Lord Gavin McLeod-Valentine is a walking billboard for skin health. The facialist and masseur is a legend as far as beauty is concerned, trusted by a roster of high profile clients to keep their skin bright, lifted and sculpted. His transformative facial massage technique – alongside a passion for skin health – has also seen him join Augustinus Bader as a global ambassador (not a bad gig for someone who used the range organically prior).
The Bader brand, co-founded by Professor Bader and Charles Rosier, exploded onto the scene in 2017, and has quickly become one of the most sought-after skincare lines on the market. Powered by a unique amino acid complex known as TFC8, the range is centered on wound healing, and works to support optimal skin function, thus improving on all skin concerns (be it acne, pigmentation, dullness or signs of ageing).
To mark the Australian launch into Mecca (finally!), McLeod-Valentine made his way down under, where GRAZIA had the chance to sit down with him and ask all things skincare science, facial massage, and what it’s like to prep famous complexions before some of the biggest nights of there career. Read on for the interview, and be sure to scroll through the Lord’s Instagram to get a visual on just how transformative his treatments are.
So how did you get into beauty?
I feel most of us who got involved in the beauty industry did so because there was something we wanted to work on. In my teenage years, I had terrible acne. The response was to go to the pharmacy, buy benzoyl peroxide. But nothing was grounded in skin health or vitality. So I really wanted to become my own armchair expert, and resolve the issue. That’s what sparked my curiosity.
Did you get into skin and aesthetics straight away?
I actually worked in PR and branding for 10 years with a variety of skincare brands. I worked with so many experts and ambassadors, but found it quite frustrating that everyone had different opinions and perspectives. It was confusing for me, let alone the consumer. I was eventually head-hunted by the Australian brand Intraceuticals – they invented the Oxygen Facial! I was working with them, but they didn’t want to pay for advertisements. So I put out all these invitations for celebrities to come in and experience a treatment before the Met Gala – the only response was from Halle Berry! We were a few days out when the brand expressed they wanted me to do the facial, so I practiced on every single person I could find for the next two days, before heading over to Halle’s apartment. I did the treatment, and sort of acted intuitively, lifting the cheeks, feeling things out. After an hour, she looked in the mirror and said, ‘I feel so beautiful’. That was it! It felt incredible to be involved in such a transformation. I enrolled in school, and got my license. Word of mouth spread, and I was receiving calls from A-list clients like Sharon Stone and Susan Sarandon – it snowballed from there.
How did you refine your now famous massage technique?
I had a big change in my career when I went to China. It was for work, and there I was introduced to a woman called Madam Shin who had worked as a Geisha for around 50 years. But she also helped the younger girls massage and reshape their complexions. She trained me in her technique, using deep, rhythmic movements to really get into the fascia and make the face more angular. I brought a lot of those learnings back with me, and I think that helped in building my reputation.
Let’s talk about Augustinus Bader – how did you become familiar with the brand?
Kim Kardashian introduced it to me! She’s always been someone I admired, and she has this knack for knowing what’s effective – for example, her skincare line is really beautiful! She was very clear that it was a brand to pay attention to, so I bought it on her suggestion. I had quite bad acne scarring at the time, and everyone kept asking me what I was doing – if I’d tried micro-needling or laser. But it was just a moisturiser (The Cream). I couln’t believe it. So many of my clients were using it, too – it was always in the hands of the right people, those who had access to anything and everything. And I couldn’t deny the results.
Incredible. What about working with Bader – how did your role as global ambassador come about?
It was a freak moment, really. I was at the mall, and ran into Loree Rodkin, a jewellery designer and woman I’ve met quite a few times (she’s fabulous). She walked over, said ‘hi Gavin’ and introduced me to her friend, Melanie Griffith. Melanie was an angel investor in Bader. Rodkin said something about us working together, and I was directly linked to the CEO. We spent three hours in conversation, and the partnership came from there. It was magic.
What is it about the Bader technology you find so remarkable?
I mean, it’s not just the science… all you need to do is read Professor Bader’s bio to know how innovative this is. But I love that at the heart of the brand it’s about empowering people, and giving them the tools to look and feel their best.
Overall the products are also functional, pragmatic, they produce results. It really comes down to feeding the skin what it needs, in a way it can accept, to bring it back to a place of health and balance. We’re not trying to trick an old dog into a new trick, the products (and signature TFC8 complex) are simply working to get the skin to do what it used to do, before the ageing process rendered it lazy. It is logical but incredibly transformative.
Finally, what does a signature Lord Gavin pre-red-carpet treatment look like, and what are the results?
I set an intention, and then begin with the Cleansing Balm, really focusing on breaking down whatever is on the skin. I’ll do a double cleanse with either the Foaming Cleanser or Cream Cleanser, and then I’ll apply the face oil. This is where I get into deep rhythmic massage, really working on strengthening and structuring the jawline. I’ll open all the ports to drain excess fluid, get under the cheek, lift the brows and contour all features. I then use a special in-clinic serum Professor Bader prepared for me, before going in with cryo sticks, radio frequency to tighten the skin, and seal it in with the Rich Cream. If the client has a few hours before red carpet glam, I love to add a few more drops of the face oil, too.
I sometimes like to finish with a guided meditation in an LED tunnel. I like my clients to get to a place of deep relaxation – there is often so much pressure on their shoulders to look unnaturally perfect. It’s a great way to ground them, and give them the headspace to keep their boundaries intact before a big event like the Met Gala. There is truly so much that goes on behind the scenes, it’s essential that when they’re with me, they are completely at ease.
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This article originally appeared on Grazia International.