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Expert Interview with Shannon Smyth on Pampering Yourself for Biconi

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For Shannon Smyth, beauty is more than just about finding the perfect lipstick hue or perfect moisturizer - it's therapeutic.

"There have been different points in my life when I've suffered loss or have been under an incredible amount of stress," Shannon says. "Something as simple as a fragrant body wash or perfectly hued lipgloss have made a difference in lifting my spirits."

This is why the founder of A Girl's Gotta Spa! believes all women should take time in their day to focus on self-care. Here, Shannon discusses how she pampers herself and offers insight on taking care of your skin year-round.

Tell us about A Girl's Gotta Spa ... when and why did you start your site?

I launched A Girl's Gotta Spa! in October of 2005. Beauty blogs were virtually unheard of, as was blogging as a whole. I wanted the ability to connect with people beyond my rural area of the Poconos and the four walls of my house. Writing and beauty were both a passion, and as a mom of three with another that would soon be on the way, I wanted to help women to take time for themselves because I knew what a difference it could make. Something it seems we often feel guilty about.

How did you become so passionate about beauty?

The day that stands out vividly in my mind is my 13th birthday. I was not allowed to wear makeup until I turned 13, so on my birthday I made a beeline straight to the cosmetics aisle of my neighborhood drugstore. That's when the passion began, and my wallet has never been the same.

What's your daily beauty routine consist of?

Just thinking about all of the products I use each day is overwhelming! But it's like second nature to walk through my routine. The shower always consists of a facial cleanser, shampoo, conditioner, sometimes a moisturizing soap and an exfoliant two times a week, but always body wash. I prefer to use products with energizing scents to boost my mood. Post-shower is a hydrating body lotion and foot cream, hair treatments to give volume and de-frizz, all the usual skincare of toner, serum, and lotion with SPF... then makeup. Do you have another hour for me to get into all of that?

What do you like to do when you want to pamper yourself?

Ideally, it would be to go to the spa for a facial, pedicure or massage. That's not always possible, so I try to incorporate aspects of spa time at home, like relaxing with a paper mask on my face or taking a bath and just slowing things down. Even if it is just five minutes of my day, I do something for myself.

What products do you make sure never to leave home without?

Lip liner, lipstick and lipgloss. The vast amount in my handbag would basically stock a store shelf!

They say you are what you eat. So what sorts of food do you eat to improve the look of your skin, hair, etc.? What types of food do you avoid?

I love vegetables and fruit - anywhere I can get vitamin C. Vitamin C is so important for collagen production and your immune system. I can't say I really avoid any foods because I have a bit of a sweet tooth. However, if you asked my mother, she'd say green beans.

What's your strategy for shopping for skincare and makeup products? What makes you buy one product over another? What types of products do you avoid?

Being 40 means I need targeted treatments for my skin to combat dark spots, uneven skin tone, fine lines and wrinkles, etc. Being a beauty blogger has its advantages in that I can hear about these things more readily than just walking into a store and being overwhelmed by what is available to me. This is another reason why I do what I do with the blog, so that I can help women make better-informed decisions about the products they are looking for. For cosmetics, while there are brands I adore, I am more of an impulsive buyer. If I see mascara that says it will make my lashes look the best they have ever been, I'll purchase it immediately. However, I do avoid products with lofty claims. I don't like marketing that plays on a woman's insecurities.

What tips do you have for keeping your skin looking great going into the winter months?

Exfoliation and hydration. Once that thermostat goes up, the moisture in the air is depleted and skin begins to get dehydrated. Lotion alone won't do the job, and you need to slough off the dry and dead layers to allow for better absorption of your lotion. Nothing beats super soft skin in the winter, or year-round.

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