Heyday Skin Therapist Ava Lemons on Skincare Myths & Products to Stay Hydrated This Fall

Two weeks ago we got the lowdown on the perfect fall outfit from legendary Savile Row tailor Huntsman. This week we speak to Heyday Skin Therapist Ava Lemons to learn about how she’s delivering facial treatments and skincare advice from home, and to get her suggestions on products that will keep skin hydrated as fall brings colder weather and dryer conditions.

One of the first stories to appear on Elsewhere was a deep dive with Heyday co-founder Michael Pollak, exploring the origins of the brand and how it has managed to deliver a personalized experience digitally with stores closed and customers stuck at home. Among the key strategies Heyday employed to achieve this was the introduction of virtual consultations.

Through a partnership with Hero, Heyday gave its licensed estheticians, which it refers to as Skin Therapists, a way to connect with customers via text, chat, and video in order to address general skincare concerns as well as specific issues. It’s worked wonders for the brand—and more importantly for its customers—as Heyday locations have gradually reopened across the country. Today all but two of Heyday’s 10 locations are open for business.

Nonetheless, accurate skincare treatment and information remains a challenging topic for consumers to grasp, a fact that’s at least partially due to the industry’s self-regulation, as noted in our interview with Annie Jackson, co-founder of clean beauty retailer Credo.

That’s why we reached out to Heyday Skin Therapist Ava Lemons. A licensed esthetician with over 16 years of experience, Lemons let us in on the ups and downs of her profession, debunked long-standing skincare myths, and shared her suggestions for keeping skin hydrated as colder, dryer conditions sweep the Northern Hemisphere. Read our interview below and see her product recommendations at the very end.

Let’s start at the top. What do you love about your profession?

The connections that I build with my clients. I love learning who they are as people and using that knowledge to help them better relax during their time with me, educate them about their skin, and help them build a comprehensive skincare routine that fits into their daily lives.

A bit on the opposite side of that question, what are some of the challenges of your profession that others may not realize?

Misinformation that’s spread because of influencers that don’t have a professional background in skincare. Also, staying aware of all the different tools, tips, and products out there. It’s impossible to know everything as the industry is always evolving, but knowing what’s hot in the moment gives me a peak into what my clients may have heard or may be curious about.

On that note, can you debunk some widespread skincare/facial myths for us?

Sure. For one, that exfoliating is bad. I constantly hear this. The truth is we need to exfoliate in order to slough off dead skin cells and promote healthy skin cell turnover. The trick is finding the right exfoliant for your skin type.

For example, someone with sensitive skin may use an enzyme exfoliant without a “scrub” component to it that gently eats away at the dead skin cells with little to no irritation. Someone wanting to address fine lines and sun damage would benefit from an exfoliant with Lactic Acid in it.

Another common myth is that you shouldn’t put anything on your face that you wouldn’t eat. While it’s true you should stay away from parabens and sulfates in skincare products, we do need some chemicals to help maintain the integrity of the product to keep it from going rancid and to allow it to work efficiently. If you’re not sure about an ingredient, ask your Skin Therapist for the facts!

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All about sulfates. What are your favorite cleaners?

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What about some skincare/facial myths that are actually true?

That starting a preventative-aging skincare routine should start in your late 20s/early 30s. Our skin starts to lose moisture content and experiences collagen breakdown as early as age 25! Stress, sun exposure, and pollution can hasten this process.

Using antioxidants, a mild retinol, and SPF are a great way to start the preventative-aging process around this time in our lives. It’s much easier to press pause on the aging process as opposed to turning back the clock.

Beyond that, what are some of the significant changes that have taken place across the skincare/facial industry since you’ve been in it?

Seeing skincare and facials as an essential wellness component and not a frivolous extra. People are realizing that skincare is self-care, and I’m so excited to see this! I feel like it’s helped me build a more loyal clientele and that people look forward to coming in and seeing me for a monthly facial (pre-pandemic, of course).

When seeing a new client for the first time, again pre-pandemic, where do you begin to make sure you provide the treatment they’re looking for?

I ask them what brought them into the shop that day and what they are hoping to get out of our time together. Taking a collaborative approach really builds the client/skin therapist relationship, and creates an authentic connection instead of a pushy experience.

What about with repeat clients? How do you alter your treatment plan to make sure they’re always on the right path?

Checking in with repeat clients is key. I ask how their skin has been since their previous treatment and what changes, if any, they’ve noticed. I also ask about their current lifestyle, any upcoming travel, any added stress they’ve been dealing with, etc. All of that shows on the skin, and I want to help them combat that.

Any products you generally recommend for keeping your skin looking healthy for traveling or while dealing with extra stress?

For traveling, definitely One Love Organics’ Botanical B Enzyme Cleansing Oil. It’s a cleanser and makeup remover that comes in a little 1oz carry-on size and is great for all climates. Image Ormedic Balancing Lip Enhancement Complex for keeping lips smooth and free of cracks when traveling to a cold or dry environment. Also Henne Organics Blomma Hand Cream. Everyone is using more hand sanitizer than normal, especially when traveling.This will help soothe and rehydrate dry hands.

For stress-induced breakouts, Hero Cosmetics Mighty Patch Invisible+ is great to wear during the day or at night.

How do you make sure to provide the right product recommendations based on someone’s skin type/concern?

Observing the skin during each facial treatment allows me to see how it reacts to different ingredients and to being touched in general. This allows me to build a personalized home care regimen that will be agreeable for each client.

I also ask what products they’re currently using, if they’re on any dermatology medications, and if there are any products they’ve used in the past they’ve had a negative reaction to. I strive to get a full picture of my clients’ skin history in order to best serve them.

All of Heyday’s locations were closed for months at the height of the pandemic. What kind of services were you (and still are) able to provide through Heyday’s virtual shopping feature?

The virtual shopping feature with Heyday was and still is a great way to connect with us while the shops were closed. Customers could type their skin questions into a chat box and those questions would be answered by one of our awesome Skin Therapists (such as myself)!

From there, I can send them direct links from the Heyday website of products that they may be interested in adding to their routine. People can also send photos in the chat, so I can see their skin. Afterwards, we usually engage in a more in-depth conversation in the form of a virtual skincare consultation.

Finally, I can add people to my personal clientele list via the platform so I can check in with them after a few weeks to get an update on their skin. It’s great for existing Heyday clients as well as for people who have never set foot in one of our shops, yet are looking for a virtual version of the Heyday experience.

Because of the pandemic and the change of season, people are spending more time indoors. What products would you generally recommend for them?

A good moisturizer and serum. Being indoors leaves my skin feeling dry from constant air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter. Keeping the skin properly hydrated will help maintain proper moisture levels in the skin year round.

Any moisturizers or serums in particular?

For moisturizers, Image’s Ormedic Balancing Bio Peptide Cream is great for hydration and firming. Naturopathica Calendula Essential Hydrating Cream is perfect for hydration and chapped/sensitive skin.

Image’s Balancing Antioxidant Serum works great for all skin types. There’s also One Love Organics Botanical E Youth Preservation Serum, which is a lightweight face oil that hydrates and gives the skin a lovely glow.

What about for nonstop video calls? What products would you recommend for looking your best on Zoom?

I would recommend a good eye cream! If your eyes are looking tired or puffy on screen, then people will focus on that even if the rest of your skin is flawless.

Same question as before: any products in particular?

Definitely. Tata Harper Restorative Eye Cream has the anti-inflammatory ingredient Gotu Kola and is great for fine lines. And Alchimie Forever Tightening Eye Gel. It’s great for depuffing, and it’s super lightweight, which means men like it and women can wear it under makeup. At $48, it’s also got a budget-friendly price point!

Generally, what are some important lessons to apply to your skincare routine as the seasons change?

Don’t be afraid to switch up your products as the weather changes! Skin tends to lose hydration and appear more dull and flaky as the temperature drops, so reach for soothing, nourishing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, Vitamin E, and Rosehip.

Finally, what are some products you’d recommend to stay hydrated as the fall season brings colder weather and dryer conditions?

One Love Organics Botanical A Facial Cleanser

Definitely this pH-balanced gel cleanser. It leaves all skin types feeling fresh and clean without stripping away your skin’s natural barrier.

Image Ormedic Balancing Antioxidant Serum

This is the perfect year-round serum because it contains skin-nourishing essentials Hyaluronic Acid and Vitamin C. You can use it day or night before moisturizing.

Naturopathica Calendula Cream

This go-to face cream is moisturizing enough to combat cooler weather, while being lightweight enough to apply under makeup or layer with serum and SPF during the day. It also makes a great nourishing night cream.

Josh Rosebrook Nutrient Day Cream SPF 30

Yes, a day cream with SPF. That’s because even on overcast days UVA and UVB rays can penetrate clouds. This sun protector is mineral based and leaves no residue on all skin tones.

Josh Rosebrook Active Enzyme Exfoliator

Lastly, this exfoliant uses enzymes and finely ground walnut shells to smooth away dull skin. The addition of honey and neem keep the skin hydrated and soothed.