Secrets of a Beauty Editor

After 15 years in the beauty biz, which products (and services) does MORE's beauty editor Genevieve Monsma stockpile? Click through to find out

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Retin-A Micro

I've been on some form of tretinoin (commonly a.k.a. as Retin-A) since my teens. And, while I never thought I'd be grateful to have battled acne, my pubescent flareups started me on this cream early—and, I believe, helped slow down the rate at which my skin has aged. That said, I'm glad the formula has evolved. I switched to the easier-to-tolerate Retin-A Micro and downgraded to a weaker strength (.04 percent) about five years ago. I still peel from time to time but not so much that I'm tempted to quit my Retin-A habit. And when the peeling does become annoying, I rely on the next two products to combat it. . .


P.S.  For those of you who cannot deal with tretinoin-induced irritation, try Neutrogena's Rapid Wrinkle Repair, $22 (click to buy), which contains retinol, the over-the-counter version of tretinoin. I alternate it with my Retin-A Micro every other night.

Biologique Recherche P50V, $57-89

This lactic acid toner lifts Retin-A-induced flakes instantly. I apply it every morning with a cotton square, then top with the product on the next slide.

Note: Your skin may be a little pink post application (especially if you're on the sensitive side). But the pink dies down to a flattering rosy glow within 20 minutes. And if your skin is not at all sensitive, you may be able to step it up to the P50 (sans the V) lotion, which provides even more intense exfoliation.


Click here to buy.

Rodin Olio Lusso Luxury Face Oil, $140

The ultimate moisturizer, this light oil (comprised of eleven essential oils) keeps skin smooth all day and is the best antidote to irritation caused by Retin-A—or any other strong anti-aging product. The price tag is steep but a little goes a long way—two drops will cover your face.


Click here to buy.

Giorgio Armani Face Fabric Foundation SPF 12, $48

The perfect hybrid between a tinted moisturizer and a light foundation, this product makes my skin look more even in tone without erasing all of my natural color (there are few things more unflattering—or aging—than the mask-like effect of a heavy foundation). I wear shade #2 and top it with a bit of bronzing powder. This combo makes my skin looks believably glowy, like I come by a clear complexion naturally.


Click here to buy this product.

Soul Cycle

I taught step aerobics in college (go ahead and laugh) and I've always been a sucker for the latest fitness craze. But indoor cycling classes at New York's Soul Cycle are something extra-special. Part intense workout, part therapy (the class is conducted by instructors whose motivating powers put Susan Powter to shame), one 45-minute ride causes me to sweat buckets, tone my upper arms—and walk out feeling like I can take on the world. Shrinks everywhere should beware. My favorite instructors: Sue Molnar, Melanie Griffith, and Daniel Wiener.


Don't live in New York City? Soul Cycle is moving across the country. Click here to track their progression toward you.

Revitalash Eyelash Conditioner, $98

In three words: This stuff works.

If your lashes are short or sparse—or you just wish your ho-hum fringe was thicker/longer/darker, this product is your ticket. I apply it nightly, and have recently had to scale back to every other night because my lashes were so long they were leaving mascara skid marks on my sunglasses.


Click here to buy Revitalash.

Doris Dalton Brow Fix and Brow Brush, $28

Revitalash helped my sparse lashes grow in thicker, and this brow gel has been a godsend when it comes to camouflaging my equally anemic brows. To use: Lightly spackle the tinted color (it has a consistency not unlike Nutella) onto the brows with the brush. The result: arches that are fuller and more defined—with extended tails (the outer third of my brows disappeared somewhere around my 35th birthday). I use Blonde, but the product is also available in Auburn, Gray, Brown and Black.


Click here to buy.

Fresh Sugar Rose Tinted Lip Treatment SPF 15, $23

It's a cliche, but this is my desert island product. This simple tinted balm is, well, the bomb. It gives your lips the perfect amount of rosy color, plus some moisture and SPF. I keep one in my purse, medicine cabinet, desk drawer—and in the pocket of my winter coat. Can't live without it.


Click here to buy.

Dior Diorissimo Eau de Toilette, $90

It's an oldie but goodie. Diorissimo was launched in 1956 (and is said to be the scent Princess Diana wore on her wedding day). To me, the mix of lily of the valley, jamine and ylang ylang is overtly feminine but not cloying. And since it's not the scent of the second, I don't smell myself coming and going.


Click here to buy.

Viviscal Extra Strength Tablets, $50 (for a three-month supply)

Last summer my hair had had enough. Enough coloring. Enough blowdrying. Enough getting tugged back into a tight chignon. Sick of the abuse, my hair rebelled—and started falling out in clumps big enough to clog the shower drain. Needless to say, I freaked out. I started researching, talking to hair experts—asking other beauty editors. And one remedy kept coming up: Viviscal. The Viviscal tablets contain vitamin C, a cocktail of fish (yes, you read that right), horsetail extract and cherry extract. I've been told protein helps thinning hair so maybe it's the deep sea combo that does the trick? Regardless, I'm been taking the tablets for two months and have seen a difference. Where I previously had a bald spot, there are new hairs (wispy, yes, but real honest-to-goodness hairs). Plus the rest of my locks also seem in better shape: shinier, less frizzy—and staying put in my scalp.


Click here to buy.

Dry Bar

Although I've been writing about haircare for fifteen years, I stink at blowdrying my own hair. I can twist it into a chignon or diffuse-dry my waves. But when it comes to smoothing my strands with a blowdryer, I get a C-minus.

So I've come to rely on the professional blowout. My favorite place to smooth things out? New York's new Dry Bar.  (The chain started in the LA area and arrived in New York this month. There are also salons in Arizona and Texas—with plans to continue expanding.) For a flat fee of $40, you get shampoo-commercial strands that last three to four days.

Click here to learn more about Dry Bar—and to see if one is headed your way.

Shout Wipes, $3.50 for a twelve-pack

If you try nothing else from my list of faves, don't let this one pass you by. These stain-removing wipes are life-changing, instantly removing coffee dribbles, tootpaste splotches, and rain puddle splatter. I bought my first pack to tackle my son's neckties (he was six and had to wear a tie to school. He loved to eat yogurt at lunch. You do the math). They were miraculous. So I started carrying them in my makeup pouch and they've rescued me (and my outfits) on countless occasions.


Click here to buy.

Marie Robinson

I started to see Marie, colorist extraordinaire (Naomi Watts and Jennifer Connelly are clients), last summer after my hair-falling-out incident. She has helped me nurse my strands back to health, all while keeping my hair the bright blonde that I love. She's like a mad scientist and much of what she mutters to her assistant I can't decipher. But, bottom line: My hair is healthier than it was one year ago.

Marie has a fantastic salon in the Flatiron district in Manhattan. But if you can't make the trip to see her personally, she also has a new at-home hair strengthener/clarifying treatment, Colorist Cure, $55 (for a three-month supply). In one usage, it rinses away that "muddiness" that can dull blondes. Click here to buy.


Click here to learn more about Marie Robinson and her Manhattan salon.

Good Hair Day Magic Grip Clips in Crystal, $ (for ten)

I stumbled upon these in Sally Beauty Supply years ago and felt like I'd struck gold. My fine hair slips out of a bun in about five seconds, but these pins stay put—and they won't tear fragile hair. I use the clear because of my light hair—but they also come in black or a tortoise color.


Click here to buy.

Philip Kingsley Scalp Toner, $22

By now you're familiar with my thinning hair issue. Viviscal? Check. Fantastic new colorist Marie Robinson? Check? Good Hair Day Clips that don't cause breakage? Check. And the final piece of my repair-my-hair regimen? This Scalp Toner from trichologist Philip Kingsley. I visited a member of his esteemed staff, Liz Phillips, last fall and she recommended I start using this stimulating tonic. It helps slough off dead skin cells and encourages blood flow to the scalp, all the while promoting healthy hair growth. I love it and have looked forward to its cooling sensation post-shower all summer.


Click here to buy.

YSL La Laquer Nail Polish, $20

YSL's makeup collection and Touche Eclat (a highlighter/concealer makeup artists adore) score all the accolades. But the nail lacquers are unsung heros. The colors are gorgeous: Right now I'm wearing #31, a Caribbean teal on my toes. Come fall  I will deepen my blue addiction to royal, #44.


Click here to buy.

L'Oreal Million Lashes Mascara, $9

For years I was devoted to L'Oreal Voluminous Mascara. I still love it but lately I've been having an affair with Million Lashes Mascara. It too is a body-building mascara, but goes on a with nary a clump and lengthens as well as fattens, showing off my Revitalash-ed fringe to excellent effect.


Click here to buy.

Berenice S. Rothenberg

Thanks to Berenice S, Rothenberg, a certified clinical electrologist (a.k.a. a hair removal guru), I don't have to worry about waxing my bikini line any longer. From puberty to my mid-20s, the razor was my method of choice. Then, thanks to the popularity of the Brazilian, I switched to waxing. But, after battling unsightly ingrowns (an unfortunate side effect of waxing) for more than a decade, I decided to give lasering a go. I ventured into one of the better-known hair removal spas in Manhattan, but it wasn't until I met Berenice at her eponymous spa that I fully appreciated how much you need a true expert to get rid of pesky hair in your nether region. In a mere two months, Berenice erased fuzz I'd been tackling at the other spa for three years. With almost 40 years of experience, Berenice is like the Michael Jordan/Dara Torres/Roger Federer [insert your favorite uber athlete here] of hair removal. Click here to find out more about her practice.

Photo courtesy of Berenice Rothenberg

Kim Snyder's Glowing Green Smoothie

Kim Snyder, a clinical nutritionist whose clients include Drew Barrymore and Fergie, swears by the energy-boosting effects of her glowing green smoothie. What's in it? Spinach, romaine lettuce, celery, apple, pear, banana, lemon juice—and lots of ice. (Click here for the exact proportions.) I make one every morning—and believe she's on to something. Other than one cup of green tea at 7 a.m., I've been able to wean myself off of caffeine and have more stamina (even at 3 p.m., my droopiest time of the day) than I've had in years. I do cheat and sprinkle a little Stevia in with Snyder's recipe. The result: a surprisingly delicious—and filling—breakfast.

Click here to find out more about Snyder—and her book Beauty Detox.

Bare Escentuals Blemish Therapy, $18

Short of visiting a dermatologist and getting a zit injected with cortisone, nothing gets rid of a stubborn pimple like this powder. It's sulfur-based so it is a little smelly, but man-oh-man it works. Like overnight. If you still battle the occasional cyst zit like I do, you've got to give this a go.


Click here to buy.


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Looking for more inside secrets? Click here to find out what a celebrity makeup artist keeps in her kit.


First Published August 12, 2011

Share Your Thoughts!



It is a bit unfair to brag about a product that requires a prescription. Of course we can all check with our doctors about this product and some will qualify or find a doc who is lenient, but there will still be many who won't have access to this product. I am glad that this has worked for you all of your life and thanks for sharing your secret, could you also share some advice on possible product alternatives that don't require a prescription? Maybe even a future article where you diligently compare the tretinoic/retinoic alternatives out there for the rest of us? Come on--share secrets that we can use!

Violet b08.28.2012

I love the Sugar Rose product but I had to toss mine because it melts faster than a regular lipstick or lip balm. Never leave it somewhere warm.

Sophie Snyder08.18.2011

Honestly, can't you do something about these ads? This is not the place for them, besides which they are not even written in proper English. They are very irritating. Thanks.

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