Her Skincare Secrets: An Interview With Sheri Stroh, Canada’s Top Makeup Artist

by Gio
sheri stroh skincare interview

Sheri Stroh likes a natural look – in every sense of the word.

She’s obsessed with achieving a perfect glowing skin that lets a woman’s natural beauty shine through (as opposed to hiding it under layers of makeup, as is the trend today) using natural and environmentally friendly products.

This philosophy made her a go-to for the likes of Catherine Zeta Jones, Cate Blanchett, and Penelope Cruz – to name only a few.

In this interview, Sheri shares how she takes care of her skin, what skincare and makeup products she can’t live without, and more:

1. When did you become interested in skincare?

It’s hard to pinpoint when exactly it was, but no joke, I was a child. I’ll credit my grandmothers for this since my mother had no interest whatsoever in most skincare and beauty products, save for what I considered unimpressive basics. I would always lock myself in their bathrooms and begin a whole regimen that started with cleansing with their fancy skincare and ending with tons of make-up from brands like Estee Lauder and Elizabeth Arden…..then of course I would have to cleanse it all off.

Going to drugstores and department stores always excited me and once I started working I would spend most of my pay checks on beauty products and skincare was definitely a huge part of that. The Clinique 3 step program was my favourite on and off throughout high school, I have used eye cream since I was 16 and I was an early adopter of AHA when it first came out, even though there was no way I needed it really and I always loved a face mask.

Basically, anything that was in a magazine, I wanted to at least try and I loved getting to go to the US to shop for beauty products since they always had so much more than we ever had here in Canada (and there was no online shopping). 

2. What’s your skincare routine like?

My skincare routine can really vary as it depends on the condition of my skin, how much time I have and what I feel like doing, and if I have received any new products as well (I will be completely honest in saying that once I get something new I have a hard time not opening and trying it right away). I have friends and colleagues who think I have anywhere from the most elaborate routine to fairly basic since they are all different in their interest in skincare.

I’m a huge fan of simplicity and knowing when that is all I need and I don’t like to attack my skin anymore when I get breakouts, but I do love actives like Vit C, Retinol, BHA & AHA’s, antioxidants and ingredients like azelaic acid, niacinamide and the like and use them accordingly. I used to be really into facial oils for a good few years, and I still love them and use them all of the time, but they are mixed in with the other products now as I found they weren’t enough for me as I got older.

So that being said, cleanser-wise, I use mainly cream, oil or balm cleansers that rinse clean; in summer I’m more into double cleansing and using a gentle foaming one as well and in winter I sometimes only use water in the morning as that’s all I need and my skin is happy. I have a thing for face mists and toners and rotate them according to how my skin is and based on what else I am using (don’t want ingredients interacting negatively) and then I will usually follow with a serum that is water-based and probably contains Vit C or some sort of antioxidant (in the evening, this is where maybe retinol or an AHA or BHA comes in…..these are again rotated and not used every day).

A facial oil or moisturizer will follow, along with eye cream, and then I will use SPF during the day, usually every single day unless I’m not going to be exposed. The rituals of jade rolling and gun sha are also part of my routine when I have time, as well as facial massage and masking a few times a week. It all sounds like a lot, and it is, but I really do love skincare and learning from cosmetic chemists and formulators, dermatologists, aestheticians, brands and other beauty enthusiasts who introduce me to new products and techniques. 

3. If you could only use three skincare products for the rest of your life, what would they be?

A really good cleanser, probably a balm or oil one that emulsifies and rinses off. I guess I feel that if needed, I can really massage my face for a few minutes to get circulation going with some gentle exfoliation as well. Next would be some sort of jam-packed moisturizer with “all the things” and then definitely a great SPF,

4. What are your fave skincare brands and why?

Oh wow, this is a tough one as there are so many brands that I use and love so the list is quite long.

The first one to come to mind is Bella Aura, a brand based in Canada that has some of the best emulsions and serums I have EVER used and makes my skin so happy. I have to say, when I use this line (along with a few of my favourite actives here and there) my skin was just so damn good and virtually problem free. I guess I could call it homeostasis? The blend of science and nature in this line is pretty awesome to me.

My next brand is a more ‘natural’ line called Earthwise Beauty out of the northwest US. The formulas are very botanical and somewhat whimsical, but again, my skin responds so well to their serums and balms (some of the best I have tried).

I have to add La Roche Posay in here as it’s gentle and effective and I have so many of their products that are both personal and kit staples. I know when my skin needs calming and soothing from overdoing other things (yes, it can happen haha) this is what it needs and there is almost immediate relief. 

Fitglow Beauty is another brand I have had great success with as I love their use of actives like Vit C and encapsulated retinol. Along with these ingredients they also tackle adult acne in a gentle way which I truly appreciate.

I have also stumbled upon Paula’s Choice for a few key products, thanks to the likes of Instagram. Not only are a lot of her formula’s effective for me (BHA, Boosters, Retinol), they’re also a lot more cost-effective and easy to recommend.

5. What are your top 3 skincare tips to take care of your skin?

First tip: I can’t stress this enough (even to myself sometimes): Be Gentle. We all overdo things and one of the worst is to really be aggressive when it comes to breakouts and acne and personally, I find this counterproductive more often than not. I used to be afraid of moisture and want to strip my skin as much as I could. This doesn’t work and I find soothing and moisturizing to be key (along with not picking and popping of course).

Second: Always cleanse before you go to bed to remove makeup, dirt, pollution etc. Even if you don’t wear make-up, a gentle cleanse is usually warranted. If before bed is too hard to stick to, try doing it right when you get home (I love doing this and there is no need to keep make-up on if you’re just going to be home anyway…get it done right away).

Third is SPF. Basically always. Find a formula that makes you want to use it and USE IT. Every day. I have clients and friends always asking me what they can ‘do’ regarding aging and I always say SPF and usually I get the response: “ya, but like I mean ingredients” and I’m always: “SPF”. You really have to drill in that it’s the most effective way, but it’s hard because it’s not something noticeable overnight or even in a week or a month, it’s something that you will never really notice since it’s preventative.

6. What skincare treatments do you regularly have done?

I have tried IPL, dermabrasion, aquabrasion, LED, radio frequency and I love it all, along with facials that are just all about massage and hydrating. I wouldn’t say I do this on the regular though, even if I would like to, my schedule sometimes doesn’t permit for it (or I get lazy) and also because of how diligent I am at home, I find I don’t ‘need’ it as often either. I really would like to incorporate more of this into my regimen as I get older along with other treatments as they come out.

7. What lifestyle habits do you have that keep your skin in top shape?

Oh I wish I could say I was better at all of this. I KNOW what is best, but I don’t always follow it, that is for sure. When I am busy with work and the subsequent commuting, I can be horrible with staying hydrated (insert eye-roll here), I’m a night owl for absolutely no reason at all and while I love sleep and know how good it is for overall health, I sometimes have to make myself go to bed when I realize I’m staying up for nothing.

When it comes to diet, I’m pretty good for the most part, but I could be better and exercise can be more ‘all or nothing’ depending on my work schedule so I really need to get on that. I basically sound like a mess here lol, but I think I probably just sound like most everyone out there. Balance (an overused word, I know), is key and I honestly try not to beat myself up for any of this, it’s not worth it.

Perfect skin is a myth, and while I love beauty, there are very unreal expectations not only put on us, but that we put on ourselves that are very unnecessary. I don’t freak out when I have a breakout and I try to let people know that it’s not only okay to have spots and acne and facial hair and shine and blocked pores etc., it’s actually NATURAL. 

8. What’s in your makeup bag?

I’m pretty ‘minimal’, especially for a make-up artist (or what most assume a make-up artist will be like….I think because we play with make-up on others we usually use less anyway). I will always have a cream highlighter, ALWAYS. When cheeks look fresh and dewy, it makes skin look good no matter what is going on with it really. Right now I’m loving the Manasi7 Strobelighter in “Celestial”.

Bronzer is also a favourite of mine since I’m medium-olive toned and I love a boost of colour. Lilah b. Bronzed Beauty Bronzer Duo is my current go-to. It’s all about cheeks to me and cream blush is my jam and the new Ilia Beauty Color Haze Matte Pigments are perfect and easy to use and come in the prettiest natural shades.

I don’t like foundation all over my face, it tends to look like a mask and age me so I like to spot conceal instead which means I just use a tiny bit where needed, usually under the eyes and around my nose to reduce redness (I will honestly say that I do not go out of my way to cover spots, either active or healing/healed, it’s not worth it to me, you will either see a bit of a spot or make-up covering that spot so it’s pointless to me).

Right now I enjoy the FitGlow Beauty Conceal + as it blends in seamlessly with good coverage and hydration too. Brows are super important for me since I all but killed them in the the 90’s and I love the new brow ‘markers’ by Glossier (or the ‘old’ ones from Stila) to add little strokes to mimic natural brow hairs. If I feel like using a pencil I turn to automatic ones like Kimiko or EcoBrow.

For eyes, I’m simple and like a wash of brown around my eye to add a bit of dimension and the Organic Skin Co. pressed eyeshadow in “Bamboo” is beautiful. When it comes to mascara, that’s IF I’m wearing mascara (I often don’t, I know, The Horror!!!) it’s Kevyn Aucoin’s Volumizing which is a tubing mascara that stays on me and is easy to remove.

I’m easy with lips and this is where I will have a little more fun with make-up if I’m feeling it. From really matte, saturated lipsticks I adore the Lisa Eldridge Collection with “Rainbow Spill” being my favourite to lipglosses that contain skincare ingredients like FitGlow Beauty Lip Serums and Dior Lip Maximizers.

Also in my bag: Kosas Cosmetics Weightless Lip Colors: some of the most wearable shades in a moisturizing formula and lip powders like Chanel Rouge Allure Liquid Powder and NYX Powder Puffs being staples. As well, I will have a collection of lip balms of various kinds (Laneige, LaMer, FitGlow Beauty, La Roche Posay, Henne Organics, Kosas, Nuxe) and nude lip liners which I have come to love again after not using them personally for well over a decade (RMS Beauty, Kjaer Weiss, NYX, Smashbox, Bourjouis). There’s more, but I’m feeling this may not be as minimal as I think it sounds.

Thank you, Sheri!

You can keep up with Sheri on Instagram.

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