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While it’s fun to read about the beauty habits of celebrities, I find it most helpful to learn about the beauty habits of women who have lifestyles, ages, or budgets similar to mine. In this series, I’ve asked amazing women I know to share their beauty routines. These are women from across the country, different ages, lifestyles, professions, and beauty/skincare priorities.
Location: Arlington, Virginia
Profession: Diplomat (follow my style adventures on Instagram)
Tell me a bit about your skincare and/or routine.
I am definitely a high maintenance person when it comes to hair and skincare. Now that I'm in my mid-40s, I feel like the time I invest in having well-maintained hair and skin saves me tons of time on a daily basis and lets me leave the house feeling my best (almost) every day.
- Step One is a double cleanse, starting with either Caudalie Cleansing Oil or Caudalie Gentle Cleansing Milk and then going in with CeraVE Hydrating Facial Cleanser to make sure my skin is clean and ready to absorb treatments.
- Step Two is an acid tone, and here I have a bunch of choices in rotation. My favorite is Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 in the 1970 version. But my husband hates the scent so I only use that when one of us is traveling (#truelove). Also in my arsenal are Alpha H Liquid Gold, Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic and Retinol Pads, and DCL Penta Peel Pads.
- Step Three is a retinol, and I am a believer that for real results you want something dermatologist prescribed. I use Trentinoin .025%
- Step Four is eye cream and at the moment I am using a cocktail of Nia24 Eye Repair Complex and Revision Nectifirm. To be honest, the only thing that has made a real difference for my under eyes (I have genetic dark circles exacerbated by seasonal allergies) is a syringe of Volubella filler under each eye. YMMV but for me, the filler was the missing link that has made me look (and feel, the mind-body connection is real) more rested when I look in the mirror.
- Step Five is moisturizer and I alternate between Kate Somerville Deep Tissue Repair and Lanari Complexion Lift Night Moisturizer.
- Step Six is a big glass of water and a swipe of LaMer The Lip Balm. Yes, it is crazy expensive. And yes it is worth it. Best lip balm ever and I've tried dozens.
Morning is all about getting my skin ready for makeup. In my current diplomatic assignment I appear on TV and am photographed and I want my makeup to hold up all day and starting with well-prepped skin is key.
- Step One is to cleanse. Don't believe the hype that just a water rinse will do it – get the residual product, dead skin cells, and sweat off your skin. Get your circulation going with a little morning face massage with cleanser. I alternate between IS Clinical Cleansing Complex and Omorovicza Refining Facial Polisher.
- Step Two is toner and I always use Caudalie Beauty Elixir. I love everything about this and it is the one product (apart from sunscreen, obviously) that I would take to a deserted island.
- Step Three is serum and I alternate between IS Clinical Pro-Heal and IS Clinical Hydracool. These are the gold standards of skin care and the Pro-Heal gives me vitamin C to ensure my pigmentation stays in check. I've tried a bunch of Vitamin C serums and always come back to this one.
- Step Four is a moisturizing sunscreen. I use Elta MD in the tinted version on my face and the clear version on my neck and chest. One note here that I always take my skin care down my neck and onto my chest. I want to try to avoid having a young(er) looking face and older(er) looking neck and chest. I also chug a big glass of water while I wait for the sunscreen to really settle before I start makeup.
Once my skin is prepped, I do the same makeup routine every day. It has really helped streamline my mornings and ensures I always have the same polished look where you see me and not my makeup. I call it my #facedresscode
I start with my eyes and this takes 5 minutes of my overall 10 minute morning makeup routine.
- Primer: I spread a thin layer of Nars ProPrime Smudgeproof eyeshadow base over my entire lid
- Liner: I line my upper waterline with Nars Larger than Life Longwear Liner in Via Veneto. This gives my eyes a subtle definition that is quicker than liquid liner. I line my lower waterline with a nude pencil (a makeup artist trip to make the eyes pop) and use the Nars Longwear Liner in the Rue Bonaparte color.
- Shadow: I use the Tom Ford Cocoa Mirage quad and do a basic application of the lightest shade all over my lid, a combo of the two middle shades in my crease, and I use the darkest shade with an angled brush to line my upper lid and the bottom third of my lower lids.
- Brows: I use Trish McEvoy brow mascara to give my brows good definition. For a long time, I believed that since I have dark brows I didn't need to bother with this but it is a little step that makes a big impact on my finished face.
- Mascara: I've tried so. many. mascaras. At all price points from the (ridiculously expensive and so not worth the money $72 Chantecaille) to the over-hyped “Better than Sex” to the iconic pink tube of Great Lash and the winner is L'Oreal's Lash Paradise. Good coverage, no flakes, no raccoon eyes, and a price that means I can replace the tube monthly and always have that fresh mascara feel.
After eyes are done I concentrate on skin. I like a full coverage foundation and am a longtime Estee Lauder Double Wear user. I have tried the Armani, Dior, and Nars full coverage and buildable formulations but always come back to Double Wear. I apply with a brush.
I finish with a very very light sweep of Make Up Forever HD powder in my T zone to set everything for the day.
Then I do lips. After lots of experimentation (are you sensing a theme!) I have settled on a combo of Trish McEvoy Essential Pencil in nude followed by Tom Ford Lip Color in Spanish Pink. This gives me good staying power and a consistent look that is polished and doesn't have people asking what lip color I'm wearing. I use Buxom Lip Polish gloss in Dolly since I love the minty tingle and can apply it without a mirror for a quick touch up.
Has your skincare and/or beauty routine changed due to age, lifestyle, career, etc.?
The need for a consistent makeup look day in and day out led to the routine outlined above. I used to have drawers upon drawers of makeup and always felt like I was searching for “the right thing.” The decision to move to a #facedresscode was a great choice. I have a small kit now that is always at my fingertips and it has really streamlined my mornings.
What is the best skincare or beauty advice you ever got and from whom?
I am a devotee of British skincare guru Caroline Hirons (check out her blog) and follow her double cleaning instructions every night no matter how tired I am. It has literally been years since I missed washing my face at night, and I think it is one of the reasons my skin is (for the most part) even and predictable. I also see a dermatologist at least quarterly and for DMV folks, I highly recommend Dr. Lily Talakoub and Sarah Walker at McLean Dermatology. From skin checks to microneedling, filler to dermaplaning, I have been really impressed at what they have helped me achieve with skin that was the bane of my teenaged existence.
What is your must-have holy grail beauty or skincare product?
Trentonin .025% for real skin smoothing results and Caudalie Beauty Elixir for hydration and a great “pick me up” spritz.
What is your biggest beauty or skincare regret or embarrassment?
I regret that it took me so long to embrace my fair skin and that I subjected it to ridiculous sunbathing (and even the occasional tanning booth in college – what was I thinking?) I am diligent now about sunscreen every day and am glad that I can (with the help of my dermatology team) reduce the effects of prior poor choices.
What nugget of skincare or beauty wisdom do you wish you could give to your younger self?
Stay out of the sun, get a dermatologist you trust, and establish a makeup #facedresscode