I'm a skin mechanic — Dr. Patience Johnson
Dr. Patience Johnson

 By Florence Amagiya

A prolific writer and author of the book, “Why does an orderly God allow disorder” published in 4 languages – German, English, Spanish and Latin – Dr. Patience Johnson is a beauty and aesthetic industry entrepreneur who has won many awards on corporate leadership, including the German Adler (Eagle) Award. Founder/CEO of Derma Contour Global with headquarters in Germany, and a consultant at Derma Contour Aesthetic and Beauty Clinic Abuja, where she and her team are doing incredible job restoring skins damaged by excessive bleaching. In this chat, Johnson who has been in the business in the past 20 years,  speaks on the challenges of beauty and aesthetics management in Nigeria against the backdrop of what she sees as ‘wrong definition of beauty’ in Nigeria, especially in terms of the use of presumed beauty-enhancing products mostly by women.

Excerpts…

You lived in Germany for over 30 years and have been in the beauty business for 20 years but have had your Nigerian operation for some five years now. How would you describe your experiences?

I have learnt a lot in Nigeria which I was not taught in school. Nigeria offered me an environment to explore in my research work and reconstruction of damaged skins.

There is a lot of work to be done here on the skin because of the wrong use and abuse of some skin products by so many people. Most often, I end up being more of a skin mechanic than a skin doctor.

What has been the challenges?

Well, growing up in Germany taught me a lot of good things which I thought I could use to touch lives back home in Nigeria and Africa as a whole, so I came with a lot of trust in people, which turned out to be my greatest mistake because we have different folks here.

You speak with so much experience in your trade; how old is Derma Contour?

Derma Contour is globally 20 years but the branch in Nigeria will be four years next year. The operating environment in Nigeria is replete with a lot of concerns, including instability in prices, lack of regulations, and the system and people operating without plan.

I grew up knowing that you have to have a plan for your actions but it is hard to implement plans in Nigeria. There is a huge market in Nigeria but one should bear in mind as a Diasporan that the mode of operation here is different.

For someone who has stayed outside the country for a long time, I came in with Western mentality which is based more on trust and truthfulness. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work in Nigeria.

There is also lack of vision here, which has also affected everything and everyone in the country and those were also my challenges.

READ ALSO: Abuse of skin care products damages skin — Experts

You have so talked about the challenges doing business in Nigeria, yet you are almost 4 years old here; what has kept you going?

But, I triumphed against all these by remaining focused on what brought me to Nigeria. I mind the mission not the challenges. I focused on the harvest and the joy of the whole thing is that I see myself as a solution giver.

When people come with 20-year ailments or more, with good management we get them well again within a month. That’s what motivates me. The results I see on clients are what energize me to do more. I am always happy when I see a damaged skin because that’s when I am triggered to do what I know how to do best.

You said that most often, while consulting at Derma Contour Aesthetic and Beauty Clinic, Abuja, you end up acting as a skin mechanic than a skin doctor. Would you like to explain what you mean?

One thing you should know is that health and beauty go hand in hand. There is no beauty without good health, because true beauty comes from the inside. This understanding made me garner my strength more on the health side than on the beauty, because I know that if I can get it right on the inside, it will surface on the outside.

I give you an instance: sometimes people come for acne or pimple treatment in my Clinic after using various products without good results. I can boldly say no cream solves the problem of pimples without proper diagnosis of the cause of the pimple or acne.

So many things can trigger pimples – stress, for instance and when you treat the pimple without treating the stress, you will keep wasting your money. I think the permanent and right result always comes from fighting the root cause of the problems.

Are you receiving good response from clients, after giving advise that is not first appreciated because of the Nigeria factor?

Our company is more result-oriented than money-making because we have greater success in helping people regain their self-esteem. Health plays an important role in today’s beauty industry where some certain dangerous chemicals are put up in the market, which may lead to liver, kidney, heart or even brain damage eventually.

The ability to detect some of these hazardous substances helps me in getting a long lasting result for my clients and it is also building their trust in me for future purposes.

As a therapist who believes a healthy inside reflects on a glowing outside, how do you find the eating habits of Nigerians?

I am not complaining about the eating habit here because it was not cultured in us to eat any better. We wake up to eat anything that comes our way, paying less attention to the repercussion.

From my experience in the clinic, most of the skin issues presented to me are as a result of damaged kidney, liver, hearts or genetics and when it is genetic you may carry the illness for certain years until it is triggered by some certain chemicals or food we consume.

From your work with nigerians since you returned, what have you discovered is the problem with some nigerians?

I have discovered that an average nigerian has kidney or liver dysfunction knowingly or unknowingly. Some will choose to keep the result of the test to themselves. Some will prefer you treat the outside and collect their money while the inside keeps degenerating.

Since I know I have a name to protect, I usually reject such offers, only when they go home to think of my rejection, then they will realize that I was telling them the truth and meant well for them.

For instance, if you treat acne and the person goes home and continues to use another product outside of what was recommended, there is every possibility that there will not be any good result.

A lot of people have damaged their skin simply by using what their neighbour uses, which is not always the right thing to do. You cannot treat skin issues without professional analysis; that’s why they spend years treating same skin issue without any result.

Does eating and drinking alcohol damage the human system?

I get irritated when I see people eating and drinking alcohol. I will just be imagining what is going on in their liver and brains. I think if we can manage what we consume every day, we will have a longer life span.

Where do you derive your inspiration from?

My inspiration is and has always been from God. I have an authentic Christian foundation; I take no step without God going with me. Even my coming back to Nigeria was more of a mission than business. I heard the voice three times telling me to go back home.

I believe that after coming back home, God allowed me to go through all the disappointments so that I could understand what it means to practice in Nigeria, and I am grateful for all the experiences both the good and the bad ones. It’s got to happen at the beginning as a warning. So, for every achievement in my life, all glory goes to God.

Looking back from where you started and now, what are you grateful for?

I have reached a level in life that when I look back, I would say“If not for God…” To say the truth, seventy percent of all treatments I have done since I started the company, l never learnt from any school or university.

I build upon problem and I am always excited when there is a new problem, because that is when my craft is needed. I am grateful always to God for what he is using me to do for my generation.

In the course of your work, you said you have encountered a lot of health issues relating to liver, kidney and the likes. To what extent do you think misuse of drugs has contributed to these ailments, which have become quite among the active population in Nigeria?

There is a prevalence of self-medication in Nigeria. Drugs are meant to be taken in doses, not just on the basis of how one feels. When you take drugs based on how you feel, that’s how drug abuse starts.

Drugs taken inappropriately can reverse and cause more damage. I noticed that in Nigeria, people engage so much in self-medication, which is dangerous to your system.

One thing to take note of is that one medication does not work for everyone and that is the more reason people should allow the professionals to take care of their health, instead of consuming what they do not know, thereby causing more harm than good to themselves. For instance, antibiotics taken wrongly can damage one’s liver and kidney.

What is your advice?

I would advise that when you have any skin-related issues, you should look for a dermatologist who can handle your treatment competently to avoid worsening it. Sometimes when things are not right on the inside, like if there is dysfunction in the liver, kidney, thyroid glands or even heart, it can also manifest on the skin.

For instance, there are some patches I will see on the skin and I will know that something is wrong with the liver or gut.

I have had several patients that came for ordinary itching that they had been suffering for years and ended up sending them to internist or cardiologist. So, you see, it is not every stain you see on the skin that can be taken care of with cream or from the outside.

So many skin care products today in the market are filled with steroids, which only suppress the ailment without cure.

That also has its adverse effects on the internal organs which no one tells you. When it comes to your skin I advise you to tread with caution.

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