Beauty from the orchids
By Paula Rath
Advertiser Staff Writer
Before green was gargantuan, before the beauty biz discovered buzzwords such as "natural" and "organic," and before beauty was all about branding, Connie Gayle of Wai'alae Nui was quietly researching and discovering the natural, organic properties of orchids and what they can do for the skin.
After arriving in Hawai'i in 1970, Gayle began cultivating orchids in her greenhouse. "As they started to bloom, and the more I had my hands in them, I started to notice how the texture and suppleness of my hands was changing. It piqued my curiosity," she said.
Gayle, a registered nurse, began investigating the properties of orchids to see if she could capture — and capitalize on — what they do for the skin. She began working with chemists in 1979 to find the "richest and purest" form of the orchid extracts. "I wanted to maintain its amazing properties," she said.
Born was the key product of her natural skin-care regimen, Oil of Orchid moisturizer.
"The orchid is known for its ability to renew itself and to absorb and retain moisture. In skin care, it's used mainly for its protective and restorative properties," Gayle explained. "It is being touted as nature's elegant moistening free-radical fighter, and for its ability to minimize the appearance of fine lines."
After conquering the orchid, Gayle went on to discover what papaya could do for skin. Her Oil of Orchid cleanser contains papaya enzymes and ti leaf extracts. Papaya Enzyme Scrub exfoliates and nourishes skin, she said, helping restore and protect the skin's natural pH balance.
During 35 years of research and development, Gayle has created just nine products. It takes an average of one year to develop each one. However, her sunblock took two years, as she had to test it again and again in Hawai'i's humidity to make sure it would hold up and not change its properties. "I didn't want acids in it that would be harmful for sensitive skin, and I went back and forth with the chemists many times to get it right," she said. "They were very patient with me."
Gayle segued from being a nurse to being an esthetician in the early '70s. Her facials use herbal enzymes such as papaya to dissolve blackheads.
"Papaya also lightens and brightens the skin, and all with natural enzymes from plants," Gayle said.
For her own skin-care regimen, Gayle uses only sunblock, and her own enzyme peels and facials. She gives herself a mini facial nearly every morning, using Heliabrine Serum and a mask and moisturizer, then rinses it all off. "My skin is soft enough that I really don't need a cream" after that, she said.
She must be doing something right. Superstar Elton John gets a facial with Gayle every time he's in town and orders her Oil of Orchid moisturizer by the case. International socialite Lynn Wyatt gets a facial with Gayle every time she visits Honolulu.
Gayle is currently stepping back from running Connie Gayle Beauty Centre. She plans to focus all her energy on skin care and new product development, as well as teaching up-and-coming facialists her techniques.
Connie Gayle skin and hair care products range from $12 to $90, with most in the $25 range. They are sold at Connie Gayle Beauty Centre, 2000 S. Beretania St. Or phone 947-9777 or e-mail ConnieGayleHawaii@yahoo.com to place an order.