A few weeks ago, The Real Housewives of New York star Jenna Lyons appeared in a simple, straight-to-camera TikTok video outlining her current daily beauty routine. Obviously, celebrities hawking skincare products is nothing new, but something about this particular clip stopped me in my scrolling tracks. For one, the items were all from the buzzy brand Merit, a high-quality/mid-priced line beauty editors rave about. But even more, what made Lyons's video compelling (and made me want all the products) was the subject herself. Lyons has been an influential tastemaker since long before RHONY. She's a Gen X fashion rebel who dared to wear a denim jacket to the Met Gala, a former J.Crew president who somehow also guest-starred on HBO's Girls — her insider status alone is enough to make one pause on a TikTok cosmetics tutorial or click on a rote headline like "Jenna Lyons's Beauty Picks." See below for her favorites — all great for women over 50.
Merit Clean Lash Lengthening Mascara
The best mascara ever?
Loveseen False Eyelashes
The Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Foundation and Concealer Stick
Merit Flush Balm Cream Blush
Merit Solo Shadow Cream-to-Powder Eyeshadow
NYX Creamy Retractable Eyeliner
Glossier Cloud Paint Cream Gel Blush
Ouai Fine Hair Volumizing Shampoo
Saie Super Gel Lightweight Illuminator
Cle Melting Lip Powder
NuFace Trinity Starter Kit
Wonder Valley Hinoki Body Oil
Coola Refreshing Water Stick with SPF 50
For those who don't know, Lyons got her start at J.Crew in the early '90s, when she was just 21. Over the next 27 years, she revitalized the famously preppy catalog brand by melding bold patterns with classic silhouettes and by pushing statement-y costume jewelry on 2010s consumers like we were all Betty Draper attending a cocktail party in 1959. Lyons is the reason you owned a sweatshirt with sequins on it in 2008, and she also helped shape some of Michelle Obama's most famous looks (the former first lady was an outspoken J.Crew fan at the time). Since leaving J.Crew in 2017, Lyons bounced around various fashion-consulting gigs, created her own line of false eyelashes — LoveSeen — and, eventually, landed at RHONY, where she's been an unlikely and, seemingly, somewhat reluctant breakout star, with a newfound level of fame and celebrity success.
Lyons is now 55, more influential and, arguably, stylish than ever. While she doesn't look "young" (nor, refreshingly, like she's trying to look young), her skin is gorgeous and her makeup always appears natural and fresh. She regularly recommends skincare and cosmetic products to her 700,000 Instagram followers and shares tips across social media via collaborations with brands like Merit. What I like about her approach to beauty is the simplicity, the haphazard, bare-bones, beauty-slacker vibe of it all. It's a non-precious stance on beauty I suspect many over-40 women can relate to, a non-girly way to put in some effort, but not a ton.
What's great about the beauty routine Lyons outlines here is that it requires little technical skill and takes just minutes to pull off. The Merit products she's using are high-quality, a little pricier than drugstore brands, but still affordable. The picks — and the routine itself — seem custom-tailored to meet the needs of aging skin: they're highly moisturizing and scent-free with ample coverage that feels good on your face. The concealer stick works without caking or creasing, the blush leaves a warm, subtle glow.
Lyons includes Merit's makeup brushes in her tutorial, but they seemed — to me — not as must-buy as the other products (i.e. you can use the ones you already have and they'll work fine). She also gives a tip about navy eyeliner working especially well to highlight brown eyes. She's right, though this long-standing makeup artist trick will work for anyone, with any eye color and you don't need a pricey eye pencil to pull it off.
After watching the initial Merit TikTok video, I went down a Jenna Lyons "beauty essentials" rabbit hole. Here are a handful of favorite products she's recommended over the years.