Diana Seo’s business trajectory is truly inspiring. In four short years, she has gone from giving individualized facials in the rooms of guests staying at the The Soho Grand Hotel in New York City, to running two B-Spa Bars in boutique hotels, and a spa/salon in Westchester county. A biophysics graduate that gravitated toward combining Eastern and Western treatment philosophies, Diana initially started to develop facials to treat her own acne. Her journey started as a medical consultant for plastic surgeon Charles Thorne, MD, to researching ingredients to detox the body, to earning certification from Atelier Esthétique, which allows her to practice in 39 countries.
Facials from the B-Spa team are totally customized for each client and include hand-mixed treatments based on unusual ingredients like chocolate and tamarind. Plus, Diana has just launched the Stem Cell Facial, which use a reverse polarity device from Italy that enhances the skin’s ability to absorb collagen.
Read on for more of her story:
Why did you set out to “set a new standard in medical day spas?” What motivated you?
Medi spas in the US target clients’ conditions—they are not preventative, they seek to “cure” in a way I believe is too harsh. My experience, working with dermatologists and plastic surgeons, led me to seek out new ways to customize skincare. For example, as I am doing with the stem cell facials I offer at B-Spa, these treatments with surgical grade bovine collagen spur rejuvenation of over dry or aging skin in a healthy, non invasive new way. These facials are breakthrough in that for the first time they allow the infusion of macromolecules of collagen into the skin’s water channels through the newest generation of electro-pulse therapy. B-Spa is one of the only spas in the US to offer this treatment. Men and women are loving it! The skin takes on a super healthy glow, fine lines and wrinkles are diminished, and the skin seems plumper, more youthful. Some of my clients like to do this treatment instead of injectables; they swear by its effects and depend on it as a rejuvenating pick-me-up every week or two. This treatment is a perfect example of my medi-spa approach—offering a non-invasive medical treatment that is healthy, therapeutic, and just gives people a wonderfully serene sense of—to quote what B Spa is all about—“beauty and balance.”
How does your background in science make you a better beauty expert?
I am trained in science—biophysics. I know anatomy. I am well schooled in physiology. The way I can analyze and help improve skin is similar to the way I was trained in the lab. There are many, many ingredients people are unaware of so my background in biophysics and chemistry allows me to scrutinize key ingredients—and then some! As a researcher and a scientist, my background helps me investigate the best way to help a client’s skin. There is a rigor to my esthetics practice—a formal procedure as there is in medicine and science.
You are influenced by Eastern and Western philosophies. When did that start? Does one prevail?
This balancing of East and West has been part of my life since childhood. I am Korean American. I grew up here in the US and I went to school for pre-med but the Western influence I was exposed to in medicine aimed to “cut”—not to prevent. So I sought a balance to learn about prevention versus potentially more invasive ways to “cure.” I studied Chinese herbal medicine and learned how it could prevent future abnormalities. Yet, I also learned that homeopathic treatments could only do so much. I do place a high value on the benefits of Western medicine. And I see that the discovery of new technology allows for better ways to treat the human body. But given the Western go go go mentality, there is a need to offset this with Eastern medicine—neither one is complete without the other.
Have you always had a holistic approach to life? Or was there a turning point?
When I was in my 20s, I was a partier. I did not watch what I ate, I had little sleep (why did I need it? I thought then), I enjoyed a few drinks when I was out…you could say I had a carefree youth. But seven years ago health became priority #1 for me. My beloved grandfather became ill with cancer and I too had a cancer scare. While I took it upon myself to do all I could to help him recover, I also faced a life-changing situation. I made a career change after my doctors surgically removed a big lymph node. I thought that I had non-Hodgkins lymphoma. I was working with a plastic surgeon but I knew I had to do something different. Initially I wanted to open a tea bar, I wanted to detox the body based on what tea could do for health and healing. I started researching ingredients for skin and body. As this research progressed, I realized I wanted to be certified for esthetics, for a non-invasive way to help restore beauty and balance to people’s lives. So I earned my certification from Atelier Esthétique. This professional certification is most prestigious, it allows me to practice in 39 countries around the world. But overall, seven years ago I began to take the steps I needed to fully balance my life…and share this approach to health and spiritual, organic wellness with those I touch—through work, friendship and family.
You have just introduced the first B-Spa branded products—the mists inspired by Ayurvedic teachings—what is the importance of Ayurvedic medicine to you?
Ayurveda means Science of Life in Sanskrit, so this scientific, yet holistic way of healing is incredibly rewarding to me. Ayurvedic medicine is about balancing mind, body and spirit, which is a perfect fit with my life philosophy to naturally embrace mind, body, emotions, and consciousness. My mantra for B-Spa is: “nourish your mind & body with balance & beauty.” But I realized I was not nourishing myself. I was always in a rush, never thinking I needed time for myself. Once I recognized that I was not listening to my own mantra and sensed my stress level becoming out of proportion to my life, I decided to create these holistic mists—and they are incredibly helpful every day. Worry Free helps me not to get stressed out. When I need a refreshing pick me up, I reach for Immunity. I love the soothing nature of Vata when I need to center myself and be calm. So I use all three! And now, I never forget that I need to take a moment to nourish my spirit—and I hope that centered feeling stays with everyone who uses our B-Spa Mists. Each one is unique and features the purest essential oils:
Soothing Vata – Rose geranium, sweet orange, basil, fennel and marjoram bring the revitalizing ability to detach and focus as clear thinking takes over from stressful anxieties.
Immunity – Eucalyptus, lavender, pine, peppermint, spearmint, clove, and cinnamon bark encourage you to enjoy the moment as this forest mist surrounds to allow you to feel immune from the intrusive pressures of the day.
Worry Free – Jasmine, clary sage, lemon, rose, and patchouli encourage you to de-stress and create a personal oasis of calm, becoming worry free as you detach from anxiety and find a way to prioritize simply and naturally
These are a natural enhancement for anyone who seeks to function in a state of calm and alertness. I believe B-Spa Mists bring positive energy to every aspect of a healthy balanced lifestyle. Of course, I would love to introduce a complete skincare collection based on Ayurvedic medicine but that day has not come yet…soon I hope. More and more Ayurvedic healing is influencing my life and at B-Spa Bar I am seeking new, healthful, healing ways to integrate it into the spa experience.
What is your personal beauty ritual?
First of all, I love Priori products. They are my personal favorites. However, ritual-wise, I cleanse only at night to preserve the skin’s natural oils. But at night I do make sure to follow consistently (this is important, to be consistent) a three-step regimen. After I cleanse, I use a light enzyme serum, then a rich, intensive night moisturizer to help my skin rejuvenate overnight. But it is a critical step to gently mist with B Mist Worry Free; this eases my mind and helps me sleep. In the morning, I wash my face with water and use a light serum and day moisturizer under makeup. Priori is a Coffeeberry mineral skincare line, which I love. I use their natural SPF everyday as it creates a protective barrier between my skin and the environment—a beautiful balancing step that’s integral to my every day ritual.