What do you love most about books? For me it’s that they take me on a journey, transporting me to another universe and teaching me something new. Since starting to read beauty books back in January 2020 I’ve learned so much about natural skincare, ingredient benefits, beauty entrepreneurs and inner health. These three books reviewed below help me to continue expanding my knowledge of the beauty industry, but do so by taking the reader on a journey of sorts, whether that’s through the link between nature and the human body, from skincare basics to in depth actives, or via a businesswoman’s life story.
What I learned: We do not need beauty to survive, we certainly need it in order to thrive.
Anyone disagreeing with this quote has a very narrow view of beauty – or life. This perfectly illustrates the Weleda Way, a holistic approach which looks at the whole: the whole of the human being, not its body parts, the whole garden as a finely tuned self-regulating system, not a patch of land to be kept in check with herbicides. It sees beauty in all things natural, rejecting the need for artifice and anything that damages the natural balance in the human body or the planet. Founded in Switzerland over 100 years ago, their bestselling Skin Food launched back in 1927 and is still to this day their most iconic product. This book takes you on a journey from nature, the soil, the plants, to you, your health, your skin. You’ll learn how to take care of your skin (considering what phase it’s in rather than what type it is), but most importantly how to take care of nature for the benefit of your wellbeing. Did you know:
- ‘One of every three bites of the food we eat comes to us thanks to our pollinators’, yet the UK government has lifted the ban on bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides, going directly against guidance from their advisors and against their own legal requirement to halt species loss by 2030
- 60% of the earth’s humus (found in the top layer of topsoil and helping to reduce flooding, warming the ground and providing long term fertility for plants) has been lost in the last 100 years
- Viruses cannot replicate in temperatures above 38°C. The body therefore creates a fever as an inhospitable environment in response to the invading organism – so think twice before popping those paracetamol tablets!
- Why do a January detox when our bodies need comfort and warmth?? Do a gentle spring cleanse to shed any winter lethargy.
What I learned: Change your mindset, change your situation or accept it.
This quote really encapsulates the essence of Jo Malone – the businesswoman, not the brand. You feel the strength and single-mindedness in this simple statement, and this attitude no doubt massively contributed to the impressive rise of her eponymous home fragrance brand. I’ve wanted to read this autobiography ever since my Clinique desk buddy recommended it (both Clinique and Jo Malone are owned by Estee Lauder Companies). The book provides a glimpse into the grit and resolution of this entrepreneur, a trait I also found captivating in Rodial founder Maria Hatzistefanis’ book Make It Happen. There are three parts to Jo Malone’s book: her childhood and rise to success, her battle with cancer and the creation of her second brand Jo Loves – and my favourite is by far the first. I’m a sucker for a rags-to-riches tale minus the Cinderella vibes, where the heroine, from a modest background, overcomes huge challenges and the ‘prince’ takes a backseat. Jo draws you into her world, giving you a fascinating insight into her creative process for developing a fragrance, where the ingredient is hero. She takes you on a journey, her journey, leaving you feeling uplifted and motivated, like anything is possible. RRP £9.99
What I learned: Your cleanser functions as an age-prevention step.
Well this is a bit of departure from what I usually read. Most of the skincare books I’ve read promote a gentle or natural approach to skin: Hanna Sillitoe’s Skin Healing Expert promotes a very natural and holistic approach to healthy skin, Beauty Book by Neal’s Yard Remedies shares recipes to make your own natural skincare, and Ingeborg Van Lotringen warns against the dangers of sensitised skin due to overly aggressive products in her book Great Skin. But Skincare Decoded is written by two skincare formulation chemists who met at L’Oréal. They felt the chemist’s voice was absent from the beauty market so they launched Chemist Confessions on Instagram, which led to this book helping to demystify the science behind skincare by taking you on a journey, from the usual basics (what is a moisturiser), to a deep dive into 4 popular treatments: chemical exfoliants, retinoids, vitamin C and niacinamide, providing useful tables with the different types of vitamin C and what concentration you should look for in chemical exfoliators. I’m not aligned with their love of petroleum jelly, promoting the benefits of SLS (a surfactant used in shower gels) or that testing on animals ‘isn’t great because translating animal data to humans isn’t straightforward’. But I did learn a lot from the skincare history sections:
- Liquid soap was invented in the late 1800s by Palmolive
- Egyptians used rice bran, jasmine and lupine to prevent tanning
- In 1992 the founder of Skinceuticals paved the way for all the vitamin C serums now on the market
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