Generational skincare, part 3: Juggling impossible schedules in your 40s—an entrepreneur/beauty guru/mom explains why you need to be unapologetic about skincare
Welcome to our series for skincare by generations, where we look at regimens, products and ingredients for the many phases of life, featuring real-talk advice from skinfluencers of all ages.
Founder of lifestyle blog A Model Recommends, Ruth Crilly worked extensively as a fashion and beauty model before deciding to share her expert tips and tricks with the online masses. Now with over 20 years’ experience in the industry, she draws in audiences with an authentic combination of unflinching industry-insider intel, juxtaposed with down-to-earth relatability and wryness. Despite working in an industry where youth is still prized, Crilly never shies away from day-to-day realities—including aging—proving that beauty content creation is not just for the Gen Zer’s on TikTok.
You’re an avid beauty and skincare consumer, when did you first get into skincare and why?
Crilly: I was quite young when I became interested in skincare, maybe early teens or even before that. I just loved beauty in general—lipstick packaging, the rows of bottles in the chemist’s lab, adverts in magazines. And it wasn’t the glamorous side of beauty that I seemed to be drawn to, it was the idea of using these various potions and unguents. It just fascinated me! As soon as I had pocket money, or a little cash from Saturday jobs, I was spending it all on beauty bits. My best friend loved the cucumber range at Boots, and we were always in the Body Shop trying out the testers.
Talk to us about your relationship with skincare—how has it evolved from your 20s and 30s to nowadays?
Crilly: My relationship with skincare in my 20s was very different because I was a full-time model and burning the candle at both ends, so it felt very much like damage control. Using the heaviest duty cleanser that would cut through the layers of makeup and then finding soothing creams to try and calm the skin again after the onslaught! My 20s were a trial-and-error period; I used so many different things recommended backstage and by makeup artists mixed with French pharmacy buys—in a world that was far less clued up about skincare than it is now. I was probably using quite a sophisticated range of things, ingredients wise, but it was a haphazard approach. It’s funny to think of all the “cult” products now that models were using 20 years ago and picking up for a couple of euros!
My 30s were entirely spent beauty blogging, so a massive period of discovery because I tried so many things. I made the mistake initially of trying every type of product sent through, but by the middle of the decade I had realized, thankfully, that I should only trial the ranges appropriate to my skin type and age. It was a real learning curve and at one point my skin definitely rebelled.
Now that I’m in my 40s, I’m in a really solid and effective routine skincare-wise. I have a simple formula that works for me: In the morning I cleanse, followed by antioxidant serum and moisturizer. In the evening it’s cleanser followed by retinol or hydrating serum and I finish with night cream.
Because with age comes wisdom, what are some of your biggest skin cringes from the past?
Crilly: I don’t actually have that many, weirdly. Bad fake tan in my late teens when fake tan was still a bit risky to apply, using a homemade face mask made of actual ice blended with cucumber that burnt purple welts into my skin. Most of my beauty mishaps have been during my modeling career and the, quite frankly, mad things that used to get done to my face and hair!
What are you looking forward to for the remainder of your 40s and beyond?
Crilly: I really love writing, creating content, interiors and the property projects I’ve been doing on the side—I suppose more of all of it! I’d love to have the time to concentrate on my writing more, but the kids are still small, and it’s almost impossible to find any sort of routine for myself. And I need routine to write. I foresee years more of frantic life-work juggling yet.
Now that you’re a mother of two, has motherhood influenced your view on aging and self-image?
Crilly: Yes, I am a lot more conscious now of the way I talk about myself in terms of how I feel about my body and face. I spent a long time in a very warped industry, but I feel I came out relatively unscathed compared to many, mainly because I never took anything too seriously. But I do really worry about when the kids are old enough to go online and be bombarded with all the crazy over-photoshopped and filtered images. It’s not good. I don’t think we really had that as teens; there were magazines, but we weren’t totally immersed in a world where people can completely alter the way they look and pass it off as the truth. It’s pretty confusing and damaging.
Finally, what are the top 5 most important things in your vanity right now and why?
Crilly: Top five things?! Oooh, tricky! Okay, so Murad Retinol Night Cream is always there without fail, Lisa Eldridge foundation, Honest Beauty mascara and a bronzer from a brand called Vieve that has two shades you can blend together. It’s so good. And I’m having a long term love affair with a Le Labo perfume called Santal 33. It’s the longest I’ve stuck to one scent!
More in the generational skincare series here:
Establishing good routines in your 20s—a TikTok-famous skinfluencer on skipping cleansing and avoiding ‘aggressive products’
Embracing your 30s—a certified derm reveals the 2 things that will forever have an impact on skin
Truly living your best life in your 50s—a fitness creator on tanning with baby oil (gasp!), skipping eye cream and her holy grail product