20 Beauty Pros Share the Best Beauty Secrets They Learned From Mom
Mother always knows best.
Mothers are often among the first and most significant influences we have growing up, tasked with helping to teach us the ropes of life and typically proving our first exposure—and only—access to self-care guidance and goods. (Cue the messy kid makeup pics, heated hair debates, and those highly anticipated ‘when you’re truly ready’ below-the-knee shaving tutorials.)
From small upgrades (a coat of mascara can do wonders) to big priorities (yes, sunscreen is really that important), read on as a range of cosmetic, hair and skin experts, and entrepreneurs share the life-changing products and processes they learned from their moms and continue to put into practice today.
“My mom is a total beauty guru and it shows. She’s in her 60s and looks amazing, so I would do anything she says. Growing up in the south, we were raised to put a little effort in your look. My mom would say, ‘Whatever you are going for, do it with intention.’ Putting your hair in a simple ponytail can make you appear pulled together, and throwing on some lip gloss and mascara will give you a little pep in your step.”
The pro: Jessica Wright, MD, a board-certified general surgeon and owner and operator of Rejuvenate Austin
"Several years ago, my momma, Diana Wright, taught me how awesome castor oil is, both for restoring the area around your eyes and getting eyelashes growing. Others have caught on since, with beauty experts hailing the ricinoleic acid-rich formula for its ability to moisturize, remove makeup, and beyond. While I personally find the oil too heavy to be used as a full-face moisturizer, and would advise cleansing skin directly to follow if using as a makeup remover, momma was right on the money regarding the eyes—it gives the area a much-needed moisture boost and has made my eyelashes long and lush!”
"Growing up, my mom was very strict about sunscreen application—even in the '80s and early '90s when a golden tan was the pinnacle of youth and a well-lived life. As a dermatologist, I know good sun protection is the most important thing you can do to preserve your skin and ward off signs of aging.
Sunlight has various wavelengths of ultraviolet radiation that lead to wrinkling, freckling, loss of elasticity, and direct damage to DNA that contributes to skin cancer. I typically recommend using a daily mineral sunscreen (which directly blocks harmful UV rays) with an SPF of at least 30 on the face, chest and neck, and applying to all exposed areas if getting more than 15 to 20 minutes of direct sun exposure. I personally use Revision Skincare Intellishade TruPhysical for my face, which contains vitamin C and moisturizers for an added anti-aging boost."
The pro: Jeannette Graf, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and anti-aging expert in Great Neck, N.Y.
“Among other things, my mother always reinforced the importance of cleaning your face before bed to remove makeup and rid skin of impurities. Skin must be properly cleansed in the morning (not just splashing water in the face). In the morning, all of the waste products expelled overnight need to be washed off in order for skin to function and properly function (both day and night). It is also important to properly cleanse the skin before bedtime to remove all the broken down byproducts of skincare products worn all day, as well as the metabolic byproducts of being outdoors while being exposed to pollutants and sun. I personally use and suggest ISDIN Micellar Solution (hypoallergenic and suitable for sensitive skin) and Garnier Micellar Cleanser to my patients.”
The pro: Nina Desai, MD, a board-certified medical and cosmetic dermatologist and founder and owner of Pure Dermatology & Aesthetics in Manhattan Beach, Calif.
“My mom taught me at a young age how crucial it is to moisturize your skin in order to preserve the skin barrier, which protects skin from irritants and inflammation. I now explain to my patients that the skin barrier (also referred to as the stratum corneum) is made up of fatty acids and ceramides, so supplementing your skin with moisturizers containing those ingredients can ensure it stays moisturized, plump, and looks its healthiest. I also reinforce that moisturizers are for everyone, and should be customized based on your skin type. For example, if you have really dry skin, you can pick a more occlusive cream to seal in hydration. If acne-prone, there are oil-free (or non-comedogenic) formulas that will do the job without causing breakouts.”
The pro: Joshua Zeichner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York
“If my mom taught me one thing, it's that being complicated is not necessarily better. KISS, or ‘Keep It Simple Stupid,’ is the motto I was taught growing up in all aspects of life. It’s particularly appropriate when it comes to skincare, and I have incorporated that concept into all the skincare routines I put together for patients. Prep and protect your skin with a gentle cleanser, an antioxidant serum, and sunscreen in the morning. Then repair it in the evening with an evening moisturizer and a collagen-stimulating ingredient like retinol.”
The pro: Gina Rivera, a hair artist and CEO of Phenix Salon Suites
“My mother always stressed the role of a well-shaped, full eyebrow in accentuating all of your features. First, you will want to make sure you groom your eyebrows properly. A good brow artist can assist you with this and can also help you identify a good shape for your face. In some circumstances, you may need to add some color to your brows, which you can do easily with a brow or powder, or take a more permanent approach with microblading—consult a professional to ensure the shade is a good fit for you!”
The pro: Geoffrey Rodriguez, a celebrity makeup artist in Los Angeles who’s worked with Gigi Hadid, Victoria Beckman, Emma Watson, and Padma Lakshmi
“My mother was known for her beauty and has been the biggest inspiration for my career. She never left the house without full makeup and hair, even when she wasn’t feeling her best physically. The most important thing she taught me was to stick to a classic look that suits you individually. Not only will you feel comfortable in your own skin, but you’ll save a lot of money and hassle when it comes to the latest social media beauty trends and your photos/looks will stand the test of time.”
The pro: Chantelle Hartshorne, a makeup artist and creative director of STYLBEE
“Growing up, you could find me in the bathroom dolling up my friends after school and watching in absolute awe as my mom did her makeup in front of the mirror, wondering what she was doing with all of those little jars and brushes. She showed me the power of glowing skin and minimal makeup (she always had a freshness to her face and especially long, dark lashes. Nothing makes eyes pop and brightens the face better than long, full, fluffy lashes. Mineral Fusion’s Volumizing Mascara is buildable, long-lasting, and will do wonders for those peepers when you only have a minute!”
The pro: Dr. Kan Cao, a scientist, human aging expert and founder of Bluelene
“I have a deep knowledge of science and aging, but when it comes to good skin health, it’s important to remember the basics. Specifically, mother always encouraged me to get enough sleep. Starting at a young age, I began making a point to sleep at least seven to eight hours a night to allow my skin to regenerate. A healthy sleep pattern has allowed my skin to rest and cell turnover to occur, which keeps my skin plump, smooth and more youthful."
The pro: Lorena Balensi, an esthetician and founder of Balensi's Institute Skin Care & Spa in Chula Vista, Calif.
“My parents were avocado growers. Since avocados are known for nourishing and revitalizing the skin (they’re packed with friendly minerals and vitamins A, E, B, and K), my mom used to whip up weekly face and hair masks for my sister and me growing up. For the face, just remove seeds and peel skin from the avocado and mash it up. Mix and stir thoroughly with 1 tablespoon of honey (another natural moisturizer) until a standard paste is produced, then apply and leave on the skin for 15 minutes to reveal a radiant glow.”
The pro: Shiri Sarfati, a licensed esthetician and co-president of Repechage
"Growing up with a skincare expert and esthetician as your mother, you learn a lot about beauty early on. One thing that stuck with me is how she never left (or returned) home without a full face of makeup, because she wanted to look bright and not tired for her children, even if she worked a long day. Even today, I always apply foundation, concealer, and a swipe of lip gloss as part of my morning routine even if I am at home because I want to look fresh for my family, which in turn makes me feel and perform better, as well.” (These multi-tasking beauty sticks make it easy to polish up in a pinch.)
Tho pro: Natalie Aguilar, a celebrity aesthetician and dermatological nurse in Los Angeles
“My mom raised my sister and me to protect our feet from calloused or cracked heels (one of her biggest pet-peeves was feeling the sheets get slightly stuck to her dry feet!). She would constantly remind us to apply moisturizer or balm, sealed with a pair of socks, before going to bed. To this day, we make sure to keep our feet perfectly hydrated and cared for.”
The pro: Shaz Rajashekar, co-founder of SHAZ & KIKS
“One thing my mother taught me is that beauty comes from inside, both metaphorically and literally, so it’s important to continue working on your inner self and to eat a healthy, plant-rich diet. And don’t forget to embrace your natural skin. My sister and co-founder, Kiku, and I have come to love our dark skintones in an Indian culture where fair skin tends to be more coveted.”
The pro: Mira Torres, co-founder of JUNO & Co.
“My mom loved her perfume and wore Elizabeth Arden White Shoulders every time she would go out on a date with my dad or to a party. The scent still takes me back to watching my mom get ready for her social events and even more so the feeling of not wanting her to leave us with the babysitter. She taught me to switch up my perfumes with points of transition in my life. Certain scents now, which were such a big part of me at the time, still transport me back with a certain feeling of nostalgia and pride. My current favorite scents are Glossier You Eau de Parfum for everyday, and Huda Beauty Kayali Deja Vu White Flower for special occasions.”
The pro: Aida Bicaj, a celebrity facialist and skin expert in New York who’s worked with celebrities like Carla Gugino and Kyra Sedgwick
“My mother advised me that once a week you must get rid of the dead cells on your body with a gentle exfoliator in order to better penetrate products. You need to take care of your body as much as your face. She always said the first signs of aging are your knees, which need special attention!”
The pro: Terri Bryant, a makeup artist, beauty educator, and founder of GUIDE BEAUTY
“One of my favorite childhood memories is going to the makeup counter with my mom. When I was a child, cosmetic companies released four color collections a year. I would anxiously await a phone call each season letting Mom know the latest collection had arrived so she could book her appointment for a makeover. I loved watching Mom in the makeup chair exploring new colors and application techniques (this is also when she would refresh her skincare regimen, another big priority). Her ‘beauty maintenance’ days taught me that no matter how busy life gets, it's important to set aside time for yourself, and to use that time to reassess what’s working and what’s not. Mom is now in her 80s and looks fabulous!”
The pro: Sabrina Maren, founder of NuMe Professional Styling Tools
“My mom taught me a simple hair regimen to help tame frizzy ends and keep bad hair days away! Just wet your hair in warm water to rinse and open the cuticle, then apply a good mask/conditioner (mid-length to ends). Next, wrap hair in a microfiber hair wrap (fun fact: this tip led to the development of the NuMe Microfiber Hair Wrap) and let your hair sit for a few hours or overnight. Rinse in cold water to seal the cuticle and voila—your hair is conditioned and the frizz is gone!”
“My mom was all about the ‘cat whisker’ application. Draw cat whiskers from the sides of your mouth outward to your cheeks with concealer. Do the same with the inner and outer corners of your eyes, then blend. It ends up concentrating the product where you need it most and where there is the majority of the darkness/discoloration.”
"My mom's entire approach to beauty was making it easy and fun—that's the philosophy she founded Benefit Cosmetics on. Your products should be simple and intuitive, and even better if they can serve two or three purposes for you instead of just one. That's part of the reason she developed Benetint, the industry's first-ever tint. It's the perfect rosy shade and can be worn on both lips and cheeks, which gives you the look of being totally put together, but in reality only took 10 seconds to apply.”