Olivia Quido-Co started O Skin Med Spa in the back kitchen of a parlor in Artesia, California, U.S.A.
She leased the eight-by-six-feet space in 2003 for four years before moving to a bigger area in 2007.
In 2012, she opened her second branch in Eagle Rock Plaza Mall, Los Angeles.
The following year, she moved her Artesia branch to Cerritos Mall.
After 18 years, her facial business has grown to provide livelihood to over 40 people, mostly Filipinas and Latinas.
Ms. O, as she is fondly called, told PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) that her journey was not a walk in the park.
She arrived in the U.S. with limited income and was saving rent by living in an apartment with 12 people sharing only one restroom.
It reached the point when she considered flipping burgers to make ends meet.
Instead, she got a job at a beauty salon, although it hadn't been easy and she was tempted many times to give up.
Ms. O recalled, "Imagine, 12 hours ka na nakaupo doon, isa lang magpapa-facial... Gusto ko nang mag-aral ng nursing kasi walang nangyayari."
She did apply in nursing schools together with five of her friends.
But despite being the only one among her friends with a college degree, Ms. O was the only one rejected by the schools.
She told PEP.ph, “Siguro sabi ni Lord, hindi iyan ang para sa iyo, maghintay ka lang."
And indeed it came when she realized that what she really wanted was to pursue a career in beauty.
She said, "Eto na talaga pinaka-passion ko. Kasi bata pa lang ako, iyong pera na binibigay sa akin na pambili ng merienda, lotion ang binibili ko.
"Or lipstick ng mama ko, kinukuha ko. Gusto ko iyong mga nagpapaganda. Ayaw kong umaalis ng bahay na hindi nakaayos."
When Ms. O shifted her focus from pampaganda sa sarili to making others look and feel beautiful, she found her life-long purpose as a California-licensed esthetician.
Even her eyes were smiling when she revealed that one of her products—Secret Gold 24K Mask—got included on the list of "Effective Gold-Infused skincare products," an article published on Forbes.
Last year, her skin-care label became one of the brand partners of the Miss Universe and Miss USA organizations.
Ms. O herself was chosen by the Miss Universe Chile pageant as one of its judges.
In a Zoom videocon, PEP.ph learned a thing or two about skin care.
WHAT IS THE SECRET TO CLEAR SKIN?
Her go-to product when preparing for interviews is a blemish eraser.
Its properties include exfoliation of dead skin and dry skin, or libag, so that when makeup is applied, "Makintab, glassy skin na."
Ms. O said exfoliation is a crucial step in face cleaning.
She explained to PEP.ph, "Kaya nawawala ang glow ng isang tao kasi maraming makapal na dead skin, or superficial top layer ng epidermis ang madumi.
Kaya kailangan muna i-exfoliate iyong unang layer na iyon."
Then, and only then, she stressed, can skin be slathered with layers of cream, oil, and essence, "Diyan lang mas kikintab iyong balat."
WHAT ARE THE top two skin problems
Ms. O revealed, "Dalawa ang paulit-ulit sa mga 10 problems, eto lang talaga. Most of the clients, eighty to eighty-five percent, dalawa lang ang problema—may taghiyawat or may itim sa mukha. Iyon lang."
Knowing this, she came up with a product addressing these two problems.
"Naghanap ako ng isang formula na makaka-treat niyang dalawa. FDA approved, dumaan sa butas ng karayom.
"Siya iyong isang prescription product owned by a Filipino sa America.
"It is a prescription product na inilalagay sa face para matanggal ang taghiyawat at itim sa mukha. Gumawa ako ng magic product para sa dalawang iyan."
The product is called F&F, short for the OLIVIA QUIDO FIRM & FADE II Cream, which firms up the face and gets rid of skin discoloration.
The F&F has the 10-digit or 11-digit NDC (National Drug Code) number—a three-segment universal product identifier for human drugs in the U.S. that identifies the labeler, the product, and the commercial package size.
According to Ms. O, it took her and her team 14 months to obtain the required NDC number.
The Pinay esthetician said, "Hindi nakukuha iyan basta-basta. Sa lahat ng ginawa ko, eto iyong number na pinakamahirap makuha. Doctor lang ang puwede magbenta nito sa America.
"2018 pa lang inaasikaso ko na ito. Hindi ko na alam if may pag-asang lumabas kasi parang butas ng karayom dadaanan mo dito, e."
The F&F's NDC number came out right before the March 2020 global lockdown, allowing Ms. O to sell the product even as the spas stayed closed for six months.
An NDC approval means a product can be sold to other doctors as well.
Following U.S. laws, F&F is sold with a comprehensive insert detailing its chemistry, usage, dosage, efficacy, contraindications, and ingredients.
DOES A SKIN-CARE ROUTINE REQUIRE TEN STEPS?
The use of F&F differs from the famous Korean 10-step skin-care routine.
For Ms. O, the product matters more than the number of steps, which she explained, "Very important ang every step kasi may potency sa mga ingredients.
"Di puwede halo-halo si pampaputi, whitening moisturizer 'tapos may oil, cream, so dapat separate bawat step."
By using F&F, for example, she said, "Pag ginamit mo ito, tanggal na libag, so lahat ng eight-step na ilalagay mo, sobrang effective, ganda na skin mo.
"Bidang-bida, pag nilagay mo ito, literally booster, gaganda talaga mukha mo in just as little as two weeks, parang bata ang mukha mo."
To be practical about it, Ms. O recommends to look for products with multiple uses and "sobrang effective."