Secrets from the mom with the best skin

I met my dear friend Meredith when we were both living the ex-pat life in London. She’s from the South (American South), and is one of those people who just radiates beauty – inside and out. I’ve always been fascinated by her skin; luminous and bright, nary a wrinkle. She’s in her mid-forties but looks at least a decade younger, if not more.

blonde empire state building
Even cold weather can’t mess up this chick’s skin!

Meredith knows a lot about skin care. She spent years working with industry thought leaders, sampling ALL the lotions and potions. Now, she opts for a less is more approach. She’s not fussy, but keeps it quick and easy, with maximum impact. Naturally, I had to tap her for her secrets, and she graciously responded to all my annoying questions. Read on if you want to learn her beauty tips.

Woman at Hamilton
How cute is she? Meredith radiates light and positive energy all the time.

What’s your morning routine?

It’s very simple. I rinse my face with cold water, as cold as I can stand. Washing your face with cold water maintains your skin’s own moisture and pH level. Then I use a cold, wet washcloth to gently exfoliate and stimulate circulation and lymphatic drainage. I apply a Vitamin C antioxidant serum, followed by a moisturizer with SPF.

What is lymphatic drainage and why should I care?

Lymphatic drainage is the process of moving fluid out of your tissues. The bags under my eyes tend to collect a lot of fluid when I sleep (especially after indulging in a high sodium dinner), so I encourage the release of fluid around my eyes by using a washcloth to massage my face. I leave my face damp as I apply my serum and then work with the serum and wet skin to target my eye area to help release the fluid that’s been collected during sleep. I use my ring fingers in a circular massage motion around my eyes.

What’s your nightly beauty routine?

I wash my face with an over the counter face wash targeted for my skin type and apply .05% Tretinoin cream. I don’t apply a moisturizer at night when I use Tretinoin. Once or twice a week, I will encourage more top layer exfoliation with a facial scrub. I have combination skin. Depending on the weather it can be oily, but I tend to get surface dryness. Top layer exfoliating helps minimize surface dryness. On these nights, I don’t use Tretinoin and only apply my Vitamin C serum.

Tell us more about Tretinoin (a Vitamin A cream)

The main takeaway I learned from working in medical facial aesthetics is there are 2 steps EVERY dermatologist agrees on how to maintain youthful skin.

  1. Wear SPF everyday.
  2. Get a Vitamin A on your skin every night.

Vitamin As are proven to boost collagen (which reduces wrinkles), prevent fine lines, increase cell turnover (results in brighter skin), and unclog pores. I mean, who wouldn’t want to slather themselves in this stuff? Fortunately, it only takes a pea sized amount on your entire face. More is just more in this case. Wasted product! Once your skin becomes acclimated to this powerful anti-ager, it’ll glow with a dewy freshness like you just had a glorious facial. Every morning it glows.

Vitamin A creams come in over the counter and prescription forms. I use Tretinoin .05%, which you can only get with a prescription in the US. I started with the lowest dose, .025% and once my skin became acclimated (2 tubes over a few months), I graduated to the .05%. I started with a low dose so I could reap the benefits of this miracle cream immediately, but minimize the side effects (red, flaky skin). Tretinoin is a powerful anti-ager and shouldn’t be kept secret any longer!

What kind of sunscreen do you use?

I’ve used many brands of facial sunscreens. I tend to use Olay Complete moisturizer with SPF 30 for sensitive skin a lot. Even when I try a different moisturizer with sunscreen, I always go back to Olay.

What other sunscreen brands are  good?

I have loved the Obagi Nu Derm Healthy Skin SPF 35 (Step 6 in their Nu Derm skincare system). Neither Olay or Obagi burn when I exercise if sweat from my brow happens to get into my eyes. Both textures are great and easy to absorb.

What’s your favourite moisturizer?

Laura Mercier is the most popular tinted moisturizer, loved by all beauty professionals. I couldn’t get a good match for my skin tone with Laura Mercier, so I’m now addicted to Chanel Vitalumiere Acqua water based foundation. It’s similar to Laura Mercier, and offers a tiny bit more coverage than a tinted moisturizer. It also layers beautifully for more coverage or for a 2nd application later in the day. 

Do you ever get the occasional pimple? How do you treat it?

I totally still get pimples at 45! I’ve noticed I only get them if I don’t wash my face at night. I used to sleep in my makeup when I was young and then learned the importance of cleansing my face EVERY NIGHT. Your skin repairs itself at night. If you leave on your makeup, then it can’t breathe and repair, and is just another way to age your face faster than usual.

I try not to pop or pick pimples anymore, because I had a terrible infection from a popped pimple two years ago! I had to go on an antibiotic, and now have a lovely scar on the side of my nose. Don’t pop, people! I may dab a stubborn pimple at night with a drying agent like Clearasil, or even the sulfur mask from Proactive (amazing!). I find that a couple of nights of continued application my Tretinoin alone minimizes run of the mill pimples quickly. Tretinoin is a miracle cream!

What are your thoughts on diet and skin?

I’m more aware of my food sensitivities in the last 5 years. I not only see it in my body, but in my face when I‘m not responding well to certain foods. Gluten is my kryptonite. I have been GF for over 7 years now. I also notice huge skin improvements when I’m not drinking caffeine, not to mention my stabilized mood and energy. It sucks because I LOVE COFFEE! I’ve also noticed an improvement when I cut out dairy, but it isn’t the kryptonite that gluten and caffeine are for me. My rosacea flares when I indulge in too much of those. Even the whites of my eyes are brighter when I eliminated these common triggers from my diet.

Eyebrows: pluck or wax?

I over-waxed many years ago and am still paying the price for it. Now, I pluck my own brows, in the rearview mirror of my car, because it’s the perfect light for my peach fuzz brows!

Meredith in action.

My eyebrows are super light, so I darken them EVERYDAY and it’s the one thing I always do before leaving the house. Screw mascara. This frames your face so much better. When I discovered the power of a perfect brow, my makeup application totally changed.

What should women know before getting facial injections like Botox?

When I became entrenched in the world of cosmetic injectables, I learned quickly that less is more. My aesthetic is natural. I don’t want someone to look at me and say, “Well, she got her Botox last week!” Botox and fillers should smooth out areas to make you look rested and fresh. They shouldn’t be used to the point where they change your face shape. I want someone to look at me and say, “You look great, ‘ not “Your botox looks great.”

How can women find the best Botox practitioner?

Go to and click on the Find a Doctor (FAD) link. Enter your postal code and how far you’re willing to drive. The practices will be listed in order of usage, meaning who performs the most Botox procedures. Typically, a lot of Botox procedures translates into happy patients returning for continued treatment due to high patient satisfaction.

Thank you, Meredith! Your beauty and honesty is as refreshing as the day we met.

Do you have skincare tips you’d like to share? Would you be interested in being interviewed on your beauty routine? Please comment below.

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