From Her Garage to a National Brand: Lilac + Flint CEO Lindsay Flint Reflects on How Indie Skincare Brands are Disrupting the Beauty Industry

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In March 2020, as the world rapidly transformed, esthetician Lindsay Flint found herself in an interesting position. She had just opened her third skincare studio and launched the product line she had been developing since studying cosmetic chemistry at UCLA a decade ago. It was both anti-aging and acne safe, and there was nothing else like it on the market. And now, with the state of California shuttering all in-person beauty services, she was left with nothing but her laptop, the internet, and shelves full of incredible products. 

Though her forced pivot to e-commerce felt abrupt and chaotic at first, it would later prove to be a blessing in disguise. Like many other parents did that year, she fumbled forward, attempting to navigate an unusual market, a changing world, a growing business, and two small children at home in quarantine. Slowly but surely, she started to gain wholesale accounts in states that were still open for beauty services. First Jacksonville, FL, then Boston, MA. Then came New York City.

“Once we had traction in NYC, there was no stopping our momentum,” Flint reflects on teaming up with skincare guru Nichola Weir of Pacific Touch NYC . Now with over thirty wholesale accounts nationwide, they continue to grow what she calls “an army of unstoppable, bad-ass estheticians.” This expansion is reflected in the company’s year-over-year growth –  doubling revenues in 2021, tripling in 2022, and on track to double again in 2023. One thing was for certain: her tiny ‘acne-safe meets anti-aging’ niche wasn’t tiny after all. And the press quickly took notice too – with a product mention in Byrdie, the largest beauty blog in the US, a TV spot on Good Day Sacramento , and a product spotlight in American Spa Magazine all within a year-and-a-half of launching.

Acne-Safe: an Esthetician-Led Movement 

Over the last ten years, an elite group of advanced estheticians, Flint included, loosely connected on social media, started sharing notes on what they were experiencing with their acne clients in the treatment room. Their passion stemmed from wanting more transformational results. They began questioning the outdated notions of ‘non-comedogenic’ skincare, a fundamentally meaningless marketing term. Collectively, they built a collaborative knowledge base and a new movement emerged: ‘acne-safe skincare’. 

Flint ran with this newfound knowledge, teaching labs these acne-safe parameters, working with a highly innovative formulator, and building a customer-first indie beauty brand: lilac + flint. And while major brands that had dominated the industry for decades struggled to pivot, Flint was able to quickly bring her dreams to market. Emerging platforms like Shopify, Instagram, Klaviyo, and Canva offered smaller companies like hers powerful solutions to grow exponentially. And so ‘acne-safe’ became a movement, indie beauty brands gained market share in a notoriously impenetrable sector, and lilac + flint expanded out of her garage, and onto the national landscape. 

Company Values in the New World

Not only were consumer needs changing, their appetite for the archaic fear-based beauty marketing of the past had all but disappeared in the social change that followed the pandemic. Today’s beauty consumer wants inclusivity, representation, empowerment, and celebration of unique beauty, all of which lilac + flint founders Lindsay Flint and Erin Moens hold intrinsically at the heart of their company. Their mantra, “Be your own kind of beautiful,” speaks directly to a generation that is ready to let go of beauty standards that exclude most women. 

As a lifelong acne-sufferer, Flint understands that the emotional impacts of acne can be devastating. That’s why their products are made to transform skin, and their messaging aims to offer support, encourage self-care, prioritize mental health, and promote feeling beautiful as a mindset. 

The Products – Creating a Unicorn

Lilac + flint’s mission was ambitious. Flint wanted to fill the major gap in the industry with products that were both acne-safe and anti-aging, as well as hydrating for dry, hormonal acne skin types like her own. Yet she also designed them to feel luxurious, drawing from her extensive spa experience working for companies like the Four Seasons Resorts. Her partner, Erin Moens, a vegan chef and leader of international wellness retreats, brought her MedSpa background to the table as well as her obsession with clean beauty ingredients. Together, they created a lineup of superstar products that are grown-and-sexy enough to exist in your spa-like bathroom, and powerful enough to battle both wrinkles and breakouts.

Behind the name “lilac + flint”

Flint: Stem cells are basically baby cells that can turn into anything. That’s why they are so fascinating. All multicellular organisms —like people, and plants – have stem cells. And what we love about plant stem cells is that they are super antioxidants. The lilac stem cell in particular has been studied extensively and found to be more anti-inflammatory than hydrocortisone. We’re always looking for plant extracts that are effective on that level, so I knew right away it was going to be a key ingredient in our line. The name lilac +flint is a nod to the transformation that happens when you combine powerhouse ingredients with years of experience in the treatment room.

The Skincare Ritual, Reimagined.

Flint: Skincare routines are highly personal; some people revel in a twenty-step skincare routine, some people want two steps. I like to lay it all out with people so they know what the possibilities are. I don’t want products just sitting on someone’s shelf. I’d rather shorten a routine than encourage waste. As an entrepreneur and busy mom of two, I have zero extra time in my day, so it’s an art form to fit in my skincare routine – and I know our clients’ lives are no different.
We typically start clients with five essential steps —cleanser, toner, serum, moisturizer, and SPF, which are conveniently found in our travel set. It’s in the serum step that we create transformations – like anti-aging results or clear skin. With serum ingredients like vitamin C, retinol, mandelic acid, beta glucan, azelaic acid, or benzoyl peroxide, we can get strategic. We can layer them, switch them up seasonally, and continue to adjust as needed. We also have eye creams and other uniquely innovative products like our BREATHE BALM | Ozonated Jojoba Oil, and CHAGA | Firming Recovery Complex, featuring medicinal mushrooms from Korea. All in all, you could expand this into an elaborate routine with 10+ steps a day. You can also alternate products on different nights, mix products together, and cycle in steps weekly. There’s a lot of room for creative customization. That’s where your esthetician really comes into play, and why we love and appreciate our spa partners.

Crowd Favorites

Here is our top-selling 5-step skincare routine:

1.) The Cleanser. SUPPLE | Cucumber Cream Cleanser (as seen in Byrdie!) 

This gentle, non-stripping acne-safe cream cleanser protects the skin’s barrier and fends off dehydration often caused by other acne products.

SUPPLE - Cucumber Cream Cleanser

2.) The Toner. PEACE | Calming Rose Toner 

Rose flower water and aloe balance, soothe, and hydrate skin, adding water topically.

PEACE - Calming Rose Toner

3.) The Serum. DRENCH | Lilac Hydra Gel

This versatile gel hydrator contains lilac stem cells to calm skin and regulate healthy oil production. Spin Trap, an “intelligent antioxidant” traps free radicals and transforms them into oxygen, promoting glowing, healthy skin.

DRENCH - Lilac Hydra Gel

4.) The Moisturizer. NOURISH | Replenishing Daily Moisturizer

This perfectly balanced daily moisturizer reduces inflammation with Copper and Zinc Peptides to promote wound repair and address scarring.

NOURISH - Replenishing Daily Moisturizer

5.) The SPF. PRISM | Daily SPF 30 

This lightweight, sheer, broad-spectrum SPF 30 protects your skin from photo-aging. Wild Chamomile, Aloe calm skin. Acne-safe, reef-safe, no whitecast, great for skin of all colors.

PRISM - Daily SPF 30

Looking Forward: Plans For The Future

Lindsay Flint: It’s an exciting time where indie brands are collectively disrupting the industry and redefining what beauty means to real people. This means listening more closely to what our customers want, and empowering them to feel beautiful on their own terms. Social media has given lilac + flint the gift of direct communication and the ability to lean into our customer-centric approach. It’s been a privilege to get to know our people and have them be an essential part of our brand. It’s because of them that we’ve been able to grow organically via word of mouth and aren’t bound by the constraints that come with large outside investment or top-down advertisement. We love to click on customer profiles and see them glowing while enjoying their full-spectrum lives – traveling, spending time with friends, finding joy in their big and small moments. We like to drop in and say “hey gorgeous!”, reminding them that they are beautiful and powerful, and we’re here for it.