she's looking up to me so I've got to keep going and demonstrate'. I think definitely there were a lot of years where I used to beat myself up for having days where I wasn't feeling on top form all the time but now I just accept it and go 'okay that's what I'm feeling right now' and then usually it passes quite quickly.

LSS: So I have recently started working from home on a permanent basis and what I have found, is that it makes me really lazy with my skincare despite having lots of time on my hands to do it better.
LW: Naughty Laura...
LSS:  If you had to recommend a really basic skincare routine to anyone else in my position, what would it be?
LTM: Cleanse and moisturise.
LSS: Just cleanse and moisturise?
LTM: Yep. They are your two key elements because if your canvas, as I like to call it, isn't clean, nothing else you put on it is going to respond anyway and if you don't replenish that moisture, not just moisture but also that lipid barrier, that protective, antibacterial barrier, then you're going to get lots of problems arising. So even if you've got oily skin, you still need to restore those barriers.
LW: Day and night?
LTM: Day and night. Another thing I always say to clients as well, up until this week as I've been a bit of a social butterfly, ordinarily as soon as I'm home from work or whatever I'm doing for the day with Maggie, that's my shower, that's my time to take my makeup off. A lot of clients will leave it till literally they're so dog-tired and about to fall into bed and then they don't do it, but if you're not going anywhere, while your children are having their tea or whatever, go and do your routine and then it's done for the evening and you haven't got to go 'oh I can't be bothered to take my make up off and put my products on'.
LW: I put my pyjamas on or my cosies on quite early - I can't bear to have my work clothes on so I...
LTM: Yeah me too.
LW: ...get them off; why wouldn't you also want to take your face off?
LTM: Yeah, so do your routine early if you're having a night in.

LSS: So you said cleanse and moisturise - growing up, for me the message was cleanse, tone, and moisturise and I've spoken to you before about toner and how you feel about that...
LTM: It depends on your cleanser. I'm not a massive fan of toners, unless you're using quite a traditional kind of french way of treating your skin, and you're using a cream cleanser or a cleansing milk or lotion. That's why toners were really developed - to remove the dirty cleanser. If you're using washes, and you're using washcloths, muslin cloths, there's no need always to tone after as well. There's a big trend now for acid toners, which are really efficient and I have used them; definitely if you're using something like that, which I would consider more as an exfoliant and not necessarily a daily occurrence, then yeah you don't need to use a traditional toner too. If you do tone, make sure it's alcohol free.

LSS: Great tip! Biggest skincare myth?
LW: Oooh good question!  
SH: Link to my blog post - I shared five... [laughs]
LTM: Do that, yes, because I'm sitting here and I can't actually remember one of them which is really  bad, so yeah, thanks for that Shelley. There is a blog post where I share five... [laughs]

LSS: In that case, let's go for the opposite - the single best skincare tip you can give?
LTM: Wow, see the one that instantly came to mind was Baz Luhrmann, so, wear sunscreen. I'll go with that.

LSS: Worst piece of advice you've ever received?
LTM: About anything?
LSS: Yep.
LTM: Erm, that's a really hard question - I'm really struggling with that. There must be some!
LSS: You can email me or let me know later?
LTM: I might have to message you about that - I might need to think about it.

Louise later messaged me on Instagram with the following worst bit of advice ever received: 
"Get a perm! Disaster resulting in having a mini mohican down my centre parting as it burnt my hair away!" 
I decided not to ask Louise for a photo, so you'll just have to imagine that one for yourself! 

LSS: On the flip side, what's the biggest thing you've learnt from your journey, personally, about life, about anything..?
LTM: To be myself. There were a lot of years where, especially when I was working in a corporate environment, I was being somebody else's brand so I was being somebody I wasn't and I didn't always know how to switch off from that person to actually break those barriers down. I definitely spent my twenties being somebody I wasn't, when I look back, so now I just try and be true, which is obviously very important when you're also trying to build a brand!
LSS: That's so true - because people invest in you. When you put your name to a brand, people invest in you, and people want to know you, as you.
LTM: It's human nature for us to be nosy, isn't it?

LSS: Especially on Instagram! Okay, so if you were stuck on a desert island what three things would you take with you?
LTM: Three things? Not necessarily skincare?
LSS: Anything - you could take some skincare...
LW: Well you should have suncream in there! [laughs]
LTM: [laughing] If it was only things...sunscreen, a notebook and a pen.

LSS: Teach me something I don't know in the next two minutes.
LW: Hey Siri, set a timer for two minutes.
SIRI: Okay, two minutes and counting...
LTM: I can teach you to Cha Cha, if you like?
LSS: Let's do it.

Two minutes of Cha Cha in the middle of the restaurant later...

LTM: I have not had enough to drink for this!
LSS: [laughs] ...and my last question, what's the most interesting thing about you?
LTM: Maybe that I could've been a professional Latin American Ballroom dancer? I was always going to do that, or skin.

(Louise Thomas Skin Care will be launching in Autumn 2018. For more information about treatments available at U and Your Skin, head on over to their website (linked above) for a treatment list. If you're new to facials, I'd personally recommend starting with the Signature Facial - I had one the other week and it was incredible!)



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