The skin you live in changes with age — there’s no doubt about that. Views on caring for skin, how lifestyle and diet choices affect it, and how much effort is needed to reap benefits have changed over the years as well. One idea skin care experts can all agree on today: It’s never too late to start taking care of your skin — but the earlier you start, the better off you’ll be.
“A beautiful young actress I met recently at the Vanity Fair Oscar party shyly came up to me and said, ‘I hope when I’m your age I look like you,’” says actress Suzanne Somers, who started her own skin care line, Suzanne Organics, after a cancer diagnosis caused her to reassess what she used. “I was flattered. I smiled and said, ‘Then start now.’ Start today to create your own individual plan for prevention,” she says.
Here, seven skin-care-savvy women talk about everything from when they started thinking about their skin to how they learned to treat it right to why the term “anti-aging” shouldn’t be a catchall for skin care products marketed to women over 45.
Suzanne Somers, Actress and Creator, Suzanne Organics
“Cancer was to be my life teacher,” says Somers. Prior to a breast cancer diagnosis in 2001, the actress and fitness phenom, now 70, hadn’t truly evaluated her choices when it came to daily habits, diet, and skin care. “It didn’t take much examining of my lifestyle to realize that I hadn’t taken chemicals seriously, I didn’t value sleep, I didn’t understand the effects or connections to toxicity possibly leading to cancer,” she says. So Somers decided to take matters into her own hands. “I took a negative and turned it into a positive. I was able to find a formulator with my sensibilities who cared so deeply about using only real, organic, clean ingredients — and then we went to work,” she says of the inception of her skin and makeup line, Suzanne Organics.
Somers has morning and nighttime skin regimens. On top of those, twice a week, she indulges in Suzanne Organics Recovery Mask, which she says, “leaves my skin radiant. This is my husband’s favorite look: shiny faced and clean.” For Somers, the peace of mind that comes from using botanical and “clean” products is difficult to explain.
“At the end of each day, I play a little game with myself: How many chemicals did I take in knowingly and unknowingly? I’m someone who tries hard to live clean, and I’m often shocked at the unknowing part of exposure. Especially when I’m traveling and I don’t have my usual control,” she says.
These days, Somers makes conscious decisions with her skin care, something she didn’t do when she was younger — a fact she isn’t beating herself up over. “What does matter is that I try, every day, to do it right, and I believe that puts me ahead of the game,” she says. “I never want to be sick again, so it’s my job to work hard on prevention. Skin care is a great place to start.”
Amanda Lacey, Aesthetician, Founder and Brand Owner, Amanda Lacey Luxury Skincare
While most aestheticians turn to lasers and chemicals to erase years, Lacey, 51, sticks to her hands (her facial massage technique nets her discerning clients like Gwyneth Paltrow and Emily Blunt) and nature-based ingredients to help clients put their most youthful face forward. Growing up on a farm in Kentish Town, London, Lacey shadowed her mother, whom she calls a “very keen gardener,” and discovered part of what she puts into practice today: the regenerative properties that herbs and botanicals bring to skin — which you’ll find bottled in her Amanda Lacey facial oils. (Camellia face oil and Oils of Provence are cult favorites.) Fittingly, Lacey’s attitude toward skin care and aging mirrors the no-frills — yet results-ensured — approach she takes with skin. “Keep it simple. Look after yourself, mentally and physically, because these two elements complement each other and are reflected in our skin every day,” she says.
For her own complexion, Lacey focuses on cleansing and sun protection. “Keeping the skin clean and protected from the sun’s harmful rays are my skin care priorities,” she says, noting that she “double preps” her skin for daytime with her brand’s Nourishing Pink Cream, a liquid daily moisturizer that launches this fall, followed by sunscreen. At night, she changes up her skin care — which she believes is vital to aging skin. “Day and night require different regimens,” she says. To that end, she indulges in her face oils, noting that any and all facial oils should be used only at night; “during the day these can be harmful to the skin if you’re in the sun,” Lacey warns. But her best anti-aging secret may surprise you. “Sleep supine on your back; this helps the body drain properly — and sleep is a great healer,” she says.
Hillary Peterson, Founder and President, True Botanicals
As is the case with many skin care pros, teenage acne put Peterson in touch with her skin. “Your face is such an important part of your identity, and if your skin doesn’t look good, it can feel so painful — especially as a teen!” she says. It wasn’t until decades later, when Peterson was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and melanoma, that she entered the professional skin care arena. Her health led her to first question what ingredients her beauty products contained, followed by: Could she formulate clean, conscious, healing skin formulas that could take these products’ place with respect to efficacy? The answer: yes — and True Botanicals was born. “My feeling is that if a product is not safe, I do not need it. Period. It’s the same philosophy we take in formulating True Botanicals,” she says. With eight years of research in botanicals poured into it and a slew of clinical trials that back the brand’s claims, True Botanicals achieves the goal Peterson set forth: to provide consumers with formulas that transform skin while not compromising people’s health.
Now, at 55, Peterson believes she looks better than she did at 40 — but she puts the work in, which she believes is imperative as you mature. “In the same way that your body becomes more sensitive over time to things like poor eating choices (or one too many drinks!), your skin doesn’t bounce back from poor treatment the way it might have in your 20s. You have to spend a bit more time and energy giving it the care it deserves. But if you do, you’ll see amazing results,” she swears. Her own skin care routine is her moment of Zen; it’s that time of day she gets to care for herself. “I want my routine to be nourishing, aromatherapeutic, and relaxing. I like to keep it simple, focusing on a few ultra-impactful products,” she says. “Your skin care routine should fit your lifestyle and, for me right now, that means an easy, low-maintenance approach.”
Dr. Annette Tobia, Founder and CEO, Dynamis Skin Science
Dr. Tobia, 74, looks at beauty through the lens of science; after all, she co-invented patented Supplamine, the key technology that blocks glycation (a source of inflammation and oxidative stress — two aggressors that accelerate the aging process) in skin and is the bedrock of the Meg 21 skin care line. As she studied the effects of toxic sugars on the proteins and aging pathways of internal organs, she had an “a-ha” moment. “I became intrigued as to whether the same accelerated aging may occur in skin, as collagen is a protein,” Dr. Tobia says. Long story short: It does occur, and she set to work testing her theory on herself, family, and friends. “I knew I was doing something good by giving women and men the capability of recapturing the look and feel of the skin of their youth,” she says.
Of course, Dr. Tobia is just like anyone else: She, too, feels the weight of caring for skin during later life. “Just thinking about the stressors that affect us as we age can be overwhelming. From food, to the pollutants in the environment, the harsh chemicals we come in daily contact with, and the simple passing of time — they all have implications for our skin care regimens,” she says. “As you age, the simple truth is you need to exert more effort and do so consistently to keep skin looking young and vital.”
That effort includes exercise (“sweating — a great detoxifier!”), eating well, and treating skin to a skin care regimen with products that she says are “kind to your skin. They should bolster it — protect it. For example: A good moisturizer to keep the skin hydrated; a toner that doesn’t strip your skin but, rather, perks it up and makes it more absorbent; and a scrub that doesn’t grate the skin or cause irritation. Sunscreen, of course, is a must, along with products that prevent free-radical damage.”
She follows her own skin care regimen, paying attention not only to her face, but also her neck, décolletage, and — when she remembers — hands, and she admits that she often develops products based on her own needs. “I personally developed our Advanced line because I am one of the older scientists on our research team and I noticed a bit of sagging under my chin. I guess I was desperate!” And as a scientist would do, Dr. Tobia constantly changes up her regimen, switching products and playing with combinations, treating her skin as a guinea pig for the greater good. “I just can’t stop experimenting!” she says, laughing.
Jillian Wright, Co-founder, Indie Beauty Media Group, and Founder, Jillian Wright Skincare
As a teen growing up in Stony Creek, Connecticut, Wright, 46, had an unfortunate run-in with the sun while sailing. “I didn’t wear sunscreen and was badly burned. To this day, I can’t go out in the sun because I become nauseous and feel like passing out,” she says. This skin debacle, coupled with regular bouts of hormonal acne, pushed Wright to reclaim her skin’s health. “I realized that my skin felt better if I took great care of it,” she says. Her eventual career as an aesthetician (and later, founder of Jillian Wright Skincare and co-founder of Indie Beauty Expo, a business-bolstering platform for indie beauty brands) only solidified this belief, and she made it her mission to pass this idea on to everyone her hands touched. “I performed more than 12,000 facials over 18 years. I’ve spent my career building up clients’ self-esteem and increasing their confidence and the overall health of their skin,” she says. “The last thing you want is to worry about your skin. My goal is to make a person’s skin health a no-brainer, so they wake up in the morning and get on with their day.”
Like any good skin whisperer, Wright uses her own advice — which has served her well as she’s matured. “I never skip an a.m./p.m. routine — never. I also try not to use more than I have to,” she says, adding that part of her secret sauce is cleansing her skin morning and night, and never once skipping a cleanse session. “I love taking care of my skin because I know that when I do, I’m delaying the premature aging process. We all age and that is fine, but when I was an aesthetician I always told my clients that my goal was to make their skin look and feel 5 to 7 years younger than it’s biological age,” she says. Wright swears that this is an “achievable goal,” noting, “I believe that by caring for my skin, I’ve been able to look 7 to 10 years younger!”
Lynne Florio and Renee Tavoularis, Co-founders, Well Within
For Florio, 63, and Tavoularis, 52, careers working at one of the most prestigious luxury skin care brands in the world, La Prairie, had them forehead-deep in all things skin. It would have been impossible to ignore their own skin needs. “I was in my 30s when I began my career there, and that’s when I became serious about skin care. I quickly learned how important eye care, serums, moisturizers, and treatment products are,” says Florio. But balance was in short order. “We both spent decades as executives in a corporate environment in New York City, and there wasn’t much — if any— balance or focus on self care and well-being,” Florio laments.
With fitness, sleep, and health off-kilter, and stress at an all-time high, the two decided self care needed to be a part of their lives, so they formed their own wellness brand, Well Within, which includes the newly launched Planted in Beauty skin care line. “Good genes (and copious amounts of sun protection) will get you only so far; you have to invest in your skin health as you age, from the inside out and the outside in,” Florio says of their 360-degree beauty view. Their belief: Beauty and wellness are inextricably linked; therefore, skin benefits from mindfulness and a healthy lifestyle and diet. “We both wish we had an earlier, better understanding or more holistic viewpoint of how integrated beauty, nutrition, and wellness are,” says Tavoularis. “If only we had known that as you start to add nutrient-rich foods that serve your body well, you will also discover its benefits in your skin.”
“We joke that, as usual, our mothers knew best when they told us to eat our vegetables!” Florio says, laughing.
What they don’t joke about: the term “anti-aging.” “It’s a fact of life. We age. But why should we be fighting it?” Tavoularis asks. For these two, life constantly shifts, changes, and evolves. It’s a journey that’s meant to be welcomed, not stymied. “So instead of fighting aging, we embrace healthy aging — we even celebrate it,” Tavoularis says. “We encourage ourselves and our customers to be age-embracing instead of anti-aging.”