Well-Traveled Wendy Lewis, Super-Mama + Skin Savant, Shares Her St. Pete Beauty Haunts
Is there a word in the Oxford English Dictionary that's like 20 notches above "cheerful"? How about one that's maybe 50 times more expressive than "upbeat" and "positive"?
If you land on any good ones, LMK. Because then I'll know exactly how to describe Wendy Lewis.
This charmer, a military wife with three cute, spirited kids, landed in St. Pete mid-2015 from Japan. I had just taken over as Class Mom for fourth grade at St. Raphael Catholic School, and I was hosting a little get-together chez moi to kick-off the year. In walks this smiley, extra-polite person who knows virtually no one. But by the end of the evening, she fit right in. And guess what? This year she's Class Mom.
I once told Wendy that she and her adorable family reminded me of a Wes Anderson film and she got that immediately. They're funny, a little zany and the children - all of whom are really smart - have these distinctive, outsized personalities.
Did I mention Wendy knows more about skincare than 95 beauty editors stacked on top each other? She's a Premier Level V Rodan + Fields Independent Consultant who can debate the merits of retinol + hyaluronic acid for hours.
I think you'll enjoy this chit-chat with her. She's got the work / life balance thing all figured-out.
FBP: When + how did your obsession with skincare begin? What was your routine like "pre-obsession"?
LEWIS: My obsession with skin care actually began at an early age. As a European woman, my mom was extremely conscientous about what products she used on her face, and had a "less is more" mentality for women. She believed your investment should be in proper skin care, not makeup, so it was always a priority. I, however, had very sensitive skin, a lot of allergies, and was a swimmer, runner, and lifeguard. Years of product-hopping, lack of sunscreen, and southern living left me with extremely blotchy, dull, sun damaged skin. I have freckles, but they had turned from "angel kisses" into what looked like mud splotches on my face. Not attractive. I was religious about facials, tried products from my dermatologist and esthetician, but nothing helped me feel like my best self.
FBP: How many hours would you guesstimate you spend on R+F-related matters per week? How do you fit it in and around everything else you've got going on?
LEWIS: I spend approximately 15-30 minutes a day on my own personal business and have since I started my business two and a half years ago. I am pretty organized, so I have my daily activities I do to reach out to new customers and love on my current customers. My business has grown quite large, so I spend another hour or so on team training and mentoring. I was a high school English teacher for many years, so the training aspect of this business is something I never knew was there when I started, and something I absolutely love. Fitting R+F in is the beauty of the business. It fits in anywhere! We have a clichéd saying of "All you need is Wifi and a dream," which is, as I said, totally cliché, but also very true. I just spent two weeks in Europe with my family and didn't miss a beat with my customers and team.
FBP: What would you say are your specific Florida Beauty Problems? And how have you "solved" them?
LEWIS: Florida Beauty Problems. Ugh. I would say that my FBPs are better than the beauty problems I had when we lived in Arizona. Still...
I would begin with sweating. Sexy, right? Not only do I rely heavily on my Secret antiperspirant, but my wardrobe has turned from shorts and cotton Ts to loose, flowing shirts, pants, and skirts and my hair in a top knot. My second most challenging FBP would be the sun. It is everywhere here! As I said before, I am a freckled beauty, but without my daily Reverse SPF 50 and a good hat, I'd look more like Alfalfa and less like Emma Stone.
FBP: On the positive side, how do you think living in this neck of the woods has improved your looks?
LEWIS: That's an easy one - I'm HAPPY! It's absolutely amazing what escaping from stress, traffic, and grumpy people will do for wrinkles and your personal glow! All of the skin care in the world cannot hide unhappiness. Moving here totally reinforced in me that there are truly people who take joy in the quality of life instead of the quantity in life. This joy reflects in my face every morning.
FBP: Living in Japan must have acclimated you to the massive humidity we have to cope with in St. Pete during the summer, right? Any tips you'd care to share for keep skin fresh and shine-free?
LEWIS: Oh, Japan. The humidity and pollution were extremely challenging. One of the things I took from my Japanese friends is to cover up. As the weather warms up, Japanese women cover up. It is rare that you will see a woman at the beach without full cover. Hats and umbrellas are everywhere, everyone has a fan or spritzer to stay cool, and sunscreen is mandatory. It takes a little acclimating to having things on your skin when it is so warm, but the fact of the matter is you get used to it and have beautiful skin year-round!
FBP: Tell us about the Japanese approach to beauty, and how it differs from ours.
LEWIS: My Japanese friends would always comment on how Americans love makeup, where they love skin care. We prefer to hide our flaws, they prefer to prevent their flaws. It is embedded in everything they do - from maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle well into old age, continuing to stimulate themselves mentally in pottery, cooking, language, and athletic courses, taking great care and pride in meal preparation and how the food you eat affects your health and wellness, and placing extreme importance on proper skin care. In my two years in St. Pete, I would say we practice so much of what the Japanese do in terms of lifestyle, but we could take a few lessons on helping our skin hide from the sun's damaging rays.
FBP: What are your St. Pete / Tampa Bay beauty haunts? Any classes you take? Hairstylists you swear by? Day spas you love?
LEWIS: As a military spouse, I always have a list that I could hand off to any friend who moved here. We try to help each other create "insta-lives" because we always have such a short time in any place.
Here is my beauty list for St. Pete:
Skin: I live and die by Sophie Bel at Beyond Beauty Studio. I have never met a facialist like her, and when we have to move, I will mourn not being able to go to her so she can perfect my face!
Brows: I would say that a good waxer is on the list of must-haves in Florida. Mine is Randi at J Con Salon & Spa. She has crafted my brows as if they are the finest piece of art around!
Hair: I have two hairstylists I love. One is my neighbor, Meryl Hill, who works at Mint Hair Lounge in Tampa. She is an artiste. The other is here in St. Pete at Platinum Salon - Lisa Daniels. She is extremely funny and kind and is truly a dream to find when you move to a new town.
(Note from Dana: Lisa Daniels is my go-to hair gal, too. Just in time for the epic heat + humidity headed our way, I did a Q+A with her about fighting frizz + maintaining color in the blazing sun. You can read that here.)
FBP: Summer is around the corner. What's your go-to sunblock for you and the kids? Are you ultra-paranoid about sun damage, or more invested in having a good time?
LEWIS: Sunscreen!! It takes two seconds to put on and lasts for hours! You must wear it! For myself, I swear by R+F Reverse Broad Spectrum SPF 50, as well as R+F body sunscreen, and a hat - always a hat! For the kids, they wear full sun shirts (I love Land's End suits and rash guards) and R+F body sunscreen. I like our Soothe sunscreen for the kids' faces, but it is a mineral sunscreen, which means I have to reapply much more often, especially if they're in the water. Then...we have a good time :).
FBP: You've got a lot on your plate - three kids and a hubby in the military who's gone for big stretches of time. How do you manage stress? Do you meditate? Are you into aromatherapy? You're always very "present" and not checking your phone every five seconds. Maybe you are checking your phone every five seconds, but I just don't sense that distraction from you.
LEWIS: I am not a person who does stress well. I am a slow worker, meaning any task that my zippity friends do in one hour, takes me all day to do. Through all of the moves we have done (seven states and two countries in 12 years), what I have realized is that the less stuff I have, the easier life is. I have a lot of big furniture, but many of our cabinets are empty. For me, there is a direct correlation between physical clutter and mental clutter.
I break up my day the best I can between a run, walk, or swim, R+F, Lewis, INC (our family affairs), being a full-time mom, friends, and relaxing. I can really sense when one of those things is dominating the rest and everything feels imbalanced. That's my cue to take a deep breath and restructure. As far as the phone thing goes, I am definitely on it because that's where my business lives; however, we do not do technology in our house Monday through Friday, which has made us ALL more present. The kids play outside, I read a lot of books and magazines, and, in the most incredible phenomenon of all, we talk to each other! Ha! I think when you spend 10 years raising kids alone with a spouse who was deployed or frequently pulled away from the family, the simple act of telling someone how your day went or some cool thing you saw or did is a true luxury. I do not take real conversation for granted.
FBP: What do you tell your daughters about beauty + its place in the world? The obsession with selfies is so extreme now, and there have been all these recent reports about 20-Somethings getting Botox + fillers. My thought is that beauty opens doors, so it's important to be well-groomed + polished. Also, making an effort is a sign of respect, so it shows good manners. But there has to be so much more beneath that, right? Genuine substance?
LEWIS: In our house, we try to talk about beauty in terms of strength. I began my business because I was a lover of the product, but also because I wanted to contribute (without touching our meager military finances) to the ovarian cancer research fund for early detection my mom left as her legacy after passing away from the disease in 2013. My mom was the embodiment of strength, kindness, style, and resilient optimism. We talk often about those qualities and how I try to model them to my girls like my mom modeled them to me.
I find that keeping the kids away from unnecessary social media influences at such a young age has helped keep the conversation directed to things we see in everyday life. Who are the women they actually meet and see with their own eyes displaying strength and grace, and therefore, beauty? Their teachers. The female Marines Lance works with. My tribe. Their great-grandmother. Their grandmother. My sisters. None of these women look the same, have the same body shape, or are the same weight, yet they all exemplify high standards of intellect, wisdom, pride - AND, because of those qualities, no matter what they wear or how their physical body looks in pictures, their presence is STRONG! That is beautiful :).