In honor of Mother's Day this weekend, and with my own mother's birthday just a few days later, I have decided to do a series of posts inspired by my mom. I've only recently figured out what I want to do in life, but I've always wanted to be my mom when I grow up. She's smart, hilarious, dancing in the kitchen, kicking butt and taking names at workouts (and life), hard-working, incredibly generous, selfless, devoted to Christ, and an amazing wife and mother—all while looking 20 years younger than she is! I attribute so many desirable qualities to my mother. Being the mother to seven children—and the "perfect mom” to them—it's truly incredible that she looks as good and young as she does. The number one question I hear people ask my mom when they find out, yes, she is the mother of both the eight-year-old and the 26-year-old is, "What do you do to look so good?!” Friends and peers often ask me regarding my mother, "How does she look like one of your sisters rather than your mother?" Well, I certainly pray to God that a large part of it is genetics! I hope to look as good as my mom does at her age. But for what hope and genetics can't do, I defer to the pro herself.
First of all, let it be heard that my mother works out like a dog—nay, like a militant. Attending workout classes at our gym with her, I was teased and badgered because my mom was kicking my "yass" (as she would say) even as a then-Division I athlete. Well, to my defense, she was "kicking yass" of everyone in the room, and that was no secret. She takes care of her body through strength, conditioning, and nutrition.
But more pertinently, my mother is a huge advocate of skin care and anti-aging regimens, specifically sun protection. Below are the top skin care secrets, including habits and products, that my age-defying mother swears by.
Sunblock + Sun Protection
I know, this is the one no one wants to hear. But this is the big not-so-secret, and why anti-aging is so relevant to young women, even more than women worried about wrinkles. My mother started wearing sunblock at the age of 21, and has worn it everyday since then—yes, even throughout all the Midwestern winters she's endured. She always applies—and reapplies the sunblock two to three times per day—to her face, ears, neck, décolletage, and the backs of her hands (the areas where she says a woman shows her age). If she will be exposing other areas of the skin (such as when going to the beach), she applies sunblock to those areas as well. She recommends at least an SPF of 30, but you better believe we grew up wearing SPF 75+ (three cheers for Irish skin!). Importantly, she adds that it must be broad spectrum sunblock, or state on the bottle that it blocks both UVA and UVB rays. Otherwise, it might only protect against UVB rays, which are the UV rays that cause a sunburn, but not the UVA rays, which cause signs of aging such as spots and wrinkles. (Think UVA for Aging and UVB for Burns.) This is why it is not always enough to have a makeup or moisturizer that includes SPF, unless it states that the SPF is broad spectrum. However, below I have included sunblock, tinted moisturizers, BB cream, and makeup foundation which all boast broad spectrum protection—and most of which I have used at one point or another! (If you shy away from sunblock use because of acne or oily skin, I recommend the Clear Face sunblock by Neutrogena, as it will not clog pores.)
Fake Tanners (but not fake baking!)
If you know my mom, you're probably thinking right about now, But wait, Mama T always has that sun-kissed glow...? Well, you're right. First of all, unlike most of her Irish, porcelain-skinned children, my mom was blessed with skin that has a yellow-undertone (we get the Irish from our dad). But the winter blues get the best of even the most golden-skinned goddesses. So, my mother always supplements her natural glow with tanning lotions and potions. Now, everyone has heard the fake-tanning horror stories of orange-tinged skin and terrible tan lines. But we ladies in the Thompson household have been testing tanners for years now, and we can recommend many that will help you avoid the tell-tale signs of fake tanning.
This stuff is the bomb-dot-com. Just add 1-3 drops of this serum to your daily moisturizer and you will have a radiant, sun-kissed glow, as the name suggests. I bought my first supply over a year ago and still have over half the bottle left. Easy to apply, effective, natural, and long-lasting? Count me in! I was put on to this glow-in-a-bottle by none other than—you guessed it—the mother.
To build a subtle yet noticeable glow for the whole body, I stick to Jergens Natural Glow. This lotion builds a real-looking tan as it moisturizes, and it is fairly fool-proof for avoiding tell-tale streaking. Just be sure to exfoliate well before applying, and go light on elbows, knees, and ankles.
These single-use towelettes help you achieve a healthy, natural-looking tan in just 3-4 hours. Apply in a circular motion to avoid streaks, and have someone help get hard to reach places like your back. Bonus: they are easy and convenient for traveling.
Skin Routine Extras
At bed-time, my mom recommends exfoliating with a scrub or electronic facial brush, such as Clarisonic’s Mia brush This cleans the face and opens the pores for the products about to be applied. A moisturizer is vital to the hydration and fullness of skin. Even over-the-counter moisturizers can be fantastic, such as Olay’s Regenerist Face Cream (another mom recommendation). Taking the routine a step further, my mom would recommend a Retin-A or Retinoic Acid cream, which helps prevent both acne and aging, but you do need a prescription for it. Most dermatologists are happy to give you one if you just ask.
In the mornings, Mama T recommends a Vitamin C and antioxidant complex, as these nutrients help block the free radicals (random, harmful rays in the air) that also contribute to aging. Personally, my mom loves Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Vitamin C Collagen Booster, and she's now hooked my sisters and me on it as well. Like her, we find it is worth the extra bucks, as it adds to the skin's suppleness and boosts collagen. (Final bonus: it smells delicious!)
If there is one beauty "secret" I hope my littlest sister, Grace, learns from our mom, it is to protect her skin—not for the sake of vanity, but for the sake of her health. I'm the first to say that I hope to to avoid wrinkles and maintain a youthful glow over the years, like my mom. However, my mom's emphasis has always been on the health benefits of sun protection, preventing skin cancers and diseases, with an added bonus of reduced wrinkles. While I strive to imitate my mother in appearance, I further strive to emulate her healthy habits and her infectious inner beauty. My mom's true glow is not from her skin, but from the beauty which radiates from within. I would love to look like my mom as I grow older, but what I really hope to possess are her kindness, love, and unrelenting faith: "Beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised" (Proverbs 31:30).