"I am obsessed with facials from Annie Graham. This woman knows her stuff and had combined her background in biology with the love of all things skin care. We partnered with Annie on some fragrance products and they are divine. But my absolute go to from her is the night mask "Lunar Veil". It's light, smells incredible and leaves my skin feeling beyond heavenly. We sat down with Annie to see what floats her boat! " Emma
Annie Graham - XO Treatment Room
Located on 1st street in the trendy Victoria Park community lies XO Treatment Room, an aesthetics spa, cosmetics storefront and compounding lab owned by Calgary facialist Annie Graham. Armed with a degree in biology, two decades of experience working in ophthalmology and a love of science, Annie went to work creating the “Clever and Clean Chemistry Compounds” for her XO FACEcare product line and uber facial, the XOA. She also is the formulator of the newest Sophie Grace travel candles and fragrance balms and we recently chatted with her about the evolution of XO.
Can you share how XO was born? Tell us about your life and career at that time.
XO has really evolved, as I have. I am not from the beauty industry. My roots and mindset are still very much in the science community. However I truly love the people I work with and am around now! It’s the best time. Our clientele are so smart and curious about the ‘why’s’ of everything. I love sharing my knowledge and helping people turn their skin issues around.
I worked in ophthalmology before and we did lots of cool stuff with lasers. Skincare was just such a good fit because it's interesting and there are so many facets of it.
I’ve always loved science. It’s a mindset you can’t undo.
I kind of figured out real quickly that you can't make everyone happy. So I made what I liked. I have super acne prone skin, l live in one of the driest places in the world, and I’m in my 40’s so anti aging is a thing. I just have all the things and thought, I like it and it works for me, so surely it will work for others.
SG: How did you make the leap to start XO?
AG: Boy, you just have to be really naive, to be honest. When you're in it, it's like you're up to your waist before you realize you have to keep going.
SG: You have such a personalized approach to skin care. Tell us about your process.
AG:I think there are some universal rules, like wear your sunscreen everyday! But I love getting to know my clients so I can not only take their issues and skin type to mind, but also their lifestyle. Busy people don’t like a lot of fuss or downtime. Others may only be able to see me once or twice so I really have to be a bit more intense in the few sessions I have with them. Providing people with all the ‘why’s lets them go out on their own and make smart skin care decisions going forward. They shouldn’t have to be stuck in an endless cycle of seeing me. I’ll clean it all up, tell you why and how, then send you out there armed with some new info. No nonsense.
SG: Tell us about the XOA in a box. Have you always offered virtual appointments or was this a result of limitations for treatments during the pandemic?
AG: Chemical peels have always been one of my favourite treatments. We’ve done about 4500 this way and It’s great! They are the best bang for your buck in most cases. They are greatly misunderstood and there are so many combinations to think of. However most of them do come with a few days downtime and previously when people were socially busy it took some serious planning. People didn’t want them. During the last two years of Covid we have had a change in the way we work and socialize and this created the opportunity for people to easily do a peel at home.
I would do a consult over Facetime with them to see their skin. We talk about their issues, what they do, what they don't do, and what they've done. Then I would compound something for them and I send it in a box. They get the gloves. I give you a little hair thing. We just do it together over FaceTime and then stay together via text, DM, phone call, FaceTime, or however they want to connect as the process unfolds.
Also since I do them over face time, you can be anywhere. It is fun because there's a lot of people in areas that don't have a good skin person or dermatologist. It gave them access to all of this and I do try to impart as much knowledge or education as I can in the time we have together. Once they get it, they can go out and make wise skincare decisions themselves. They just need to know what words to look for.
SG: What would you say to someone who has never had a facial before? Is there a best time to start?
AG: By the time someone sees me I feel like they have an issue or concerns already. I like to arm them with good information to go forward and not have to rely on facials to have good skin. I think it’s never too early to be educated on taking care of yourself.
SG: You recently collaborated with Sophie Grace to create custom fragrance balms and travel candles.They smell absolutely amazing! How did this collaboration come about?
AG: Sophie Grace is such a great collab. Sophie Grace is really no nonsense and straight forward while embracing the simplicity of dressing. Their clothes are comfortable and you can wear anything with anything. They take the guesswork out and let you get on with life. Thats often how I feel about XO. Just some simple, amazing, beautiful, easy to use skincare. We are aligned in the way that our clientele are not prima donnas that need to have the latest bag and the most Botox, they are the ones that want to look clean and professional, but they need to get to fucking work.
SG: What is your favourite XO product?
It is definitely the Heavy C. It's the one that everybody loves and it is our best seller. I use it religiously.
SG: What is your favourite Sophie Grace piece?
AG: Definitely the Violet Blazer! I have a pretty casual style and this pulls it together in a snap. In black of course.
SG: What comes next for XO?
We have some new projects launching in 2022. Don’t stop won’t stop xoxo