Spring/Summer 2021 | A conversation with Ez Dyer
Ez discusses how one’s emotional state affects the outlook of their physical state, particularly, their skin. She shares her personal journey of overcoming past trauma, emotional and physical health issues and finding healing through taking charge of her own life and body, and now being able to help others find healing through The Virtual Spa.
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A conversation with Ez Dyer
Today’s Exclusive Guest.
Who is Ez Dyer?
With a background in the banking and finance industry, Ez made the leap from finance to facialist due to her personal experience of skin conditions and a growing desire to understand how our bodies react to different environments internal and external. Ez works with clients from across the world, from the UK, US, and Canada, to Europe and the Middle east. She responded to the pandemic with her desire to positively impact people’s wellbeing by launching The Virtual Spa in early 2020 and branching into employee wellbeing. Her caring and consistent approach has positioned her as a trusted voice on skincare, across multiple industries and in the media. Ez is a member of the British Beauty Council, Women of the City, and BABTAC and she gives back to society through her work with helping charities.
How it all started- the journey
It’s been 21 years since it all kicked off in terms of the initial trauma and then me dealing with the trauma and then making the changes in my life to where I am today. When I was 19 years old, I was in my first year of university. I started in September and in December tragically, I lost my brother in a car accident and then straight after my brother going, two months later, two days before my birthday, my grandmother also passed away – purely because she got ill, she couldn’t deal with what had happened. He was only 17. It was really the trauma of losing both people, especially my gran, more so because she was really my mother. She brought me up when mum and dad were working really hard.
As a 19-year old, it was really weird because I just took on that role of responsibility. “I’m the eldest. I need to make sure everyone’s okay.” Even to a point where I needed to be strong for my parents, not the other way around. I didn’t grieve as much, obviously, the initial shock was just horrendous, but I didn’t really let anything out. I just went into this automated Ez and just started doing stuff for everyone.
Come that summer, I started to get a rash on my nose and the doctors, GPs didn’t understand what it was. I kept going back and forth. They kept sending me back with antihistamines so I decided it was not working. It was getting worse and it started spreading across my torso. My parents were very unhappy at that stage because I said, “I’m going back to university. I’m going to get a second opinion and I’m not staying here.” They disagreed but I said, “No I’ve had enough.”, so I went off and it was that GP that recognized there was something going on and it was something deep, so bless her, she looked at me and just called the hospital and said, “You need to see this woman straight away!”, and within an hour of getting there, various tests been done, I was then put into bed for seven weeks in hospital.
Treatment and Pain
It was so aggressive- the condition is an auto-immune disorder called Pemphigus Bodacious, which makes me laugh now because it sounds like something out of Hogwarts. A lot of people don’t know what that condition is. It’s very rare and again, the doctors weren’t very clear either because they don’t come across it that often. I was almost like a study for them. So I’d have these consultants turn up every other day, like 10 of them to come and see me, and when I say, “see me”, they were actually looking at my body and as a 19-year old, I just gave up. At first, I was wondering “what is happening?” and then I just got to a point where I was so ill, I thought, “Okay, anything will go now, whatever you need to do.” So it was aggressive and then a lot of medication, heavy steroids, and then other tablets to counteract the steroids. I don’t even know how many tablets. I would be on 30 tablets a day plus creams. They wrapped me up like a mummy, every single day cream head to toe, and then they’d have to bathe me every night to soothe the skin.
Processing the trauma
For a long time, I blocked what had happened and years down the line. I started remembering going through having that back then, my skin being so sore and raw and then the pain of someone wrapping bandages and putting stuff and taking them off, and I just remember I sat there crying and thinking, “I went through that. I actually went through that.”, but the pain of it at the time, I blocked a lot of it out, I think. It kind of came back to me years later and then I started remembering the small things.
At the time I didn’t know, no one around me had that kind of thinking either. It was very much what the doctors would say, “It’s inherited”, “It’s genetic.” and our family would be so confused, “But no one’s had this.” “Oh, it skips generations.” Okay. You kind of just fall into that trap.
It’s taken me years to process and to understand that and then obviously now turn it into something that’s my career. But at the time, if I had just one person talk to me about what was going on with my emotional self, I would have been a lot more powerful in trying to understand and heal what was going on instead of being that person that had to hold everything up. And that’s what ultimately became the condition really.
How I healed through the trauma
After years, I continued my degree, even though I was told that I should drop out and that was by the actual Head of the year, which I said no to, so I studied from university and even though I was going through that and still doing assignments and I refused to let go of the degree. I got through that, passed a degree, then moved on to the next stage of my life, looking for a career, love you name it. I wasn’t in the right space to even understand what was happening with my body, let alone what was going on in my mind. So I was quite vulnerable at that point and I made some bad decisions and I didn’t know until obviously going through the process in recent years that actually, that was due to me being so vulnerable at the time and being on very high doses of medication.
Skip a few years forward and I got to a point where I was just really tired, exhausted, always feeling fatigued, feeling like at that age in my thirties always feeling like I didn’t have enough energy to do anything, but I was still continuing with my career at HSBC and that again, I guess it was just mentality. It didn’t stop me it was like, I was proving a point, “I’m going to keep going until I get to that point I need to get to.” But then on this side of things, I was suffering, I was not well my food choices were okay, but they weren’t great, so I guess it just took over me, and I felt really horrible, I just didn’t feel good about myself.
Then I decided that I needed to do something and it was my husband who said at the time, “Why don’t you start training with a trainer, but just do it personal one-to-one basis instead of going to the gym on your own or go into the classes and stuff.” And he found this company because he’d been following them for a long time. I remember going in there. They do this first interview type of thing where they’d get to know you a bit so they can maybe link you to the right person for you. I remember telling him the story and what the doctors had said to me and how they’d told me to keep away from the sun and do this and do that and his question was “Why?” and I didn’t have an answer. Then he said “Hmm. Okay, well, I don’t agree with that.” I thought, “Wow! Someone has just said no to everything that’s been going on all these years of my life!” and that’s where it changed.
I couldn’t believe he just said, “No.” even from a family perspective- and I totally understand why they would not challenge it because imagine my parents had just lost their son, my dad lost his mom, and then they were told that their daughter’s very sick and could die as well, all within a year, and so they’re just like, “Yeah, whatever you need to do, keep doing it.” They didn’t know any difference and that one guy challenged it and I felt like “This is the right connection; this is where I’m supposed to be” and that’s what changed my life. I started to focus on my training, my nutrition, and my mindset, I started creating boundaries that removed negativity out of my life, negative people and it was almost like it was a process that happened really quickly. Some people take time and they’ll say, “I have to slowly go through this process.”, but I literally just went bang! and that’s it. I just cut people out and it was like a force that made me do that and the weight I felt afterward just lifted and I felt great because I actually then felt, “Do you know what this is right. This feels right.”
Once I’d gone through the initial training, and I couldn’t believe the energy levels. I felt like a new person again, because a lot of my twenties were just taken away from me by the illness and I didn’t feel like I had that youth, I didn’t have it. I was just not present, so I didn’t want the same thing to happen in my thirties. Then all of a sudden it was like, “Where does this energy come from? This feels amazing. How is this even possible?” and during that process, I personally decided myself not to continue with the medication that I was on and I didn’t tell anyone apart from my husband, that I was not taking any medication but I still used to go to my appointments.
That’s when it started hitting me even more because every appointment I used to go to, they would look at my levels and then say, “Your levels are dropping. It’s really good. We don’t know why, but this is really good.”, and I noticed this is changing and I didn’t say a word I just kept on training, I kept changing my ways until I went and they said to me, “Your levels are so low right now that you’ve completely put yourself into remission, so there’s no need for us to continue. We can discharge you from the hospital.” and this was a guy I sought out. I’m never going to forget his name, Professor Black because of his knowledge and qualifications, I got myself referred to him when I moved to London. He sat there looking at me, “How on earth have you done that?”, and when I told him the truth and he said, “Not even one tablet?”, I said, “Nope, not one tablet, nothing you have prescribed me, I’ve been taking at all.” for two years.
There were so many things put in front of me like obviously when it first happened straight away, they started saying things like, “You need to be careful about the time when you start thinking about a family, this might affect your child and it might affect your chances of getting pregnant.” There are all these things that were coming up and I just thought sat here in this waiting room with all these people and I was probably most likely the youngest out of all of them and I want to continue with this and I want it to be here for years to come and I’d already done 14 years on medication.
It just completely flipped, when you’re with a trainer that also works with you to change your mindset, like switching out when I would eat, what I would eat for breakfast, he said, “Your choices can be better and you need to change them around.” and just changing those little things was such a difference to everything that’s going on from here to there. For me, it was evident because I was going to the appointments and the levels kept going down and down, and on paper, this is working and then they say, it’s in remission.
Transitioning from Finance to Skin Therapy
It was literally a year after being discharged from the hospital that I left HSBC. I think all of that just played a part in what I was feeling and actually, the feelings were coming out and I was dealing with them as opposed to the feelings were there and just pushed them to the side. Even though I loved my actual career, I loved being with the bank and I loved the work I was doing and I’m still an absolute nerd when it comes to IT, I just can’t help it, I love it. It was the environment that was getting to me and that’s when I decided, “I can’t do this anymore.”
Luckily, I was in a good position where my husband was still working and I could do a transition, so I started working part-time as well as working at HSBC and I started to do makeup first, but primarily for fitness photoshoots and editorials because that’s what used to inspire me. Makeup came naturally to me, always has done for years- everyone used to say, “Please do my makeup.” I’m like, “Okay, done!” I never thought of it as a thing I could actually do as a business, but then I realized while I was doing the makeup, I was actually perfecting skin so I was spending time and it was like art and I was really making sure that it looked natural and I recall a few people saying to me that, “When you do skin, when you do the makeup, your skin looks flawless but natural.” That’s when I started realizing, “Hmm. I think it’s the skin I need to get into because I’m more interested with what’s going on.”, so I’d spend time with the model talking about the skin and I’d give them a mini facial, or before putting makeup on I’d say, “You do all of that first” and that’s when it all came. When I started studying the skin, that’s when I realized how much skin concerns and conditions are related to our emotional state. That’s when things started coming together for me and I started realizing what I’d gone through myself.
All of it is how I work with people and I think I’ve been doing it for years. I’m that empath, people will come to me and talk to me and ask for my advice and that’s why back then I had to create a lot of boundaries because I was allowing that to take over my emotional state. Now I realize that I have been doing that for years. It translates into my work now; I will spend time talking about what is happening inside. What is going on in your internal environment? What is happening at home? What’s going on with kids? if you have kids and we have all this, all these questions. They ask one question; I’ve got 10 questions. You want to know what’s happening and that’s how I can relate it to what’s coming out on the skin because that’s where all the triggers lie. I think a lot of people not only appreciate sharing, but they also appreciate the feedback because then they can connect the dots themselves once you’ve talked them through it.
The Virtual Spa
As many people went through the same process last year of complete despair, I suppose, what do you do when you’re in a profession or a career where everything is hands-on and you have to see your clients because you, you treat them for conditions that are debilitating for some people. So I thought, I can still give them advice, I can still go online and do the consultations, which I actually had always done before lockdown because I’ve had clients who can’t leave the actual room or leave their house and they’re scared to do that. I spoke to a young girl, 20 years old, and she couldn’t leave her house because she was so scared of what people might think of her skin, so she had been at home for a month and her friend told me about it and said, “Would you mind just giving her a call?” and I thought, “Yeah, sure.”, so I called her and we had a consultation and I didn’t charge her I just had a chat with her and we were on the phone for an hour and she was crying a lot, but just having the option of doing that for her and not having to leave that helped massively. Then I got a call a month or so later from her friends saying, “Two weeks after she spoke to you, she left the house and came shopping with us.” Just that one thing makes me feel so good because now I know you can reach people without having to see them face to face and that also triggered the Virtual Spa. We were going through ideas; What can we do? How do I do this? and it just came out of a brainstorming session. Why not try and take the services online and let’s see what happens?
I started to do the virtual spa and I initially started it for the NHS workers to attend for free and obviously, if anyone else came, they’d pay a very small amount, but that would go to NHS charities. That’s how it all started and you can imagine the NHS workers who were coming, were very overwhelmed with what they were going through, very emotional, there was a lot going on; so, having this one hour of peace and space was doing so much for them. Even though it was a calm environment, with music playing in the background, I encouraged candles and incense, and then I walked through a facial, but mainly facial massage and that includes the neck and the shoulders, and the head.
I would do the facial on myself and then we’d go through deep cleansing, we’d go through breathing techniques, we’d do the massage and then we finished the facial off by applying their night creams or whatever they wanted, and then after that, I’d have a 10 minute Q & A at the end so anyone, if they wanted to, they would just throw any question about skincare and I just saw the ripple effect of people attending and the messages I was getting afterward like, “My anxiety levels have gone down.”, “My stress levels have gone down.”, “I really needed this.”, “You don’t know how much I needed this.” I suppose I didn’t know what to expect, but I didn’t expect that level of difference.
I was shocked, but then as it went on, I understood because I thought, “You saw how it was all going with the doctors and how it was for them.”, but then I would get mothers who were really appreciative of just having that space, just that one hour and I was getting messages from them. “Thank you for doing it at 8:00 PM because that meant I could be there.” I actually did that on purpose because I had asked my family, who’ve got kids and they said, “Post-baby bedtime, please.” “Eight o’clock should be good enough.” and it was great and it just grew. I think for me, it started to show me as well how healing this process was, as much as when we do the facials and the holistic facials and the massages and they’re amazing, but if you can have that space in your own environment, just for you and yours, and you’re learning these techniques that you never knew you could do, because everyone says that to me, “I had no idea. I could do this for myself!”
What the Virtual Spa looks like now
I used to do them every week, so I don’t do that anymore, but with the charity side of things, I’ve been giving to them as the year has been going and then with everyone else, I suppose there are group sessions, so you can have people that have booked for birthday events, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s, couples have done them. It’s been lovely, especially because of lockdown, it’s been amazing to get families all over the world together. I’ve had people here, people in Canada, and they come together in the virtual spa. It’s been beautiful. Then I have also branched out into the corporate world, so wellbeing spaces, they asked me to do a festival and I said, “Yeah, sure, no worries. I do a lot of online festivals with the virtual spa.”, and then they said, “Oh, just to let you know, it’s for Google, and they want four sessions.” so I did four virtual spas in one day. They kept it to 20 people per session because they had a whole day and night of activities planned for them.
Then the other festivals, I’ve had 125 people in one session all doing their own facials, and then right at the end of the Q & A it’s like literally being on a game show, question after question. The most common question is, Do I need an eye cream? Or don’t I need an eye cream? Why do I need a serum? Don’t I need a serum? What can I do for dark circles? I say that though, you’ve asked me one question, I have got 10 questions for you to answer that one question. Why have you got dark circles? I need to know all of this stuff before I can diagnose. They’re the most common questions I would say, it’s always around the eye area.
Other Virtual Spas
They have all popped up, but unfortunately, I can’t trademark it because everyone’s using The Virtual Spa. I could trademark The Virtual Spa where there’s dire. We did a search not long ago thinking, “I wonder who else is doing them now?” You’ve got Harrods, you’ve got all these different places that are doing virtual spas from their spas.
I think when you have not just distant families coming together, but families in the same household, like I’ve had messages from husbands who have said, “I did this session with my wife and I was there and it was amazing.” It’s great.
They can purchase it online because I’ve done a recording of it. It got to a point where they were becoming so frequent that even my skin was saying, “Stop, please! Stop giving yourself a facial, we’re done!” I needed to think of something, so then I recorded, edited, and produced a digital product all by myself and it’s just downloadable, so you can have it as many times as you want it.
Advice/Tips from my experience
I think the biggest learning tip, I would say across both your personal and business life, is that you need to give yourself some time to process what’s happening and I think that has been the biggest learning point for me because I gave myself time to process and understand what was going on, I was able to move forward and then progress rather than just being stuck almost on a wheel for so long and continuing to do that. I think from a business perspective, I’ve been very fortunate that I met people that always thought outside the box and I think that encouraged me to do the same because then I thought, who would have said a virtual spa would have worked, even I said, how is that going to work? and I thought, “Okay, it will work.”
I think to surround yourself with people that are going to uplift you and give you that guidance, but not dictators people that are actually going to be uplifting and guide you and help you so that you start, you have the capacity to think outside the box because I think when you don’t have that, that kind of shuts off the thought process completely and that’s what happened to me. I didn’t see anything else, I just was going one way in one direction. That would be another tip I would say.
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