What Works: Laura Geller
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.
You will not meet a warmer beauty-industry veteran than Laura Geller. I first encountered her in the mid-1990s when I was a nervous, fledgling beauty editor, and Laura had an event at her Upper East Side makeup studio. At the event, each editor was invited to create her own lipstick, picking the color, the scent, even the shade name. Not long out of college, I chose a sorority-girl combo: shimmery pink and cherry-vanilla-scented. I stayed after that event to introduce myself to Laura, and was struck by her genuine warmth. She was knowledgeable, funny and totally without pretension. And when I left that day, Laura gave me a real hug—not one of the quick air kisses that were (and are) de rigeuer in the beauty world.
Laura’s makeup studio is no longer on the Upper East Side (sadly, as I sent many, many friends there over the years, knowing they would be in capable, caring hands). But Laura chose to focus her efforts on growing her makeup line globally—and becoming a QVC superstar. This month, in fact, Laura is celebrating twenty years of selling on QVC, a shock to me, as I feel like she ventured into home shopping like five years ago, not in 1997.
If you don’t know Laura’s products, you should. Her line is geared toward real women, and she was one of the early pioneers of makeup primers, which helped non-pros (like you, like me) get their makeup on more evenly. Laura began her career as a makeup artist in theater working with Way Bandy, and she cites Estee Lauder and Helena Rubenstein (two beauty moguls whose rivalry was so infamous, it's now the subject of War Paint, a Broadway play) among her inspirations. Laura, like me, has been in the industry long enough to have tried many, many products and to have developed strong opinions along the way. So what does she like? I asked, of course. Here, for Laura—from makeup to skincare to how she thinks about aging—is what works:
Take cleansing seriously “I never go to bed without thoroughly cleaning my skin. I use Philosophy Purity Cleanser because it doesn’t irritate my skin or burn my eyes, but still takes off even the TV thickest makeup, like what I’d wear for QVC. I usually pair it with my Clarisonic Mia Brush, and sometimes I’ll mix in a little Tatcha exfoliating powder for a deeper cleanse.”
Shed the dead “I believe in regular exfoliating. My favorite peeling product at the moment is Paula’s Choice BHA Liquid Exfoliant; I apply it with a cotton ball every two to three nights. And when I travel, I toss Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Pads in my bag because they’re individually wrapped and take up no space.”
Baby your body skin “My skin below the neck has gotten dryer as I’ve aged so, rather than using soap in the shower, I lather up with the richest, creamiest body wash I can find. Right now, I love Dove Deep Moisture Body Wash. I apply it with a long-handled body brush I picked up at Target to reach the middle of my back and the back of my legs.”
Don’t ignore your neck “I learned a long time ago that the skin on your neck is not the same as the skin on your face. It's thinner and more sensitive. So I splurge on StriVectin Tightening Neck Cream and apply it religiously every night.”
Prep with primer “I was one of the first makeup artists to include a primer in her line, and I still believe it is important for every woman to use one before she puts on any other makeup. Right now, I’m using my Hydrating Spackle Primer because my skin is so dry.”
Clean up your lids! “Before I apply any eye makeup, I use my Spackle Eyelid. It neutralizes the eyelid color and hides any discoloration, because, as we age, our lids get redder and/or darker. I also tap it in the corner of my eyes where the bridge of the nose can cast shadows, as well as on my lower lashes to keep my mascara and eyeliner from running. Spackle is waterproof, so anything you put on over it becomes smudge-proof too.”
Find ways to be more efficient “I am always in a hurry. And despite being a makeup artist, I don’t like to labor over my own makeup. So I love my Double Take Baked Foundation [pictured above; it's baked Italy!]. I swipe it on with a brush and it provides full, even coverage quickly, covering broken capillaries, dark circles—you name it. And the coverage is so good, I can often skip concealer.”
Prioritize the three E’s “As a makeup artist, I always say, if you are only going to do focus on three things, make it your eyelashes, eyebrows—and eyeliner. Applying a little liner, swiping on mascara and filling in our brows opens the eyes and makes you look pulled together, even if you apply no other makeup.”
Don’t be afraid to go close-up “I swear by a Conair magnifying mirror when I apply my makeup. I want to see what’s happening with my skin. And it makes me confident that I've applied my makeup with precision, missing nothing before I rush out the door.”
De-fuzz once a month “I love the way my skin feels after I’ve used my Dermaflash, which is like a safe razor designed for a woman’s face. It exfoliates the top layer of the skin and gets rid of any peach fuzz, making your skin feel really smooth and makeup go on evenly.”
Invest in your skincare “I’m more diligent about my skincare routine today than I was when I was younger, and I believe it has made a big difference. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on products, but you do need to spend time using them. I also see my dermatologist, Howard Sobel, MD, a few times a year for a little professional intervention. I don’t even ask what he’s doing; I just sit in his chair and let him go to work because I trust him. For me, it’s not really a vanity thing; it's not about trying to look younger. A little Botox now and then just makes me feel refreshed.”
Keep cool “I get terrible hot flashes so, yes, I have a portable fan that I bring with me everywhere. I just plug it into my iPhone for instant relief!”
S-t-r-e-t-c-h “I am not fastidious about diet and exercise. That’s just not who I am. But at least four times a week, I will do a deep stretch. I throw myself on the floor in front of the TV and stretch every muscle in my body for fifteen to twenty minutes. I feel so good afterward.”
Speak up “At this point in my life, I’m finally comfortable saying what’s on my mind. I try to speak in a constructive, not adversarial, way, but I don't shy away from standing up for myself anymore.”
Go easy on yourself “I’d like to lose weight. That’s a struggle of mine. But I am at peace with who I am otherwise. And I do think that comes with age—it’s one of the good parts.”