A few weeks ago, The Real Housewives of New York Star Jenna Lyons appeared in a simple, direct-to-camera film TikTok video outlines her current daily beauty routine. Obviously, celebrities hawking skincare products is nothing new, but something about this particular clip stopped me in my tracks. On the one hand, all the items came from the popular brand merit, A high-end/mid-price line that beauty editors are raving about. But what made Lyons’ video even more compelling (and made me want all of the products) was the subject matter itself. Lyons had been an influential tastemaker long before RHONY. She is a Generation X fashion rebel who dared Wear a denim jacket to the Met Galaa former J.Crew president who somehow also made guest appearances on HBO Girl – Her insider status alone is enough to make you pause at a TikTok cosmetics tutorial or click on a memorized headline like “Jenna Lyons’ beauty tips.” Below are her favorites – all great for women over 50.
For those who don’t know, Lyons began her career at J.Crew in the early ’90s when she was just 21 years old. Over the next 27 years, she reinvigorated the famously preppy catalog brand by combining bold patterns with classic silhouettes. Pushing statement costume jewelry onto 2010s consumers as if we were all Betty Draper at a cocktail party in 1959. Lyons is the reason why 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 by the time). Since leaving J.Crew in 2017, Lyons has held various gigs as a fashion consultant and created her own line of false eyelashes – LoveSeen – and finally ended up at RHONYwhere she was an unlikely and seemingly somewhat hesitant breakout star, with a new level of fame and celebrity success.
Lyons is now 55, more influential and arguably more stylish than ever. While she doesn’t look “young” (and, refreshingly, not like she’s trying to look young), her skin is beautiful and her makeup always looks natural and fresh. She regularly recommends skin care and cosmetic products 700,000 Instagram followers and shares tips on social media through collaborations with brands like Merit. What I like about her approach to beauty is the simplicity, the haphazard, plain, beauty-forgoing feel of it all. I suspect many women over 40 can relate to this ignoble approach to beauty, an ungirly way of putting it some Effort, but not a ton.
The great thing about the beauty routine Lyons describes here is that it requires little technical skill and only takes a few minutes. The Merit products she uses are high quality, slightly more expensive than drugstore brands but still affordable. The picks—and the routine itself—seem tailored to the needs of aging skin: They’re highly hydrating, scent-free, and offer generous coverage that feels great on your face. The concealer stick works without clumping or creasing, and the blush leaves a warm, subtle glow.
Lyons includes Merit’s makeup brushes in her tutorial, but they didn’t seem – in my opinion – as much of a must-have as the other products (i.e. you can use the ones you already have and they’ll work well). She also gives a tip on how navy blue eyeliner is particularly suitable for highlighting brown eyes. She’s right, although this tried-and-true makeup artist trick works on anyone, with any eye color, and you don’t need an expensive eye pencil to pull it off.
After watching the first Merit TikTok video, I went down a Jenna Lyons Beauty Essentials rabbit hole. Here are some favorite products she has recommended over the years.