Insider Beauty Tips: 9 Secrets from an Industry VIP

A former Vogue beauty editor as well as a top executive at companies such as Estée Lauder and Ralph Lauren, Andrea Robinson knows her stuff. In her new book, Toss the Gloss: Beauty Tips, Tricks & Truths for Women 50+, she pulls back the curtain on the anti-aging industry, revealing what really goes on in product development, marketing and advertising. She also offers sage advice on which products to stockpile and which to skip. From her trove of tips, we’ve plucked nine of the best—from how to buy to how to apply—that you won’t read anywhere else. The goal? To become a smarter shopper.

by Andrea Robinson
skincare advice
Photograph: Rankin/Trunk Archive

1. Steer clear of rose-colored foundation.

As we age, the color of our skin changes. One reason: The face is the site of numerous estrogen receptors, so the loss of estrogen in menopause can result in shifts that leave you with a pallor. My easy fix is to abandon pink-based foundation shades and “go for the gold”—because foundations with golden (or yellow) under-tones work magic on all skin tones. They neutralize redness and ashiness and leave you looking healthier. You might also try a foundation that is a shade darker than your complexion; it will add warmth. But run from any rosy tints a salesperson tries to foist on you. Two formulas I like: Giorgio Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Foundation ($62; and Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Radiant Firming Makeup ($9;

2. Skip the gift with purchase.

Have you ever fallen prey to the GWP? (That’s “gift with purchase” in beauty-biz speak.) Here’s the real deal: GWPs are the cosmetic company’s way of luring you to its counter. You may have intended to buy only one product, but you’ll go home with more, since beauty advisers, who are paid on commission, are trained not to let you escape with fewer than three. If you do buy enough to merit a “gift,” what do you get? A cosmetic pouch that’s so cheaply made, it can’t take much wear and tear, plus tiny product samples in colors that aren’t right for you. If you have succumbed to the lure of the GWP, here’s your best bet: Use it to store cotton balls.

3. Shift into neutral.

If you still have plump lips and no lines around your mouth, consider yourself blessed and skip this advice. Everyone else, take heed: Toss that gloss. Ditto all dark lipsticks. Glosses of all shades and dark lip colors will noticeably “bleed” into lines—and nothing is more aging. The alternative? Neutrals. A satiny lipstick in taupe, nude pink or light cocoa will freshen and flatter, and if it does bleed a little, it’ll be less noticeable. Some to try: for fair skin, NARS Dolce Vita Lipstick ($26;; for medium skin, Dior Rouge Dior Lipstick in Trench 319 ($34;; for dark skin, CoverGirl Queen Collection Lip Color in Coffee Break ($7;

4. Pick up a primer.

Now let’s talk about Spanx—for the face, that is. You know Spanx’s Power Panties? I couldn’t exist without the über-camouflage they provide for my belly and hips. Well, turn your attention to a power primer. Yes, it’s another step. No, we didn’t wear it when we were younger. But after my skin started to change, primer and I formed a codependent relationship. Take it from me: A primer makes your foundation roll on more smoothly, filling in lines and pores; minimizes dark circles; and makes all makeup last. Try Sunday Riley Effortless Breathable Tinted Primer ($48;

5. Don’t assume your doctor is on board.

Marketers use phrases like dermatologist tested to suggest that an MD handpicked the product, tested it and gave it her blessing. In reality, all this phrase means is that a product reached a certain level of safety in tests conducted by the beauty company. Oh, and by the way, this industry regulates itself, so there are no official testing standards.

6. Be wary of the word "may."

First published in the May 2014 issue

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