LA-based attorney and florist Madison Karsenty is a full-time mom to her two-year-old son Diego (and she's pregnant with a little girl, coming June 2017!). Her French-inspired take on the 10-step Korean skin care method is truly something to aspire to (spoiler alert: lots of cool products ahead!). Today, Madison shares her self-care routine, including the surprising (kinda gross) treatment she swears by for glowy skin, the daily destressing ritual that keeps her grounded, and the beautiful women who inspire her.
Tell us about your skin care routine. What products do you use daily?
Let me preface this by saying that my routine is very long! I am a firm believer in taking excellent care of your skin as a preventative measure for the future. Our skin is our largest organ, and it is the one we most neglect! Taking care of my face (and neck, and hands, and arms) every morning and night will save me loads on doctor visits in the future. I am super diligent about sun protection, taking care of scars and getting my moles checked!
I am pretty into the Korean 10-step skin care method, although I've modified it to fit my preferences and needs. I read about it on Peach & Lily, the Holy Grail of information when it comes to the 10-step method. The founder, Alicia Yoon, is a wealth of information when it comes to skin care, and a super badass business woman (she went to Harvard Business School). Here is the routine that I follow, certainly inspired by the 10-step method.
In the morning, I begin with an oil based cleanser. I like Tatcha Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil. I follow this with a gentle cleanser. I am not married to a specific one, but right now I am using Nuxe Aroma-Perfection Purifying Cleansing Gel because I love French drugstore brands and this is one of them. I also like Avène Cleanance Cleansing Gel. I follow it up with an exfoliator, either ExfoliKate Gentile Exfoliating Treatment by Kate Somerville or Amore Pacific Treatment Enzyme Peel. I will sometimes follow that with Darphin Mild Aroma Peeling, if I'm feeling particularly oily.
I then strip all of the dirt from my face with my Biologique Recherché P50 1970. It can be a bit of a harsh product for some, but I absolutely love the way it leaves my skin feeling squeaky clean. It's actually quite gross to how dirty the cotton pad is after each application. 1970 is their strongest version of P50, and when I'm pregnant (like right now!) I use the regular P50 which is more mild and apparently okay to use when pregnant or breastfeeding. Since the P50 really dries your face out, I give a quick spritz of essence water — I like Mario Badescu Facial Spray with aloe, herbs and rosewater to put a bit of moisture back in my skin.
Then, onto the serums!! I am a real serum junkie and love all of Biologique's products, especially their nice thin serums. The packaging is also elegant and decadent. Whenever we go to Paris, I always spend a good few hours splurging at their flagship store on the Champs-Élysées. I do not follow a strict routine in terms of which serums I use, but I always follow the golden rule of watery to oily. Namely, I begin with the thinnest serums and end with the most viscous — this way, your skin can fully absorb the waterier serums without being blocked by one with an oil base.
I begin with Biologique Recherche's Serum Dermopore, followed by CosRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence. It sounds pretty gross, but I do put snail mucus on my face — my friend travels to Seoul a lot and all of the Korean women swear by it. It's one of the magic beauty secrets to beautiful, glossy skin. I haven't tried the bee venom trend yet because I'm allergic to bees and think I might need to be prepared with an Epipen. After the snail mucin, I rub in a bit of Delarom Energy Serum. Delarom is a great French brand with a lower price point than, but a similar quality product to Darphin. I swear by it. Then, I move to a more lotion-like serum, my Delarom Infinite White Creme, and finish off my serums with Mario Badescu Peptide Renewal Cream, which feels more like an oil.
Next, I'll massage in a nice creamy but light moisturizer —I usually use Fresh's Crème Ancienne, but if it is particularly dry out I will use Biologique Recherche's Creme Echinoderm Au Complexe Bio-Marin. It is a much thicker more luxurious cream, but it's a bit heavy for everyday use, especially in the Los Angeles sun. I finish with a bit of oil, either Argan or Rose Hip, or May Lindstrom's The Good Stuff. It is also a great oil to rub on your belly when pregnant to avoid stretch marks.
In the morning, I generously apply sunscreen (rain or shine!) to my face and neck. I like Korres Red Grape Anti-Aging Sunscreen in SPF 50, as well as La Roche-Posay's Redermic C UV SPF 25, depending on the strength of the sun. Since I live in Southern California, and I spend a lot of time outside, you will usually find me wearing long sleeves and a bucket hat to cover my face and arms. At night, I will skip the sunscreen and instead finish with Sunday Riley's Luna Sleeping Oil.
For my final step, I put on my eye creme — I swear by Clé de Peau Beauté Eye Contour Balm Anti-Wrinkle, but I also collect eye creams and will sometimes put on a second layer (I like Delarom Hydrating Decongesting Gel).
Do you normally wear makeup?
As a general rule, I am a makeup free gal. I'm currently rocking a pregnancy glow and I spend a great deal of my day chasing around a two year old, so makeup takes a back seat. I have also always felt like I looked a bit like a clown with make up on. However, I am also a sugar fiend and occasionally find myself with a couple of blemishes that I'll cover up.
What about if you're dressing up for a night out?
If I am going out for the night, I will cover up with Clé de Peau Beauté Concealer, throw on some mascara (I'm not partial to any specific one), and glide some Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Gel through my eyebrows to groom them into place. If it's the middle of December and uncharacteristically dreary for California, I may swipe a quick dusting of Chanel bronzer over my cheeks, nose, and chin. On my lips, I'm a Burt's Bees chapstick girl, through and through.
How do you style your hair most days?
I know my skin care routine makes me sound pretty high maintenance, but I do very little preening on the day to day. I was blessed with a pretty great hair color (which my son has inherited), so I luckily get to skip the colorist and just get a trim maybe once a year. I usually just run a brush through it in the morning and leave it alone!
What haircare products do you swear by?
I love Mason Pearson brushes, because I'm prone to tangling (I am known to have a single dreadlock in the back of my head), and the dual bristles help break up the knots without ripping your hair out. I always rock a middle part — I tried the side part years go, it wasn't for me. If it's particularly flat or dirty, I may spritz a little Ouai Wave Spray in it and fluff the top.
What's the last product you used 'til there was nothing left?
Fresh's Crème Ancienne. It is expensive, but it is so smooth going on — I feel like on a rushed morning, I can just cleanse and throw a coat of this on, and my skin is left feeling nourished and moisturized!
Are there any DIY beauty treatments you love?
When I was in college and law school, I would concoct all kinds of DIY face and hair masks and sit in them for hours while I did my school work. I tried putting a mask on while my son was playing one day and he ran out of the room screaming and crying. In hindsight, I recognize how frightening I look with an egg white mask on my face, so those days are definitely behind me.
Are there any other treatments you indulge in?
My two favorite products for everything are coconut oil (for body, face and hair), and Egyptian Magic. My mom used to put Egyptian Magic on our cuts and scars, and I do believe it works wonders! I also love a sheet mask, or a clay mask.
When my son goes to sleep at night, I will throw on a Colbert MD illumino Anti-Aging Brightening Sheet Mask and watch a movie. Sometimes, I make my husband have a "facial party" with me, and I put a thousand products on his face and make him wear a Peter Thomas Roth Irish Moor Mud Purifying Black Mask with me while we eat ice cream.
How do you usually dress up for a special occasion?
I generally live in jeans and a T-shirt, but I tend to dress conservatively even when I am dressing for a special occasion. I will throw on a statement earring and a kitten heel if I really want to get crazy. I love a Manolo slingback and a classic red lip.
Can you tell us a little bit about what you do?
I am an attorney who works with start ups on business organization, and the general counsel for a non-profit called The Environmental Media Association, which works tirelessly to educate and influence the entertainment industry on issues relating to climate change and the environment, and calls upon celebrities and influencers to incorporate eco-conscious messages into their social media platforms.
I also recently began a floral company called The Flower Firm, a nod to my law background, that does floral arrangements and installations for events, weddings, baby showers and private clients. I can be found on Instagram at @flowerfirmla — my website is coming soon!
How do you balance your time between being an attorney, florist and momma?
Lots of help! My husband has a pretty flexible schedule and loves to hang with the family, so I am fortunate that he is around most morning and evenings. He will stick around whenever I need to make an early morning run to the flower mart, and he is happy to help with deliveries!
I am fortunate enough that both of my careers allow me to work from home (we have converted our garage into a floral studio with an industrial refrigerator, and my dining room table serves as a nice legal office). In addition, one of my [legal] clients has a non-profit organization with offices in Beverly Hills, and they are always happy to have me in-house, whenever I need a change of scenery for work.
With another baby on the way, I am also mindful so as not to take on more than I can handle — I like to make sure I get to spend plenty of quality time with my family too! It's definitely not easy, but it's important to me to nourish all of the things that are important to me.
How do you destress after a long day?
I love to take my dog on a walk. Putting on my "comfies," as we call them in our house, and taking my dog around the neighborhood always helps me unwind. My son brings a bag of treats to feed to all of the neighborhood dogs.
My husband and I also love to cook, so having a glass of wine and whipping up a nice dinner always brings my husband and I together after a long day. Eating a meal together is very important in our house, and it is definitely a time when we all get to unload, unwind and unpack our days.
What's one thing you do every day that makes you feel great?
Exercise! I know it is such a cliché response, but getting my heart rate up and my blood pumping always makes me feel accomplished. Whether it be a Soul Cycle class, a hike, or even a long walk on the beach with my dog, I need to be active to feel my best! Whenever I am moody or whiny, my husband tells me to go do a yoga class, and he's always right! I also a believe a good manicure with a shoulder massage is an instant pick me up.
When do you feel most comfortable in your own skin?
When I'm hanging at home surrounded by loved ones. Nothing makes me feel more true to myself than laughing and chatting with my oldest friends and my family around the dinner table at my house eating delicious food and drinking a nice bottle of red.
Who do you look to for beauty inspiration?
She would be shocked to hear this because I've always told her she nags me too much, but my mom truly has the best skin. When I was younger, she would chide me for going to sleep with make up on and would constantly remind me to wear sunscreen and a hat outside.
Now that I am an adult, I can appreciate how important it is to protect your skin! My mom is 57 years old and doesn't look a day over 40. We have very different complexions (she has fair skin and dark hair), but her tried-and-true methods really work. My mom is not fussy about her skin — she does not use fancy products or have a long routine, but she is always armed with Cetaphil, Olay sunscreen, and a wide brimmed sun hat... and Aquaphor for any dry skin spots!
I also appreciate and look up to the women in this world that aim to age gracefully. Women as young as 18 are filling their faces with Botox these days, and it's refreshing to come across a beautiful woman in her sixties whose face tells a story. Taking care of yourself and chasing youth are two very different things! I think it is beautiful to nourish yourself, while also allowing nature to take its course.
French women sort of epitomize this notion. My mother-in-law is one such woman. She is French and very chic and earthy — she kind of melds the French female beauty ideals with the laid-back approach of a Californian.
How would you describe your approach to beauty?
I don't like to take beauty — or anything for that matter — too seriously. I love the way I look naturally, and I want to take care of myself so that I can look good and feel good for as long as possible! Having children has shown me how important it is to have a healthy self-esteem — I am modeling for them how to be a happy, self-sufficient and prosperous adult!
Be sure to follow Madison on Instagram, and check out The Flower Firm for all things floral! Check back next week for the latest installment of 52 Faces, a weekly series that spotlights a real woman's beauty routine. Last week, LA-based health coach, choreographer and dancer Jenna Lee Rude shared the organic skin care brand she uses daily and revealed her simple secret for gorgeous hair.