How is it already May?! For this Mother’s Day edition of the Glowdown, we chatted with Carly Cardellino, digital creator of all things beauty – including her tenure as beauty director at Cosmopolitan – and new mom to baby girl Delfina. From how she’s been dealing with quarantine and advice for other moms at home to the secrets and skincare hacks of beauty editors, get inspired by Carly’s essential insights.

Happy Mother’s Day! How are you spending it this year? 

Thank you! This year, since we’re staying safe at home due to Covid, we’re going to be celebrating indoors. I asked my husband to make a donation to a charity that I choose for my present, and also to watch Delfina so that I can have the day freeeeeeeeeeeee! I LOVE my baby so much, but I’m so excited for some me time. :)

What are some words of wisdom from your own mother or maternal figures in your life?

To try and not be so hard on yourself or get all worked up if the baby’s schedule doesn’t go as planned (i.e. being okay with your baby’s nap not being two full hours or if they don’t eat allll of their food on their plate), because it happens and it’s OKAY!

If you could give future moms only one piece of advice, what would it be?

To strive to be present – not perfect.

Tell us about raising a little one under quarantine. Do you have any advice for any other young moms in the same situation?

Even though it can feel exhausting, interacting and playing with your little one while they’re awake helps them have a lengthy nap – however long theirs is meant to be – so that you can get some much-needed me-time while they sleep. That way you’re rejuvenated for when they wake up! It’s the only way to survive quarantine with a kid, in my opinion.

In general, how has your life changed under quarantine? Do you have any tips or tricks to share?

Quarantine has been an interesting time for me, as I know it has been for everyone. I feel for those who have lost loved ones, workers who are risking their lives to be on the front lines, and those whose businesses have suffered and are suffering, so we’re just making sure that we’re doing our part and staying home.

As for my daily schedule, like everyone else’s, it has changed drastically. Instead of running around from meeting to meeting, I’ve been on Zoom and phone calls from my kitchen table non-stop, and also writing and executing shoots from different areas in my apartment, which has posed its own challenges. That said, I’ve made it a priority to workout every day (hi, P.volve) and meditate (thank you, Melissa Wood Health), which I didn’t do before, and also eat healthier and cleaner, so that’s been a positive thing. That coupled with being able to see my husband and baby all day has really been the silver lining in this tragic pandemic.

Tell us about your role as beauty director at Cosmopolitan. What did you learn? Do you have any favorite assignments or stories that stand out in your memories?

Honestly, there are too many that I love to choose just one – the projects I worked on are like children and it’s hard to pick favorites – but I loved my time in magazines. I met so many amazingly talented people, had a zillion cool experiences, and loved learning so, so much from some of the smartest people in the industry. It’s why I still write and interview experts today – I never want to stop learning, it’s so important! But the one thing I’ll say that I learned, if I had to highlight one thing, is that there’s no one way to do your makeup, hair, skincare routine, and nails – everyone looks at what they’re good at through their own lens, which makes everyone’s approach interesting; it’s also why we can continue to write about beauty and never get bored, because there’s always a new technique to covering dark circles or doing a smokey eye.

What’s the latest beauty trend or treatment you tried and what did you like about it? 

My husband recently introduced me to this masque called KHairPep, it’s a peptide treatment that repairs damaged hair (hi, I need you!) and, honestly, it’s the best I’ve ever tried. It works in place of your conditioner (you apply it after your hair has been towel-dried) and my bleached hair has literally never felt healthier, silkier, and immediately less damaged-looking. Even Gio was impressed! It’s now my hair’s saving grace and I’m telling everyone I know with highlighted, bleached, and relaxed hair about it. I’m obsessed.

Can you share one piece of advice you’d give to someone else trying to break into the beauty industry?

Work hard... but work your connections harder. Yes, strive to get the internship and the experience, but keep the contacts you made, and then keep in touch with those contacts – it’s so important. You never know where your path, or whom you met along the way, may lead you!

Who is your #1 beauty icon and why?

I find beauty in so many people that I never really had one sole beauty icon – is that weird?! I, personally, also don’t really have one signature look, so that’s probably why I find inspiration in a lot of women. I’m more inspired by the teams behind these women, who work so hard to make them look amazing, like Jo Baker, Pat McGrath, Sir John, Jen Atkin, Nikki Nelms, Mary Phillips – the list goes on. I mean, these people are so talented, it’s insane.

What’s the best beauty advice your mom or or maternal figures ever shared with you?

That being kind is what truly makes you beautiful – cliché but true. You can be the most gorgeous person in the world, but if you have a sour attitude or inflated ego and don’t care about others, your outer beauty can’t even really be seen.

What’s one thing that you love about yourself and why?

That I’m not stuck in my ways. I’m always game to learn something new and can see things from every perspective, not just my own.

Walk us through your typical weekday skincare routine.

Sure! I wake up, splash my face with a blue aqua toner from Odacite, then I apply a prescription cream to my face (Onexton, if you’re wondering) for my hormonal acne (yep, still breaking out in my 30s, super fun! I see Dr. Shari Marchbein who is a skin/acne genius, btw!), then I apply under-eye masks to my face – either Erno or Shiseido, whichever I have in stock, lol. Once I take them off, I smooth on a Vitamin C serum, followed by SPF. I’ve been trying to take more baths lately, so I’ll toss some Epsom salts in there for muscle recovery, since I’ve been working out more. During that bath, I’ll apply a face mask – one of my favorites is the Erno Laszlo White Marble Dual Phase Vitamin C Peel!

At night, I wash my face with a gentle cleanser (I rotate quite often) and then I apply two prescription creams for my acne (Retin-A Micro and Aczone, yay!). If I have a zit, I use Starface hydrocolloid star patches to shrink them faster, and then I apply a soothing cream, which I also switch out here and there, but it’s typically something fragrance-free and creamy!

What is your number one skincare goal?

To have clear skin; having acne is so debilitating and I don’t even have it as bad as other people do, so I really feel for them!

Do you have a skincare hack or “secret” you’re willing to share?

If you’re a beauty editor or in skincare then you definitely already know this, but your face shouldn’t stop at your chin... it stops right above your boobs. So it’s important to smooth all of your facial products down to that area to keep your neck and chest as youthful as possible for as long as you can. I also put my retinol cream on the tops of my hands at night! But I’m also not afraid of exploring in-office treatments, lasers, or injectables – I see Shereene Idriss.

What’s your go-to Erno Laszlo product and why?

Definitely the White Marble Dual Phase Vitamin C Peel, I see the most results with it. But we always have the eye masks in our apartment. My husband is an Erno devotee, so we’ve been using a lot of the products for a while!

How did your relationship with self-care begin and how has it changed over time?

My aunt and my cousin Charity really taught me a lot about beauty when I was young. I was in dance as a kid, so doing your hair and makeup was all a part of it, and then I just continued to be interested in beauty and skincare as I grew up – never thinking it could be a career, though. It wasn’t until I got an internship at Health magazine that that all changed. I became obsessed with all things skincare and makeup, and loved learning from experts about the science behind the formulas – the people who actually formulated them! – on how everything actually works, and how important it is to take care of your skin and take time for yourself. It was mind-blowing to me how uneducated I was as a young person, even with the importance of SPF and how it can save you from the sun spots I’m now dealing with in my 30s. But now, 16 years in, I feel very blessed to be able to be a part of this industry, but even more grateful that I’m that much more educated on what self-care is and its importance. It’s definitely something I’ll be teaching my daughter, Delfina, all about, and something that I love to share with and educate people about, so thank you for having me!

Photo credits, in order of appearance:

Esther Yu

Into the Gloss

Davis Factor