My friend Elizabeth Antonia lives in LA with her husband and two young daughters. Here, she shares her beauty secrets, including an offbeat shower ritual, the best hairbrush and an easy trick for looking good in photos…

What are your mornings like?
With two small girls, I get literally five minutes to myself before running out to do school drop-off, so I put on any makeup in the car after I’ve dropped my eldest off at kindergarten. Like half the world, I love Laura Mercier. Her Flawless Face Kit is foolproof—and I am the biggest dummy when it comes to makeup application! Most days I just wear my sunscreen and Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer, but at night I’ll also use her powder.

How do you take care of your skin?
When it comes to skincare, I finally have a rhythm. Finding a good moisturizer can be tricky, but Origins Starting Over gives me the right amount of moisture and smells lovely. I keep One Love Organics Easy Does It cleanser in the shower for a quick face and body wash; it has a light citrus scent and nice lather (a lot of organic cleansers don’t). Next I use PCA’s Nutrient Toner, which my dermatologist recommended for smoothing away dead skin cells and refining pores. Plus, it just feels refreshing. My younger daughter Francesca watches me put a bit on a cotton pad, so I’ll give her a cotton pad with a spritz of rosewater so that she can do the same thing as her mama.

Do you have any beloved drugstore finds?
Lucas’ Pawpaw Ointment is really the best lip balm out there. It completely eliminates chapped lips.

What do you do to style and take care of your hair?
My hair tends to be dry so I try to only shampoo/condition it twice a week. I use Rahua shampoo and conditioner, which leave my hair feeling clean yet moisturized. Other than the occasional blow out, I let it dry naturally, so I prefer to wash in the morning. It always looks better than going to sleep with it wet! I have one of the expensive Mason Pearson brushes, but this one, which my hair stylist recommended, works much better for my hair (and I use it on my girls).

Do you have a game-changing beauty product?
Yes, I would have to say Vitamin B shots. My doctor told me that I was deficient in Vitamin B12 and should include more eggs and fish in my diet. I go to her to get the shots, but a local spa also offers them. Sadly they go straight into your upper buttock! They always make me feel revitalized and glow-y. It might totally be a placebo, but I hope not!

What do you like about your look, whether or not it’s something “classically” beautiful?
I used to be teased incessantly about my big lips while growing up, but now I like them!

Do you have a go-to lipstick?
I love the ILIA line of lipstick crayons (one of my favorite colors is 99 Red Balloons).

How do you feel about bath vs. shower?
I’m usually showering in a mad scramble with my two-year-old pulling on the curtain. I find essential oils to be very uplifting, so I’ll put a few drops of eucalyptus oil into the shower stream if I am feeling stuffy (it helps clear the nasal passages and lungs), peppermint if I need something invigorating, or geranium if I’m feeling cranky.

But I do love taking a bath a few times a month. I’ll pour a capful of Kneipp’s—Spruce & Pine or Melissa–into the bath along with some epsom salts. I also keep a pile of soggy New Yorkers on hand. I love this time.

Do you have any funny little tips or tricks that you swear by?
I am militant about dry skin brushing before I step into the shower. I brush my entire body starting at the soles of my feet and ending at my neck, and always brush towards my head, which is best for circulation and increasing the lymphatic flow. I use long, gentle strokes and don’t scrub. I usually only brush for about 5 to 10 minutes depending on how much time I have. It is so invigorating.

Also, no matter how much I hate it, I always turn the water to freezing for the last 30 seconds of my shower. It’s detoxifying, increases circulation, and improves digestion and metabolism. It’s just so much better for your skin than ending all warm and cozy.

You live in California, so do you have any sunscreen recommendations?
I am a huge fan of Suntegrity. I like how it’s natural and heavy duty but doesn’t take forever to rub in. I also use it on my girls!

What did your mother—or aunts or grandmothers—teach you about beauty?
My grandmother doesn’t leave the house without her lipstick. I have always adored that about her. Also, she taught me a trick: When you smile, lift your tongue behind your front teeth and it will relax your face.

What is your most regrettable beauty moment?
Hands down the time I put Sun In on my hair as a teenager and was stuck with a big mane of orange hair (and very dark eyebrows). Yikes!

Do you have any non-beauty rituals that help you feel your best?
I am militant about turning off the phone an hour before bed. Screen time really messes with our ability to fall asleep, and what am I really missing anyway? I have been practicing Transcendental Meditation for almost two years. There are literally hundreds of ways to meditate and TM just happens to work the best for me. You sit in a chair for twenty minutes and gently focus on a mantra that is chosen for you by your TM teacher. It has been so great for me personally, and when I practice regularly (you’re supposed to do it twice a day for 20 minutes), I’m better at letting things roll off my back or find life is a little more serendipitous. Honestly, I’ll meditate myself to sleep a few nights a week. The sleep of babes.

What are some of your favorite books?
I just finally read Just Kids by Patti Smith. It was so heartbreakingly beautiful and electrifying. I don’t know her work terribly well, and it made me curious to listen to her music as her poetry is stunning. One of my favorite parenting books is called Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. I reread it every year. It helps me be more mindful around my girls and reminds me that less is more. Right now, I’m reading I Shock Myself, which is the autobiography of Beatrice Wood, a fascinating artist who lived until she was 105. I guess I’m gravitating towards biographies of powerful women lately!

Do you have a signature scent?
I never skip wearing a scent. Daily I wear a dab of vetiver oil on my wrists. A lot of the expensive perfumes I am attracted to have vetiver, and it is purported to be good for memory and concentration, which are two things I lack since becoming a mother! My husband loves when I wear Coqui Coqui’s Maderas, and I also just purchased a roller bottle of Dark Wave by OLO because I admired it on a friend every time she wore it. It smells lovely.

What are some of your favorite places to shop?
I love to support local shops and there are so many good stores in LA. On the east side, I like Broome St. General and Individual Medley. They both have a great selection of homewares and clothing. On the West Side, General Store has beautiful homewares, and Tortoise General Store on Abbot Kinney has Japanese paper goods and ceramics.

How do you talk to your daughters about beauty?
This is a very interesting question. I remember that post from a couple years ago (on how to talk to girls) and it has really influenced my habits around complimenting my daughters. I try to focus on their accomplishments. They’re both so little and aren’t exposed to much media so there haven’t been any big topics yet. My favorite thing to say to them is “You are growing so well.”

Last but certainly not least: do you have an overall beauty philosophy?
I love the line from the Annie song “You’re never fully dressed without a smile.” There is nothing more beautiful to me than a smile. I can never pull off the sultry look because of this!

Thank you so much, Elizabeth! We love you.

P.S. Eleven more lovely women share their beauty uniforms.

(Photos courtesy of Elizabeth Antonia. Interview by Caroline Donofrio)