Best Beauty Advice From Women Over 40

Beauty advice is one of those things that's only as good as the person dishing it out. Is it interesting to hear a dewy-faced twentysomething model explain her skin-care routine? Sure. But, are we more likely to take notes when an equally dewy-faced fortysomething woman starts talking beauty? You'd better believe it.
To get that kind of first-person, proof-is-in-the-pudding advice, we called on some of the DMV's most stunning women, all of whom are in their forties or older. From a top dermatologist to a Beyoncé doppelgänger, these ladies know what's up when comes to their skin, hair, and makeup routines. So, we were more than a little excited to get them into our photo studio and ask some personal questions about how they look that good every day. The secrets? Read on to learn every last one. You won't regret it.
Photographed by Kate Warren.
1 of 10
Photographed by Kate Warren.
Shirley Gordon, 48
Owner of Strands Hair Studios in Wheaton

Tell us a little about your beauty routine.
“Morning and night, I cleanse and use a tonic lotion. Then I use an eye cream and a moisturizer. Right now, I’m loving this brand out of Switzerland called Cellcosmet. That’s what I’ve been using for the last couple years. I usually put on a Tom Ford primer every morning before I put on my makeup.”

What skin type do you have?
“It’s combination — right in the T-zone, I’m a little dry.”

What do you do when you first wake up in the morning? How do you get to this amazing finished look?
“When I first wake up in the morning, it doesn’t look like this! I cleanse, and use my Clarisonic — I can’t live without that because it really helps with the dryness on my forehead. Then I’ll use the tonic lotion, then eye cream, and moisturizer.”

Do you have a makeup look you go for each day?
“It’s whatever I’m feeling that day. It depends on my hair, and what I’m wearing. But, I pretty much do everything every day — I never walk out of the house without makeup on.”

If you could only work with three products every day, what would they be?
“Concealer, mascara, and a bronzer.”
2 of 10
Photographed by Kate Warren.
You’ve had so many different hairstyles, even a platinum pixie and a lavender mohawk! How did you end up with this look?
“So, this is a full wig — I color it and make it look as natural as possible. It’s 100% real hair. Underneath, my hair is short — I’m growing it out. I’ve been wearing wigs for about a year now, so my hair is almost like a bob. If I don’t look at it, it’s good. But, if I look at it, I’m going to buzz it off. I change out the wig at the end of each week — I shampoo and treat my hair, then braid it back up.”

Do you have a beauty or personal style philosophy?
“My style philosophy is to step outside the box and break the rules. Everyone’s set on these ideas, like you can’t wear white in the winter, don’t do this, don’t do that. I believe in being comfortable with who you are when it comes to beauty and fashion.”

Is there anything you do in terms of diet or exercise to maintain your skin or overall wellness?
“During the week, I don’t eat any junk food. A couple years ago, I was doing this big 45th-birthday thing, and my husband and I were renewing our vows after 20 years of marriage. I wanted to really [get lean] because I had this cute little bikini I wanted to wear. So, I started just eating vegetables during the week. I did that for about six weeks straight, and then started adding protein in. So, every other day, I’d eat just vegetables, then the next day I’d add in a protein. I still eat like that now during the week, and on the weekends, I cheat. And, I work out five days a week — I’m up in the morning at five and work out for an hour. I do an hour of cardio; sometimes I’ll do cycling, or jump into hot yoga or Pilates.”

Have you ever done anything to your hair that you really regretted?
“Yes — dreadlocks. It was dreadful. I kept them for five years.”
3 of 10
Photographed by Kate Warren.
Angela Sitilides, 43
Owner of Alexandria beauty boutique Bellacara

Let’s talk a little about your nightly beauty routine — what do you do for your skin before bed?
“I cleanse with my Clarisonic. After that, I apply an oil, which is a big thing for me — it always scared me that oil might break out my skin. I use M. Steves Ultra-Nourishing Boost, which is a rose-hip seed oil — it’s fantastic. It evens your skin tone out, it hydrates — I love it. Then I put on the A.G.E. Interrupter from SkinCeuticals as my moisturizer.”

And, do you typically wear much makeup?
“I wear pretty much what you see right now, with maybe a little less eye makeup. I wear the BB Blur from Peter Thomas Roth; it has diamond dust in it, so it’s really reflective. And, I use the Kevyn Aucoin Celestial Powder highlighter in Candlelight.”

Do you wear a specific sunscreen every day?
“I don’t like moisturizers with SPF, because I think people rely on it, and it’s not enough. Even with an SPF 15 moisturizer, you’re probably only getting about an SPF 8, because you don’t put nearly enough on. I always use the SkinCeuticals SPF, because I don’t want to feel it, but I know I need it. And, then if I’m out during the day, I’ll use the Peter Thomas Roth mineral brush sunscreens. Because they say ‘reapply, reapply,’ but who’s going to slather it on over their makeup if they’re out for the day? So, I keep that brush in my purse, and one in the car.”
4 of 10
Photographed by Kate Warren.
Did you start doing anything different for your skin once you turned 40?
“Here’s a funny thing about people who own beauty boutiques: You think you can do it all yourself, from home. And, that was pretty much the case, for a while, but now I know that I have to go get a facial every three months. You can do the majority of things from home, but you have to let somebody get in there and get the congestion out. I go to Circe [in Old Town].

Any beauty disasters you can tell us about?
“I tried Botox, and it was a disaster for me. One eyebrow stuck up more than the other one, because these muscles were stronger than the ones on the other side. And, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I look like a crazy pirate!’ So, then I went back, and he put more in the other side, but it wasn’t completely even. After that I was done — never doing that again. Here’s what I have to say about fillers: They’re always obvious. Your top lip doesn’t stick out like that naturally.”

Do you eat or drink anything special to help your skin?
“I swapped out Diet Coke for water about five years ago, and it made a huge difference. I used to break out all the time — even as an adult. I thought I had adult acne. When I kicked the Diet Coke habit, not only did I feel better, but my skin started looking better. I still drink sparking water, because it feels like a treat. As far as eating things, I don’t eat as much red meat as I used to. I eat a lot more fish. I don’t know that I’m particularly super organic or healthy, but I eat salmon probably three or four times a week. I could probably eat more vegetables and fruit, but honestly, kicking the soda was huge.”
5 of 10
Photographed by Kate Warren.
Lisa Scroggins, 46
Store manager, Room & Board

What do you consider your best beauty secret?
“Moisturizing with a great SPF 15 every day. I use Neutrogena, which works great for me.”

What's your nighttime beauty routine?
“At night, I cleanse my face with Cetaphil. It’s really mild, which is great for my skin. And, I use eye cream, as well. It’s a brand from Bluemercury — the M-61 Eye Boost. And, I really love the M-61 Fast Blast face mask. I use a Neutrogena moisturizer before bed, too.”

What about your hair? How do you take care of it between appointments?
“I go to a stylist in Waldorf, MD — her name is Nicole Spencer. Between appointments, I shampoo it once a week with a keratin shampoo, and I use Moroccanoil, as well.”

What skin type do you have?
“It’s combination.”

When did you start trying to take better care of your skin?
“Probably right around the time I hit 40.”
6 of 10
Photographed by Kate Warren.
Is there anything that you eat or drink specifically for your skin, or your overall wellness?
“I drink a lot of water! I try to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, mainly. You know, I love meat, but I try to limit it to once or twice a week, and stick with chicken and fish.”

Have you given anything up, like caffeine or sugar?
“I’m trying to get away from soda, and I only drink one cup of coffee a day, in the morning.”

In the winter, do you change anything with your beauty routine?
“I’ve been using Laura Mercier’s tinted moisturizer, which has a little bit of color to it. It still has the moisturizer in it; I love that. Sometimes, I just wear that, and that’s it.”

Is there anything you never leave the house without applying?
“Probably the tinted moisturizer. And, lashes — I have to put on mascara, for sure. I like Lancôme Définicils.”
7 of 10
Photographed by Kate Warren.
Dr. Tina Alster, 54
Laser-surgery pioneer and founding director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery

How did you get into dermatology?
“I went through medical school, and I knew I’d be going into dermatology because at that time, it was the only specialty where you could combine surgery with medicine, and it had really good work hours. When I was almost done with my training, I wanted to find out how to get out of New Haven. So, I was looking for any way to leave a little early, and I was fortunate enough to meet this woman with a [Port-wine] birthmark. I had just come across a new technology, the laser, that could pinpoint blood vessels, and the more I looked into it, the more interested I became. She kept paging me (at that time, there was no email) — no less than 10 times in three days.

"I found an article about the laser, contacted the person who wrote the article, and got a fellowship at Harvard. I did the fellowship in laser surgery, wrote the first test book on laser surgery, and the rest is history — the lady with the Port-wine birthmark really drove me. I started treating birthmarks, and then began to specialize in scars, which is what I’m really known for in the field. At this point, I’ve written more articles on laser surgery than anyone in the world.”

Have you always been interested in skin care and beauty?
“My two sisters were much more into makeup than I was; I was sort of the brainiac, as the oldest. I’ve always liked fashion, and I’ve always been a junkie for skin care, but I hate putting on makeup. I understand makeup — it’s just that I don’t have time in the mornings to do all this. If I can’t do it in five minutes, it’s not going to get done.”

Tell us about that five-minute routine.
“I take a shower and use my Clarisonic brush. My disclaimer — I serve on the medical-advisory board for Clarisonic, so I’ve been using that brush since it was a prototype! I use it with a cream cleanser, either my own Skin Is In cleanser, or sometimes I’ll use Chanel or La Mer. Immediately after, I use my topical CE Ferulic, which is a topical antioxidant. Then I use a moisturizer that has SPF in it, and I use something around my eyes — it’s Ethocyn by chanTal eye serum. I use the La Mer lip balm, and if it’s dry like it has been lately, I use La Mer The Concentrate as an extra layer before I put on makeup.”

And, what’s your beauty routine at the end of the day?
“Instead of using the Clarisonic brush, that’s when I pick up those large round cotton pads — they’re called Swisspers. I wet it with warm water and put a cream cleanser on it — it could my Correction Cream Wash, or the Chanel cream cleanser. I prefer a cream over a foaming wash because foaming ones are too drying. I’m older, and I need something a bit more creamy. And, the cream helps take off my eye makeup. I don’t really even use a makeup remover, except when I really have stuff crusted on. And, at night, I go between products. One is called Senté Dermal Repair Cream; it contains heparan sulfate, which helps to turn skin cells over. The other is one of the products in my own line that has peptides in it, which help with collagen turnover. I use the Ethocyn around my eyes again, and during the dry months, I add on The Concentrate from La Mer to seal it all in.”
8 of 10
Photographed by Kate Warren.
Is there a product or an ingredient that you’re really excited about, or that you really feel is working for women in the anti-aging field?
“I hate to plug my own thing, but the CE Ferulic that I have made is a great antioxidant; it’s great for layering. I also made it in a cream base, but the serum is nice and light. If you have oily skin, it doesn’t make it too oily, and if you have dry skin, it doesn’t dry it out. That antioxidant makes your skin more radiant, and it also helps with collagen production. The other thing I really like, that I kind of pooh-pooh’ed before I really tried, is the La Mer Concentrate. It’s packed with antioxidants, and it’s a great wound healer. It helps minimize redness after laser procedures, and when it’s dry out, and your skin feels a little irritated, it helps to minimize the inflammation in the skin. As a dermatologist, at first, I was like, ‘Oh please, you’re going to spend $300 on this? It’s not worth it.’ But, there is some [truth] to it.”

Is there anything you do in terms of your diet, or things you eat or drink that help your skin?
“I know that sugars are bad, but I’m kind of a sugar hound. I try to make up for it with other things, like antioxidant smoothies. I’ll throw in a lot of fruit to my diet that way; but then I end up with a handful of gummy bears. I’m not one of these ‘Oh I never do that’ kind of people — I go back and forth between good and bad. I drink a fair amount of water, more now than I used to. I’m a coffee drinker — two cups a day, no sweetener in it. I’ve never been a soda person, diet or otherwise.”

Any SPF during the day?
“In our version of BB cream, there’s a chemical antioxidant that has SPF, and I always wear some foundation that has SPF, as well. I wear it every day, even on days like today, where it’s a little overcast. I think something women forget about, even when they take care of their face, is to protect their neck and chest. I spend half my day, every day, dealing with patients that have sun damage on their neck and chest, which could have been prevented.”

What are the makeup products you swear by?
“I’m really big now on two eyeliners. I use one and then the other — that’s my version of smoky eye. I’m using the new Marc Jacobs gel crayon liner, and I put the Lancôme Artliner liquid liner on top of it. That Marc Jacobs crayon, oh my gosh — it’s more waxy than pencil-y, and there’s deep pigment in it. I also like MAC Lipglass and Lancôme’s plumping lip glosses. And, the Tom Ford eyebrow pencil.”

And, what about your hair?
“Twice a week, I get a blowout — I don’t do my own hair anymore! That’s my biggest indulgence — that and a weekly manicure, because I wash my hands 30 times a day. I get my hair done at Violet salon – the owner, Jimmy, has been taking care of me for years.”
9 of 10
Photographed by Kate Warren.
Monica Barnett, 42
Personal stylist and image consultant at Blueprint for Style

How long have you been doing image consulting?
“The company itself is about 11 years old, and I’ve been doing it full-time for six years. When I went out on my own, someone said ‘You need to have an online presence.’ So, I started blogging about five and a half years ago. In my former life, when I had a real job, as my dad calls it, I did operational consulting for healthcare companies.”

But, you always loved fashion and styling?
“The real reason I got into it, to be very honest, is that there’s some element of making people feel good. When you look good, you feel good. I used to play soccer — I was an All-American soccer player — and my coach never let us on the field without cleaning our cleats. He said we had to clean and oil them before every game. One day, he wouldn’t let me play, and he said ‘Monica, you know the rules — you clean your cleats before every game. Because when you feel good, you play good.’”

Your skin is amazing — do you have a skin care regimen?
“I think 50% of it is genetics, thank God — and thanks, Mom! And, the other 50% is taking care of it. Once I hit 32, I found that I actually had to start doing nighttime stuff. Before that, if I wore any makeup, I just went to sleep and woke up with my makeup on. I was too lazy. Now, I find that I’ve got to do a little bit of moisturizing, have to take the makeup off, do some night cream.

“I love Orlane, and I use this cosmeceutical brand called Innovative Skincare — it’s phenomenal. I do a twice-a-week volcanic ash mask, and I love GlamGlow — love it. It is everything. GlamGlow is the business. You put it on, and it’s really got some seaweed in it, so it’s kind of weird. Then you take it off, and it’s like, ‘I’m supposed to go out tonight.’”

Do you wear sunscreen every day? What are your day-to-day products?
“There’s sunscreen in all of the products I use; I try to always hit an SPF 30. I don’t use too much of it, because as an African-American woman, sunscreens tend to look white and chalky, and I don’t like that. I love the Dermalogica booster, because I can add it to my existing products.”
10 of 10
Photographed by Kate Warren.
Tell us about your favorite products.
"I use Orlane moisturizer, and I use Josie Maran argan oil every day. I have this serum that I’m about to run out of, and I feel like my face is about to shrivel up and fall off. It’s Diamond Life Infusion Natura Bisse — it’s a diamond serum that costs $500 a pop. I got it as a gift, and now it’s like, ‘What am I going to do when it’s over? Maybe my skin is glowing because of the diamonds!’ Lumene makes some great stuff, and Davi makes these grapeseed oil products I love, including a moisturizer. That’s probably my everyday moisturizer, but I usually put two, maybe three, on at a time. I’m a layerer, especially in the winter.”

Any makeup you love, or that really works with your skin?
“I don’t wear makeup! I don’t wear a foundation every day, or anything like that.”

Do you think that’s why your skin looks so good?
“Let’s lie and say yes. Really, though, I don’t do much makeup. But, I never leave home without lipstick or lip gloss — it finishes the face off. And, I always have lashes. Eyes really make your face pop, so no matter what, I’m always going to have lashes on. If I have to go get my lashes redone, chances are, I’m not doing any meetings that day.”

Tell us about your lash extensions — they’re amazing!
“I’ve been wearing them for about two years, and I’ve noticed a difference — they change your life! They open up your face, they make it pop and sing. I go out in Maryland, way out in Wheaton, and this woman does it for me. She created this lash called the Evalash, which is a three-pronged lash. I won’t go without them.”

Do you do anything diet-wise that you think helps your skin?
“I don’t eat anything particularly great. I have been a lot better about drinking water — not a lot, I just try to get in a few cups a day. I try to drink a lot of liquids, period — not just water. In general, I’m not a big coffee drinker, and I try to stay away from sodas. I’m a big juice girl.”

More from Skin Care


R29 Original Series