Courtney Baber, co-founder of The Route skin care brand and a former vice president at Urban Decay, shares some of her favorite places in town.
By Sharon Stello
Beauty industry veteran Courtney Baber—who has worked for some of the top brands in the business and now has one of her own, The Route skin care company, with local nurse practitioner Nancy Pellegrino of NP Aesthetics—has called Lido Isle home for the past 12 years.
“[I’m] just a few blocks from the ocean, but far enough to be removed from the hustle, bustle and traffic around the beach,” she says.
“… Lido Island is magical,” she continues. “It’s probably one of the most special places I’ve ever lived—and I’ve been lucky to have lived and traveled around the world. … I especially love the sense of community and friendship on Lido.”
Born into an Air Force family in Madrid, she eventually moved to the U.S. and lived in several states before landing in Ohio as a preteen. There, in 1992, she was crowned Miss Ohio USA and took part in the Miss USA pageant later that year.
“For me, competing wasn’t just about winning a crown,” she says. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that, in hindsight, instilled fierce independence, perseverance and self-confidence. It pushed me outside my comfort zone—I’ve learned firsthand that if you’re uncomfortable, you’re growing.”
She moved to San Francisco in her mid-20s to start her career as part of the original Sephora team, then transitioned to C.O. Bigelow before moving to Southern California following the birth of her second child to be closer to family and accept a job with popular cosmetics company Urban Decay; there, she would serve as senior vice president of global marketing. In 2019, she and Pellegrino teamed up to establish The Route.
“The Route is a clean, medical-grade, luxury skin care line that addresses not just one but all the reasons our skin ages in as few multitasking formulas as possible,” Baber says. “My co-founder, nurse Nancy, has almost 30 years’ experience helping women feel beautiful in their own skin and has worked with virtually every product on the market. I have built brands for some of the industry’s heaviest hitters. Together, we weren’t willing to cut any corners. We thought of everything and were unwilling to compromise on quality and results.”
The brand’s bestsellers are The Party Peel and The Golden Rule, a next-generation retinoid to reduce the appearance of fine lines. Coming this spring: Shake & Shield, a tinted SPF 50 mineral sunscreen. With over 30 years in the industry, she has seen many changes. “Skin care is having such tremendous growth as consumers are focused on the health of their skin more than ever, versus covering it up,” Baber says.
Baber is also involved with Newport Beach-based Pirette perfume, a “vacation in a bottle” with notes of fresh green coconuts, surf wax and sunscreen. “I literally wear it every day,” she says.
Although she has a thriving career, Baber’s biggest priority is being a mom to son Steele Lewis, 15, and daughter Bel Lewis, 13. “I have two amazing children who challenge and inspire me every single day,” Baber says. “Having children has made me better at everything: I am way more focused, balanced and fulfilled now. And even though it feels like I sometimes work 25 hours a day, our rule as a brand is that kids come first. That will never change.”
Cut and Color
THE LIVING ROOM SALON, just over the border in Costa Mesa, is “my go-to for a great haircut, color and hair products,” Baber says. “I also get exposed to the latest, greatest, local art exhibits that they change out monthly within the hip salon space.”
Keeping It Healthy
After working up an appetite, Baber heads to JAN’S HEALTH BAR, which has nearby locations in CdM and Costa Mesa. “[They have] the very best and freshest smoothies, chicken salad sandwiches and salads in the OC. I literally could eat there everyday,” Baber says.
In her free time, Baber’s favorite thing to do is get outdoors, whether walking on the beach or paddleboarding. Also, the tide pools at LITTLE CORONA DEL MAR BEACH are “the perfect place to serenely explore the calmer side of the sea and take in the beautiful sunsets of Newport Beach,” she says.
When it comes to seafood, it can’t get any fresher than BEAR FLAG FISH CO., with restaurants in Crystal Cove Shopping Center and on Balboa Peninsula. “They have the best fish tacos on the planet, made with fish caught right here daily,” Baber says.
For shopping, Baber can often be found at JOLIE near Lido Marina Village. “[It’s] the coolest place to find your next must-have item in your closet,” Baber shares.