My Beauty Uniform: Joanna Goddard

Seven women have shared their beauty rituals, and today I’d love to share what I’ve learned over the years, including a secret to (faking) clear skin, my favorite lipstick and the one beauty treatment I’ll never do…

Do you wear makeup?
I’m one of those people who needs to wear makeup. I’m super pale, and when I wake up, my face can look blotchy and washed out. I don’t go for a “made-up” look—like a smoky eye or gold shimmer—but my goal is to look awake and healthy. After 35 years of experimenting, I think I’ve finally figured out how to do it, more or less!

What is your daily beauty routine?
Basically, one evening, my friend Abbey came over and looked utterly luminous—really gorgeous and glowing. She explained that she had gotten new makeup, so I asked her to write everything down, and the next day I went to Sephora and tried it all. And the results were MIRACULOUS. I put on Tarte Amazonian Clay Foundation with SPF 15 (natural sunscreen, not harsh chemicals) in Ivory. At first I worried that it looked like a thick layer of makeup, but after a few seconds it absorbed and lightened up, and left my skin looking very clear and dewy. Then I put on Tarte Amazonian Clay Matte Bronzer in Park Ave Princess. Some bronzers look muddy or glittery, but this just made my skin look healthy and warm. I felt really pretty, and it’s now my everyday beauty routine. (Thank you, Abbey!)

If I want rosy cheeks, I sometimes add blush, and my favorite blush right now is NARS Gaiety, which is a lovely pink that looks like you just stepped in from the cold. For my eyes, I dab Laura Mercier Eye Basics in Linen on my eyelids and under my eyes. It covers dark circles and oily eyelids and makes everything one color. Your eyes look bigger and more awake. Laura Mercier has this whole concept of “the flawless face,” and her products really do help you get that. Seriously, do a before-and-after with this stuff; you’ll get hooked.

Then I finish up with mascara—I like Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara—and a neutral lipstick, like NARS Niagara (a pale pink) or Korres Butter Lipstick in Coral (a coral).

Do you have any beauty “splurges”?
I try to embrace my so-pale-it’s-almost-blue skin, but sometimes I feel self conscious in a bathing suit or shorts. My legs just look so pale and you can see every pore and freckle and vein. Attractive, right? This past summer, my friend mentioned that she gets spray tans before vacations, and I ended up trying it out. I went to Brazil Bronze in Soho and it was $40 and lasted more than a week. You go into a little room and put on disposable underwear, and a woman comes in and sprays your whole body while you stand in funny positions, like a bodybuilder. I chose the “healthy glow,” the lightest shade you can get, since a dark tan would look obviously fake on me. As I walked out of the salon, I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror, and my skin looked so healthy and good. It was definitely worth it, and I plan to do it again next summer!

Do you wear anything special on dates?
Lipstick! When I was pregnant, I started wearing lipstick every day. Even when I was tired and frumpy, applying lipstick instantly made me feel pretty. It makes your eyes look brighter and your teeth look whiter. My go-to is a bright pinky red by Kate Spade called Fanciful Merlot (pictured above). For bright red, I love Mac Ruby Woo. For sexy dark red, I love NARS Majella. For plum, I love Revlon Plum Velour. For pink, I love NARS Niagara.

What do you do to style and care for your hair?
A good hair dryer, a round brush and this serum. Those three things help give you silky, low-maintenance hair. I also go to my friend Reagan for haircuts, and she is fun to talk to and gives you the kind of cut that will grow out nicely, instead of looking scraggly.

What do you like about your look, whether or not it’s something “classically” beautiful?
Growing up, I noticed that when my favorite aunt Lulu made a joke, her whole face crinkled into a beautiful smile. She was gorgeous and young-looking, but she also had these beautiful laugh lines. So, as a twelve-year-old, I would stand in front of the mirror and crinkle my face up, trying to get my own! Well, now I definitely have them, for better or worse, and every time I think, oh, man, why do I have so many under-eye wrinkles, my entire cheek is a wrinkle, etc., I think of Lulu and how much I have adored her smiling face my entire life and it actually makes me proud of them.

What products do you pack when you travel?
Cucumber wipes. They smell good and fresh, and they remove makeup and dirt without drying out your face. They’re a nice pick-me-up on hotels and planes, and I use them every night at home before bed, as well. And I’ll bring lipstick and some bronzer on the plane, and I pop them into a little Fog Linen pouch.

Do you have a game-changing beauty product?
In my twenties, I went to a dermatologist and she turned off the light and held up an ultraviolet light, where you see all the sun damage on your face. It was terrifying. I had many more freckles than were visible on my face, and I had black patches under my left eye and on my upper lip—where, she explained, I must have repeatedly missed putting on sunscreen. Now I wear sunscreen every day, and I’ve been searching for a natural sunscreen that doesn’t look white and thick on your face. (I liked Josie Maran’s sunscreen two years ago but then they redid the formula and now it kind of peels and flakes on your skin.) Finally this summer I discovered Kate Somerville Daily Deflector SPF 50+. It’s natural, lightweight and blends in smoothly. I also try to wear hats and sunglasses and walk on the shady side of the street.

Do you have a stance on bath vs. shower?
I’ve taken like three baths as an adult. But I love hot showers, especially on the rare times I’m alone in the house, have peace and quiet and can just stand there for a second. When the kids are home, Toby will always bust into the bathroom and say, “Be done, Mama! Be done!” and I’ll tell him that if he can count to 20, I’ll get out of the shower, so I end up racing to put on conditioner and finish shaving while he counts. Not that relaxing!

Do you have a signature scent?
I used to always be on an overarching hunt for a signature scent, but then friend Gemma said that life is too short for a signature scent and that she wants to smell like as many beautiful things as she can. I loved that! So now I experiment with different scents. I wore Ralph Lauren Romance in college and my early twenties, so I still like wearing that when I want to feel young! J.Crew has two new perfumes based on the “Exhibition by 31 Women,” the first all-female modern art show in the U.S., curated by Peggy Guggenheim in 1943, and I like No. 57, which aims to evoke the warmth of the party (aged whiskey, cinnamon bark, labdanum and vanilla). As I’ve mentioned, I like men’s scents, too. My husband wears Musgo Real Claus Porto After Shave or Polo Blue and I can’t get enough. I’ll borrow his sweaters to smell like him, or I’ll splash on a little Kiehl’s Musk — but only a little because it’s a much stronger scent than I’m used to!

Do you have any funny little tips you swear by?
A silk pillowcase feels good (and cold!) and also helps you not get wrinkles while you sleep.

Was there a special person in your life (say, a friend or grandmother) who taught you about beauty?
Randomly, you know who taught me a lot? Did you ever see that show How to Look Good Naked with Carson Kressley? It was the worst title, but it was actually a really interesting show. Women who felt bad about their bodies would meet with Carson for a couple days and they’d get makeovers. But the compelling part was that he would stand with them in front of a mirror, and they’d explain to him all the things they hated about their bodies—their round bellies, their saggy breasts, whatever it was. Often they would cry. But then Carson would start pointing out all the beautiful things—their pretty shoulders, their creamy skin, their strong calves…and it was incredible how quickly they would turn around and realize how beautiful they were. By the end of the show, they would do a nude photo shoot, and they would be showing off (in a good way)! It was an amazing exercise in how you can learn to treat yourself nicely and appreciate your strengths. It should be required watching for every woman.


When are times in your life that you’ve felt beautiful?
Honestly, I always feel beautiful around my children. If you wake up with bad breath and frizzy hair and dark circles, they don’t see that. They see your essence. It’s almost as if they literally can’t see how you physically look. They just see your laugh, your eyes lighting up, your playfulness, your warmth. I always feel like this beautiful creature around them because they just run to me and hug me and climb on me. I love those little rugrats!

Does Alex have a favorite look of yours? And does he ever weigh in on any other products or styles?
He would never admit if he didn’t like something, haha, it’s annoying! Once I spent a whole summer wearing those matchstick shorts and YEARS later he admitted that maybe, um, shrug, they’re more “girl pretty” than “guy pretty.” So now I try to force opinions out of him. He sometimes complains that red lipstick isn’t kissable, but he’s otherwise very agreeable.

What nail polish do you wear?
I started getting pedicures after having children, because it was a little “me time.” About once a month, Alex will put the boys to bed while I’ll sneak out to the nail salon and get a pedicure. I’ll bring whatever book I’m reading and it feels so, so, so indulgent and wonderful. Sometimes I’ll get a 10-minute chair massage, too! For summer, my go-to is Essie Fiji, which is a pale pink that looks clean and fresh, and for winter, I experiment a bit more with colors like bright red, navy or mauve. As for manicures, I don’t get them because I bite my fingernails like a five-year-old. It’s so embarrassing! I ordered this stuff from Amazon, but haven’t tried it yet.

Do you have any regrettable beauty trends you tried?
Tanning beds. Oh my goodness, what was I thinking? I used to go to them in college. It’s so, so dangerous and bad for you and makes you wrinkly at a young age. Young girls, listen to me: DO NOT DO IT!!! Go buy a bronzer—like Tarte or NARS—and save your beautiful creamy skin!

Do you have any beauty pet peeves? Or is there any product or treatment you’ll never use?
This is probably TMI, but I will never shave or wax my bikini line. I feel really passionate about that. Obviously it’s totally fine if other women want to, and I’m all for doing what makes you feel good and sexy, but I don’t want to and never will.

Some amazing women have told us how they talk to their daughters about beauty. But I’m curious to know—what would you like Toby and Anton to learn?
When we were growing up, we spent lots of time with people of all ages. Every summer, as I’ve mentioned a bunch, we’d go to my grandparents’ house in Cornwall, England, and spend a month hanging out with all kinds of people, young and old. You quickly realize that some of your all-time favorite people in the world are wrinkly old women or men like my grandfather, and that beauty can be fun and frivolous, but at the end of the day, you love who you love. Once you get to know people, you forget about outward appearances and see them like a child would—their essence. My mom sometimes says the mantra, “I am not my body,” and I think that’s a lovely and true sentiment.

Last but certainly not least: Do you have an overall beauty philosophy?
I try my best to lighten up about things that I’m not crazy about, and try to focus on the good things. (Easier said than done!) As I’ve mentioned before, when you look in the mirror, pretend you’re a friend instead of yourself, because suddenly a switch is flipped. You stop criticizing yourself for all the dumb little things, like overplucked eyebrows or a slight birthmark—I mean WHO CARES? It’s pretty remarkable to realize how much we nitpick ourselves when the rest of the world just sees a nice smiling person and leaves it at that.

Thank you so much!

P.S. Seven other women share their beauty uniforms, and 15 hair tutorials.

(Portrait photos by Julia Robbs for Cup of Jo; rest of the photos from the past few years. Photo of Toby and me on the bike by Laura Ratliff. Interview by Caroline Donofrio.)

  1. Just re-reading this one randomly & would love to see an update. I am sure a few things have changed and it would be cool to see what hasn’t! :)

    *just an idea *

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i would love that!

  2. Carla says...

    Hi Joanna,
    First, I want to tell you that I love your blog! I read all posts but I don’t comment… sorry! I am a Mom at home and reading your blog is like meeting a good friend at the coffee shop in the coziness of my home while my son is playing or napping. Thank you for sharing so much about you and your family and for being a good friend through your blog.
    I am 39. My son is 2 and a half years old and I feel that I aged 10 years this past two years. I was going to look for a good moisturizer (day and night) on internet and thought why not to ask Joanna for a recommendation. Any suggestions? What are you using now?
    Thank you for making me smile everytime I read Cup of Jo! A big thank you to your wonderful team!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      you are so sweet, carla!!! these days i’m using this one: my friend gemma (who has PERFECT skin) recommended it when we were hanging out at sephora one saturday. before this, my skin was sometimes dry when i woke up in the morning, but now feels very soft and hydrated.

      i also like true botanicals and skinceuticals and this awesome water sleeping mask:

    • Carla says...

      Thank you so much Joanna for your recommendation!!! I am going to try it! ?. Have a great day!

  3. Tara Higley says...

    Wow! Thank you so much for sharing your beauty finds and philosophy. I am also fair skinned and used tanning beds growing up. So glad I am past that as well. I also bit my nails and am embarrassed by it. I am 32 and feeling like I have so many wrinkles but I do love that you said they are laugh lines and that makes me realize that I do laugh a lot and life is so good. My children also make me feel beautiful. There are so many important and relatable ideas that you shared but the last had to be the best, look at myself as if I’m a friend. I see so many beautiful details in other people and I should with myself as well! Two years after you wrote this article, it is still helping people. Thank you

  4. marney says...

    OMG, thank you for sharing about not shaving/waxing your lady parts! So nice to hear that I’m not the only one. :)

    • Yes, it’s such a natural thing not to shave, I don’t know why almost women don’t talk about it. Love Joanna!

  5. Hello Joanna,

    My goodness! Such an interesting article, you look absolutely stunning!

    I m Sanaa, a recent blogger, would love for you to stop by!

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  8. I think that new seemingly flip book “How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are” had the same effect on me as what you described learning from that television show. It’s always about focusing on your good parts! I’ve never really learned that.

  9. Hi Joanna – Hopefully this in not too late to ask, but what lipstick are you wearing in the picture of you and Toby where he’s sucking on a straw? That color is lovely! Thanks!

  10. I have laugh lines and at first I just thought, UGH another wrinkle. Spent a fortune on ALL the beauty products out there. You asked what our daily routines are? I keep mine pretty basic, Puristics all the way. Not sure I want to get rid of the laugh lines though, cos they are a direct result of my girls…

  11. One of my very favorite of your posts!! Thank you for sharing this piece of yourself with us!

  12. Oh, I love you, Joanna!

  13. I love your blog :) In Paris, we get a bitter nail polish much like Barielle to prevent nail biting. Unfortunately for my nails, I figured out how many hand washes it takes to fade out the bitterness. bah and sigh.

  14. Joanna, you look so fresh and effortlessly pulled-together. If I don’t have time for any other make-up, I do put on lipstick or lipgloss. Revlon’s Lip Butters are great. You might try Almay’s Shadow Softies. They are light and sheer, going on easily with a fingertip. I like them because they are fool-proof and brighten my eyes. As I’ve gotten older, I find less make-up is best.

  15. Ah loved this post Joanna you are gorgeous! Loved reading this one :)
    I was just wondering if you were wearing a gloss with that kate spade lipstick ~ its soo pretty :)

  16. “Honestly, I always feel beautiful around my children. If you wake up with bad breath and frizzy hair and dark circles, they don’t see that. They see your essence. It’s almost as if they literally can’t see how you physically look. They just see your laugh, your eyes lighting up, your playfulness, your warmth. I always feel like this beautiful creature around them because they just run to me and hug me and climb on me.” ACK! I love this so much. My LO is just 3 months, and seeing her face light up in the morning when she sees me just makes me SO happy.

  17. Beautiful, wonderful, warm. Thank you for sharing

  18. I know I’m a little late commenting on this post but I’m finally making my rounds. I LOVED this post! I’m so happy you did one–I’ve been waiting for it. Gonna have to do a quick trip to Sephora.

    p.s. You are so effortlessly beautiful. You have always reminded me of Elizabeth Hurley.

    Have a great weekend!


  19. Oh my goodness, I was a nasty nail biter until I was about 25. You know how I stopped?? I started carrying small nail clippers with me in my bag. I realized I was biting, not really out of nervousness but because #1 it was habit and #2 I would obsess if my cuticle was sticking out or of my nail was slightly uneven and instead of waiting until I’d get home to properly trim them I’d hack away at it and inevitable, regret it. So, I started carrying clippers in my purse and would get them out every time I felt the urge to bite and eventually the habit just stopped.
    Question about your bikini line….how do you get away with wearing swim bottoms without shaving?!

    Thanks for sharing!

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  21. I went right out and got some of the Tarte foundation you recommended and I LOVE IT — “luminous” is really the only word for how it makes you look! The finish is so soft, and it looks like I’m glowing in the nicest way. Thank you!!

  22. I never sit down and actually read blog posts. I find that I don’t agree with or don’t care about many peoples’ opinions. But I could sit and ready your blog posts for days. I don’t know if it’s your writing style, your “chatting with a girlfriend” vibe, or your honesty… I just think you’re lovely.

    Funny story:
    A few years ago I was walking around the village and spotted a familiar, celebrity-like face crossing the street. After hours of “who WAS that guy?’ thinking… I realized it was your husband! HA!

  23. This is so nice. I love your answer on feeling the most beautiful around your kids. I feel the same way. I love to watch my son wake up, blink his eyes, and look for me.

  24. Love this post. Thanks for sharing! I always love learning about new products. I stick to a no-makeup makeup look too.

  25. love it! you always look naturally fresh and rosey so I appreciate you sharing your tricks!

    now baaaaack to your bikini line. Do you do anything at all? I think you should revisit this subject in a more comprehensive post! :)

  26. I really, really enjoyed this post. Having an 11 and a 1-year-old in the house, I just rush through everything that used to that me an hour before: I brush my teeth while showering; I moisturise with the shower gel; I even bought one of those conditioners that you apply after the shower, because there is no time for a proper treatment.
    When I have to wear make-up, I apply it in the car on my way to wherever makeup is needed.

    I really like the idea of getting a pedicure as “me time” and the whole idea of finding beauty in your family!!
    Thanks a lot for sharing!

  27. I really enjoyed this post Joanna!! gorgeous photos too!

  28. Oh, I love W. March’s comment! “The bush is back” is a slogan I can really get behind. Thank you, Joanna, for normalising what is a completely reasonable approach to personal hygiene but is basically never represented in our society (either in the media or in conversation).

  29. This is so interesting! I am only 26 but I can totally relate to what you are saying about wrinkles – some of my favourite people in the world have smiley wrinkles and it has gone so far that I can find a man attractive almost only because of them. Silly, but thats how it is.

    I have moved around a lot, and every time I get new girlfriends I like doing this “My first impression of you” thing where I tell them what caught my eye – like their eyes light up when they greet people, how their laughter sounds like bubbles, how I wanted to become their friend as soon as I saw them etc. You’d be surprised over the reaction! When you have had friends for years you kind of start taking each other for granted and you have seen each other crying with swollen faces, whining about your other half, being stressed over work etc. but you forgot to tell each other how beautiful you are! Inside and out!

    I think we need to remember compliments are not only for lovers.

  30. Ok, now I’m super curious about the bikini line issue as well. If I did nothing I would have a bikini line that went halfway down my inner thigh, no joke. I’d love to not deal with it, but feel like I should at least keep things somewhat under control. For what it’s worth, I’ve done the gamut from Brazilians to next to nothing back when I was in college and didn’t know that women did more than take care of what showed in a bikini.

    And I loved this post, BTW. You have such a classic, natural style. :-)

  31. Who takes your photos? They’re very nice! :)

  32. You are such an inspiration to me! Thank you for being you!

  33. @ND
    I totally agree with what you say. I don’t think it has anything to do with looking like a child. We shave our legs and underarms, and kids don’t grow hair there either, so by shaving my bikini area I don’t intend in looking like a child. For some it’s just not pretty or uncomfortable, hot weather doesn’t make it any easier. Hair/fur is characteristic of mammals, but as humans, body hair has become useless since we use clothes to stay warm. A hundred years ago most women didn’t shave at all, but as we started to show off our bodies, we also started shaving to make our skin look smoother and prettier. You may not show off your bikini area everyday, but if you’re wearing a bikini or a nude beach, who knows, you shave legs and underarms, why not shave/wax the bikini area as well? That’s just how I see it.