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Woman of the Week: Dr. Nadine Wong

Life is certainly not black and white for Dr. Nadine Wong. Ever since she was a little girl growing up on the island of Jamaica, she knew that creativity was a natural aspect of her life. Wong is now she the CEO of the Alabaster Wellness Clinic in Pickering, Ontario and the creator of the Alabaster Beauty Ointment, a job that combines creativity and out-of-the-box thinking with years of study.  But how did a little girl from Jamaica get here?

While other girls were playing with plastic barbies, Wong could make toys out of things she found in her own backyard, including mango seeds. She would meticulously dye each seed and hair a different colour using Kool-Aid and host her own ‘mango beauty pageant.’

Life was never boring as she grew up in a multi-ethnic household with a grandfather from China mixed with her strong Afro-Caribbean heritage. She admired the work of her mother, who was a renowned chef that cooked for the likes of Bob Marley. At a young age, she was fortunate enough to be well-travelled, often taking family vacations to North America where she observed the changes in culture. She knew that eventually one day this place would be her home.

When her family finally moved to Toronto, the transition was difficult— “the saying, come live with me and come stay with me are two different things.” Wong remarked. Travelling on vacation was one thing, but integrating yourself into the culture and school system was a different story, which is an all-too familiar feeling for any immigrant.

While dealing with the differences in the school system, as well as suffering from dyslexia, Wong also experienced her first taste of racism from her community. Many people around her could not understand why a black girl could have the surname Wong and why she understood Mandarin and the intricacies of Chinese food.

“I was a woman of culture walking the hallways of school where I could understand the white rock or the Jamaican classic. People would often ask, where are you from, I’ve never met anyone like you?”

This uniqueness and drive helped Wong to really understand her true self  “I am not going to say I was an ‘A’ student, I struggled, I struggled because the system is only created in black and white and if you’re creative like myself, who sees in green, purple and pink, it’s just going to be a challenge.”

After a negative shift in her life where, under the influence of friends, she didn’t take school as seriously. Her father stepped in and told her she was a young woman of fashion and style, so why not explore something with cosmetology.

Wong enrolled in Marvel Beauty School for hairdressing, but something was still off. Wong saw how things were supposed to be and not what they were. She began to think about the dynamics of the hair and scalp and why exactly black hair was so different from other ethnicities. Eventually, Wong was accepted into Dudley University in North Carolina to understand ethnic hair care and obtained her Doctorate in Cosmetology from Dillard University and another Doctorate in Trichology in Alabama. Once she obtained her doctorate, Dr. Wong came back to Toronto where she was recognized as the first certified trichologist the city.

With her new knowledge and fresh ideas, Dr. Wong shared her thoughts with the black hair community, addressing issues such as alopecia, often caused from braiding. She now understood the science behind the selection of hair treatments and products, and this drive led her to the formation of her own clinic, the Alabaster Wellness Clinic.  There, she could provide a different approach to hair issues, more than a hairdresser can answer. Dr. Wong began to focus on issues dealing with hair loss and thinning, not just in the black community, but for everyone.

“I am a visual person, so I would sometimes sit and watch women, walking into a beauty salon and they would come with one mood and leave in another mood.”

The observation led Wong to consider why women have a change in mindset when it comes to temporary body alterations such as a hair style. Wong returned to school once again, to understand the human body and the dynamic of behaviour. Wong explored natural medicine and her so called “ah-ha” moment came when she realized the importance of minerals and food science affecting the human body.

It dawned on her that human beings have one thing in common. Despite our cultural background, we all use the same cosmetics— shampoos, perfumes and hygienic products. Through the study of food science, Dr. Wong now treats her clients by addressing issues that affect the body internally. The clinic can identify possibly causes or issues that are already affecting patients. Using a hair mineral analysis, where a small sample of your hair is tested, Wong can design a custom beauty program and wellness plan for her clients.

“Even if you have the best medicine and beauty products, if your minerals are low, at the end of the day your body will never be harmonized.”

Dr. Wong has come to the conclusion that every human body is different and that everything stems from the core of your body. The unity of health and wellness is one unit and it doesn’t come in parts. The products that the Alabaster Clinic offers are not cosmetic brands, but they are beauty ointments, infused with minerals made to penetrate the dermis of your skin. The key to health is absorption so products like the Pumpkin Body Butter, Oat Facial Cleanser or the Alabaster Beauty Ointment, all contain natural ingredients based on a patients needs.

Looking back, Dr. Wong has realized that her creative nature as a child continues today as an adult.

“When you look at science, you have to look at things through the lens of a child, because as adults we analyze everything.”

For more information and to keep up with all that Dr. Wong has to offer, visit alabasterwellness.com