What Works: Kristy Watson, CMO of Erno Laszlo
One benefit of working in the beauty industry for so many years is that I've encountered dozens of smart, savvy professionals (beauty company CEOs, product development VPs, power publicists, colorists, stylists, makeup artists, etc.) who've tried thousands of products and treatments, and, thus, have uber-informed beauty regimens. I've certainly swiped tips and recs from them—and now so can you. As part of a regular series, I’ll be asking inspiring, in-the-know women (all 40+, of course) to share their best tips and favorite products. The point? As always, to find out what works.
Today’s Insider: Kristy Watson, 43, Chief Marketing Officer, Erno Laszlo
I’ve not met Kristy in person, but after a nearly hour-long phone chat with her, I felt like we were friends. She is warm, funny, frank—and she has a-ma-zing curly hair, so I pressed her for every single detail about how she cares and styles for it. (If you have natural waves or curls, you know the daily struggle.)
Since joining Erno Laszlo as CMO three-and-a-half years ago, Kristy has been busy modernizing the brand, revamping its website and pushing for product innovation. If you’ve ever used Erno Laszlo, you're familiar with its customized cleansing regimens (in high school, I thought of it as the chic version of Clinique’s Three-Step System). The brand still offers luxe, personalized cleansing programs—plus now a bevy of anti-aging treatment products. My personal favorite: The White Marble Dual Phase Vitamin C Peel (it leaves my skin soooooo soft).
But this post isn’t about my favorites—it’s about Kristy’s. So, let’s dive into what works for her:
Curly hair rule #1 Hands off! “I went to New York's Devachan Salon [which specializes in curly hair] about fourteen years ago, and that changed everything. I started using their DevaCurl products, and my stylist taught me how to take care of my curls, which is totally different from styling straight hair. The most important lesson was to keep my hands off my hair while it’s drying. I get out of the shower with soaking wet hair, I apply the Arc Angel Gel, and I lightly scrunch/blot with paper towels. Then I do not touch my hair again until it is fully dry, which can take about 90 minutes. At that point, I gently manipulate the shape or break up curls that are clumping together. I sometimes also mist my hair with Set It Free to add shine.”
Why she’s a makeup minimalist “I grew up in Niagara Falls with a mom who was a hippie and very low-maintenance. She didn’t teach me about makeup and, as a result, I don’t really have the skills or confidence to wear it. On the occasions when I have worn a full face of makeup, I don’t feel like myself. I think it ages me. So, I keep it simple. I may wear a sheer foundation like MAC’s Next to Nothing Face Colour and a little Bobbi Brown Bronzer. These give me natural coverage and hide any redness. Then I color in my brows with MAC Brow Pencil, swipe on DiorShow Mascara and apply a bold lipcolor. Unlike other makeup, a bright or deep lipcolor is something I do feel comfortable wearing. My hair and my lipcolor are my two statements. I have a bagful of pink and red lipcolors from BITE Beauty, NARS and Laura Mercier.”
Curly hair rule #2 Don’t shampoo your hair every day. “I wash twice a week with DevaCurl No Poo, then on the other five days, I just wet my hair, apply One Condition and rinse.” Note from Genevieve: Curly hair is often very dry, so scaling back on cleansing minimizes stripping of scalp/hair natural oils and keeps curls hydrated. The result? More shine, less frizz.
Her look-better-by-tomorrow-morning secret “I am obsessed with the Erno Laszlo Sleep Mask [pictured above]. It is a great product for a woman over 40, especially if your skin is chronically dehydrated. I apply it four nights a week—I just put it on like I would a night cream. It absorbs in about ten minutes and doesn’t come off on my pillow. It plumps, smooths, and deeply moisturizes. I swear it takes away fine lines and wrinkles overnight. I’ve not been able to find anything else like it.”
Curly hair rule #3 Put down the brush. “I don’t comb or brush my hair. Ever. I may gently finger-comb my hair in the shower, after I’ve applied conditioner, to lightly detangle…but that’s it. The only brush that ever touches my hair is at the salon, where I go every four months for a trim. The stylist brushes out my hair to ensure my cut is even.” Note from Genevieve: In addition to being dry, curly hair is also typically fragile. Minimizing combing/brushing prevents breakage. Cutting back on brushing also means you aren’t s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g out your curls, so they can maintain their springy shape.
What has surprised her about being 40-something “Aging gracefully requires work. I’m not complaining but I wasn’t prepared. My mom is so laid back about aging that she didn’t warn me! I’m now at the salon every five to six weeks, instead of every two to three months, to cover greys. I fight this extra five pounds and have had to up my workout routine. I began to do a little Botox on my forehead and between my brows just to look more awake. And if I don’t sleep enough or drink enough water, it shows up on my face.”
How she breaks a sweat “My favorite workout is yoga, especially heated Vinyasa at Yoga Vida in Dumbo [Brooklyn] near my house. I do yoga two to three times a week, then build around it. I may go for a run with my husband, take a Soul Cycle or Barry’s Boot Camp with a friend, or run in a 5K.”
Her anti-aging skincare strategy “Because I work for a skincare brand, I know too much. I know what ingredients do and what they don’t do; I am not taken in by hype. My routine is about 80 percent Erno Laszlo because those are products I can trust, then I mix in Caudalie, Tata Harper, and maybe Juice Beauty. I use the Caudalie Instant Foaming Cleanser every morning. This notion that you don’t need to wash your face in the morning is wrong. You sweat and release toxins while you sleep and you need to clean that off! I follow that with our Hydraphel Skin Supplement, which drenches my skin in moisture. That is a step I never skip. I finish with our Hydra-Therapy Refresh Infusion topped by Firmarine Moisturizer SPF 30. At night, my ritual is similar, though I will usually do a double cleanse. I like the oil and Phelityl Cleansing Bar from the HydraTherapy line, though once or twice a week, I will sub in the Sea Mud Deep Cleansing Bar to really deep clean my skin. New York City is filthy so this is necessary! I also swap out the Firmarine sunscreen for either a night cream or for the Sleep Mask. And twice a week I use the Dual Phase Vitamin C Peel in the shower to help get rid of rough, dry skin on my forehead and chin.”
Her pill-popping, anti-aging regimen “I believe inner health equals outer beauty so I do take supplements every evening: fish oil, calcium, vitamin D, baby aspirin, a prenatal vitamin, and CoQ 10. And every morning, I drink a glass of lemon water, walk my dog, then drink a detoxing tea from Teavana. I am hypo-thyroid and tend to run cold (this may be why I like heated yoga so much) and this regimen makes me feel well and strong.”
Why she has no interest in going under the knife “I hate to see women in Hollywood my age competing with 20-somethings. I think when you’re 20, you’re 20, and when you’re 40 you’re 40. Embrace it. Don’t try to look younger. I want to age with grace. And I want to age with health. My mom is one of those women who is happy being in her 60s. She doesn’t have the money to afford a facelift or tummy tuck but she wouldn’t do them anyway. She works at staying fit and healthy. She will never say she’s old. She has this glow about her. And that’s what I want. I will not use surgery to try to look like a younger version of myself.”
Her best beauty trick “A good spray tan makes you look five pounds thinner! I was attending a wedding last summer and felt a little chubby. Someone suggested I get a spray tan, and it totally worked. I looked slim and felt confident in my dress.”
Curly Hair Rule #4 Have a default ‘do. “If I’m not shampooing—or wetting/conditioning my hair that day—I will typically wear it up. I spray in a little French Girl Sea Spray to redefine the curls, then pull it up in a knot.”
Why she smells so good “I love fragrance, and my husband loves to buy it for me, which is sweet. He just bought me Twilly d' Hermes, which has sandalwood, a favorite of mine. I also like Intoxificated By Killian [notes include black coffee and green cardamom] and I like to layer Tom Ford Black Orchid over Tobacco Vanille.”
The upside of aging “I am much more peaceful now. I am still curious and driven; I’m still learning a ton. But in the last three to five years, my groove has become more truthful. I like to go to bed early. I don’t want to be at a bar late. For me, there is no joy in being at a bar until midnight. Joy is watching a movie on Friday, ordering takeout, and getting up the next day at 8 a.m. That’s my truth. For a long time I felt pressure to act and be otherwise, but no longer.”