The Interview

Getting under the skin of Justine Kluk

Justine tells us about breakouts, upcoming collaborations and self-esteem.

Dr Justine Kluk is becoming something of a leading lady in skin care and dermatology circles. Justine finds herself attracting journalists and getting featured in The Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The Sunday Times Style supplement, and even attracting beauty bloggers. She has a Harley Street Clinic and is in the process of collaborating with a big UK skincare brand, something that we are going to see in 2017.

Formerly a Consultant Dermatologist for the NHS, specialising in Acne, Eczema, Psoriasis and Skin Cancer, Justine now not only looks after her patients’ medical skin conditions but also their cosmetic needs often seeing people through their entire skin journey.

“People would ask me questions about things that I couldn’t offer treatment for in the NHS. We’d treat their acne, and they’d say; “it’s really great the acne’s gone, but what about all the scarring I’m left with?” It’s understandable in a healthcare system like the one we have that we can’t treat all of these things as there are so many other problems that the healthcare system has to deal with. That said, these are some of the things that really bother people when they wake up in the morning and really wears them down over time.”

Moving to the UK from Cape Town, South Africa at the age of 8, Justine found a real passion for dermatology after suffering with breakouts and acne for over a decade. “I was determined that others shouldn’t endure the embarrassment and loss of self-esteem I suffered.”

“Even dermatologists get breakouts. When it happens to me I feel I have to make a disclaimer and point it out to everyone”

Walking in to Justine’s clinic, it is exactly what you would picture for a Harley Street Doctor. The wide Georgian hallway leads to a comfortable reception area and onto numerous consultation rooms. The room we find ourselves in is a well-ordered, boutique-style space that feels surprisingly relaxing, helped further by Justine’s warm and welcoming style. Feeling self-conscious for the first time in a long time that my skincare routine is going to let me down, Justine offers an olive branch; “Even dermatologists get breakouts. When it happens to me I feel I have to make a disclaimer and point it out to everyone. If I say it then I can own it and no one will sit there thinking that I’m no good at my job.”

A woman after our own heart, Justine had had her hair done especially for our visit, she had visited local salon DryBy; “I get asked to do these interviews from time to time, and I don’t want to turn up looking a mess – PLUS they give you a glass of prosecco when you have your hair done.”

Prosecco aside, and with the evening drawing in, we started to get an insight into the woman behind the brand.

“Flourish were able to really get inside my head and understand the message I was trying to convey”

You could have chosen to do anything, what made you decide to become a Dermatologist?

“I have always loved the idea of working closely with other people and helping to make their lives better so a career in medicine was on the cards from a very early age. My interest in the skin stems from my own personal experience with breakouts and acne from the age of twelve right up until my late twenties. As a qualified doctor by that stage, I doubled my efforts and secured a place on the highly competitive dermatology specialist training programme so that I could become a Consultant Dermatologist.

These days, I am in the privileged position of being able to look after people with similar experiences to mine. It is enormously satisfying to be able to reassure people with skin concerns that there is treatment that can work and to watch the change in demeanour as their skin improves and their confidence returns.”

How about certain areas of your practice that really excite you?

“The benefit of being both a medical and cosmetic dermatologist is that I am able to see my patients through their entire skin journey. This means that I may treat a particular person for acne in their teens or twenties. When this is under control, we may decide to tackle any scars or discolouration left behind. The same person will then come back to me further down the line for advice about stretchmarks or skincare after pregnancy, to treat eczema in their little ones or to discuss options for reducing wrinkles and preventing premature skin ageing. Being able to help people out at all these different stages of their lives is tremendously rewarding.

A lot more men are interested in taking care of their skin. This is a demographic that I’m definitely seeing more of, although right now most of the men I see are pushed into seeing me by the women in their lives, be that their partner or mother.

The thing that I really enjoy is when people tell me that they have just been for an interview that they would have never felt confident enough going to, because they didn’t feel good about themselves, or that they have just started dating someone. Those are the times that I think that this is the coolest job in the world.”

So, how did the business start?

“Having worked in a number of different clinic settings, and having quizzed numerous patients over the years, I understood that what people with skin concerns really want is to see a specialist who is knowledgeable, experienced and trustworthy, but who is also approachable, empathetic and takes the time to listen to their hopes and concerns…to really LISTEN!

The idea of a more tailored or bespoke approach really appealed to me as well and I made it my mission to create a boutique personalised skin clinic where the environment is stylish, but inviting, where consultations are calm and unrushed and where the focus is on the individual and how to help them look and feel their best. Ease of access was also key as many people with skin concerns have waited months and months or tried a long list of unsuccessful treatments before they finally pluck up the courage to book an appointment with a Dermatologist.”

Can you tell us how working with Flourish has impacted your business?

“I had a very clear vision for my clinics from the outset, but needed help translating the thoughts and ideas in my mind into real life. The team at Flourish are masterful and visionary – they were able to really get inside my head and understand the message I was trying to convey. The result is a brand that is very true to me and, from the first moment the concepts were presented to me, I couldn’t wait to get launched and show it all off. The feedback from new patients, friends and family, beauty journalists, skincare brands and other business owners has been nothing short of astounding and I am absolutely certain that my decision to work with Flourish was the right one.”

You like to keep in shape, what is your attitude towards health and fitness?

“I eat a healthy, balanced diet and I exercise 3 or 4 times a week. Of course there are weeks when I overindulge or miss a couple of workouts, but committing to eating well and following a fitness routine most of the time makes me feel healthier and more energised and also enables me to let myself off the hook occasionally without feeling guilty. I do also strongly believe that when you feel good about yourself, you look better too. The same goes for looking after your skin.”

Can you recommend 5 skincare products that we should all be using?

“A lot of people think that when they come to you, you are going to suggest things that are totally unaffordable. You need to have stuff that you are likely to continue using at home, as if it’s totally unaffordable people will stop using it and change to something else – plus the expensive ones aren’t necessarily better.

UV rays in sunlight are the single most important cause of skin ageing. My top two sun protection moisturisers are Jan Marini Physical Protectant SPF45 (tinted) and Elta MD UV Clear SPF46 (plain or tinted). Both are non-comedogenic which means they aren't sticky and won't block your pores.

My top antioxidant serum is Skinceuticals Phloretin CF which contains vitamin C. Antioxidants block collagen-damaging free radicals generated by smoke, pollution and other environmental toxins.

For removing make-up gently, but thoroughly, I love Bioderma Sensibio micellar water. It is also great to have in your gym bag for wiping your skin immediately after a workout to prevent sweat from causing irritation and promoting breakouts.

My lips get very dry in the winter and my favourite treatment for this is Filorga Nutrifiller lips. Not only does this lip balm nourish, restore and protect damaged lips, it contains peptides which promise to plump and smooth the lips and help redefine the borders.”

You have big plans for the future, what is next for you and the business?

“Word is getting out and the reputation of the clinic is building nicely now. My main focus at present is on gathering feedback and making adjustments to ensure that I am always offering the best possible service to my patients.

On a personal note, something I am really looking forward to later in 2017 is a collaboration with a big skincare brand that I can’t wait to tell people about. It makes me very happy to know that they have confidence in me and I’m really excited about the people it will allow me to connect with and the opportunities it may bring. Watch this space, as they say!”