Beauty Feature Interview
We believe in your beauty. We offer safe and effective beauty treatments to people of all skin types. As the premier medical spa in Colorado Springs, we clarify and demystify the world of skin care, teaching you how to restore and maintain, educating you on the right products for your skin.
The idea for PureLee Redefined was formed when I began to notice aging changes in my skin that I was not willing to accept. I think my mother is one of the most beautiful women in the world but I did not want to look like that yet. I wanted to look more refreshed and remain natural appearing. I did not want to feel like I needed to cover flaws with foundations nor concealer as I prefer my skin breathe and not be occluded. Therefore, I began seeking consultations regarding non-invasive, medically safe solutions for my issues performed by medical professionals since I knew complications could arise. Immediately, I noted that most of the facilities did not have physicians on site nor performing most of the aesthetic services. I felt uncomfortable knowing that should any complications occur, there was not a medical provider who could intervene. Furthermore, the responses that I was receiving repeatedly around town revealed a generalized discomfort in caring for skin of color. It also revealed some underlying racial bias and marginalization intrinsic within the skin classification system and the treatment we receive when searching for services. No one assessed how my skin responds to sun exposure, heat, nor to inflammation. They simply made assumptions because I am African American. Because of these assumptions, I was advised repeatedly to first condition my skin with harsh products for 3 months before I could have any treatments done. This meant pre-emptively treating a condition I did not have with products that could lead to inflammation and irritation and do so without my concerns being addressed. I did not find this acceptable so I researched medical aesthetics and found a multitude of training opportunities. Dr. Marvin and I had been practicing primary care for almost 20 years in a variety of settings so we more than qualified and capable to do so. Initially we planned to just do our own treatments at home. However, it became quite obvious that the market had a void which we could address with our medical knowledge and aesthetic skills from which many people would benefit. Thus, the Med Spa was born.
PureLee Redefined is focused on solutions that are safe in all skin types, that are minimally to non-invasive, and that have little to no downtime. We place the utmost value on all of our clients, therefore, we strive to make guests feel comfortable and well informed. We concentrate on solutions that are scientifically sound, have lasting results and are natural appearing. Our offerings have been clinically researched and personally vetted by us. We only bring in services that we believe are worth the money and that we ourselves would use. We also operate under the belief that the best aesthetics are the ones no one knows you have unless you tell them. People always want to look good and feel good about themselves. The reason we do what we do is to help people feel beautiful, comfortable and confident. We want you to age gracefully and live your best life without insecurities or limitations.
What are some common problems people come to you for you to help them with?
Most of our clients seek help for minor skin care concerns, body contouring services. medical grade skincare products, and, IV infusions. The skin concerns most often center around anti-aging solutions, acne, scarring, and pigmentation problems. We also are frequently asked to help with those resistant areas of subcutaneous fat that are not amenable to diet and exercise. If you can pinch it, we can help.
What are some things that you do with your clients to help them have healthier skin, or feel beautiful?
We offer injectables performed only by physicians using botox for wrinkle reduction as well a variety of dermal fillers to help restore volume loss primarily in the cheeks, lips, and under eye area. We also offer a variety of collagen induction therapies as well as skin rejuvenation and resurfacing strategies such as microneedling, peels, and HydraFacials. These services are highly customizable and result in better hydration, color, tone, and texture of the skin. We have included options for a variety of price points so there is something for everyone. We love helping people get their skin ready for special occasions such as weddings, vacations, professional appearances. Skin glows when it is healthy and you can see people glowing from the inside out and boosting with confidence. All of our offerings are geared toward restoring your skin to its best state of health.
For those just looking for daily skin care we offer medical grade products that work and that fit your lifestyle. We carry 3 skin care lines available only to physicians: ZO Skin Health, Sente, and AnteAge as well as some prescription strength products for acne and hyperpigmentation. We educate you on the lines and help you select what is best for you. We dispel myths regarding products and treatments since there is so much misleading marketing in the cosmeceuticals industry and we focus on preventative strategies and products. Our goal is to be a trusted partner and source of expertise.
We offer permanent fat reduction solutions, head to toe skin tightening, facial remodeling, and muscle toning. These are great options for those who want to feel and look better in their clothes as well as increase functionality in activities of daily life or improve athletic performance. These services are also great for women who are 6 weeks or more postpartum seeking to get their body back in shape.
We spend a great deal of time listening to our guest and we curate new offerings based upon problems that our clients have and when we notice gaps in what we currently offer. We are bringing in new technologies often and will be offering Morpheus8 for the body and face very soon.
How does the Colorado dry weather effect skin?
Colorado is such a beautiful state and we are honored to be able to call this home. However, the proximity to the sun, the dryness, and the wind are very harsh on the skin. These environmental factors result in dryness, sensitivity, premature aging in the form of wrinkles, collagen loss, & pigment problems such as sun spots as well as leathery skin in more advanced cases. This environment also exacerbates conditions such as a melasma and rosacea not to mention the increase risk of skin cancer. Sun protection to include hats, protective clothing, and sunscreen is imperative for all Coloradans as all people are vulnerable to these conditions.
What are products your recommend for skincare, and for what specific aspects of skincare?
We recommend a soap free gentle cleanser followed by an appropriate toner for your skin type be used morning and night. We also advise to use a gentle exfoliator 2-3 times a week. Everyone should also use a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher in the morning and reapply mid-day. More frequent application is needed if swimming or sweating. It is important to note that most commercial sunscreens only last 4 hours and only protect against UV radiation (UVA and UVB). Because of the reduction in the ozone layer and the high energy visible light emitted from all of our screens (mobile phones, computers, tablets, TV’s) it is best to seek a medical grade sunscreen which covers these forms of energy as well.
Prevention of aging should include a retinol or other vitamin a derivative and vitamin C. For melanated clients with pigment concerns, I like products that are gentle and contain niacinamide, arbutin, and tranexamic acid in addition to the above. At this point, most people remind me that I did not recommend a moisturizer. This is true because healthy skin is self-hydrating. We do recommend adding hydrators if needed which contain hyaluronic acid and glycosaminoglycans but always something that does not compromise the barrier function of the skin and that does not induce a negative feedback loop which compromises your own hydration.
Why do you think its important for people to feel good about how they look?
When people do not feel good about how they look, it affects their self-esteem which negatively impacts their emotional state and well-being. They often feel ashamed, despair, depressed or un-deserving. It literally holds people back from life experiences, career opportunities, and from taking risks. They don’t want to be seen and it breaks my heart. I have seen so many people limited by the way they perceive themselves and fail to reach the greatness inside them. I also believe that society values people based upon looks and, as such, society suffers because we may not benefit from the gifts of these individuals. Though beauty is only skin deep, confidence and courage are products of feeling good about the way you look. Confident and courageous people take risks and they change the world.
What services do you offer?
For skin our offerings include: Dermal Fillers (Restylane, Juvederm, Revanesse Versa, Belotero).
Botox (Botox, Jeuveau, Dysport, Xeomin), SkinPen microneedling facial with stem cells or PRP, AnteAge microchanneling facial, AquaGold Facials, HydraFacials, Peels.
For the body our offerings include: Emsculpt muscle toning, Coolsculpting fat reduction, Evoke facial remodeling, Evolve skin tightening. Morpheus8 Body and Face which combines microneedling with radiofrequency for fractional resurfacing and collagen production.
As a black woman, how do you define beauty?
I define beauty as simplicity, authenticity, and grace. It is a way of being, love and light. It is confident and unconcerned with what others think or feel. It is strength, resilience, and self – assurance.————-
Military Feature Interview
Kenya Lee, MD, is the co-founder and lead physician at PureLee Redefined (Medspa) in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She is a board-certified physician providing expert skincare and body contouring services to all her patients.
Please tell us about your educational background.
I was educated in the Tennessee public school system. I was the first Black valedictorian of my high school, McNairy Central High School, which was located in a rural part of the state. I attended college at Middle Tennessee State University on a full academic scholarship, where I double-majored in Chemistry and Biology. After graduation, I went directly to Morehouse School of Medicine, where I obtained my MD degree. This was followed by completion of an internship and residency at Le Bonheur St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. I entered active duty upon completion of my residency and served as an Air Force physician here at the Air Force Academy. Later I completed Aesthetics Training with the American Board of Aesthetic Medicine.
What are some of the reasons why you joined the military?
I originally joined the military because I come from a military family, it was a legacy. Every generation that I can recall has been in the military. My family members had been in every branch of the military except for the Air Force, so I joined the Air Force. In addition to that, I needed to pay back some of my student loan debt, and the Air Force helped me accomplish that goal.
What were some of your roles as a military physician?
I served as a staff pediatrician responsible for the direct care of patients in both the inpatient and outpatient settings. I was also chair of the Morbidity, Mortality, and Process Improvement Committee as well as serving as the pediatric representative to the Critical Care Committee. I further served as the Medical Liaison for the Child Development Center / Youth Services Department and the Medical Advisory Board for District 20. Readiness Skills Verification Coordinator and Program Director of Pediatric Advanced Life Support was also part of my responsibilities as well.
As a military pediatrician, I also had the opportunity to provide care to indigenous residents of South America as part of a humanitarian and diplomatic assignment. I provided pediatric care to over one- hundred and twenty patients a day, practicing third world medicine as well as training local providers in pediatric medical care. I was honored to be part of a great team of medical and dental experts providing care to people in need and to help build an infrastructure for continued support within that community.
What made you want to get into the medical field?
I feel like I was born with the desire to be a physician. My mother reports that at the age of 3 years old I announced I would become a doctor. I never deviated from that goal. I have always been an enthusiastic helper who loved science, anatomy, and people. I also had a relentless curiosity and thirst for knowledge. Medicine seemed to come naturally and just fed my soul.
How did you get the idea or concept for PureLee Redefined?
PureLee Redefined came about as I was getting older and I started to see aging changes in my own skin. Good skincare and prevention of aging was not really a topic of discussion in my family. We truly believed myths like “black don’t crack” and that people with melanin didn’t need sunscreen. This is simply not true. Here in Colorado, especially, the environment is very harsh. The proximity to the sun and the lack of humidity is damaging to all skin. This process called “photoaging“ is the number one cause of premature aging and I was seeing the signs.
I decided to look for aesthetic practices to see how they could help me with my skin concerns. However, it became obvious to me that most providers were not comfortable with skin of color. They seemed to focus only on the possible complications based solely upon ethnicity. I was never asked whether my skin was prone to the potential complications of hyper-pigmentation, keloids and scarring; it was simply assumed so because of my race. Basically, they were uncomfortable taking care of skin that looked like mine and their discomfort made me uncomfortable. My plan B was to travel to a city where I could access aesthetics doctors comfortable with skin of color. However, I recognized that I had the foundation to perform these services myself. Therefore, I decided to seek out the best training and learn it for myself. I also convinced my husband, Dr. Marvin Lee, to train alongside me just in case I needed a little help.
After completion of training, we began performing injectables and minor procedures in our home on each other. Later we began treating friends as they began to notice the improvement in our skin and appearance. When I realized that we possessed a talent for medical aesthetics, that we were passionate about it, that other people would be interested and could benefit from similar services, the idea was born. Furthermore it made sense to tap into a market that had essentially been ignored by focusing on services and products that were inclusive and safe in all skin types. This became a foundational principle of our medspa, PureLee Redefined, which opened April of 2019.
What are some of the services that you offer?
We have one esthetician who does hydro-facials and a variety of different facials. We like to do a lot of collagen induction therapy and use many stem cells that help to rejuvenate your skin and boost collagen. We also do various chemical peels; the doctors, myself, and my husband are the only ones who do anything that really breaks the skin because I feel like that is a medical procedure. We also do botox, fillers, micro-needling, minor lesion removals, and we take care of acne and some minor skin conditions.
We also specialize in body contouring, including fat reduction using cold therapy, muscle toning using electromagnetic energy, and skin tightening using radio frequency energy.
It’s great to make those minor changes and see people’s faces light up because it encourages them to keep going, or it helps with their quality of life. We want everybody to get the best result possible, and we do whatever it takes to make sure that is happening.
What is the importance of a healthy skincare regimen, in your opinion?
To me, it is about aging gracefully and also reducing your chances for cancer. Like I said before, many people of color don’t think we need to wear sunscreen or protect our skin from the sun. The reality is that we actually do get skin cancers, and we do need to protect our skin just as much as anyone else. The sun and the environment will break down your collagen and cause more fine lines and wrinkles. Most people will want to look young for as long as possible, and a healthy skin regimen is necessary to do that.
Were there any setbacks when you first founded PureLee Redefined?
Of course, we found that it is not easy to get funding for minority-owned businesses. Fortunately, my husband and I were in a position where we could do it ourselves. Having to self-fund an entire business was definitely a significant setback. Still, we try to be very mindful and make sure that we stay within our brand, and we want to make everything as affordable as possible.
It was also challenging to find the right location, but we finally did, and it is now growing and thriving. I feel like we’ve done the right stuff, and we’ve done it kind of all on our own. You’ve got to just keep moving forward despite the setbacks.
What was it like working with your husband and creating a business together?
Fortunately, my husband and I have been married for over 20 years, so we have learned each other’s boundaries. The tricky part is separating the relationship from the business because when you’re a small business owner, it can become all about competition and many other things.
It is essential to set these boundaries, rules, and roles. Sometimes, you have to have difficult conversations from the business side, and we didn’t want it to affect our personal side. It was definitely very difficult at first, but now it is great, and I love it.
Our goal is to build more generational wealth. We’ve got kids, and we want to teach them how to be successful. We get to be the pioneers in doing that.
How do you balance family life with work life?
My kids are both independent adults, so, fortunately, we started our business later in life. They are seeing the struggles, the work ethic, and the passion that goes into the development of the business. I want to teach them to do what they love, but realize that since any job does require a lot of energy and time, you don’t want to be doing something that you hate.
My husband and I also take the occasional date night to slow down to focus on what is really important.
What are some of the benefits that have come with running your own business?
There are so many, but the first that comes to mind is the benefit of independence. I love that I can get creative, be passionate about what I do. I love to determine my own agenda based on what I’m good at and what I love to do!
What do you consider success?
I would say to be able to retire by the time I’m 55, but maybe continuing to work because I love it so much. I would also consider myself successful once I’ve seen most of the world because I am an avid traveler!
Is there any advice that you have for other entrepreneurs?
My advice is to start because there’s never going to be a perfect time. There will always be some kind of challenge or some sort of limitation that you perceive. Also, learn as much as you can. I don’t believe in luck. I believe that success comes when your preparation meets opportunity. So always be prepared.
Lastly, I would say to believe in yourself and trust yourself. There will be many people trying to tell you what to do, but your dream is for you to create. Trust yourself. We have that intuition for a reason.
Interview By Talisa Caldwell