Working in the beauty industry for me isn’t just a job, it’s a career. If I wasn’t passionate about the career I fell into after graduating I wouldn’t have put in the hard work going over and above my responsibilities to earn promotions. I wouldn’t have had the drive to proactively increase my industry knowledge through conferences, seminars and trade shows. And I certainly wouldn’t have dedicated my weekends to launch and grow this beauty blog. But even after 15 years in the business, the excitement of discovering a new trend, receiving a new product to try or interviewing a brand founder doesn’t go away. If anything it makes me want to learn even more about all aspects of my profession, which is why one of my beauty resolutions of 2021 is to read more about anything that touches on beauty. I really enjoyed my first foray into beauty books last year, so I’m anniversarising with a review of the three titles that I enjoyed this month.  

Skincare by Caroline Hirons

The second this book hit the virtual shelves it was plastered all over my Instagram feed – not surprising when most of the accounts I follow are beauty enthusiasts who are as obsessed with skincare as I am. I admit I’m not a Caroline Hirons follower but I was swept up by the frenzy and added the book to my reading list. Little did I expect to find it in a charity shop a few months later. Especially a dedicated copy to one Aisling. Well Aisling thank you for doing a lockdown spring clean and donating this copy to Cancer Research UK, I’m now the new owner and this copy is not changing hands any further. A globally qualified advanced aesthetician trained in over 100 brands, with well over half a million Instagram followers and a blog with over 120 million page views, Caroline Hirons is a beauty authority. Her trademark no nonsense tone makes this book incredibly engaging and a breeze to read.

I learned that Caroline is a fan of:

  • SPF – no surprises there, anyone with her training would strongly advocate the use of SPF
  • Flannels – an old school skincare tool but after swapping my thin muslin cloths for a good fluffy flannel I have to admit it does makes for a thorough cleanse
  • Acids – AHA, BHA, PHA, Caroline loves them all, and now so do I
  • Double cleansing in the evening – I rarely wear enough makeup to warrant this extra step in my skincare routine
  • Cleansing in the morning – I briefly tried the splash of water alone following a Pai skincare consultation but quickly reverted to a minimum of a toner in the mornings

And I leaned that Caroline is not a fan of:

  • Facial wipes – totally with her on that, they are bad for the environment and don’t feel like a proper cleanse
  • Foaming gels – too harsh on skin, I was an avid user in my teens and twenties but now prefer gentle cream cleansers
  • Micellar water – but what about the iconic Bioderma Sensibio Micellar Solution? I won’t be giving up on that cult French pharmacy staple quite yet.
  • Electronic cleansing brushes – I was tempted to try them a little while ago but never took the plunge

The great thing about Caroline’s approach is that you don’t need to be a skincare pro to find this book interesting yet entertaining. Her fun metaphors say it all: ‘applying your eye product last is like wearing your knickers over your trousers’. I’ll leave it at that. RRP £20.00

Beauty book by Neals Yard Remedies

I make no secret of the fact I recently joined British natural beauty and wellbeing brand Neal’s Yard Remedies, and as with many beauty houses, one of the perks is to have a monthly product allowance. What was the first item I ordered? Nope, not their bestselling Wild Rose Beauty Balm (raved about by, incidentally, Caroline Hirons), but this book. Spanning a very wide topic – hence the title – it covers an introduction to beauty, as well as an encyclopaedia of natural ingredients and how to reap their skin and health benefits, recipes to make your own natural skincare, and how to create makeup looks. Phew. It is definitely more of a dip in and out kind of book rather than a cover-to-cover bedtime read, and whilst I wasn’t inspired by the makeup looks (too safe, and I don’t think that section plays to the brand’s strength), I did try a couple of natural mask recipes. What did I learn from this read? That ‘women’s inner beauty critic arrives at 14 and continues to erode her self-esteem as she ages’, and yet ‘people who accept their looks are happier and healthier’. Oh and that lavender essential oil is great at treating head lice. RRP £16.99

Skin Deep by Bee Shapiro

I’d never heard of Bee Shapiro until I came across her book in Waterstones. In this beautifully presented book the New York Times beauty writer shares a collection of beauty interviews with celebrities, from international mega star Kylie Jenner to Chinese actress Zhu Zhu. Here they share their skincare routines, favourite makeup products and go to facialists and hairdressers. The problem is if a celebrity already grates on you then these interviews are unlikely to endear them to you. Who else finds Emily Ratajkowski intensely annoying? Well her responses haven’t changed my opinion of her. ‘I have really big features, so a little makeup goes a long way’ I read as ‘I am blessed with bambi eyes and pouty lips’, and her admission that she doesn’t break out and doesn’t really go to the gym or have a personal trainer is like rubbing everyone’s face in it. Anyway, rant over. On the flip side I loved reading Jenna Lyons’ interview, she came across as honest, fun and down to earth, it made me want to meet her – here’s hoping. Overall I’d say the interviews with beauty specialists like makeup artist Pat McGrath are probably more interesting and contain more useful tips to apply to our lives than the celebrities who admit they get all the best recommendations from their beauty team. My two key takeouts: P50 by Biologique Recherche is a skincare secret weapon (I have no idea how I haven’t hear of this before), and every celebrity gets their hair coloured by Christophe Robin. RRP £19.99

What’s on your reading list right now? I’d love to hear any recommendations for my next reading list instalment.

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