In nearly ten years with Washington-based beauty outpost bluemercury, spa director Lance Etchison has achieved a cult following for both his facial techniques and his eyebrow-shaping skills. Over the years, he’s unclogged the pores and streamlined the brows of everyone from Harrison Ford to Lauryn Hill to Monica Lewinsky (back in her carefully groomed deposition days, of course).
Etchison works out of the store’s Georgetown branch but oversees the spa menu and aesthetician training for bluemercury’s growing national reach—now nearly 30 stores and counting. We sat down with Washington’s best-known extraction expert to get his take on everything from do-it-yourself skincare secrets to who’s got the best brows for the White House. It was all so good, we came up with ten foolproof quotes that make up Lance’s Guide to Great Grooming.
1. “I’m so glad to see that women in Washington have finally come around to embracing fashion and style as part of their regular thought process. The ugly navy-blue pantsuit is now fitted and tailored and styled. Even the bobby-socks-and-gym-shoes combination is being phased out. I’m thrilled that women here have finally discovered the ballet flat!”
2. “I don’t know a single woman who goes around with completely natural eyebrows anymore.”
3. “Natural-shaped arches are best. When I look at the eyebrows, I’m looking to see where it naturally goes and start working from there. I always want to create a very natural, clean, classic eyebrow.”
4. “I tell people that facials are like going to the dentist and getting your teeth cleaned. There are just things that we can do that can’t be done at home—like properly done extractions, microdermabrasions, professional-grade glycolic peels, and medical-grade oxygen treatments. Of course, after you’ve had an aesthetician clean your face, you still need to do upkeep at home—just like you still need to brush your teeth the next day after a dentist’s visit.”
5. “The top things that someone can do for their skin is to clean it every morning and night, exfoliate at least three times per week, and hydrate it properly, including moisturizer and eye cream. And everyone should be using sunblock every day. That’s it: clean, hydrate, protect—it’s really basic, and yet people don’t always do it.”
6. “Ideally, you should have a facial at least once every three months—that’s one per season, an amount that can fit into most people’s budgets. That said, some clients come every month and some come once or twice a year. Anything is better than nothing at all.”
7. "My favorite products? I love Sweep from Remede, the line from Bliss founder Marcia Kilgore. It’s an exfoliant made from Italian marble, which retains a spherical shape no matter how finely it’s been ground. It’s gentle enough for nearly every type of skin.”
For facial-like treatments, I love the Remede Skin Exacting Mask, which is great for minimizing pores. Dermalogica has a fantastic hydrating mask, and both the Ren Glycolactic Skin Renewal Peek Mask, and the MD Skincare Daily Face Peel is great at-home mini-peel as well.”
8. “Think long and hard before you do something like permanent hair removal on your eyebrows. Down the road, trends could change and you just might want to have thin, Marlene Dietrich-style eyebrows for a year.”
9. “I’m a huge Hillary fan, so I’d love to get her in here. I think her brows look great—they’re much better than when she was the First Lady—but I do think they could be slightly fuller. If I got her in here, we might do a slight grow-in on her brows. Michelle Obama also looks great, and her clothes are fantastic, but she needs a little help with her eyebrows—which, of course, I’d be willing to give. I think they’re just too thin on the ends. And Cindy McCain? I can’t even talk about her.”
10. “The one rule they teach you in beauty school is never discuss politics and religion, but here you can’t escape it. That said, I have great, loyal clients who are both Democrats and Republicans. Really, I’m an equal-opportunity facialist.”