Abby Backlund has loved the beauty and skin care industry ever since she played make up artist for her school prom. After a stint managing spas, including one at a ski resort, she received her esthetics license and opened Thayer Street’s Facing Thayer Beauty Spa seven years ago last month. There, she exclusively offers spa services: facials, massage, hair removal, nail care, lash extensions and makeup artistry. Here, Abby dishes on best practices for skincare, which is especially important after the winter we just survived.
My skin gets so dry in the winter. What is a product that you love to use for your skin as we transition from colder to warmer weather?
Mine too! This winter has been so cold, dry and harsh that everyone is complaining about tight, dehydrated skin. If you aren’t already using a gentle exfoliant, now is the time to add one to your routine. Look for a gentle enzyme or hydroxy acid - not a harsh, gritty scrub. My recommendation for every skin type is Dermalogica’s Daily Microfoliant - it uses rice enzymes and salicylic acid to gently dissolve away dead skin cells and the junk clogging our pores. This allows our moisturizer to penetrate better and makes skin look brighter, smoother and softer. Many people also need a slightly richer moisturizer during the winter months - I have one to use during the humid summer and a richer one for the dry winter. We encourage clients to stop by anytime for a skin analysis and for some free samples to take home and try out.
What is the most important thing people can do to take care of their skin?
I think the most important thing everyone can do is to meet with a professional skin care therapist and ﬁnd an at-home routine that is appropriate for their skin and their lifestyle. Not everyone wants six different products and steps – having a simple routine that you follow morning and night is the most important – for most of us this means a cleanser, toner and moisturizer (everyone needs moisturizer – even oily skin types!). I also encourage everyone to use an exfoliant. But by speaking with an expert ﬁrst you can be conﬁdent that you are picking out the right products that won’t interact with each other. Also, if you purchase a skin care product from Facing Thayer and don’t end up liking it we will happily exchange it for something different.
How can you update your look for spring? What are the trends this season?
This spring, my favorite makeup trend is a clean glowing face with a dramatic cat’s-eye and a bright lip. The combination of natural, dewy skin and a deﬁned eye and fun lip is a great juxtaposition and looks clean yet sexy! The easiest way to achieve this is with Stila’s High Deﬁnition BB Cream, Stila’s Convertible Color for lip and cheek in Sweet Pea and Stila’s Stay All-Day Liquid Liner in black. Add a little mascara and you’re done.
How do you balance the fashion forward services students are looking for, like nail art manicures, with more classic services like facials and waxing?
I think the combination of clientele is possibly my favorite part of the business. It keeps us interested and working harder. The Brown students bring such a high level of sophistication – so many are coming from oversees, L.A. and N.Y.C. They deﬁnitely keep us on our toes. At the same, it’s nice to have the balance of our regular clients who live on the East Side who are coming to the spa for a treat a relaxing spa environment.
I love that you can ﬁnd products at Facing Thayer that you can’t ﬁnd anywhere else locally.
That’s what we are really moving towards, to have products at the store that you won’t ﬁnd at Sephora, Nordstrom or even online. We are trying to work with companies who have good philosophies and aren’t easily accessible. I’ve found different perfumes through travel. For example, child perfume, you can’t ﬁnd it anywhere else in New England. It’s made by this woman in Texas who is very eccentric and you have to go through an interview process to get it. It’s great to ﬁnd companies who want to stay small and exclusive, and they are doing it for a reason, for quality control.