How Supermodel Veronica Webb Gets Better With Age

Veronica Webb has cemented her place as one of the most iconic supermodels in history. But she is not only known for gracing the covers of ’90s fashion magazines and lending her talents to the runway—she was also the first Black model to successfully land a major cosmetics contract with Revlon, in 1992.

revlon's 1993 unforgettable women contest

Ron Galella, Ltd.//Getty Images

Supermodels Veronica Webb, Claudia Schiffer, and Cindy Crawford on the red carpet at Revlon’s Unforgettable Women Contest in 1993

Now, at 59, Webb is bringing her storied experience in beauty full circle, as an ambassador for Shiseido, a brand that has been a standout in her life since childhood. “I was super excited when Shiseido contacted me,” she tells Bazaar. “Growing up as a little girl, I would put my fingers on the vanity counter and stand on my tiptoes to see the things that my mother had, which were few and far between, because she was extremely discerning about what she brought into the house and what she put on and in our bodies. Shiseido was one of the things she had: red lipstick, a cream, and a powder. And those were kind of constants during my childhood.”

As an adult, Webb was initially reintroduced to the brand’s skincare and cosmetic offerings while working in Paris as a supermodel in the early ’90s. “It was like the most refined, elegant stuff that I could imagine, and I got to gorge myself on it,” she says. And as with many of Shiseido’s bestsellers, Webb’s own approach to beauty has only gotten more refined with age, making her partnership with the brand feel especially kismet at this stage of her life.

“Age is something we should look at as having infinite potential, because the more you live, the more you learn,” she says. “One of the things I’ve always pursued in my life is beauty: whether it’s through fashion, expressing myself creatively as a writer, being a wife, a mother, or through my worship practices. Beauty comes through discipline, time, and learning. The more I learn about beauty—and really, the more I learn about skincare and the science of skincare—the better things can get.”

Bazaar caught up with the legend ahead for a closer look at her routine favorites, including weekly face masks and Epsom salt dips. Read on for a few supermodel beauty secrets Veronica Webb swears by.

If you don’t mind sharing, how old are you?

I’m 59 years old.

What age do you feel you are in your head?

Well, I feel my age—I feel 59. I feel like I’ve accomplished so much in life. I have a great career, I saw the world, I struck out and made it on my own. I found love, I’ve had children and raised them to adulthood, and will continue working on it for the rest of my life. I know who I am and what I like, and that makes me a grown-ass woman. And then, there are also things that come along with age, too. You know, the thing about the little aches and pains? That’s true. But basically, everything works—so yes, I feel my age. The tagline for my blog is: “Own Your Age. Own Your Beauty. Own Your Power.” And beauty and power come with age.

Do you have a beloved beauty product that you’ve worn for most of your life?

As women, our bodies change and evolve all the time—that’s what they’re meant to do. From our cycle to childbirth to menopause, women’s bodies grow and change, and are so amorphous, so the smart thing to do is respond to the needs of your body. Beauty products become this amazing kaleidoscope that helps you bring your beauty into focus, so I tend to be brand loyal rather than product loyal.

Shiseido Vital Perfection Uplifting and Firming Advanced Cream

Vital Perfection Uplifting and Firming Advanced Cream

Shiseido Vital Perfection Uplifting and Firming Advanced Cream

Credit: Ulta

If I were to say one thing that is both topical and ingestible, I’d say I always look for a really high-quality oil. And the red safflower technology that’s in the Shiseido Vital Perfection Advanced Cream, for me, is the essence of what my mother taught me about beauty. She was a nurse and she was also a great creative, and she always used to say, “Don’t put anything on yourself or in yourself that you wouldn’t eat and can’t pronounce.” According to one of Shiseido’s R&D scientists, red safflower oil is this ancient ingredient that has always been used for the best of skincare, the best of dye. And in the medieval world, an ounce of red safflower was equivalent to the price of an ounce of gold.

What aspects of your physical appearance do you love more now, as you’ve gotten older?

Really, my body. When we’re young, we have no idea what we have, and I think especially now, that’s multiplied 100 times for everybody. Everyone sees images of themselves everywhere all day long from every different angle. But I don’t compare myself to other people anymore. I don’t have this idea that my body has to look exactly “this way.” I’m proud that my body does what I want it to do, right? I’m proud that my body can run a marathon, figure skate, swim, pick up kids, or be a gift to my partner. And that isn’t confined by my measurements.

Which beauty products would you say have aged well?

For me, it’s things like French milled soap and the red shades of Shiseido’s ModernMatte Powder lipstick. François Nars’s Orgasm blush as well—it’s almost like you have to have that in every room of the house. It’s a huge hero product. I remember when François had it in beta; the first time I saw it, I think, was at an Alaïa show.

Shiseido Modern Matte Powder Lipstick in 509 Flame

Modern Matte Powder Lipstick in 509 Flame

Shiseido Modern Matte Powder Lipstick in 509 Flame

Credit: Saks Fifth Avenue

As one of the first African-American models to receive an exclusive cosmetics contract, would you say the beauty industry is aging gracefully in terms of its product diversity and general inclusion?

I mean, beauty has exploded in a way that I never ever, ever could have imagined. [Just] the amount of people who now have access to labs—and can bring their visions to life when it comes to color cosmetics—alone. When I started, the idea of putting a woman of color under contract to sell cosmetics was unheard of, because our market wasn’t seen as prestige or aspirational. My daughters have grown up in a world where when they look at beauty campaigns, it’s different sizes, ages, and orientations. It goes back to some of the greatest beauty advice ever gotten, and I kind of see it being very real now. In the way that people are developing cosmetics and advertising them across the board, Azzedine Alaïa once said to me, “Anyone can become beautiful at any time. It’s just a question of, maybe, the right lipstick, the right haircut, the right dress. Everyone has beauty. You just have to know how to find it.”

Please give us a quick breakdown of your current beauty routine.

Let’s see: Well, it’s got to be simple and effective. So, I was really happy when Shiseido gave me the Vital Perfection Cream, because it works really well on its own. It’s really moisturizing, and I’ve noticed a nice surface tension on my skin. The places that are dry and a little bit crepey, especially in the lower quadrant of the face between the cheekbone and the jaw, look and feel much smoother, and the cream makes a great canvas for makeup. And for my nighttime routine, I like to layer more of Shiseido’s other beautiful products.

Shiseido Benefiance NutriPerfect Night Cream

Benefiance NutriPerfect Night Cream

Shiseido Benefiance NutriPerfect Night Cream

Credit: Sephora

Shiseido Vital Perfection LiftDefine Radiance Serum

Vital Perfection LiftDefine Radiance Serum

Shiseido Vital Perfection LiftDefine Radiance Serum

Credit: Amazon

I always put on sunscreen because you have to, and I wish I had learned that lesson a lot earlier. I also always use a serum-based foundation. I love the extra moisture and extra radiance [they add], because as skin ages and you have less estrogen, it’s less radiant—that’s just how it is—and then a little blush. I’m a big fan of eyelash extensions because mascara takes a long time—it’s very fussy and messy. I can’t wait for mascara 2.0, when it goes from being a rotary phone to being a cell phone. I also always use lip balm or oil on my lips, and then a mask once a week and [take] regular Epsom salt baths.

Shiseido RevitalEssence Skin Glow Foundation SPF 30

RevitalEssence Skin Glow Foundation SPF 30

Shiseido RevitalEssence Skin Glow Foundation SPF 30

Credit: Amazon

Lashify Control Kit

Control Kit

Lashify Control Kit

Credit: Lashify

For hair, my favorite clean shampoo is Love Beauty and Planet, because the more simple a product is, the better. When I want to get down and dirty, I reach for Tresemmé—it helps restore and protect my hair from heat. I also like using K18 and Ceremonia—everything Ceremonia does is great. I’m also a total Hot Tools and T3 fan. I still play like a little kid in the bathroom. One of my big things about learning how to look great and take care of yourself is to fix yourself up when it doesn’t matter, when you’re not going anywhere. Like, fix yourself up when you’re staying at home, so you can see what works and how it wears when you walk around the house. And don’t forget: Your family deserves the best of you, too. It’s not just for showing off in the street.

On Sale

Vegan Collagen Moisture Shampoo

Love Beauty and Planet Vegan Collagen Moisture Shampoo

Now 14% Off

Credit: Amazon
Molecular Repair Hair Oil
K18 Molecular Repair Hair Oil
Credit: Amazon
Smooth ID 1-Inch Flat Iron With Touch Interface
T3 Smooth ID 1-Inch Flat Iron With Touch Interface
Credit: Amazon
Guava Leave-In Conditioner
Ceremonia Guava Leave-In Conditioner
Credit: Credo

A lot of conversations around aging seem to lead to injectables and plastic surgery. What are your thoughts on the topic?

For me, I’m extremely hesitant about it, simply because there’s always a risk with anesthesia. And I have kids and a husband, and I want to be here for everybody. Plus, if you don’t like it, it’s a major thing to go back in and correct something. But you know, everybody has to do what they feel comfortable with; not everything works for everybody.

It’s very easy for me to say I can avoid plastic surgery, because I got great genes from my mother and father, and then spent basically my entire life in the beauty industry learning every trick of the trade. So, it’s easier for me than most to stay neck and neck with time. Injectables I think are great—I’ve used Botox, I’ve used filler, and I don’t want to look 20 years younger. I don’t want to look like this reconstituted version of myself; I just want to keep the symmetry going. That’s really what our eyes love. The more symmetrical something is, whether it’s a flower or a face, the more we associate that with health and vitality. And also, you lose a lot of the fat in your face once menopause comes.

What keeps you feeling vibrant and youthful?

I feel like I have so much to live for, and there’s so much to learn and so much to do. Now at 59, I don’t care what other people think. You’re not successful enough, or you’re too successful, you’re fat, you’re skinny, you’re old, you’re fit. I don’t care, and that’s very freeing. When I think about the way my mother lived her life, and how she went to college until she was almost 70, and just kept advancing herself and learn something different every year. And so, I make it a point to try to learn something different every year and be grateful for the day that I’ve been given because today is the only day that we have. No matter how dark the world gets, I always believe that there’s goodness in people and light at the end of the tunnel.

Many people fear growing older. In your opinion, what is the best part about it?

There’s a certain mellowness that comes with age. You have enough experience to live and let live, and you know the difference between wanting to get mad and needing to get mad. I think it was Tupac who said, “I hope everybody eats, just not necessarily at my table”? You stay out of my way and I’ll stay out of your way, and I wish you well. And that’s also something that comes with age.


Tiffany Dodson is currently the associate beauty commerce editor at Harper’s Bazaar, where she specializes in trend forecasting, building relationships with major and emerging brands, and crafting shopping stories—from holiday gift guides to product road tests. Tiffany’s work has previously been featured in outlets like SELF, Bustle, and Teen Vogue, and she’s been quoted as a commerce and beauty expert in publications and platforms like The Business of Fashion and NPR’s Life Kit podcast.