Desiree Stordahl is a best-selling beauty co-author, alongside legendary skincare expert Paula Begoun, dedicated to using her years of expertise to help people solve their skincare woes, from acne to wrinkles and everything in between. Desiree’s passion for all things beauty carries over to makeup with game-changing trends, tips, and tricks for flawless skin. Whether you need to know how to treat crow’s feet or under-eye circles, Desiree is your expert.
1. How did you get started in the beauty industry?
The only way I can explain it is fate! Growing up I had my fair share of skin struggles, and my family was on a very limited budget so I needed products that I could buy over-the-counter that would really work.
Unfortunately, nothing seemed to do the trick so I turned to makeup to at least camouflage my breakouts. I got pretty good at doing makeup on myself and others, and my passion for all things beauty carried over into my school work…I still have a report from 8th grade called “Beauty by the Buck” where I analyzed whether or not expensive cosmetic products were better formulated than their drugstore competitors.
Fast-forward to the college years, I graduated with a degree in Communication Studies and went on to work in sales and marketing. All the meanwhile my struggles with acne didn’t let up… nor did my passion for skincare and makeup fizzle out. It was my dream to somehow work in the beauty industry, but I didn’t yet know how that would play out.
One fateful day I saw an ad to work for a “Paula’s Choice Skincare and Cosmetics Company” and several interviews with the legendary Paula Begoun later I KNEW this is where I belonged. Paula took me under her wing, trained me how to interpret cosmetic studies, made me promise to never tan again or she’d fire me (true story) and taught me why so many skincare products didn’t work like they said they would and what to do instead. Once I got my skin under control I wanted to share that same life-changing info with others, and the rest, as they say, is history! Several years and two books later, here I am.
It feels so serendipitous that everything fell into place at the right time, but really, when I reflect back it’s clear that actually my whole life had been preparing me for this role. God had my plan in motion from the get-go—I just didn’t know it!
2. What are some of the best beauty products to have radiant skin?
Beta hydroxy acid (BHA) and alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) leave-on exfoliants are game changers. By gently getting rid of the built up layer of dead skin cells, BHA and AHA exfoliants help smooth wrinkles and reveal the radiant skin hiding under a dull complexion. And don’t let the “acid” part of their names scare you… they’re actually gentler on your skin than using a scrub!
In the realm of makeup, a good highlighter works wonders for a youthful glow. Becca Cosmetics makes some of the best luminizing products out there, and just a couple strategically placed highlights can really liven up a drab complexion.
For the days I go without makeup but want a hint of luminosity, I love the Resist Pure Radiance Skin Brightening Treatment from Paula’s Choice. It’s formulated with ingredients that fade discolorations for a more even skin tone + it contains mineral pigments that instantly revitalize and brighten the complexion.
3. Share with us the appropriate age for women to start using anti-aging products?
There isn’t a hard and fast rule, but if you want to keep your skin looking as young and healthy as possible, it pays to start using anti-aging products from the moment you earn your own money to buy them! Think of it like a healthy diet. You wouldn’t prolong eating nutritious, antioxidant-rich foods until you’re in your 40s, right? The same should go for skin. The earlier you start using products loaded with anti-aging ingredients such as antioxidants, retinol, peptides, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, etc., the better off your skin is going to be in the long run.
Above all else, start wearing sunscreen on a daily basis no matter what your age. That’s the #1 way to halt the signs of aging!
4. What are the top 5 wrinkle creams and skin tighteners?
It’s hard to pick the top five when there are so many great formulas out there, but here are some great wrinkle-fighting and skin-firming options based on the research behind their ingredients:
In terms of traditional “skin tighteners”, the tightening effect of many of these types of products comes from a high amount of film-forming ingredients, which make skin feel tighter temporarily, but skin “feeling” tighter is not the same as making a real change for the long run. However, with products like those mentioned above, you can create healthier, younger-looking skin, and in some cases, increase firmness.
5. In your book, you mentioned natural ingredients that are bad for the skin. Could you share a few here?
There are many natural ingredients that are brilliant for skin, but there are also many that do much more harm than good. For instance, despite their popularity essential oils such as lavender, rosemary, and jasmine contain volatile, fragrant compounds that incite pro-aging inflammation to the skin. Citrus extracts, such as lemon, grapefruit and orange, should also be avoided due to their sensitizing/irritating effect that impairs the skin’s immune response. Other natural ingredients to watch out for include witch hazel, ylang ylang, arnica, and balm mint oil, just to name a few.
If you’ve ever used products with these kinds of ingredients and wonder why they don’t appear to be problematic for you, keep in mind that research has demonstrated that you don’t need to see or feel irritation for it to be causing damage below the surface layer of skin. They’re sneaky in that way—speeding up the signs of aging without you knowing it.
6. How can readers learn more about your expertise and wonderful book?