Leading Anti-Aging expert and blogger Darnell Cox is the founder of Live Young Lifestyle whose mission is to attack the aging process from every angle: Mind, Body & Spirit.
A lifelong, self-proclaimed, “guinea pig of the beauty industry,” Darnell used the money from a high school summer job to buy her first jar of wrinkle cream at the age of 17… And she’s never looked back. Now at 48, Darnell is the mother of 3 young adults and her passion is Aging Well!
Please tell us a little about you?
I’m an anti-aging beauty expert – or, at least, an expert-in-process. (I learn something new every day.) For the past few years, I’ve blogged, videoed, interviewed, experimented, researched, curated, written (and re-written) content that I share with my friends, readers, subscribers and clients. But, above all, I’m a mother of four 16-21 year olds and a self-proclaimed guinea pig of the beauty and health industries.
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Curious. Daring. Joyful.
What’s your background?
Born in 1968 in Merced, a small town in California’s Central Valley, one of five children to parents who owned and worked a small ranch. But, despite my chores of feeding calves and caring for the horses, I was a “girly-girl”. Although many girls grow up interested in makeup and fashion, I have very specific memories of being interested in skin care and fitness from a very early age. (Saving my wages from high school jobs in order to buy wrinkle cream… at the age of 16!) I moved to Los Angeles in order to continue my education at Cal State Northridge, met my future husband in 1991 and, once married, we moved to Shanghai (my husband is Chinese) and then Singapore. And then: three children, a move back to the States, a divorce, an engagement and a step-son later… I began to look for my calling. With an (unused) Masters in Psychology in my pocket, I trained for the LA Marathon (ask me later about my bucket list). It was on that run that I began thinking about creating a blog, a community where women might learn about age-appropriate exercise and beauty maintenance. Indeed, it was at about Mile 14 that “Live Young Lifestyle” was born.
How did you get in the industry?
I feel like I came out of the womb wearing stilettos and lipstick. I’ve always been fascinated with this world. In fact, my kids were the least surprised of anyone when I declared that I’d found my passion. (“Mama,” they said, “You’ve always been doing that stuff.”) So I took what I knew, learned what I didn’t know, put myself out there for every treatment, interview, and product-testing that seemed safe… And voila: here I am.
Where did you work before creating Live Young Lifestyle?
My list of jobs started when I was 15: Cold-calling listed numbers for the phone company. Cheese log spokesperson at a nearby mall. Grocery bagger at my local supermarket. Sandwich-maker and bakery manager at a small bakery. Truck loader at UPS. Ballet, tap, and gymnastics teacher to pre-schoolers. Ballroom dance instructor at Arthur Murray. Then… Wife. Mother. Grad Student. More mothering. All the while keeping up-to-date on the latest in skin care, beauty, exercise & diet.
Who has made the biggest impact on your life so far, and why?
My kids. I know, that sounds like a cop-out. But being their mother has made me the person I am. It’s taught me patience, perseverance, kindness, empathy, creativity and – thanks to them – I’ve memorized every word of every single Disney movie. (Even though I can’t remember where I I put my reading glasses five minutes ago.)
Name one your strengths?
I dream big and I work hard to make them happen. (I mean, how else do you get from bottle-feeding calves on a Merced ranch to beauty-blogging while on a Kenyan photo safari?)
What part of your job do you find the most challenging?
There are days when I just don’t feel like writing. I’ll give interviews, I’ll film a segment, I’ll test new products… but the writing? Ugh. It comes and goes. So I have to make myself do it.
What’s next for Darnell Cox?
I want to share my knowledge with a larger audience so that I can help more people not only look younger through diet, exercise, products and procedures, but also feel better about themselves. I believe that how you look on the outside is deeply connected to how we feel about ourselves on the inside and vice versa. Don’t believe me? Think about the last time you slipped on those skinny jeans and they felt a little looser than normal. How did that make you feel? Did it change your attitude in a positive way for that day? Did you feel healthier, more energetic? There is something very motivating about looking our best. I want to help more people achieve that.
How does a normal day in your life look like?
I wake up and my fiancee brings me green tea in bed (ya, he’s a keeper.) I get the kids off to school, work out and get “to work.” Researching, writing, interviewing and posting. I plan dinner, as I cook at least one meal for my family a day – tweaking recipes and sharing them with my friends and on my site, and testing them out on my kids and fiancee. I often shoot a video on location or meet with experts and pick their brains. After dinner, it’s helping kids with homework, a little TV, a bath (I can’t live without it), tons of potions and then, to bed. I really love my life. I am blessed.
What’s your favorite quote?
Emile Zola said, “If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud.” I love that quote: to live out loud. It’s like a mission statement and a challenge. But, honestly, my motto is “Chin up, tits out.” It was said by an old friend to me on a day when I was completely overwhelmed. Again, it’s that connection between the outward appearance and internal feelings. Sometimes just a small physical act – like smiling when you don’t feel like it or changing in your posture – can affect your internal feelings. (I guess my unused psychology degree still manages to play a role in my life and my blogs.)
What inspires you?
The little things. The ones that let me know I’m making a difference. When my hairdresser tells me that since she started following my blog, she’s lost 25 pounds. When my best girlfriend begins to brag to everyone about how gorgeous her skin looks, thanks to a regimen that I recommended. When a stranger approaches me at the supermarket – recognizing me from the photo on my site – and tells me that she had a procedure done, something I’d suggested, and that her only regret is that she didn’t do it 15 years ago. I’m inspired by helping people. Not the idea of helping people. Actually helping them feel better about themselves.
How do you spend your spare time?
Friends, family, cooking, reading and researching. Guilty pleasure is a little bit of binge-watching TV. And then… there’s the bucket list. Which is all about travel, adventures, and experiences I feel compelled to try before I’m too old to give them a shot. I’m bound and determined to cross two things off my bucket list per year, so – as you might imagine – it takes a bit of planning and budgeting.
Do you have any beauty/makeup tips for our readers?
Yes! Of course. Where do I even start? Okay. I’ll start with the basics. My regimen borders on the absurd (laughing), but if you follow just these basic tips, your skin will definitely improve. Mornings: Wash with a gentle cleanser. Then apply C-Serum, followed by sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen. Nights: Wash. Let your skin dry for 20 minutes before applying Retin-A (or a Retinoid product) followed by a moisturizer. Makeup: If you’re over the age of 40, don’t wear a frosty-colored lipstick or glitter eye shadow. (Unless it’s Halloween). (Umm… On second thought, not even on Halloween. Pick a different costume.) I can talk for days on this subject alone. My website is full of tips on beauty and skin care tips.
Do you have a role model?
Role model? Or a hero? I have lots of heroes: strong women who dare to make a difference, working mothers, supportive spouses, curious students, generous teachers…. Everywhere I look, I try to find the good in people, something I can learn from or aspire to. (Sometimes, I’m told, to a fault.)
Is it a cliche to love Meryl Streep? (if so, I’m guilty.) She’s beautiful without being conventionally “beautiful.” She’s aging gracefully and gorgeously. And she works on her craft, it seems, with passion and integrity.
Who are your top 3 fashion designers?
I don’t really follow fashion as one-style-fits-all. I’m a very petite person, so many designer pieces look like I’m playing dress-up in my mother’s clothing. I like clean lines and simple silhouettes. So for me, I like Victoria Beckham and Herve Leger. But I also think that Alexander Wang and Alice + Olivia fit my body-type well.
Something you can’t leave your house without?
Sunglasses and lipstick. (But that’s because I always put on sunscreen before I leave the house.) One of the major causes of wrinkles around the eyes is squinting from the sun. And even the most frazzled woman can look “pulled together” in a pinch with a little bit of lipstick.
How would your best friend describe you?
Loyal. Fun. Generous. Silly. Courageous.
What does family mean to you?
Simply? Everything. When things aren’t right with my family, nothing is right.
Any celebrity crush?
No. I’m not that girl. Just never followed move stars and TV stars that way. I’m the girl who swooned when I met Dr. Obagi (world-renowned dermatologist). There is work that I appreciate: Johnny Depp, Sean Penn, Denzel Washington. But I don’t have a crush on them. Meeting them wouldn’t make me blush. (So says the girl who hasn’t met them.)
Do you support any charity?
Heifer International. I love this organization. In giving an animal to families and communities in need, with each subsequent birth or litter, this gift keeps on giving. And, I have to admit, any charity which involves children finds its way into my heart. I will give to, and show up anywhere for, kids who are less fortunate than mine.
Favorite music, and why?
Songs with a good hook, romantic lyrics and a tempo that my fiancee and I can slow dance to (usually in the kitchen while I’m yielding a spatula).
Idea of a perfect Sunday?
Wake up late. Tea in bed. A day off from exercise. No school. No writing. Afternoon movie at the local theater. Family dinner (that was cooked all day long in my slow cooker… I wrote a blog about that, too.). Flipping through some magazines. Bath. Potions. Bed.
In 5 years you will be…?
An empty nester. (Weeping). Aside from that – I’ll be 53. And I plan to be doing what I’m doing now, but better. With more knowledge, more experience, and – with any luck – a bigger audience.
What do you think of Social Media?
I’m confused by it. It sucks, to be honest with you. But I know it’s necessary these days for anyone who wants to communicate with a larger audience.
Where our readers can follow you?
YouTube: Live Young Lifestyle
Book: The Other Boleyn Girl
Food: Mexican, the spicier the better.
Movie: The Notebook (don’t judge me!)
Song: “Waiting for My Real Life to Begin” (Colin Hay – listen to it. Trust me)
Drink: Ketel One, a splash of cranberry juice and a lime.
Restaurant: The Ivy, on Robertson Boulevard in West Hollywood.
Sports Team: The Dodgers. And the Oakland Raiders.
Travel Destination: Everywhere.