What Works: Maria Halasz
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.
Unlike some of the other women I’ve profiled for this series, Maria Halasz is fairly new to the beauty world; she is CEO of a biotech company that bought haircare brand Évolis four years ago. She is first and foremost a businesswoman (based in Australia) who regularly travels around the world, zig-zagging between the US, China, Europe, Japan and the UK, to buy up intellectual properties and recapitalize companies. She is not, however, all pantsuits and lab coats. Thanks to her efficiency and discipline, Maria does find the time to take care of her hair, skin and health, despite her hectic schedule, and she was refreshingly candid about her favorite products and anti-aging tricks. Here, for Maria, what works—and what doesn’t:
Refresh upon landing “I live in Sydney, and travel to the US and Europe up to twelve times a year. This means long haul flights that last 24-plus hours. I find that treating my hair with a touch of dry shampoo before landing makes me look pulled together for the photo at passport control.” Her favorite (and mine): Klorane Dry Shampoo
Value quality over quantity Maria doesn’t have an elaborate skincare regimen (she doesn’t have time) but she does believe in investing in one or two scientifically-sound products. Her top pick: Bioeffect EGF Serum “As a scientist, this serum’s epidermal growth factor, which stimulates stem cells, is key for me. Plus it gives my skin a flattering, dewy appearance.”
Decide what works for you Maria does visit a dermatologist a few times a year and she has tried Botox and fillers. And while she acknowledges that Botox works well for many, it ultimately wasn’t for her. “I tried Botox in my late thirties when I first started to get lines on my forehead and I thought it looked great. Unfortunately, I did lose too much of my facial expressions and decided it wasn’t for me. But then I tried fillers on my nasolabial folds [those parentheses around our mouths] in my early forties, and liked that. Generally, I’m comfortable with my face now and don’t get stressed over a few lines here and there, but I do want to try PRP therapy [aka the Vampire Facial] to see if it improves my complexion. I just have to find the time!”
Dial down the makeup Heard this one before? Almost every woman I profile for What Works says this—especially when it comes to foundation. Maria’s take, “As I get older I wear less and less makeup and only wear foundation when I present in front of an audience. I love Chanel’s Lift Lumiere. “
Treat your hair as you do your skin I detailed Maria’s journey to Évolis in my original writeup on the regimen here; she views it as an anti-aging haircare regimen, not unlike one we follow for our faces: “I use the entire Évolis line, including the activator, shampoo, conditioner and treatment mask. I suffered from hair loss after I turned 40 and nothing really helped until I found Évolis five years ago—and subsequently bought the company. Now my hair is as thick as it was when I was 18. I even take my Évolis travel kit with me on all my trips.”
Run (or walk) wherever you are “I run five to six times a week, around 5-7 miles per day. What is so convenient about it is that you can do it anywhere and it requires no special equipment. The first thing I do, after checking into a hotel, is go for a run. It’s a great cure for jetlag, and running outside is magic, with fresh air and scenery. It also keeps me very lean, which is important when you get to your fifties. I’m the same size as I was when I was 20, plus a few wobbly bits. Running is also not ageist; I have running friends who are in their twenties and in their eighties.”
Try not to overdo it In an effort to baby her hair (the hair loss in her forties convinced her that easing up was important for her hair’s health), Maria’s haircare regimen is very streamlined. She even stopped coloring earlier this year to see if that made her hair stronger. She uses the Évolis Reverse Mask once a week, gets a haircut every six to ten weeks, and “I wash and blow-dry my hair every couple of days, sometimes daily, but I keep away from other styling unless I am doing a photoshoot or video.”
Aim to look good for your age, as opposed to younger “In my twenties, I used to look at women in their fifties and think they were really old. Now, that I am in my early fifties, I see things differently. I have more confidence, am healthier and am in better shape than I was twenty years ago. It really surprises me that I'm not worried about aging. I never had a 'turning 40' or 'turning 50' meltdown. I also don’t have the desire to look younger, but I do want to look and feel great. I make sure I eat well, exercise, sleep and look after my skin and hair.”
Sunscreen. Sunscreen. Sunscreen. “The most important beauty habit I’ve learned comes from my mum, who would never let us walk out of the house without sunscreen. She abhorred sun tanning in all of its forms. I got punished if I managed to get sun kissed by having to sit in the kitchen for hours slathered in sour cream or yoghurt.” Maria uses a sunscreen formula only available in Australia, but she stresses the importance of using a high SPF (she uses SPF 50) and something broad spectrum to block both UVB (the burning) rays and UVA (the age-accelerating cancer-causing) rays.
Prevent rather than repair “I am so much more in tune with my body than I used to be and believe in prevention and maintenance rather than repair. If I feel tightness in a muscle, I rest. I no longer push my body too far, which I used to do. I also avoid big, heavy meals, late nights, too much alcohol, and I exercise regularly. Following this strategy makes me unafraid to age.”