I’ve been loving More magazine. It does an excellent job covering beauty and fashion for women over 35 years old without insinuating that you have to hold on for dear life to your youth. As if! Instead, it focuses on all the positive aspects of aging and features amazing, inspirational real women—which is also what I like to do on Pretty Impressed. Enter, Genevieve Monsma, More‘s Beauty Director and supermom to Heath (11 years old). She consistently strikes that perfect balance of chicness and practicality and I’ve never once seen her look frazzled, no matter how hectic the day. Between marathon days at More, TV appearances, press events, and photo shoots, you may spot her schlepping Heath’s massive hockey bag across town to practices. Genevieve isn’t too shy to talk about thinning hair (a topic she says is increasingly more common), is one of the biggest beauty product junkies I’ve interviewed yet, and has a strong argument for thinking twice about your choice of coat in the morning—especially in this arctic chill. Get your pen and post-its out—you’ll want to take notes on her working mom tips.
PI: What time do you wake up every morning, in general, during the work week?
Genevieve: Monday through Friday, I’m up at 6 a.m., out the door by 7:30 a.m. to drop off Heath at school, in my office by 8:30 a.m., which is early for the editorial world. That schedule works out great because I always have to leave by 6:30 p.m. to get home for the sitter. The morning is when I get a lot of work done without any distractions, meetings, or phone calls. That’s a peaceful and productive time.
PI: Do you ever feel awkward if you leave at 6 p.m. and everybody else is still at the office?
Genevieve: No, because it’s not that kind of workplace. Lesley Seymour, our Editor in Chief, has created an environment where if you get your work done and do a great job, she’s pleased. It’s not a punch-the-clock situation.
PI: Can we start with your hair, because you always have a great blowout. Do you do that at home or live in a salon?
Genevieve: My hair is naturally wavy, but I feel less polished when it’s not straight. If I can work it into my schedule, I’ll get a blowout early in the week, because a professional job lasts longer than anything I can do. The Drybar in Le Parker Meridien Hotel has the best people. Then I’ll make the blowout last a couple of days. My hair is very fine and color treated, and I’m over 40, so it breaks easily. It’s really better if I try not to blowdry it more than twice a week. I swear, I’ve been growing out my bangs for two years and but they keep breaking off.
PI: I have the same thing going on! I’m starting to see hair thinning at my temples from all the constant brushing and heat styling. It’s really scary.
Genevieve: I wear my hair back so much that I was starting to get thinning through the temple area too. I started going to Liz Cunnane, a trichologist at the Philip Kingsley Clinic and she put me on a hair growth regimen. I’m an almost-vegetarian, though I do eat fish on occasion, so she was concerned that I wasn’t getting enough protein, which can cause hair thinning. She customized hair growth drops with minoxidil. I’ve been using them for nine months and I’ve noticed a difference. That area will never be as dense as the rest of my hair, but at least now I have a lot of little baby hairs that cover my scalp, so when I pull my hair back, I don’t have an obvious bald spot. Also, a couple times a week I wash with DS Labs Shampoo and Conditioner, and I take Viviscal, $50, and Philip Kingsley PK4 Hair, $35, hair vitamins. A number of dermatologists, including one of my favorites, Dr. Gervaise Gerstner, who has gorgeous hair, have told me that thinning hair is a growing concern, for a variety of reasons like stress, diet, age, or hormones.
PI: So how do you stretch out your blowout for a couple of days?
Genevieve: Dry shampoo. My favorite is Klorane Extra-Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk, $9, especially if my roots are growing in because it brightens up my hair a little bit. Another good one is Batiste Dry Shampoo in Blush, $6, which is rose-scented. Sometimes dry shampoos smell so powdery. Then, I’ll re-dry the front a little bit using a heat protectant spray. I don’t know what I do when I sleep, but I am not someone who wakes up with normal-looking hair! I have a round brush from Ricky’s that I’ve had for many years ago [similar to Ricky’s Hair Brush, $27]. It’s literally the size of an infant’s head—it’s huge, about five inches in diameter. Smaller round brushes create way too much bend. The new Harry Josh Hair Dryer, $300, is my favorite by far. It dries my hair faster, which is key because I have no patience. And it doesn’t make my hair look too fluffy.
PI: Every skincare company on this planet sends you the latest to review. Which anti-aging skincare products do you actually use?
Genevieve: Yes, there’s an ongoing rotation in my medicine cabinet. I am loyal to Dr. Brandt’s products, especially his new DNA line. And he is my dermatologist. He is the best. But I was also recently invited by SK-II to have a personal skin analysis. I stuck my face in a machine that measured my sun damage, then they prescribed a regimen. All the SK-II products contain Pitera, which is derived from yeast and refines and brightens the skin. It was first discovered when researchers noticed that the Japanese men making sake had incredibly soft hands. I like the SK-II Facial Treatment Lotion, $60, which also has AHAs and BHAs, but it’s really quite gentle. I’ve also been using a lot of La Prairie, because I partnered with them for a Look Good, Feel Better event, where we raised money to help women with cancer. I’m now hooked. I love the La Prairie Anti-Aging Stress Cream, $215. It smells like lavender. But I also have products that I’ve always liked in rotation. When I was pregnant with Heath, I started getting awful breakouts, but I didn’t want to use anything prescription-strength. I went to Mario Badescu for a facial. That’s when I discovered their Seaweed Night Cream, $20, and the Azulene Calming Mask, $18. They calmed down the breakouts and my skin completely cleared up within a month. I also adore the incomparable Rodin Olio Lusso Face Oil, $150. There are a lot of good face oils out there, but I always return to that one. Finally, I use prescription Retin-A, but I do a very weak strength of .025%. I only use it three times a week and I layer it over a face oil. It’s the only way I’m able to tolerate it.
PI: What about eye cream?
Genevieve: I’m not an eye-cream person. I don’t have dark circles or puffiness, so it’s not a big concern. In fact, I find that if I use it at night, my eyes look puffier in the morning. A celebrity facialist told me that you shouldn’t use eye cream at night because that area needs to breathe. But I do love depuffing eye patches for the relaxation experience. They’re great when you’re traveling and look tired. I like the Talika Eye Therapy Patches, $58.
PI: Behind every supermom is a great concealer, right? Spill!
Genevieve: Concealers are my obsession. My go-to is Clé de Peau Concealer, $70. I also have Benefit Fake Up Concealer, $24, which has a great moisturizing gel around it. You can’t have enough concealers! For the rest of the face, I like La Prairie Anti-Aging Hydra Tint Crème, $100, Giorgio Armani Face Fabric, $49, and Chantecaille Future Skin Foundation, $73, which has a great sheer gel-like texture. I’ll only use a full coverage foundation if I’m doing TV. In that case I like Smashbox Liquid Halo HD Foundation, $42.
PI: What kind of makeup do you use to get that healthy, radiant glow?
Genevieve: I swear by Laura Geller Balance-n-Brighten, $33. Tim Quinn, a friend and Armani’s celebrity makeup artist, taught me to apply bronzer in the shape of a 3—start at your forehead, wrap it down to your cheek, then circle out to your jawline. That’s where I use it. I love the new Chantecaille Save The Bees Palette, $83, for eyes and cheeks. It had bees on it, but there’s only one bee left on mine because I used so much of it. This doesn’t get me glowing, but I love it nonetheless: NARS Gel Eye Paint, $25. It does not move. Finally, I cannot live without Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment in Petal, $23. It’s the best color for pale blondes. And I have a million Chanel Glossimers, $30. They’re like candy.
PI: What are some of your go-tos for getting ready for work in the morning? Your days are so varied with running around town and creative vs. business meetings.
Genevieve: I start with shoes. What are my modes of transportation? Taxis? Subway? Bus? I start with the shoes, then work my way up. Today, I went with these Jimmy Choo Amore Ankle Boots, $795, with a pointy toe. The three-inch heel is the perfect height. I can walk two miles in these. They’re perfect for a day when I have multiple appointments, like today I have to pick Heath up and take him for a flu shot this afternoon, then run back to the office, etc. You have to have shoes that you’re not even thinking about, but you still feel polished and pulled together. I tend to wear a lot of ankle boots.
PI: How do you strike that balance of looking professional but being comfortable?
Genevieve: When I’m in the office all day, I’ll take it down a notch. I might wear a pair of black leather leggings, a comfy sweater like this Diane von Furstenberg Bozeman Cashmere Sweater, $298 (sold out), I got this fall. I also love my Dallas and Carlos Alpha Necklace, $112 per initial, and my Michael Kors Golden Glitz Watch, $275. I like a big chunky watch. I know that it’s supposedly a sign that you’re older because millennials don’t wear watches. I tried to not wear a watch last week and that was a disaster because I didn’t know what time it was all day! I’m also obsessed with coats. In New York City, we don’t drive around in cars. We walk around all the time, so our coats are a little like our cars. You want to project a certain image. You don’t want to look like you’re walking around in one of those white nondescript rental cars. You want to show up in a bottle-green BMW. [Note, read Arctic Chic: Best Winter Coats]
PI: I know you love fragrances. Why are you so passionate about scents?
Genevieve: If there’s one thing I hoard, it’s fragrance. My poor child, in his bathroom, the medicine cabinets are completely filled with my fragrances. Then, in my bedroom, I have a tray that’s filled with the bottles that I’m currently using, like Tom Ford Violet Blonde, $72, Aerin Ikat Jasmine, $110, Tom Ford Neroli Portofino, $130. Dior Diorissmo Eau De Parfum, $90, is what Princess Di wore on her wedding day. Dianne Vavra (another Supermom) turned me on to it. It’s the only fragrance I’ve ever used all the way to the bottom! Then the orange bottle that you can’t miss is Bond no.9 Little Italy, $190, and it smells like clementines. It’s so delicious. I’ll often pair it with something else, just to give it a little bit of a spark. I layer all the time. In fact, this morning I spritzed on the Tom Ford Violet Blonde, then put a little bit of Chanel Beige, $160 over it. People call it a fragrance wardrobe and for me it is in every sense of the word. Just like the way you mix and match things in your closet, I do the same thing with my fragrances. I don’t wear the same thing every day.
PI: How do you deal with stress on those “when it rains, it pours” days?
Genevieve: Honestly, for me, having great girlfriends to laugh with is key. That’s what gets me through. The healthy answer would be yoga, which I hate. If I’m going to work out, I need to sweat. I’ll spin or something. That helps my stress reduction, but sometimes just trying to fit exercise into my day adds more stress. Whenever it just seems all too much, it helps to have people that you can lean on and share with and they can be empathetic. Women do a good job of supporting one another, without telling you what to do, or what you could do differently.