top of page
  • Writer's pictureElle

Health, Beauty and Life with Fleur Mckenzie

I met Fleur a few years ago and since I've always been awe of her beauty inside and out.

She is passionate and knowledgeable in skin health which made me so excited to share (even had a little tear as I read her reply). I am so honoured to share some of her wisdom on the blog.

Love to know more a little bit about you and your journey? Was it an organic career change from nursing to skin?

It definitely has been a process. When I was younger I thought I would have loved to be a beauty therapist or make-up artist, but I was highly encouraged to go to uni as that seemed to be the idea of success at the time. I grew up in a small country town called Broken Hill and was 17 when I moved out of home. I decided to move 12.5 hours to the east coast to Wollongong where my older sister Esther was. She was the only person I knew there.

After a year of studying a bachelor of medical health sciences, I decided I would switch to study nursing the following year. I was interested in health, I wanted to be able to finish the degree and have a job, and be able to work anywhere, and I knew it was very broad and had lots of options.

I was 22 when I started working as a Registered nurse in Emergency at Wollongong hospital. It was a full on and stressful environment and I remember crying at work A LOT. I was lucky I had my best friend and house mate Sally working in there with me. We would always work overtime – crazy 18 hour shifts. I worked there for a year until I completed my new graduate year in emergency, then I decided to move to Western Australia.

I had lived in Wollongong for 5.5 years. I loved it there, but I didn’t love my job, I had no family there, and I felt like if I stayed that I would just be standing still; that there would be no growth. I didn’t know where to go. I think it’s always hard when you don’t have a certain person/job/interest pulling you in a certain direction or place. My mum was in WA, so I thought I’d move there with her, save some money to travel. I ended up getting this random job to travel around WA and work in rural emergency departments across WA, so I took it.

I was assigned to Albany, Geraldton and Esperance, relocating every 3.5 – 4 months. After my first few weeks in Albany, I was not enjoying myself at all. I remember ringing mum saying I’m going to quit nursing and become a beauty therapist. I was alone in rural WA, away from my friends, away from all the distraction and noise, and it was the first time I really had to sit with myself and what I wanted to do. I had this realization that I never, not once, ever dreamed of being a nurse. Nursing is a great career full of opportunities, but I remember I had a patient asking me one shift if I enjoyed it and I honestly couldn’t even answer her. “You have to love it” she told me, and the truth was, I just didn’t.

After a few short months of being in WA, my skin also broke out in deep cystic acne. This is really what sparked my passion in skin health. I realised that I didn’t need to leave nursing, I could combine my interest of beauty and health together. By the time I moved from Albany to Geraldton I decided to take the plunge and study my Graduate Diploma in Cosmetic Nursing with the Australasian Academy of Cosmetic Dermal Science which would allow me to become not only a Cosmetic Nurse but a Dermal Therapist as well. This gave me something to work towards, I loved learning about everything to do with the skin. I was taking all of the information in, and so I decided to stick out my time in WA.

Following 12 months in WA, I moved to Newcastle where both my sisters now were. I once again found work in Emergency nursing, but was constantly looking for the right cosmetic job to come along. In march 2020 I was offered my dream job at a boutique Medi-Spa called Coco Skin Laser Health, and then COVID happened and everything fell through. I continued to work in Emergency throughout COVID. The pandemic was making a stressful job even more stressful. I began struggling with really bad anxiety inside and outside of work. In November 2020, I gained full time work at a Dermatology clinic which was linked to Coco. I continued to manifest my dream job, journaling about it, writing it down on a new moon like I already had it. Come February 2021, almost a year later, I started working at Coco Skin Laser Health. It has taken me three years to get to where I am now since starting studying my graduate diploma. For the first time ever, I finally feel like this is what I am meant to do. I still remain working casually at the hospital every now and then to keep up my skills. I am grateful for all of the opportunities that nursing has provided to me, but in time, I would like to explore other avenues or do something completely different to nursing alongside my cosmetic role. I truly believe that variety is the spice of life.

I'm so into the gut / skin connection. How important is this connection?

It’s amazing how the gut influences so many parts of our body. It is well known that 70% of our serotonin, our happy hormone, is made in the gut. Working in dermatology we see a lot of patients with skin conditions that can be exacerbated by what they eat. People with eczema or psoriasis will notice that their skin can flare up due to certain foods such as dairy and gluten. These foods can cause the intestinal barrier to become more permeable and create inflammation within the body. Substances that are normally blocked by the intestinal barrier can leak back into systemic circulation and may produce allergies and metabolic and/or vascular changes. One of the most interesting things I learnt during my graduate diploma was the effect of sugar on the skin.

We all know that too much sugar is bad for us. A diet high in sugar increases our risk of diabetes, where our body’s ability to produce sufficient insulin to break down glucose becomes impaired. We therefore get a build-up sugar in our blood vessels and organs. This process is known as glycation. Advanced glycation end products (ironically termed AGEs) are formed when the body is in a prolonged hyperglycemic state. AGEs contribute to the pathophysiology of vascular disease in diabetes. But it doesn’t stop with diabetes.

AGEs modify the extracellular matrix within our cells, the actions of hormones, cytokines and free radicals (creating inflammation within the nerves, blood vessels and the liver), and impact on cell membrane fluidity. The collagen and elastin within our blood vessel walls become rigid and stiff, leading to cardiovascular dysfunction. The same happens to the collagen and elastin within our skin. The most visible effect of AGE formation is skin damage. AGEs contribute to the overall picture of skin ageing via inflammation, immune response, cell proliferation, and gene expression. The way we cook our food also influences AGE formation. Cooking at high temperatures with a low moisture content increases AGE formation, such as frying, barbequing and roasting. Cooking at a lower temperature with a higher moisture content is much better for your body and your skin, such as steaming, boiling, or using a slow cooker.

I am by no means a nutritionist or dietician, but I would definitely love to learn more about the gut-skin connection! Despite having some knowledge of how food and the gut affects our skin and ageing, I am probably one of the worst ones for it. I am such a foodie so I like to enjoy every single food there is to enjoy. I think that’s what life is all about. I do try to make up for it by looking after my skin in other ways.

What is your top 3 tips for looking after your skin? / routines you have?

1. Sun protection. I use SPF 50+ on my face, every. Single. Day. 80% of ageing is caused by UV damage. The sun not only damages your collagen and elastin, causing wrinkle formation, but it also causes broken capillaries and pigmentation. Even more so, every day working in dermatology I assist the dermatologists removing skin cancers. Some patients report having had more than 50 basal cell carcinomas cut out of their body in their lifetime. Most patients tell me had they known what we know now, they would never have spent all that time in the sun.

2. Quality skin care. I believe in using quality skin care products that contain active ingredients to work in synergy with the skin. I swear by Rationale and Synergie skin care. Products that are expensive may contain similar ingredients to ones you can find in a chemist or grocery store, but you’re not just paying for the brand. You’re paying for the science and research behind it, how the product is packaged in terms of ensuring longevity and keeping the active ingredients stable, how concentrated the formulation is, the mechanism of action and how it penetrates the skin, as well as how it looks and feels on the skin. Active ingredients can become oxidised and become inactive when exposed to air and light therefore when buying active skin care choose products in dark glass airtight pumps over clear plastic non-airtight products.

3. Switching to mineral make up. I use Jane Iredale and it’s been an absolute game changer. I never thought you could achieve such a beautiful and glowy look with mineral make up. Mineral make up often contains zinc which is anti-acneic and anti-inflammatory, and it’s also non-comedogenic meaning it is less likely to clog your pores creating congestion and break outs. When you start taking care of your skin using quality skin care in conjunction with treatments you will see the difference in your skin’s texture and luminosity and you’ll find that less definitely is more when it comes to make up.

If you feel comfortable, I’ve kept up on social media about a challenging time in WA - What have you learnt about yourself from that?

Moving to WA was a defining moment in my life. If I hadn’t made this move, I probably would have been too caught up with what my friends were doing to make any changes for a while. I always said I never wanted to be someone who sits and complains about their job but doesn’t do anything to change it. It was challenging at times. I made a small handful of friends. I didn’t really date anyone. I was moving every 3.5 months, so by the time I started to get comfortable, it was time to move and start again. I think I discovered I am actually quite an introvert. I took myself on little holidays and weekend getaways by myself. Went out for dinners on my own. I was able to see and explore some incredible parts of Western Australia. There were opportunities where I could have had company, but I learnt that I am a person who truly values deep and meaningful connections rather than superficial on the surface relationships. I’d rather spend time by myself than with people who I don’t think I really connect with.

Working and travelling around rural WA taught me that I can be okay being on my own. It also taught me to trust your gut and follow your heart. When I think back to when I was 17 and went to uni, I was doing that to fulfil other people’s expectations. This time away was a pivotal moment and allowed me to stop and think about what it is that I really enjoy, what I am interested in to make positive changes to my career. I think the biggest thing people find when they have some of that soul-searching time alone, is that when you take away all the distraction, you have to sit with yourself, and it’s extremely uncomfortable, but that’s always where the magic happens.

What sets your soul on fire?

Catching a good sunrise and sunset.

Watching the moon rise.

Sunset ocean swims on warm balmy nights.

Listening to music that speaks to my soul nice and loud.

Wholesome dinner nights with close friends and family ft. good food, red wine and belly laughs.

Switching off from social media and spending time in nature.

Fostering deep connections and meaningful relationships.

I have Spotify playlists to create different moods and so people who don't know you can have a feel of who you are through a song. What would your favourite song be at the moment?

Tricky one, I tend to have a few favorites that I listen to over and over. I have been listening to “Love Again” by Dua Lipa on repeat. Its so catchy. But I can’t choose just one so here’s a couple that I’ve been listening to for a long time that I can never get sick of:

“Struggle- extended mix” – Tinush

“Walking on a dream” – Empire of the Sun

“I say a little prayer” – Aretha Franklin

“This must be my Dream” – the 1975

“Alaska” – Sofi Tukker remix, Maggie Rogers

“Easy Lover” – Phil Collins, Philip Bailey

“Time after time” – Cyndi Lauper

“Keep you Warm” – Jaguar sun

“Skin” – Dijon

“Heavenly” – Cigarettes after Sex

“This Must be the Place” – naïve melody – Laurel

“The River – Piano” Angie McMahon

“Movin On” – Shoffy

“How to Disappear” = Lana Del Rey

“Escape from LA” – The Weeknd

I feel so inspired by Fleur. If you do also, you can keep up with her on instagram through this link.


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page