Beauty products

Vanessa Williams’ favorite beauty products

The beauty of being Vanessa Williams

Courtesy of Vanessa Williams

After 40 years in the spotlight, Vanessa Williams is taking the experience of aging in the public eye with flying colors. “At 59, I joke that when a woman of a certain age walks into a room, she scans everyone from head to toe [thinking] What did they do? Is it a good job? Does it work?”

For the multi-hyphenated star, it’s about looking like the best version of herself and being clear about what she will — and won’t — do. “There’s a new machine about every year, and I’ve tried a few,” Williams told PEOPLE. “I wish I could live in a time where we have a magic ribbon that dissolves into our skin and [helps with] elasticity and all that. But it’s a dream, so it’s [about] assess the associated risks. Is a line worth a cut?

But in the end, Williams knows the most important thing is to come from a place of gratitude. “When you feel good about yourself, you can create beauty wherever you go.”

Ahead, Williams shares the short list of essentials that help her look and feel her best, including creations from beauty industry vets like Hi Beautiful You founder Richard Anderson. “He’s such an innovator. His new skin tone [see next slide] is one of my all-time favorites – and the mascara is amazing too.”

Skin tone

“I don’t leave home without it,” Williams says of this weightless, blemish-blending gel. “It’s matte, so it takes away that unwanted shine while letting your skin glow.”

Buy it! Hi Beautiful You Be You Skin Rich Skin Perfecting Tint, $48;

Cleansing Wipes

These are Williams’ must-haves for removing stage makeup. “These are gentle wipes with just the perfect amount of oil that makes your skin feel nice,” she says.

Buy it! Serge Lutens Makeup Remover, $40;

face scrub

Williams has been “addicted” to this scrub since an editor friend introduced her to it. Its soft biodegradable pearls” aren’t abrasive, so it’s a great daily scrub that takes that layer [of dead skin] and leaves the skin wonderful.”

Buy it! Vivier Vitamin C Scrub, $53;

luxury lipstick

Williams put this relatively new collection from La Perla to the test on Broadway during her run at POTUS. “It’s full coverage, but creamy enough not to dry out your lips. And the colors are really pleasant.”

Buy it! La Perla Matte Silk Lipstick in 101 Nude Red, $56;

Hydrating Serum

This was created by a legendary makeup artist Derrick Rutledge, who Williams has known since the late 1980s. “I find my skin does better with an oil moisturizer than a cream. It just soaks in,” Williams says. Enter Aura, which contains a blend of oils to hydrate and add shine. “I use it every night,” she says of the lightweight find. “It’s a beautiful product.”

Buy it! Derrick Rutledge Aura Glow Serum, $79;

Nourishing Serum

Williams discovered it last year, but it became an early favorite, she says. “Sometimes I get redness on my forehead and cheekbones. It calms, soothes and evens out my skin tone.” It has also become her secret weapon to protect her skin from the environment. “Those brown spots you can get with the sun, I try to avoid that!”

Buy it! Flowerkist Botanical Brightening Serum, $90;

facial sculpting device

“This was designed by a woman named Melanie Simon, who I met during an awards season when I was on Desperate Housewives“recalls Williams. ” She [treated] my face with this amazing microcurrent machine she had, then she told me that she developed ZIIP for [at home] use. The device, which the esthetician launched in 2015, uses nanocurrents and microcurrents to lift and plump the skin, has different routines for different areas of the face. “I always do it before a photoshoot or a red carpet. It’s so easy to use and effective,” Williams says.

Buy it! ZIIP GX series, $495;