The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Georgetown beauty guru Lance Etchison dies at 45

Lance Etchison, the beauty guru responsible for the expertly arched eyebrows and HD-ready faces of Washington’s well heeled, died on July 14. He was 45.

The official cause of death has not been determined yet, according to a spokeswoman for the office of the Chief Medical Examiner. Etchison, according to close friends, died one day after undergoing cosmetic surgery.

An Illinois native, Etchison arrived in D.C. in the late ’90s — just in time to save a city drowning in shoulder pads and bad eye shadow — and quickly made a name for himself at Georgetown’s EFX, which was eventually bought by Marla Malcolm Beck of Bluemercury where Etchison served as the spa director for a decade.

In those early days Etchison was part of an ambitious clique of beauty insiders who helped usher in Washington’s aesthetic renaissance. His first co-workers at EFX included Carl Ray, now Michelle Obama’s go-to make-up artist; Rick Raines, the salon manager at George in the Four Seasons with regulars such as Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.); and Sara Damelio, founder of the organic skin care line skincando.

Etchison’s client list — a who’s who of Washington’s power women (and men) — was not only long but loyal.

“Everybody knows Lance,” said beauty blogger Julia Coney, who’d been getting facials from Etchison since 2005. “Not only was he good but he was just nice, you felt like you were the only person he was concerned with.”

Damelio echoed that praise: “Every woman that he worked with left there feeling beautiful and he was always discreet.” Those women included Anna Nicole Smith, who paid Etchison a visit before her appearance at the Supreme Court, Monica Lewinsky at the height of her scandal days, and even Lauryn Hill. Etchison also tended the famous faces of Stevie Wonder, Harrison Ford and Russell Crowe.

But there may have been one name missing from his cosmetic CV. In 2008, Etchison, an out and proud Hillary Clinton fan, told Washingtonian magazine that Michelle Obama needed “a little help with her eyebrows.” They were, according to the expert, “just too thin on the ends.”

After suffering a fall last October, the 45-year-old, who left Bluemercury to work for one stop beauty outpost Sherber Rad, was rarely seen without a cane and his service dog Izabel, a short-haired Brussels Griffon.

According to Damelio, it’s Etchison’s wry sense of humor that most will miss. The eye brow doctor, said Damelio, described his most recent stint under the knife thusly, “Sara, I’m Heidi Montaging it this time,” he said in reference to the reality TV star who famously underwent some 10 procedures at once.

The day after his scheduled surgery, Etchison was discovered non-responsive in his Logan Circle home, Damelio said. He was rushed to the hospital, but by then it was too late. Etchison’s funeral was held in Ohio on Tuesday.

“He knew what was beautiful inside and out,” Damelio said.