My 73-Year-Old Mom Is Obsessed With Beauty—Here's Everything She's Taught Me

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Asking someone if they're a skincare or makeup person is like asking if they're a cake or pie person. They're both so different I can't imagine anyone feeling like they have to pick one over the other. But still, I'm a… total skincare gal. Don't get me wrong. I love makeup too, but sometimes I feel like there are so many directions you can take a look in, and at times it's overwhelming to know what to do. But with skincare, it's more methodical. There are certain steps to follow and staple products you know you really should be using for specific results—like Lancôme's Advanced Génifique Face Serum ($105), which, BTW, will give you a stronger skin barrier in one drop and healthy, radiant-looking skin in just seven days.

But there's more to it than that. I think everyone finds comfort in the things they were taught at a young age or picked up over the years. Whether it's watching their mom apply a full face of makeup or their sister doing her hair, most people have someone they look to for beauty advice. "I'm pretty sure my mom is the reason I'm a beauty editor," says Erin Jahns, Who What Wear's senior beauty editor. "Growing up, I was enamored by her routines and rituals, and even to this day, her playful spirit when it comes to experimenting with skincare and makeup keeps me constantly inspired." Being the nosy editor that I am, I asked Jahns if she'd be willing to share some of the best beauty lessons she's learned from her mom, you know, so we can all benefit too. She agreed, probably because she knew I wouldn't take no for an answer. Keep scrolling to read just how much her mom has played a role in everything from her career to her own rituals.

Put Most of Your Time and Energy Into Your Skin


(Image credit: @erin_jahns)

"My mom is one of those lucky humans who naturally have the most amazing, age-defying skin. I always joke that she has better skin than me despite being 45 years my senior, but I say it in all seriousness! Her skin is plump, even, and glowy, and I am certifiably jealous. That said, my mom has always maintained a super-well-rounded approach to skincare and sun protection (she has ultra-fair skin, so SPF is the name of the game), and she's conscientious about how diet and exercise play into her skin's appearance as well. 'In my mind, sugar basically equals wrinkles,' she laughs.

"I might not be quite as stringent about my diet as my mom is about hers, but I most definitely have adopted her love and passion for high-quality, efficacious skincare. We both like to stick to more basic cleansers and moisturizers, but we love to splurge on cell-sloughing exfoliators and lush serums that keep our skin looking bright, hydrated, and youthful. My most recent obsession is Lancôme's Advanced Génifique Face Serum ($105). I never want to feel like I need to use more than one or two serums in my routine, and I love this one because it truly does it all. It transforms rough, dry skin into a silky dream, and I swear my skin became significantly softer and brighter in my very first week of using it. No small feat! From there, the results have just gotten better and better, and it's also staved off my breakouts. I blame the strategic melding of Bifidus prebiotic—which provides a healthy environment for the good bacteria on your skin to flourish in—plus an ample dose of hyaluronic acid for hydration, vitamin C for antioxidants, and ceramides for a plump, dewy texture. Both my mom and I love skin that looks glassy and bouncy, and this serum helps me achieve that. I know my mom is going to want in!"

Use Makeup to Create Contrast


(Image credit: @erin_jahns)

"I remember my mom telling me years ago that the amount of facial contrast we have is directly correlated to how attractive we appear to others. (It's one of those weird evolutionary things.) Of course, as I've grown older, I've learned to care less about what other people think, but that little factoid has continued to influence how I approach makeup. I love complementing my fair skin with a punchy lipstick, defining my light-blue eyes with a quick flick of jet-black liner is nonnegotiable, and I've grown to love how my dark eyebrows contrast with my skin and platinum-blonde hair. I also have a deep appreciation for how radiant a bright blush can make me look even if I logged approximately three hours of sleep the night prior. Mom is truly on to something!"

Eyebrows Are Pretty Much the Most Important Thing on Your Face


(Image credit: @erin_jahns)

"Like so many other people in my '90s-baby age bracket, I plucked and waxed the heck out of my eyebrows when I was in high school and college. I naturally inherited my dad's rather caterpillar-like brows (RIP) only to ravage them with a pair of tweezers. Big sigh. Luckily, my brows have come a long way in the regrowth department, and while they'll never reach their full, original potential, they no longer look like three-hair-wide commas. My mom and I both are big proponents of brow serums, and she was also the one who taught me how to fill in my brows like a pro (and find the right complementary color) without completely overdoing it. 'Our eyebrows are so important when it comes to framing, lifting, and defining our eyes,' she tells me. 'So I've always thought filling in our eyebrows is key for a classic and beautiful look.'" 

Find Balance When It Comes to Foundation


(Image credit: @erin_jahns)

"I guess I'm truly hitting on every cringey beauty moment of my youth, aren't I? While my mom was kind enough not to say anything at the time, years later, I know my phase of ultra-caked, ultra-bronzed skin in high school and college was pretty much her worst nightmare. Not only did I add way too much of my way-too-dark foundation, but I would then proceed to top it with coats of bronzer. Eep. Eventually, I took a cue from my mom and began to understand that evening out my skin tone was more important than covering it up. You'll never catch my mom wearing cakey-looking makeup. Her vibe is always natural and luminous, and she really favors tinted moisturizers, lightweight foundations, and maybe even a touch of concealer when it comes to combating any discoloration, redness, or hyperpigmentation. Plus, once again, how you prep your skin beforehand is of utmost importance, and we both like mixing our foundation with a little bit of moisturizer or even a serum (I do this with my Lancôme Advanced Génefique Face Serum, $105) to give our skin the most flattering, natural-looking finish. 'Your skin should still look like real skin,' Mom concludes."

Have Fun, and Don't Take Yourself Too Seriously


(Image credit: @erin_jahns)

"I used to be so rigid about what I would and wouldn't try in terms of skincare products and makeup, but once my mom started to have a cooler beauty vibe than mine (true story), I kind of had an epiphany. My mom will wear almost any color under the sun when it comes to makeup, but she knows how to select the right shade of said color to flatter her coloring and undertones. And as I get older, I've internalized that more and more. Now, I'll try a purple shimmery eye shadow and not bat an eye, and I truly have my mom to thank for that!

"'Over the course of the past eight years, I've been fortunate to work with hundreds of older women through my work for a cosmetic company, in-person makeup classes I've taught, individual consultations, presentations, and, now, comments I hear from women on my YouTube channel,' my mom elaborates. 'And one thing that's become heart-wrenchingly clear to me is that many of us start to feel that we're too old to wear makeup or that we should only wear neutral colors and avoid color. So I try in my videos to demonstrate makeup techniques and types of products that do work for us now. And it's the wonderful comments from so many lovely women that really keep me going! One woman said, "I have been invisible for about 15 years. Thanks to you, I will never be invisible again!" Another woman said recently, "It's such a treat to have pretty-looking eyes again." And one of my favorite comments was, "Getting older should not mean that we just give up." I couldn’t agree more.'"

Group Executive Director, Branded Content and Beauty

Caitie Schlisserman is an L.A.-based executive director with over a decade of branded content and editorial experience. She joined Who What Wear in 2014 as the first branded content editor and has worked her way up to overseeing a team of talented branded content editors and the beauty department of the media revenue team. Before Who What Wear, Caitie helped launch FabFitFun's first subscription box and worked at a beauty startup where she assisted in successfully launching the editorial department.