"Since both are English-speaking countries, everyone thinks the UK and America are so similar. But I'm from South Wales and when I moved to Ohio when I was 20 to design underwear for Abercrombie & Fitch, it was a baptism of fire. It was 2004 – the heyday of Abercrombie – and I really learned what America is like.
In 2009, I got a job as an accessory for the Gap in New York and then switched to Michael Kors to design handbags. Much of my job was traveling to Korea four or five times a year for production trips, and every time I was there I was less and less enthusiastic about handbags and more about beauty. I just couldn't believe the different things they had – this was before the real K-Beauty storm that happened here. At one point, I knew I wanted to work in beauty, so in addition to my Michael Kors job, I went to Christine Valmy's aesthetics school. I honestly thought I would go to the editorial office later because the pedagogical aspect was interesting to me. But when I was in school, I realized that I loved doing facials. I looked after people and it felt so satisfying after 15 years of working with the product.
After I graduated, I rented part of a tiny studio in the Flatiron area and did facial treatments for friends on the weekends. They would tell their friends and their friends would tell their friends and it got to the point where my weekends were booked. My first thought was that I had to find a cooler fashion job – I was working at Tory Burch at the time – so that I could travel less and book more facials. At the same time, I got my place on Canal Street, where I could set up all my things and see people whenever I had time. I started seeing people in the evening before work … I went to lunch, saw a person and then went back to work. It was crazy. Finally, I decided to open my books throughout September to see how many treatments I could book. If I booked over 35 I would have quit my job – I booked about 86.
I looked after people and it felt so satisfying after 15 years of working with the product.
At that point, I got a little nervous and thought maybe I should work in a spa and see how to actually do it professionally. I started training somewhere and will not give any names, but I was only there for a week. The reason was this: the spa offered some very powerful facials and their philosophy was that you can be 75 or 15 years old and have the exact same facial. And I didn't agree with that at all. I understand that they wanted the experience to be consistent, but different people need different things. And in the end I got additional training from two other places. When I was on maternity leave last year, I started training at this San Francisco-based company called Face Reality. I really wanted to introduce an acne protocol, and that's amazing. I also wanted to learn how to do laser treatments. I go to the center for aesthetic dermatology for botox and have worked part-time there for almost two years. It was so amazing because after cleaning a client's skin I was able to take them to a doctor's office to work with Clear + Brilliant, microneedling or really deep chemical peels on pigment or texture problems. At some point it got too much and I was busy enough on my own, but having trained as a medical beautician really confirms my acne treatments. I want you to get an honest facial, and I recommend the products you think I need, but I will never sell them. A standard facial is $ 140 for a beautician or $ 190 for me. This is a thorough cleaning with extractions. This is a maintenance facial that is results-oriented. I want my customers to have the same relationship with me as with their hairdresser. Then you have the opportunity to add something – we also do deep peels, retinol peels, LED, this really amazing oxygen treatment from Korea.
The fact that my business is so small made it easier for me to pan around because of COVID, and I also have a trick card in my pocket because my husband works for Facebook. He had a lot of great ideas on how to switch to virtual early, and I learned that I can really do a lot with home care. I run a virtual skin care consultation where I do people's skin care goals, what they want to achieve, and then I do their products. I can make optimizations where they are needed, and then I can also recommend and ship products. The other consultations that I do are with my acne program. People who started four months ago in March are now seeing incredible results, and that's really encouraging. Then I made a silk mask that included my handbag story. I turned to a girl I had worked with at Tory Burch who has products in Taiwan and China and managed to get a production run from her. They did well – we sold 600 in two weeks and I just placed another order. And now my new thing is professional treatments about zoom. I teamed up with Is Clinical, which has a really great professional treatment called Fire and Ice Peel. I consult a little beforehand to make sure there are no contraindications, then I send it out and plan a 30-minute face-time call to talk to the customer about the actual peel. In a way, it was a strangely positive experience, although restrictions are definitely frustrating.
I want you to get an honest facial, and I recommend the products you think I need, but I will never sell them.
I'm back in the studio now doing body treatments – back treatments, butt facials, whole body microdermabrasion. I am in full PPE with the goggles, my N-95, a face mask and gloves. I check the temperature of everyone at the door and there is a COVID waiver that I have to sign 24 hours beforehand to confirm that they have not been out of the country in the past two weeks in contact with someone who has COVID symptoms or has symptoms of COVID itself. And then I get a test every Friday. Still, I don't plan to move away from virtual things at home soon. You can book a dentist appointment in New York, you can buy botox and fillers, you can sit in a bathhouse, but you can't get a facial. I just feel … I don't know. I could scold it forever. But that's exactly what electricity kept me going.
I don't wash my face in the morning and that drives people crazy. But I always use vitamin C – right now I'm using one from Skinbetter, a brand for dermatologists. It is a C and E serum contained in a lipid. So it sits beautifully on the skin and feels so protective. When I was pregnant I used this super powerful ZO vitamin C because I was convinced that I could get melasma. I also like the Circumference Vitamin C because it is very stable. And then I use sunscreen. This is either the Is Clinical Extreme Protect, the sunscreen made from Tatcha Silk Canvas or my favorite Nivea water gel from Japan, which I buy from oo35mm. I never thought that as a professional I would say that the Japanese Nivea sun protection is the best, but it is. It contains a whisper of alcohol that doesn't sound good, but that makes it a great foundation because it doesn't dry on anything. And don't let me start with the German Nivea. If I could only use one product forever, it would be this. People are obsessed with which moisturizer to use, but moisturizer is designed to keep moisture in your skin. There are many different ones that contain all of these active ingredients, but frankly, just use Nivea. For me, that and La Mer are one and the same.
I have a little more fun at night. I keep my son in his stroller and wash my face as soon as I get home. If I don't, I won't. For me, cleaner is cleaner. The main goal is just to clean my face so that I don't use anything with crazy active ingredients. I use either milk jelly or the Is Clinical Cleansing Complex or the Dr. Jart Micro Foam. I will wash my face, rinse it off and wash it again with the same thing. I like to use baby burp cloths for a gentle peeling. They are muslin, they are layered, they have a small texture … I will use one of them instead of a washcloth because I think washcloths are too aggressive. If someone comes to me and has just decimated their acid coat, I ask them to use burp cloths as a daily peel so that they don't feel like they're doing nothing. I use the Dennis Gross Peel Pads a few times a week, and if I had a dollar for everyone I recommended before we started storing them … My father uses them. My husband uses them. I recommend it to everyone because I really believe in this brand. Then I'll play around with the funny things. On days when I don't use the pads that I really love, Is Clinical & # 39; s Active Serum. Salicylic acid is not only suitable for oily skin, but also for anti-aging as it is anti-inflammatory. I love the full-size floral toner. I really like the Alastin eye cream. And the other thing I do is a month of retinol, a month off. Skinbetter has a product called Alpharet, which is Retinol mixed with an AHA. The AHA actually prevents you from flaking off, and it doesn't give me the irritation that I get from most retinols. But I always end up with Supernal. I love this oil – it is special. Melissa [Medvedich, founder of Supernal] really hit the nail on the head. I apply a small amount and dab everything off and then no moisturizer. Oil keeps everything in – you want to add this hydration first, then your occlusion. People should learn about this type of overlay.
I started botox when I was 30. I have the driest skin ever, so of course I'm 30 and I have a lot of fine lines. When I first did it, I went to a man and he put so much in my face that I looked like a wax figure. I wanted to try again, but with a lady – I thought maybe a woman would be less persistent. I went to Lynne because she had great Yelp reviews and then followed her to the Aesthetic Dermatology Center. I probably do it every six months now and a little filler here and there. I had no filler for a while because I was very swollen after pregnancy and still feel swollen. Once that's gone, I'll start working on the fillers a bit more. The people in New York are so weird about this stuff. I keep having people in my studio who say they didn't have botox or filler and I know they did. The thing is, it's really important to tell the truth to the providers – if you had botox two days ago and I'm giving you a really intense lymphatic facial massage, could I delay that, you know? Filler especially! You have to be really careful. I always wait two weeks after filling before I get a facial.
I keep having people in my studio who say they didn't have botox or filler and I know they did.
I used to be a total goth and made a really violent wing with no eyebrows. I don't know now! I don't really use Foundation, although I always use a little Dr. Use Jart BB Cream for another layer of protection and a little warmth. I'm using the Nars Orgasm Stick I've always used and I'm going to use Futuredew as a highlighter over my blush. I'll literally use any mascara – it's a maybelline at the moment. I really want my brows to be micro-loaded. I get it threaded by a little old lady on 23rd Street and she does a great job, but I want her to be a bit zhuzh-y. I've wanted to go to Laurel for so long to get my brows, they're amazing. Jas Imani is really great too. She's doing an eyebrow lift and it's like they're varnished.
My mother was a hairdresser, and when I was little she played around with my hair so much – she gave me a perm at nine – that I was always very nervous about hairdressers. My hair was black to the shoulder blades and box colored for maybe 15 years. But I went to Christine McMillen, whom I had met through an old roommate when I wanted to lighten my hair. She started to remove the blackout and took me to Biolage Blonde for my wedding without my hair falling out. Then, after the wedding, I chopped everything off. I would have it even shorter if my husband liked it. People always think that short hair is easy to care for, and in a way, especially now that I have an eight-month-old son who pulls on everything. But it is an obligation. I go by color every six or seven weeks and have them cut at the same time to keep them in shape. At home I use most of the Olaplex line, 1 through 6, and then this protein spray from a cool Australian brand, Evo. Kristin Ess has a wheat-colored sheen, and I use it sometimes, although I really like it when my hair looks a bit yellow. If it looks like banana yellow, I use a purple wash. Clairol, the cheap one, is the best.
I am a huge artificial tanner. I love Soleil Toujours – they have a body cream that I love and this really fabulous tanning serum that I sometimes put in my moisturizer. Vita Liberata has a mousse that is said to last three weeks. I don't think so, but it's an amazing fake tan because it doesn't look orange. Sugared and bronzed is really good for a tan, but my favorite is some kind of New York secret. It's Future Tan in Times Square. You have all the machines – there is this that you enter, it checks your weight and performs a body scan and then sprays you into different areas. I also like a good old fashioned Mystic Tan. When I was living in Ohio, we bought a pack of Spray Tans for $ 10 and went every week. I became a kind of professional, but my mother went with me once and she didn't know that you should be standing in a certain place. She was very close to the sprayer and it blew out her belly button ring! [Laughs] It's one of my favorite stories.
I am very old-fashioned and use soap bars for my body. People buy me everyone else when I travel because they think it's funny. I love a dry brush – I only get a cheap one from Duane Reade. And amlactin really makes you smooth, even though it smells disgusting and isn't cheap at all. I'm in my second tub with Mutha's body butter – I like the oil, but the body butter is. Shiffa, this brand from Dubai, which can now be found everywhere, has an incredible pregnancy body oil. They also have a rose body balm that smells like you have literally dipped yourself in a pot of rose oil. During my pregnancy I used so much oil that I looked like a dolphin, but I didn't get any stretch marks – I am convinced that it was oiling.
Thea from Session Gym in Williamsburg trained with me during my pregnancy and I still see her. And when I worked in medspa, I did some important things for mom that totally changed my body. Coolsculpting took inches from me. I used Emsculpt, a muscle building machine that completely knitted back my diastasis recti, and then I used this new device, Emtone, a cellulite device. I hated being pregnant. I am a person who lets go and it was really hard for me to slow down. I did a full day of facials the day I started to go into labor, and it was hot, it was July, and we were planning a dinner at Kiki's. I ate grilled meat and it was just so hot. When I got home, I said, "I'm going to explode." I was so full. I showered, went to bed, and woke up an hour later thinking I had peed myself. I had the baby the next day. It was crazy.
During my pregnancy I used so much oil that I looked like a dolphin but didn't get any stretch marks.
NAILS + SCENT
I can't apply nail polish. I just don't like it when I do a facial and someone wears nail polish – I think it's really gross. I want to see your nails are super, super clean and I don't want the free edge at all. Do you know what I bought for my nails? A wax bath. I do seven facials a day and my hands were really messed up. Every day when I'm done in the studio, I rub on tons of hand cream and dip my hands in a paraffin bath. That is how they are saved. My favorite hand cream is the almond Santa Maria Novella. You only need a little bit and it is really a pleasure.
I can no longer wear a fragrance either. If someone hates a fragrance, they will never come back to me, which is so sad because I love fragrance. I am now wearing Margiela Beach Walk, but I also love heavier perfumes like Dior Addict. I was totally into Santal a few years ago until my friend said Santal was Williamsburg's CK One. That's so true! The Nue Co. plays with Santal, but it's not Santal that I still love very much. And I gave the Santal to my mother who lives in Wales where nobody knows what it is and all her friends are obsessed. My mother always brought me deodorant from the UK because I was convinced that everything that was American didn't work for me. I'm sorry I can't use a hardcore deodorant. I smell like a bum when I don't And there are so many studies that show that it's not really bad.
I like to burn candles in my studio. I put the Boy Smells candles in my studio a lot, and the Catbird candles are also very beautiful. Diptyque, of course – everyone loves Diptyque. But the Henri Bendel candles were the best candles ever. The FIG? The vanilla? Pooh. Amazing. This Seda France Japanese quince candle that I now have is like a Henri Bendel scam I found online. It's really cheap, like $ 40 for a giant three-wick candle. Everyone is embarrassed to say that, but you can say that I had a love affair with Henri Bendel candles. I miss her. "
– as ITG said
Sofie Pavitt photographed by Alexandra Genova in New York on February 28, 2020.