My mom is a common-sense kind of woman, someone who doesn’t delight in ceremony and abhors anything fussy. Which is why having a teenaged daughter who was obsessed with makeup and fashion was a bit of a quandary for her. I wanted to look magazine-cover ready at all times. But over the years, I’ve fallen into a a much more mellow beauty routine that’s quite similar to the one my mother has practiced for years. Want to love the skin you’re in and look like you sleep in an oxygen chamber? Heed the following seven simple tips from my beloved mother.
1. “The less you do to your face, the less you’ll have to do to your face.” This is her number one rule; simple, plain and effective. The more you scrub and paint and spackle and pull, the more scrubbing, painting, spackling and pulling you’ll have to do. Less is more, which means the easier you are on your skin, the less irritated it will become. It’s never too late to adopt this concept. Stop manipulating your skin regularly, and it will stop needing and expecting to be manipulated.
2. “Only touch it once.” My mother, a lifelong fan of organization and order, believes in only having to deal with something once, whether that means cleaning, cooking or beauty. Do it once, and do it right. When it comes to a beauty routine, don’t keep piling on concealer or re-washing your face. Do it once, be done with it, and move on with your day.
3. “Makeup doesn’t make you pretty.” I was a teenager when this little gem of wisdom was dropped on me. While other girls in my class were rocking the full-on face paint from the get-go, Mom took me to the counter at Merle Norman and had me matched for blush, mascara and a nude-pink lipgloss. When I questioned why I wasn’t allowed to ransack the eyeliner and eyeshadow options, she simply said, “A face full of makeup can’t make you any prettier than you are right now.” I think about this all the time. Use your cosmetics to enhance what you have, not to create a face that doesn’t exist.
4. “Water is all you need.” Hydration is key. In addition to drinking plenty of it daily, Mom still splashes her face with water in the morning and uses only water and a mild cleanser on her skin in the bathtub at night. From her, I learned to slather a good moisturizer onto my skin while it’s still wet, which really locks in the moisture. I let everything air dry and my skin seems to love it.
5. “Skin should look like skin.” Mom used to mix bronze powder into her moisturizer and apply it to her face before she went to work (and this was way before beauty companies got hip to the concept of tinted moisturizer). Skin loves — and needs — to breathe, so hydrating it while adding a touch of color or spot of concealer allows it to get the oxygen it needs. If you’re someone who wears a lot of makeup, try going without — it’s a very freeing feeling. Heavy foundations and powders suffocate your skin, which means you’re preventing it from getting the air that it needs to stay and look healthy. (But don’t neglect applying SPF!)
6. “Go play in the dirt.” Not only is my mom a woman who believes in a good mud mask, but she’s also a testament to the fact that fresh air and sunshine is a recipe for looking gorgeous. (Once again, so long as you’ve got plenty of sunscreen slathered on your skin.) My mother goes outside when the sun is up to plant and tinker in our garden, and I’m convinced the glow in her face is due, in part, to this beloved activity. We’re not meant to be inside all the time. Get some air, go for a walk, and if you have the chance, go play in the dirt.
7. “Love makes a woman beautiful.” Finally, my mom has always been a huge fan of the power of love to light up your skin, but not necessarily the kind you get from a significant other. “It starts with who you see in the mirror,” she says. I was always taught to love the woman I see reflected back at me, over anyone or anything else. You can’t fake that kind of happiness, and it’s that youthful glow that attracts others. Loving yourself — and a good dose of daily laughter — are really all you need to look luminous for the rest of your life.
Thanks, Mom, for giving me the best beauty tips a daughter could ever have.