A Bullshit-Free Working Mom Skincare Routine


My mother handed me a tube of Kiehl's Ultra Protection Eye Gel when she dropped me off at my college dorm freshman year. For many years, that—along with some SPF—was enough. I graduated, moved around the country for work and love, got married, had kids. And then suddenly, I was 40 and everything—and I mean everything—dropped. 

As an elderstateswoman here at Glossier, I’ve been asked for my perspective on the “anti-aging” vs “pro-aging” debate. The truth is, there’s a lot that’s great about hitting 40. I’m lucky enough to have a terrific partner and still-sweet kids who want to spend time with me, parents who are healthy and active, a wide network of loyal friends and brilliant colleagues, and an apartment big enough to host a dinner party. I’m established in my career and stimulated by my work and more confident and comfortable in my skin than ever before. But with age, that skin does need some help. And in that regard, I have no issue with “anti-aging”. At the end of the day, it’s about efficacy and finding products that provide needed benefits. I take inspiration from the role models we have who are aging gorgeously (Jennifer Connelly! Brigitte Macron! Kirsten Green!) and aim high.

Fortunately, my mother came before me, and not just because she had the foresight to offer me that little tube of Kiehl’s. She has inherently terrific skin, which for the most part I inherited. (Maybe we need a little help in the elasticity department. The rest I can’t complain about.) So, the tough part was reconciling myself to the fact that the issue was not about fixing some inherent issue, but rather about fixing an inherent life condition: aging. It is what it is, no matter what you call it.

So why not talk about it? This morning I met a 42-year old friend for breakfast. She’s a gorgeous LA girl: not a shred of makeup, the perfect messy topknot, killer bikini body. And she told me that she’d put on nine pounds over the course of the summer. Nine pounds, one summer! I couldn’t see them, but she insisted. Another dear friend, who’s hitting 50 but looks like an enviable 30, texted in crisis as she was shopping for her upcoming media tour: “I tried on outfits and I have weird new lumps. I have a Thass. No, it’s a Hass.” The struggle is real!

Back to the face. There are all sorts of beneficial products to try, and thankfully dieting isn’t the recommended path forward (more sagging!). In my experience—note to editors: and you are not old enough to disagree with me—there are a few products you absolutely need to use when you hit 40 (and that you should probably start using many years before you get there). I have a personal theory, not supported by any evidence, that my skin likes to be kept guessing, so I try to mix up my daily product regimen. But there are a few products I won’t live without:

My Clarisonic. I use it in the shower around 3x/week to enliven my skin and I just don’t feel as clean or luminous without it.

Tula’s Probiotic Cleanser. A mild but effective cleanser for everyday use in your morning shower. At night I prefer to get the makeup off with micellar water, Goop’s Luminous Melting Cleanser or Glossier’s Milky Jelly. Once a week I use Tula’s Exfoliating Treatment Mask—not a cleanser per se, but I feel renewed and pure when I rinse it off. And the Chok Chok Green Tea Toner is very brightening—you really can feel them working when applied.

Serums and face oils. I worked briefly at Goop and still rave about the Goop Enriching Face Oil. It’s great for more mature skin, as is their Revitalizing Day Moisturizer. (It doesn’t contain SPF, so that’s where Glossier's Invisible Shield comes in.) This time of year, I use Skin Inc’s Encapsulated Licorice Serum—licorice and green tea in tiny seaweed capsules, plus antioxidants galore to protect aging skin. And have been on a collagen binge of late, adding bone broth powder (Wild Foods’ is particularly great) to my golden lattes and using Mizon’s Collagen 100 Serum. I was wrestling with some seasonal transition skin issues last month and in desperation sprung for a bottle of Vintner’s Daughter—we 40-somethings will try anything—before deciding that it would be waste to use it on irritated skin so I’ve stockpiled it for the winter. Will report back.

Masks, snails and other Korean delicacies. I have a workspace in Koreatown that I use for quiet thinking and working time, and I discovered my favorite mask shop on a 32nd street coffee run one afternoon. I try to sheet mask a couple of times a week, and am pretty agnostic about the masks I use—there are so many cute ones to try! But I have fallen hard for the Banobagi Vita Cocktail Silver Foil Mask. The results are indisputable. I get compliments on my skin every time I use them. I also adore Tonymoly’s Ferment Snail Cream Moisturizer and the companion eye cream as they’re super-rich and hydrating. The Tonymoly Intense Care Gold 24K Snail Hydro Gel Mask is also great—how can it not be, with all those things?

For now, that's what I have to share—I think it's working, and either way, I feel good about it. But now I have to ask the forty-something readers of ITG: I know you are out there. What products do you love? There are working moms here at Glossier, too, and we'd love to hear from you.

—MZ Goodman

Photos via the author.