What Works: Brenda Wu, General Manager, SkinCeuticals
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: Brenda Wu, General Manager of SkinCeuticals
Brenda is one of those energetic, high-achieving, fast-talking women who makes me feel like I’m living in slow-mo by comparison. A two-time graduate of Harvard (undergrad and business school), she spent her early career years at AOL Time Warner and Banana Republic/GAP—then went to work for L’Oreal where she reshaped and set sales records for (L'Oreal-owned) Kiehls, Lancome, and Giorgio Armani Beauty. Today, she runs the SkinCeuticals business and recently oversaw the launch of Hyaluronic Acid (H.A.) Intensifier, a serum that's like a tall glass of water for dehydrated skin, plumping, smoothing and firming almost instantly. Brenda herself is the definition of a super-woman: super-smart; super-energetic and a super-mom (to three kids). She is also super-generous and carved out a half hour between meetings to talk about her current favorite products and her thoughts on aging.. Here, for Brenda Wu, what works:
Her anti-aging triumvirate Working for a company that creates arguably the best range of anti-aging antioxidant serums on the planet, it comes as no surprise that Brenda swears by them. “I use CE Ferulic during the day in the fall and winter, or when my skin is feeling dry, and Phloretin CF in the warmer months. At night, year-round, I apply our Resveratrol B E., which works best while you sleep." MB Note: For anyone who missed the memo on anti-oxidants, they impart a laundry list of benefits, including protecting the skin from environmental assaults like pollution and UV rays, boosting the efficacy of your sunscreen, and making your skin brighter, smoother and firmer.
How she turns up the volume “My hair is naturally super-straight with a tendency to fall flat. So, after washing, I apply Redken Guts 10 Volume Spray Foam, then blow-dry with a round brush. I find this styler can be reactivated too. If I'm going out for the evening, I may use my brush and blow-dryer to revive my hair, and the foam will continue to add extra body.”
No-smudge eyeliner secret “I love to wear black eyeliner, even during the day, but struggled with it migrating and smudging under my eyes. Then I found Maybelline Unstoppable Eyeliner in Onyx. It’s a gel pencil that stays sharp and goes on smoothly. And once it’s on, it does not move.”
Energy secret “I try to drink three liters of water a day because without it, I feel sluggish. I put one bottle on my nightstand and drink it in the morning, before I leave for work. Then I drink the second liter throughout the day. I drink the final bottle at home in the evening.” Brenda says she likes Smart Water, if given a choice, but most of the time just drinks New York City tap water.
The one big change she’s made to her diet “I’m not a vegetarian, but about eighty percent of my diet now is vegetables. For lunch or dinner, I love nothing more than a big plate of roasted vegetables, prepared Mediterranean style with tzatziki. I do still eat meat and love sushi, but I just feel better, lighter, more energetic eating this way.”
Her skincare must-haves part II In addition to the anti-oxidant serums she pledged allegiance to above, Brenda follows this streamlined skincare strategy: “I wash my face morning and night with SkinCeuticals Replenishing Cleanser, apply an antioxidant serum, then use our Triple Lipid Restore. If my skin is feeling extra dry, I’ll add in Hyaluronic Acid Intensifier, layering it under the Triple Lipid Restore. During the day, I finish with our Physical Fusion SPF 50, and at night my last step is tapping on A.G.E. Eye Complex.”
Intensive skin treatment (do try this at home) “Over the weekend, if I’m planning to be at home for a stretch of time, I will apply our Phyto Corrective Masque, topped with our Biocellulose Masque. I leave them on for as long as I can, which is sometimes five minutes—and sometimes five hours! Together, they are calming, cooling and deeply hydrating, and when I take them off, my skin is so dewy and smooth. My kids, of course, hate this routine as the combo covers my face in a greenish-white paste!”
Monthly skincare must “I am a big proponent of in-office chemical peels, especially for sun-damaged skin. I get one at a dermatologist’s office at the beginning of summer, then another at the end. And in the fall, winter and spring, I go monthly. I credit Elizabeth Hale, MD, and Julie Karen, MD, dermatologists—and sisters—who turned me on to regular peels. It’s made such a difference in my skin, diminishing dark spots and improving radiance.”
One of the best common-sense skin tips she’s learned “Thanks to working with so many top dermatologists, I now know that your skincare regimen must extend to your neck, chest and hands too.”
Morning makeup essentials “I do wear foundation almost every day. I had the chance to get color-matched at a Nordstrom store for Lancome Le Teint Particulier Custom Made Makeup, which I love. Then I use Urban Decay’s Naked Flushed Palette; I take a brush, swipe it across the whole palette then dust it on. On my eyes, I use my black Maybelline liner plus Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill Mascara. On my lips, I apply Hydra Balm, followed by Giorgio Armani Rouge d’Armani Pink 500.”
Three steps to healthy hair “Every time I wash, I use Kerastase Nutritive Shampoo followed by the Masque Intense. I only put the masque on the bottom third of my hair though so it doesn’t flatten my roots. Once my hair is styled, I give it a light misting of L’Oreal Elnett Hairspray, which keeps everything in place without feeling stiff.”
What she tells herself when life gets hectic “We can all get caught up in how busy or stressful our lives are. So I remind myself how fortunate I am that I get to, as opposed to have to, go to work every day. I love what I do.”
One big benefit of aging “I’ve been surprised at the confidence I’ve gained with age. When I was younger, I defined my success through the eyes of others. Now, I define my success. I have more of a voice and much more conviction.”