Lindsay Flint, founder of lilac + flint, believes that within you lies the power to transform your skin, especially when fall makes its appearance. As a licensed esthetician with more than a decade of experience, from the east coast to her current residence in Sacramento, California, Lindsay has a deep fervor for at-home skin care and acne management. “My skincare philosophy, it's like going to the dentist,” said Lindsay in our chat. “You have to brush and floss every single day, and go to the dentist for your regular services. If you're just going to an esthetician for facials and you're not taking care of your skin every single day, you're not getting anywhere.”
Lindsay discusses how the fall transition is the perfect time for your skin to recover from the harsh environment stressors of the summer (think brightening techniques) and how bedding, a fabric in contact with your skin for a long period of time, is increasingly becoming a hot topic in skin care.
Jessa (Nollapelli): I recently read on your Instagram a more personal story behind the start of your business. I'm paraphrasing here, but you had talked about how this business rose from the ashes, rose from a dark time. I feel like a lot of people are going through something like that right now. Could you give a brief synopsis on where lilac + flint came from?
Lindsay: Absolutely. I've been in the spa industry for about 20 years and 11 years ago opened my first skincare studio in San Francisco. And then I expanded it into a bigger space in Oakland. When I moved to Sacramento, I downsized it a little bit because I had my daughter, I was home with her more. And I had my skincare studio here, but unfortunately I broke my foot and I couldn't walk. It was this long, drawn out your lungs saga. I've come to learn inside of myself to trust the creative process, especially under pressure. And what started to happen was I had had this product line in my mind for the last 10, 11 years since I had opened my studio because so many product lines out there, you know, they formulate at one lab. So, you end up with this situation where there's a couple superstar products and then the rest of the line is kind of a mess. And I wanted a line of all superstars. That was my goal. And I had been building this in my mind using all of the ingredients that I love, like all of my biggest tools in my toolbox. And I wanted them all in one line.
I finally had this moment where I was literally laying on the couch all the time. I'm like right, as a mom, you don't have time like that. I realized this horrible situation was actually this huge opportunity to bring to life what I had dreamed of for so long. That's how lilac + flint was born. Once I was able to walk again, I started taking clients again and I realized it was such an amazing set of tools, this product line, that it was time to share it with other estheticians. So I started to wholesale the line to other institutions in January of this year - started the whole 2020.
Jessa: That's a great segue. COVID-19 regulations vary from state to state, and I believe in California, they vary from county to county on what's an essential business. So how have you been dealing, how has your wholesale product line going? How has your business been going as an esthetician? We recently published an article about skin care as an essential business, linking it to dentistry, talking about stress reducing uses and how estheticians are used to working in strict health codes. How you're dealing with COVID-19 out there in California?
Lindsay: So you're correct. It is county by county and there's four different stages of reopening and each county is in a certain stage. My county only opened two weeks ago. We were shut down for eight and a half months.
Lindsay: And of course in the beginning we didn't know how long it was going to be. A few counties opened and then reclosed, most counties have reopened as of the last few weeks except for LA and some of the bigger, well, actually I think LA is starting to open now. But yeah, it's been a really challenging time, especially for estheticians who depend on the service income, because retail is still strong. But the service piece, it's important to understand that, you know, when people are going without their services, they're not going to then, you know, catch back up later. So that income is not replaceable for estheticians. And I think legislators as a whole, probably a hundred percent of them are getting their hair and nails done, but it's maybe it was just a little less known service that they weren't bringing their focus to it. And I think estheticians really fell between the cracks for many months. And the focus was really on reopening salons and nail salons, but not so much addressing the issue too of estheticians. I'm glad to see that we're now included in the conversation at all.
It's a really interesting time and I think it's very similar to the start of lilac + flint. I'm in that exact place right now where at first I felt terrified and unsure of the future and confused as to what to do, which is I think a universal feeling for everyone right now. But then I got creative and I love that part. That's what makes me an entrepreneur. I think what will save the service industry in general is, is staying flexible and letting yourself try new things and have ideas. But one cool thing I will say is like right now everyone's clients are fully open to new things more than they ever have been in the past. So, whereas before they may not have been open to like a monthly skincare box that, or, or at-home treatments now they're wide open to that.
That's one way that has transformed my business. I made the decision early on to stop doing services, which is actually a crazy decision for me. That’s part of who I am. It was a big grieving and letting go. But the product line has kind of taken a new direction and I really moved my services to be virtual. I do all of my consulting via text message now, which clients actually really love. And I'm really focused on home care and the wholesale business.
Jessa: When we talked to MaryRose, our esthetician on the East coast and last month’s Beyond the Sheets guest, she said she didn’t want her clients to regress. What else are you seeing popular right now with your clientele?
Lindsay: I always have a big focus on home care and I always say, you said earlier relating this to dentistry. My skincare philosophy, it's like going to the dentist, you have to brush and floss every single day. Right? And go to the dentist for your regular services, right? If you're just going to an esthetician for facials and you're not taking care of your skin every single day, you're not getting anywhere.
Lindsay: I think this is very much in line with Nollapelli’s concept, which is that your skin health is really about the everyday activities that you're doing that add up over time. When you're sleeping with your face on a pillowcase every single night, hopefully for six to eight hours, that's going to have a profound effect on the outcomes of your skin and the same with home care, your home care regimen is the most important thing you can do for your skin. That's the biggest trend right now is people are realizing the power is within themselves. They have the party transform their skin.
Jessa: Are you finding people are putting more into the routine, not so much a routine, but it's becoming a ritual. It's becoming a time to quiet the mind, just focus on yourself, on a task. Are you finding clients embracing the ritualistic nature of skincare?
Lindsay: Absolutely. I think self-care has never been more important than it is right now. And people are home more which gives them more opportunities to spend time on themselves. I will say as a mom, my commitment to take care of myself in my skincare regimen, which literally only takes three minutes in the morning and at night you would think three minutes is not hard...
Jessa: It's a challenge. It absolutely is a challenge.
Lindsay: I'll put my kids in the bath and I will take three minutes and focus on myself in that mirror and take care of myself for those three minutes. That commitment is so important when you're constantly taking care of everyone else around you. And I think that's true for a lot of people across the board. People are learning that in especially stressful times, that's the time to pick up yourself or you're not going to hold it together.
Jessa: Going back to the east coast / west coast - On the east coast, we're experiencing harsh weather changes and therefore our skin routine and rituals need to change along with that. Now, California is a little bit more of a moderate climate, but there's still probably changes that you have to go through on a seasonal basis. What are you recommending to your CA clients right?
Lindsay: Fall is actually one of my favorite skincare seasons. We do switch things up seasonally here. It's not quite as dramatic. I'm originally from the East coast, so I do remember the major climate changes. We tend to have an extended fall here and fall is amazing for anything that's brightening. Brightening is a big focus in fall. If I were taking clients, I'd be doing peels and we'd be dumping into all of the brightening stuff. And then I also love to use fall as the time to acclimate clients to vitamin A and retinoids. In my skincare philosophy, I see every client as being on the path to retinol. That's the end of the road and what they're going to stay on forever.
Jessa: Why that path? What about retinol is so appealing to you?
Lindsay: There's a couple of powerhouse things that we have topically in skincare that can really help with aging and acne as well. Retinol would be the number one, in my opinion, maybe second only to sunscreen, which is a preventative retinol to keep that fresh collagen coming up. It's also a tyrosinase inhibitor which I can talk more about when I talk about the brightening. It helps to keep the complexion really nice and smooth, it helps with texture. It helps with hyperpigmentation. There's almost nothing it [retinol] doesn't do. It's really our most advanced option shy of going into Botox and plastic surgery. The most powerful tool we have is retinol. Even for my teen clients, my acne clients, the only people I don't use retinol on would be like pregnancy. During those family planning years, I don't go there. In my product line I use just shy of a prescription strength. It does take some acclimation and fall is really the best time of year to get your skin used to it and, and setting yourself up for success for the rest of the year.
Jessa: Got it. Thank you. So, brightening is really big right now. What else is trending?
Lindsay: With the brightening, I like to add tyrosinase inhibitors, which is essentially what stops your skin from over-producing melanin in certain places - coming off of summer, it's usually from a lot of sun exposure or hormones, trauma, heat. There's a lot of things that can trigger hyperpigmentation. So we like to add in tyrosinase inhibitors, like azelaic acid, vitamin C, retinol. And those are the things I really like to step up in the fall.
It's all about the actives. In the summer where it's more protecting your skin from all of the elements, it's sort of like a recovery process in the fall. Everyone's getting back to their routines. They're reassessing their skincare adding in more steps and cycling out your serums because you don't want to just keep using the same thing all year round. You want to amp up your skin. It's about adding in the actives when the weather isn't going to be an issue, right? For my East coast clients, I really recommend doing that and also increasing the hydration and the moisturization because you're going to have that lack of humidity and the chill in the air.
Jessa: I love how you call it a recovery process. That's a really clever way of saying it. Fall is grounding in a sense. I'm going to pivot a little bit and go back to what we do, which is bedding. I'm curious if bedding is something that you talk with with your clients. You mentioned it before about having six to eight hours in contact with your bedding when you're sleeping. That's a big chunk of time during your day, every day that your skin is in contact with a fabric. Is bedding something you have talked with your clients about?
Lindsay: It absolutely should be. The clients that I talk about this the most with are my acne clients. I am an acne specialist. Even before COVID, I had a virtual acne program. I have national clients that I work with virtually for their acne and pillowcases is one of the number one lifestyle things that we address - the cleaning of them and making sure that clients keep a stack of fresh pillowcases next to their bed and switch them out each night because the bacteria can build up. And then also hydration, like people tend to think of wanting to strip away acne, but hydration is a huge key in the fight against acne. If you're using a material that's constantly drying out your face at night, it's going to be problematic. I talk about it a lot with my clients. Probably less so with my anti-aging clients, but I think that I need to probably step that up because the hydration is a huge piece of it. And again, it's those things that you're doing every single day that make the difference in your skin.
Jessa: Absolutely. We had a call with our founder, Alison today, and she put it so eloquently about how our innovative fabric is not just one more thing that we're adding to your wellness. Sometimes people can get really overwhelmed. Like you said, your skincare routine is three minutes. That's incredible. And that's all it has to be. It doesn't have to be this 45 minute regime every day. And that's where she sees bedding. Yes, it's an investment, but it's not an additive. It's not taking up more time. Our innovative fabric regulates moisture, temperature and friction, and it's a huge investment that you can make for your skin. We've been seeing that estheticians are bringing bedding and fabric contact up more to their clients, especially with the introduction of masks too, right?
Lindsay: It's a huge, Nollapelli making masks out of this fabric is a really big deal. I have a huge acne clientele, all of them need that mask! Friction is a big deal, it's constant. And you know, a lot of my clients are in the medical field and they likely need to have the special masks while they're at work. But when they're not at work and they're out in the world, they still have to wear a mask. And the movement and the friction is, you know, it's called acne mechanica. It's the mechanical friction against your face. And of course this [pointing to the chin and around the mouth] is the area that we all break out the most. This is where the mask is. It's a unique challenge. I'm, I'm working really hard on developing more things to help people with maskne situation. A lot of my clients have regressed. I've had clients that have been clear for two, three years, myself. I've been clear for five years. It's all coming back because of these masks.
Jessa: People that have suffered from acne prior to COVID-19, the wrench it throws in into their plan. I didn't even think about that.
Lindsay: Yeah. It's frustrating. But again, now we have a new challenge, we're going to figure it out. I'm sure your masks are going to be part of it. What I love about being an esthetician and why I got into this career is, I had problems with acne my whole life. It was incredibly hard on my self-esteem. It was constant and all it takes is clearing one client to just fall in love with wanting to do it again and again and again. This is just more fuel for me, fuel for me to help more people.
Jessa: I’m done to my last question. What is one thing that you do for your skin every single day?
Lindsay: Oh, wow. That is a good question because there are a lot of things. So making the time is one thing. If I had to pick one product., I guess I'd have to say cleanser because your skin needs to be clean. But it's a toss up with sunscreen too, because you know, that's our main preventative. And, also I want to say retinol again [laughter]. It's not an easy question.