Makeup & Beauty

How To Have The Skin Of A 35-Year-Old (In 17 Easy Steps!)

Above: Jordan in a leather minidress massaging a box of french hand creams for work. Below: Me, trying to imagine what it’s like to be Jordan, lovingly gazing at a half-empty bottle of face toner.

by Erin

I’m one of those almost-40-year-old middle class white feminists who eschews the patriarchy but then spends like 5% of my income on skincare. Don’t tell me to smile, but if I do, know that 15 tons of retinol is keeping the trout mouth at bay. Is that what retinol even does? Actually, I have no idea. You should probably take beauty advice from me.

I work in healthcare and am confident that I can tell the difference between good science and great marketing. And yet! When I go to I really do feel like I need that jade roller thing, and probably the $135 tiny jar of face mask that contains emulsified fish liver and smells like you’re coating your face in the deceased.

Ten million dollars later, here is what I’ve learned:


  1. Monthly facials: I go to heyday, which is cheap-ish (ok not really) and really convenient. I do a monthly peel, and tell them to leave it on for as long as they’re legally allowed to. I learned this tip from my friend, Jocelyn, who is also almost 40 (sorry, JB) but has ethereal, glowy skin on par with my 4 year old’s.
  2. I use the Alchimie Forever Gentle Refining Scrub twice a week in the shower to exfoliate.


  1. Double-cleansing: I use Dermalogica’s Pre-Cleanse oil first, which you massage into your face for 30 seconds. I LOVE facial oils and oil cleansers. They take off makeup, smell really good, and leave your skin super soft. The massage part supposedly does some kind lymphatic drainage thing, which sounds like bullshit but I do it anyway. The second cleanser is the Special Cleansing Gel, good for combination skin, which is just really soft and nice. I don’t know what it’s doing.
  2. After cleansing, I use this Antioxidant Hydramist, also by Dermalogica. I just kinda spritz it on and pretend I’m in a TV commercial.
  3. Acid! Acid makes your face soft and helps with texture. Probably some other stuff, too. Right now I use the Lactic Acid 10% + HA from The Ordinary.
  4. I used to be big on the serum train, because these tiny, hugely expensive little bottles really make promises. In my experience, the cleansing and moisturizing are really key, and the serums are not such a big deal. I use the Vitamin C serum from Ursa Major because it’s nice and I do believe C helps with brightening. I can’t prove this. Probably no one can.
  5. Now for moisturizing: I use the Carrot Seed Oil from Naturopathica. It kinda smells like old medicine, but it truly does give you that glowy thing. I use a full glug of that and just press it into my face.
  6. Another trick from Jocelyn (who should actually just be writing this post): I use a little bit of the Alchimie Forever Kantic Brightening Moisture Mask as a sleeping mask to lock in the carrot seed oil and help with more brightening. It doesn’t rub off on the pillow; you just wake up with hydrated skin.


  1. Spray the antioxidant hydramist on a little cotton pad and rub it around your face to wipe off the sebum. That is disgusting, I’m aware. Also, don’t wash your face! Once a day is enough. Anything beyond that is drying.
  2. The Supergoop Eye Cream with oat peptides is fine. I like the cold metal applicator; it feels good when you put it on. This isn’t exceptional, it’s just what I have. I like that it has sunscreen.
  3. More carrot seed oil. More smells.
  4. Sunscreen is super important. Can someone impress that upon Jordan? I’m 1000% certain this woman does not use sunscreen, considering she told me she sleeps in her makeup. I love Image Skincare’s Prevention + SPF 50 for day, everyday. Yes, in winter. The combo of the carrot seed oil and this sunscreen really do a dewy thing.


  1. I don’t wear much. I use Glossier Boybrow in black on the brows, Lash Slick Mascara, Cloud Paint in puff on my cheeks, and the Stretch Concealer under my eyes.

That’s it! You too can watch your disposable income fly away into the rapacious paws of corporate beauty marketing. I’m sure I don’t look a day over 36.

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