Yelena Royzen, lead educator of Bliss Spa New York

“Russian food? It’s very rich, quite similar to the food here,” said Ms Yelena Royzen, the lead educator at Bliss Spa in New York, twhen I asked her what the food from her homeland was like.

I was intrigued because Ms Royzen, who sports a hip crop hairdo and a warm smile, is known to cook some great Russian food.

She’s not only skilled in cooking, of course. Ms Royzen originally studied to be an aesthetician dealing with skin diseases in the former Soviet Union. On arriving in New York 22 years ago and given the choice of skincare or music ‒ she also played the piano ‒ she ended up choosing the former because she “wanted to make people beautiful”.

That was the start of Ms Royzen’s career at the cult spa chain, where she now spends time working on guests and visiting the 21 Bliss Spa outlets worldwide to mentor therapists.

On the new treatments to look out for
“Using probiotics or good bacteria in skincare products. It’s good for acne,” Ms Royzen says. She’s quite excited about bio-identical collagen too, which she discovered on a trip to a German lab. “They sell products with this ingredient to hospitals to heal skin but it can also be used in facials. Because it’s identical to the collagen in our body, we absorb it immediately and the results are fantastic.”

On the biggest change she’s seen in customers
Ms Royzen notes women have started making themselves a priority. “When we started, a lot of women felt guilty to come and spend time on themselves. But I always tell them they have to do this to become stronger on the inside and outside.”

“I remember the air stewardess on my first airplane trip saying in her demonstration: ‘First you put on the oxygen mask, then you help the kids.’ It was so right – I had to be fit and healthy, only then can I rule the world.”

On slimming creams and treatments
“They’re not miracles in a jar.” she says, which came as a surprise as Bliss has their own slimming creams. “You still have to eat healthy and exercise regularly and work hard for results. Everything comes with pain.”

Ms Royzen also doesn’t disapprove of invasive surgery, but only for those with problems which really affect their mental well-being. She warns though, “the problem is people don’t know how to stop a lot of the time. They become addicted and even unrecognisable after a point.”

On common misconceptions about facials
Don’t like the shine after you get a facial? Well, Ms Royzen believes that’s actually a sign of healthy skin. “Shiny skin after a facial means skin’s absolutely clean, there are no dead skin cells and your natural oils have come to the surface. This is balanced skin and how it’s supposed to be.”

On common misconceptions about acne
A lot of people with oily skin and acne tend to dry out the skin but this will cause skin to produce even more oil. You’ll have to know how  your body works to get good results as Ms Royzen recommends: “Look at hormonal changes, the pills you’re on and your eating habits to figure out what’s wrong. Then try taking small steps like eating less at night for a month or stop drinking soda for a month. All these will add up.”

Bliss Spa is at #01-05, Sephora, Ion Orchard.