FOUR decades on from finding fame in beauty pageants, this beauty queen is revealing the secrets of her age-defying looks.
Ruth Zakarian told The U.S. Sun how she aged gracefully with her skincare go-to's, and healthy habits.
In August 1983, the Armenian-American actress and author, now 57, won the first-ever Miss Teen USA pageant in Lakeland, Florida.
She went on to enjoy 14 years in film and television, appearing as a regular on The Young and The Restless, and other popular daytime shows.
Prior to her win the teen, from Amsterdam, upstate New York, had competed in pageants and felt her failure to win reflected the beauty standards at the time.
"I never expected to win because I'm short and I’m dark," she told The U.S. Sun, adding that she entered pageants with hopes of becoming an actress in the future.
"I had done a few little local pageants and kept placing second runner up, first runner up, so I said 'I'm not doing this anymore'."
Luckily for Ruth, her brother entered Miss Teen USA on her behalf when she refused.
As one of the shortest contestants, Ruth wasn't worried about winning because honestly, she didn't think she would.
Instead, she had fun, soaked in every moment, and felt relaxed, which probably worked in her favor.
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"I think every single one of us who competed had no idea the magnitude of it in history," she said.
"You couldn't just look up and find out about the pageant on the internet.
"It was really an honor and a treat to be able to be part of that."
Following her win, she was offered a college scholarship in Los Angeles, where she lived until relocating to Las Vegas a year ago.
In the four decades since her historic win, her appearance has barely changed.
"One of the major things that I've done all my life, and I tell my daughter this, is never go to bed without taking your makeup off," she admitted.
As for feeling pressure to look a certain way, she said: "I think at this point in my life, any pressure that I feel is the pressure that I put on myself.
"And I've finally reached a point in my life where I feel like I am my competition.
"My job now is to be better than I was yesterday, and not worry about what anybody else is doing."
As for her hero products, Ruth has a few.
Of an $18 hydrating face oil, she said: "Kosterina produces the perfect moisturizer for all day protection.
"It comes in a convenient travel size and the rollerball makes for an easy clean application. I keep one in my purse and one in the car."
She also loves a silk pillow case by Sheex (currently reduced to $59.50 from $85) calling it an "essential."
"I use them every night and keep one in my travel bag," Ruth raved.
Yassi's Butter is her go-to morning and evening facial moisturizer. "I love to add a scoop to my bath," she added.
Meanwhile, Chella is her favorite makeup brand. "My shimmer highlighter pencil accompanies me wherever I go," she said. It's also reduced, down to $37.50 from $50.
She is also not embarrassed to say that she's gotten some cosmetic work done as part of her upkeep.
"I want people to feel comfortable with that, because they should we should be able to do whatever's going to make us feel good about ourselves," she explained.
"I've had Botox and I've had fillers, and I love them. If you can enhance your natural look to make yourself feel better, why not?"
Back when she was working as a medical writer, Ruth revealed that she went to see the "best ever" plastic surgeon.
"She did everything she could do on my face. She did such a good job. I went home with my mother and my daughter had no idea," she detailed.
The former beauty queen also prioritizes mental clarity and healthy exercise as part of her wellness routine.
The first thing she does in the morning is write, because that clears her head, and she also walks "everywhere."
"I find stretching is one of the most important things that you can do to keep from getting injuries and to keep everything moving," she added.
Forty years after clinching the coveted crown, she returned to the 2023 Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageant in Reno, Nevada as a member of the selection committee.
It's under new director Laylah Rose, who she called a "breath of fresh air" and a "professional powerhouse."
"In three short weeks, she brought the glitz and glamour of the golden age back and raised the bar by creating an enriching environment that focuses on sisterhood," she praised.
When Ruth was crowned, most pageant winners were tall blondes, but now there are participants from every background.
"Everything you can imagine, every height," she said.
"That's what we need for our young girls coming up. We need them to be able to see heroes and people to look up to."
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Today, Ruth is a full-time author and currently working on finishing the first of a three-part historical fiction book series.
Her upcoming novel, Little Immigrants, is set to be released next year and is about five orphans struggling to survive the Bosnian War.
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