When I did a screen test to appear on QVC Beauty to talk all things fine fragrance, I balked at the idea of being called a beauty expert as suggested by the presenter manager. In true British style my immediate reaction was ‘oh gosh no I wouldn’t say I’m an expert!’ And yet with 15 years working in the beauty industry, spanning all beauty categories from skincare and bodycare to colour cosmetics and perfume, forever expanding my beauty knowledge through seminars, trade shows and travel, not to mention dedicating my weekends to beauty blogging, why not? What else would a beauty expert look like? I will never know everything on this topic, but sticking to my 2021 resolution to read more beauty books has helped me to keep up to date with and be inspired by this ever-evolving industry. The authors of the beauty books I review here are all experts in their field, built from years of learning through personal experience, from their career, or both. 

Skin Healing Expert by Hanna Sillitoe

Hanna Sillitoe may have started her career as an interior designer, but her 20 years of suffering from severe psoriasis, eczema and acne meant she learnt through personal experience how to tackle her skin issues – the natural way. Following her highly successful first book Radiant, Hanna is back with Skin Healing which promises ‘everything you need to take control of your health and achieve calm, clear skin’. Sounds dreamy. So Hanna outlines 5 pillars to achieve this: diet, mind, exercise, sleep, skincare. Unsurprisingly based on my background I was expecting a strong focus on skincare, but diet is the 1st pillar and actually accounts for a good two thirds of the entire book. When I assess my approach to these 5 pillars I’m afraid I wouldn’t score myself high on any of them other than skincare:

  • Diet: my husband calls me the fruit dodger, and I can’t remember the last time I cooked from scratch
  • Mind: the idea of meditation makes me shudder
  • Exercise: I’ve not broken a sweat all year
  • Sleep: love it, could always do with more of it
  • Skincare: gold star on that one

Well no wonder my skin doesn’t behave! I can relate to how Hanna describes the effect the likes of acne and eczema can have on you: chronic skin disease is all consuming and exhausting. What really struck me was how she flipped the focus from skin to inner health: ‘You do not have a skin condition […] you have a gut condition’. This is where it all starts, and if you want to see significant, long-lasting changes, treating the skin alone can only go so far. She describes skin as ‘something that protects you, that acts as an early warning system – a very visible barometer of health’. I’ve been paying more notice to how my skin looks and feels (dehydrated, irritated, congested) and tried to adjust some of my dietary or sleeping habits accordingly. I’ll never be that person who gives up sugar and meat, but health supplements have become a staple and I will not be without Neal’s Yard Remedies Mahonia Clear Skin Formula (my skin has never behaved so well). And I’ve become addicted to the aromatherapeutic benefits of Balance Me’s Beauty Sleep CBD concentrate to help me unwind and prepare for the deepest slumber. Yes I still rely on products but at least now I’m considering all five pillars when addressing skin health. RRP £19.99

Let’s Face It by Rio Viera-Newton

There’s a bit of a running theme: Rio Viera-Newton is also a fan of the 5-pillar approach. Hers however are entirely centred around skin results: illuminating, plumping, smoothing, healing, hydrating. Rio built her skincare expertise as a devoted amateur, through trial and error, compiling all her learnings in a detailed Google Doc which started as a friends and family best kept secret and ended up with it going viral and landing her a beauty column in The Strategist. Let’s Face It has a very girls chat/bestie tone which makes it a super easy read and encourages you to assess your skin’s current state and understand why it’s acting the way it is, rather than trying to fix it. Cue lots of tips on how to hydrate, heal, soothe and calm skin. My favourite part of the book? The illustrations. Bright colours, distinctive style and not out of place on a coffee table, they bring it all to life in a fun and engaging way. RRP £20.00

The Beauty Brief by Katie Service

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book as I’d never heard of Katie Service and the book title isn’t particularly evocative. But it actually taught me a surprising amount of new skincare trends, ingredients and terms I’d never heard of – like ‘polluaging’, which refers to tiny pollution particles causing free-radical damage to the skin structure. And Katie seems to be a fellow fan of Korean skincare (I’m constantly recommending The Korean Skincare Bible) and introduced me to the likes of ‘Chok Chok’ skin, a Korean phrase that translates as ‘moist’ or ‘damp’ and is used to describe the much sought-after dewy complexion. Her recommendation to use apps to identify fake cosmetics reminded me of a conversation I had with the Chanel counterfeit team who found all sorts of dodgy substances in lookalike perfumes – including urine. Just don’t go buying your ‘Chamel no.5’ from Petticoat Lane Market. Katie’s little black book reads like a who’s who of the beauty world, working as the Editorial Beauty Director at Harrods and with the likes of Charlotte Tilbury, Chanel and Tom Ford. All of her learnings and advice she shares with an honest unglossed approach. The only part I couldn’t get on board with was her recommendation to ‘diarize your skincare’. The sheer volume of beauty appointments (and the budget attached to it) divulges her beauty editor background: LED facials twice a month, pedicure every 3 weeks, facial once a month… one thing’s for sure: after reading what’s in Palmers’ Cocoa Butter formula (petroleum by-products, synthetic silicone and fragrance) I won’t be buying that again in a hurry. RRP £19.99

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