When deciding on a name for her new clinical esthetics spa, Denise Gray chose the initials of three generations of women in her family – hers, her daughter’s and her mother’s – to reflect the wide variety of women she consults.
An appointment-only, solo spa, DKS Esthetics offers a range of services to women, men and teens that address aging skin, acne, hyperpigmentation, sun damage and sensitive skin issues. With nearly three decades of experience in the medical field in nursing, dermatology and plastic surgery, Gray has become a trusted source for knowledge and advice for her clients on their skin health.
With her individualized, careful attention to detail for each client, Gray emphasizes the importance of having a skincare routine, which includes an understanding of how products can affect specific skin types.
“Just as we change what we put into our body for health, we also want to be aware that the top layers of skin are oil-based. They lock hydration in defending against bacteria & viruses…using strong cleansing face washes removes these oils,” she says. “I’m already teaching my 10-year-old daughter the importance of skincare every day, and how essential sunscreen is to our everyday routines.”
Personal experience played a big part in the idea behind DKS, which holds a deeper meaning for Gray, as she, her mother, and her grandfather have each battled skin cancer. Growing up in the desert heat and intense sun in California, Gray believes these environmental factors – along with lack of knowledge about skincare at a young age – may have contributed to her diagnosis at age 30. After her own experience, she was drawn to helping and educating others on the importance of skincare as part of an overall approach to wellness.
“One of the first things I ask my clients is if they have a dermatologist, which is vitally important,” she says. “I don’t do medical diagnoses, but I’ve referred several clients to dermatologists after seeing areas that looked concerning while performing treatments in the spa.”
Opening DKS Esthetics was a direct result of Gray’s search for a new career after being caught up in a corporate restructuring that resulted in her losing her job. She realized her lifelong passion was helping others, starting with her service as a Navy medic for more than 10 years. After the navy, Denise earned an RN degree and worked as a healthcare administrator in the medical and dental fields.
“I wanted to make the best use of that experience and do something entrepreneurial that would let me continue to help others,” she says.
Gray researched a number of opportunities and became very interested in esthetics. “Esthetics appeal to me because it’s about the beauty and health of the skin,” Gray says. After obtaining her certification as an Esthetician from the prestigious Paul Mitchell the School Esani, where she graduated at the top of her class, Gray launched DKS.
“DKS gives me the ability to help and educate, which is a wonderful opportunity.”
That help includes clients bringing their current skincare products to a free initial consultation, where Denise reviews everything her client is using to determine which products are effective in helping clients achieve their skincare goals.
“Every one of my clients is unique. My goal is to make sure that client’s needs are being met,” says Gray, who has seen several clients who were told to use products that were actually harmful to their skin… and expensive. As an example, Gray shared that a recent consultation resulted in a new client reducing the number of products she was using and seeing greatly improved results.
“Her skin looks great, and she’s spending less than half what she used to spend on products,” Gray said.
Gray is hoping to extend her mission of helping others by speaking in local high schools to educate teenagers on the importance of practicing safe skincare habits as early as possible.
In addition to the free initial visits, she also conducts group classes and can provide in-home services upon request.
“It’s been so gratifying to be able to work with so many wonderful people,” Gray says. “I’m grateful for the initial interest and support and thrilled to be part of the local business community.”