When Rushiya Rai visited Nepal back in 2016 she had only planned to stay in the country for a few weeks to complete her research regarding microblading in Nepal. In that short time, she found that not many people even knew what microblading was and realized that there was a huge scope for this procedure in the country. Instead of going back to London, she started freelance microblading services in Nepal and decided to continue working here.
Now, Rushiya runs her own skincare clinic, Mero Skincare, located inside Hotel Le Himalaya in Lazimpat, Kathmandu with her childhood friend Pramila Rai. This clinic offers just three specific services – eyelash extension, hydrafacial, and microblading. This clinic is also the sole distributor of the German skincare brand Dermaviduals and you’ll find a rack full of Dermaviduals products in the reception area when you visit the clinic. Launched about two years ago, the clinic was initially located at City Hotel & Suites. It’s only been about three months since the clinic relocated to their current address.
The main reason for this move, according to Rushiya, was because she wasn’t satisfied with the space they had at City Hotel & Suites. She also mentions that she designed and renovated Mero Skincare’s current space. Her only requirements for this space were that it had to look spacious and clean, it had to be well lit, and that the walls had to pink – which is Mero Skincare’s signature color.
Rushiya had been using the color pink to represent her brand even before she launched Mero Skincare. While she was still freelancing, she had set up an Instagram account to showcase her microblading work and the main scheme of this page was based on the color pink. After posting a few before and after pictures of her microblading work – which she only did on her friends and family back then – she started getting booked by her first Nepali clients. She continued freelance microblading work for a year before launching Mero Skincare in 2017.
While the clinic was being operated at City Hotel & Suites, microblading was the only service Mero Skincare provided and Rushiya operated the clinic all by herself. By the time Mero Skincare moved to Hotel Le Himalaya, she had trained and hired three staff members and Pramila also joined the team as the manager. The clinic is open from 10: 30 am till 7:00 pm everyday and clients have to book their appointment at least a day in advance.
Most of the clients of Mero Skincare book their appointments through the clinic’s Instagram page (@meroskincare). The Mero Skincare team is very active on this site and they constantly post information on microblading, eyelash extension and hydrafacial here. Although a lot of their clients learn about their services through Instagram, sometimes people who don’t even know what microblading or eyelash extension is visit the clinic to get these procedures done. “We always have a one-on-one counseling session with our clients before starting with any procedure to make sure they know what they’re getting into and if they feel the procedure they want to get is suitable for them,” says Rushiya.
Although she doesn’t want to add a lot of services to Mero Skincare as she feels doing a lot of skin procedures will affect the quality of their work, Rushiya reveals that she wants to add waterlining to the list of services in the future. She also mentions that she’s planning to branch out to two other localities in the valley – Patan and Boudha – before the end of this year. But since she doesn’t trust anyone else to carry out the microblading procedure as well as she does, these two branches will only offer hydrafacial and eyelash extension.
Rushiya’s journey in the skincare and beauty industry
Rushiya claims to have always been fascinated with skincare and beauty. Even before she moved to London, she had taken a few courses on beauty and makeup in Kathmandu but she states that she was never satisfied with these trainings. When she was studying nursing in London, she decided to take up the course that trained her to be a beauty therapist at Phibrows. After completing this course, she changed her career path altogether and started interning and working at various skin care clinics in London. She worked as a beauty therapist (also called aesthetic therapist) for six years before coming to Nepal.
Skincare ritual recommended by Rushiya
A skincare ritual should always start with cleansing. Look for a mild cleansing milk or gel and thoroughly clean your face with it. Then dab some toner onto your face as it hydrates your skin and balances its pH level. After that, apply a serum onto your face. Pick a serum that suits the requirement of your skin (like anti-aging, nourishing serum, etc.) – you could also use a Vitamin C serum if you don’t have any skin problems. Lock that in by applying a good moisturizer. Instead of spreading the moisturizer onto your face, she suggests you dab it on.
Follow this routine in the morning and before bed. Add the extra step of applying sunscreen onto you skin before you head out in the morning. Also, scrub your face once a week to remove dead skin cells and massage your face with rosehip oil, coconut oil, or avocado oil.
Thoughts on Nepal’s beauty scene
In the past three years, one thing Rushiya has learned about the beauty culture of Nepal is that people are more focused on makeup than skincare. She mentions that although the goal of both makeup and skincare is the same – to enhance the physical appearance of a person, she thinks skincare is more important than makeup. “If your skin is healthy from the inside, then you won’t have to cover it up with makeup,” she states adding that she feels Nepalis should be more invested in skincare than makeup.
The other trend Rushiya has noticed among beauty conscious Nepalis is that they want fair skin rather than healthy skin. She mentions that a lot of people in Nepal naturally have darker skin tone and they should look into making their skin healthy and glowing rather than trying to find creams and lotions that claim to whiten the skin.
“Recently, I’ve also seen a trend among youths to follow Korean or Chinese skincare routines and buy skincare products from these countries,” says Rushiya. While she admits that a lot of things that are prevalent in the beauty industry of these two nations are helpful, she recommends everyone to check the ingredients of the products they are using as sometimes the taglines of these products can be misleading.
Microblading is a form of semi permanent tattoo that is done on the eyebrows and lasts about two to three years before it fades out. The microblading artist draws thin line strokes that resemble natural hair onto the client’s eyebrows to get fuller and desirable eyebrows. Rushiya mentions that sometimes people confuse hair transplant with microblading and believe natural hair will start growing out of the area where microblading is done and clarifies that that isn’t the case. She says, “Those are two completely different things and no new hair will start growing out of the skin where microblading is done.”
At Mero Skincare, this procedure takes two sessions to complete. During the first session, the microblading artist confirms the shape of the eyebrows and finishes the first phase of tattooing. After a month and half, the client gets the second session done where the microblading artist retouches any parts of the previously drawn eyebrows that didn’t stick on during the first session and completes the procedure altogether. Mero Skincare charges Rs 7000 for the first session and Rs 5000 for the second session of this procedure.
Rushiya reveals that even though she applies a numbing spray to the microblading area before beginning the procedure, it can be a little painful but it’s nothing you can’t handle. She also mentions that she questions the clients about any health conditions they have or medications they are taking to make sure their body can handle microblading before starting with the procedure.
According to Pramila, anyone and everyone can get the hydrafacial offered at Mero Skincare. It’s a regular facial treatment and the only addition to Mero Skincare’s take on this treatment is that they also apply LED light onto the client’s face after the facial to stimulate skin cells and aid in the production of collagen. The Mero Skincare team use Dermaviduals products for every step of this treatment. Pramila also mentions that this facial can treat every kind of skin problems from acne and skin pigmentation to slowing down the effects of aging. Mero Skincare charges Rs 2500 for a single session of the Hydrafacial and Pramila recommends clients to get this done every month or so for healthier skin.
The hydrafacial done at Mero Skincare is a ten-step process that has been developed by Rushiya. “I’ve included steps that clean and hydrate most efficiently, and that work on all skin types,” she reveals. The facial starts with a thorough cleaning of the face – first with a cleansing milk and then with a cleansing gel. After wiping off both of these with cotton pads soaked in lukewarm water, a toner is sprayed onto your face. An enzyme mask is then applied and Rushiya states that it’s a subtle exfoliator that isn’t as harsh as a scrub but still gets the work done. Once that is wiped off, hydra machine is used on the face to suck out any remaining impurities. That is followed by hot towel steam and a through removal of blackheads and whiteheads.
Once again, toner is sprayed onto the face and vitamin C serum is applied onto the skin followed by avocado oil. After making sure the eyes are fully covered, the LED mask is then put over the face for 20 minutes. During this time, your hands and arms are massaged with a soothing cream. The procedure ends with the application of moisturizer and sunscreen.
Like microblading, eyelash extension is a semi permanent procedure where a trained technician applies extensions on top of your natural lashes. Pramila mentions that she would recommend this procedure to any individual who has thin and short eyelashes and wants to get fuller, longer and curled lashes. Mero Skincare staff use London Lashes for this purpose as it gives a more natural look to the lashes, is long lasting, and safe to use.
“I tried getting eyelash extensions at a salon in Nepal some time ago but was very unsatisfied with the results. The lashes looked like plastic add-ons and the whole thing fell off within a week,” claims Rushiya adding that their extensions look just like natural lashes and last anywhere between four to six weeks before falling off. She also states that Mero Skincare’s lash extensions, that cost Rs 3000 per session, aren’t for people who like dramatic and exaggerated lashes.