Mothers & Daughters On The Beauty Lessons They’ve Learned From Each Other

Recently, Dove released a study suggesting mothers are more likely to influence their daughters’ beauty
habits than celebrities. More than half of the participants said their
mom taught them their first beauty routine, and they still use parts
of this routine today. 

It’s no surprise we pick up many of
our makeup and skin-care tips, as well as our personal attitudes toward beauty,
from mom. Perhaps she accompanied you (well, technically, drove you) to the
store for your first clear mascara, gave you Bobbi Brown’s iconic Teenage
book for your birthday, or suggested going easy on the glitter. This
Mother’s Day, we’re especially thankful for mom’s loving support in all things
beauty and health-related, from telling us we’re beautiful without makeup to
that gentle hint that it was time to wax our unibrows.            

To dig deeper into Dove’s findings,
we asked four women how their moms have influenced their own beauty
philosophies. But, who says mothers can’t learn a thing or two from the
younger generation? We also got the moms to spill what they’ve picked up from
their daughters. Though they may still play in mom’s makeup drawer, they’ve
come a long way from using lipstick as face paint.

Photo: Courtesy of Talia Zindell.

Tracy & Barbie Zindell

Tracy Zindell, 32, founded Flex
Pilates Studio
 in 2012. She is also the owner and designer of jewelry
company Tracy
Sylvia Designs
. Creativity must run in the family: Tracy’s
mother, Barbie, previously owned a fashion boutique and jewelry business.
Barbie, a mother to three and grandmother to one, is 62 years old and
lives in Long Grove, IL.           

What have you taught
each other about beauty and health?

Tracy Zindell: "My mom always taught me that beauty comes from the inside. She
nurtured our self-esteem since my sister and I were young and always told
us we were beautiful (even during our awkward braces years). She said to
wash my face every night before bed and first thing when I woke up — which I
still do today. Mom emphasized caring for myself by focusing less on what I put
on the outside of my body and more on what I put inside it."    

Barbie Zindell: "I have always taught my daughters to love themselves more than
anyone else could! That includes eating well and choosing organic when
possible. But, I didn't realize how much my daughters could teach me about
diet and exercise. I'd never even heard of Pilates before my daughter announced
she wanted to move home from California and open a Pilates studio. The more I
learned from her, the more I realized how important it is to take
time to treat yourself to activities that feel great.
Exercise doesn't have to feel like you're beating your body up — it
can feel really good!" 
Are there specific
beauty habits you’ve learned from each other?

TZ: "My mom always says there's no makeup that can replace the natural
glow of sun-kissed cheeks. But, after my grandma was diagnosed with benign skin
cancer, we've been careful to avoid the sun, instead opting for SPF
and our favorite Clinique gel bronzer."    

BZ: "When Tracy was five, she asked me why I didn't wear
red lipstick like her preschool teacher, Mrs. Kaluzna. She said,
'Don't worry, mom. You're still pretty even though you don't wear
red lipstick like the other ladies.' How sweet."     

Do you have any
beauty-related memories about your mom or daughter?

TZ: "I so badly wanted to be beautiful like my mom when I grew up!
I would watch her getting ready for dates with my dad — putting on her ring and
earrings before she left for dinner. One night, as my parents were leaving for
the evening, I climbed up on the bathroom counter and put her earrings INSIDE
my ears — assuming I would become pretty like her. Instead, we spent the
night in the emergency room trying to remove them from my eardrums."

BZ: "I remember my daughters decided to buy blonde hair dye and
highlight their hair in our bathroom. After finishing their streaks, they had
some bleach left over. Instead of wasting it, Tracy decided to bleach her
eyebrows to match her new hair. She used my mascara to try to cover her brows up,
and walked out of the bathroom with black eyebrows and bleach-blonde hair.
It was the only day I let her stay home from school and fake sick."     

Photo: Courtesy of Tina Wells.

Tina & Marcia Wells

Tina Wells is the 35-year-old CEO of Buzz Marketing Group,
an award-winning marketing agency, which she founded nearly 20 years ago. (Yep,
you did the math right — Tina started a business as a teenager!) Her mom,
Marcia Wells, currently lives in Mountville, Pennsylvania. Marcia works in
corporate finance and as an associate pastor, but says the most exciting
profession she has is being a mother to six children.          

What have you taught
each other about beauty and health?

Tina Wells: "My mom is my health and beauty guru! She was into natural products
way before it was the hip thing. I was born in Lancaster, PA (yes, Amish
country), and remember the local farmer coming to our house each week with
fresh produce. The importance of healthy and fresh eating is something I
learned from my mom. What I’ve learned most from my mother is how to embrace
every stage of life, from watching my family grow (I’m the oldest of six) to
watching her relationship with my dad. I’ve observed how my mom lives life
gracefully. That’s what’s truly beautiful."     

Marcia Wells: "I was always one to take care of myself. As a teen, I remember
using Bonne Bell skin-care products. A representative came to our school
to teach us how to take care of our skin. I remember soaking in warm bubble
baths and reading health magazines. But, Tina has added another layer to that.
She’s taught me how to take time out for myself, and treated me to some really
fabulous spa weekends! She eats very healthy — I learn a lot by just watching
her lifestyle."    

Are there specific
beauty habits you’ve learned from each other?

TW: "My mother taught me the importance of skin care and natural makeup
very early on. I’m more focused on my skin and use a Clarisonic daily. I’m
always experimenting with new creams or serums, in search of that natural

MW: "I have four daughters and they
all help me to stay up on the latest trends of the beauty world, but Tina is
our trusted advisor. Whenever I need special makeup for an occasion, Tina is my
personal makeup artist. Because of Tina, I actually wear makeup more than I did
when I was younger! She has a very natural look and knows how to add just
enough. I like her philosophy that less is more." 

Do you have any
beauty-related memories about your mom or daughter?

TW: "Mom was obsessed with Jane Fonda exercise videos when I was young.
My sister Adrianne and I used to do them with her. Total '80s moment!"    

MW: "When Tina was a toddler, she would always exercise with me. As
soon as she heard the music and saw me start to move with the lady on the
video, she was right there with me (mostly in the way)!"

Photo: Courtesy of Samantha Van Leer.

Samantha Van Leer & Jodi Picoult

Samantha (Sammy) van Leer is a
sophomore at Vassar College, majoring in psychology with a minor in
human development. At 19 years old, she helped her mom co-write the #1 New
York Times
book, Off the Page. Sammy’s mother Jodi Picoult is a 48-year-old
novelist living in Hanover, NJ. She’s the author of 23 best-selling novels, including My
Sister’s Keeper, The Storyteller,
and, most recently, Leaving Time.

What have you taught
each other about beauty and health?

Samantha van Leer: "Mom always told me to look however makes me feel beautiful. If I’m
comfortable and happy, that’s all that matters. She’s always encouraged me to
work out and be healthy, but also never to skip dessert, because — let’s be
real — it’s the best meal." 

Jodi Picoult: "Sammy is so naturally beautiful. I'm the one who takes
screenshots of her Snapchats, because I want to have a record of that picture
in my phone. What makes her so beautiful, though, is that she doesn't
think of herself that way — she’s probably the most humble person I know. From
Sammy, I think I've learned how to wear makeup (usually I leave the house
without a stitch of it on my face), and how the best beauty is the kind that
comes from within."     
Are there specific
beauty habits you’ve learned from each other?

SVL: "My mom raised me on the idea that there is no perfect way for a
human to look. Some people are just going to have bigger thighs, and some
people are going to be really skinny. No matter what you try to do to change
them, there are parts of you that just won’t change. The best we can do is learn
to embrace and love the body we’ve been given, and see the parts we love in the
mirror, not all the things we wish we could fix."    

JP: "She taught me how to put on liquid eyeliner. Seriously, I needed
the remedial course. She's sent me YouTube tutorials as continuing education,
too. I never wore it before that, because I always looked like a raccoon."    

Do you have any
beauty-related memories about your mom or daughter?
SVL: "I remember being 13 and wanting
to go to the spa with my mom to get pedicures, but usually the cut-off age for
spas is 16. So, we’d pretend it was my 16th birthday, and for my birthday treat
my mom was bringing me to get a pedicure. We’d make a whole fuss, saying loudly
how exciting it was that I was officially 16, making sure everyone around us
heard so no one asked any questions."        

JP: "On one summer vacation, we did Pilates together on the deck (she
taught me, once again). I cannot count the number of times we would pop into
each others’ rooms and say, 'Okay, I'm going to try on three outfits. Tell me
which one looks best.' I know she'll always be honest with me (painfully
so!), so I really trust her judgment."                    

Photo: Courtesy of Millie Tran.

Millie Tran & Linda Le

Millie Tran is a 26-year-old East Coast
transplant — she’s originally from California, but now lives in New York City.
She’s a full-time journalist and a part-time foodie, always scouring the city
for tasty finds. Her mother, Linda Le, is originally from Vietnam and works as
a manicurist in Santa Cruz, California. She says her daughter is her best

What have you taught
each other about beauty and health?

Millie Tran: "Oh gosh, I totally remember my mom trying to dress me when I was
younger — she still does it today! She is very patient with me, as her
only daughter, and yes, actually does love me more than I can understand. She’s
taught me to be equally patient, whether that means taking my time to treat
myself with care or taking the time to be more thoughtful about what I
eat. (Though, ask anyone, she’ll make you eat so much food if she’s

Linda Le: "I remember when Millie was little, I would
sing her a sweet song every night until she fell asleep. When she got
sick and didn’t want to eat, I cooked her favorite food. When she didn’t
want to take a bath, I had to run after her. But, I’m patient and I taught her
many things, like eating etiquette, how to pick out clothes, and just dealing
with daily life. Now, she teaches me to be patient and always remember
that at the end of the day, love is everything."

Are there specific
beauty habits you’ve learned from each other?

MT: "She always tells me to get facials, but I
rarely get them, or ever for that matter. But, I did get one of those facial
scrubbers and it’s changed my life. I keep my routine pretty simple, natural, and easy. Mascara, some blush (both drugstore!), and a very good eyelash curler.
Lots of Darphin moisturizer and La Roche-Posay sunscreen — per mom’s instructions.
I hope I’ve taught her this, but I’m obsessed with having a signature scent.
Mine is Chanel’s Chance Eau Fraîche."

LL: "I always tell her to use sunscreen, cover
her face from the sun, and to get a facial every once in awhile. Not too
much makeup. And, clean your face well and do it every night. Don’t sleep with
makeup on!"

Do you have any
beauty-related memories about your mom or daughter?

LL: "In fourth grade, Millie really wanted a
perm. I love her natural hair, so I said no at first, but I let her perm it for
her graduation the next year. She combed it out right after it was done, because she didn’t like it. But, she’s impatient and stubborn. I love her, so I let
her do it to figure it out for herself. Sometimes, you have to let
your daughter learn her own lessons!"

MT: "My mom never let me paint my nails when I
was younger, which makes no sense because she’s a manicurist! As a result, I
tend to keep my nails pretty simple — lots of beige and clear. I guess I rebelled in
other areas of life."   

These sweet stories and special bonds make Dove’s research
truly come to life, though it’s refreshing to hear a few moms acknowledge that they've learned from and are inspired by their daughters’ beauty routines as well.
Regardless, through thick and thin, Lip Smacker to lipstick, mom’s beauty
guidance holds true today and for many Mother’s Days to come — just peek inside
your own makeup bag for proof.       

Like this post? There's more. Get tons of beauty tips, tutorials, and news on the Refinery29 Beauty Facebook page!

More from Beauty

R29 Original Series