THIS WEEK, FASHION & BEAUTY COLUMNIST, NANCY BUCKLAND KIRK SHARES, THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF A LIFE-LONG LOVE AFFAIR WITH SKINCARE.
I have been obsessed with the world of beauty for so long I would rather not indicate a precise start date. I have been writing about it for over a decade. I’m not a trained dermatologist, nor am I a facialist. I like to think I have a good working knowledge of this arena, but at this moment, I am feeling swamped.
I was brought up on the gold standard of cleanse, tone and moisturise. Then came the introduction of regular facials. I have tried and tested many, and fell in love with Guinot. It is hard to move me on that one. While I think a facial is brilliant for skin, I far more appreciate the feeling of well being one brings. It represents time spent in a calming environment getting pampered, which in a busy world, is an absolute treat.
The first time the wonder of AHA was mentioned to me, I was actually trying to buy a lip gloss. I was doing this to cheer myself up. I had just gone to buy a gorgeous pair of Gucci sunglasses, but found out I needed actual glasses instead. When I approached my favourite counter, the salesperson told me that the lip gloss was fabulous, but that I really should consider their new moisturiser. It will work a treat, I was told, on my spots, and also the newly launched wrinkles around my eyes. I had headed off shopping for Guccis and glossy lips. I came home with expensive spot cream and bottle-top lensed Harry Potters. It was a dark, dark day.
I was told, in the short term, that the product could make my spots worse and cause redness. I was correctly informed. Now I had my new glasses on, before nerdy glasses were cool, and couldn’t wear make up as I looked like I had a acquired a delicious case of scurvy. The moisturiser soon gathered dust.
We have come a long way since Samantha Jones burnt her epidermis off and scared members of the public after a chemical peel. But I still feel left behind. So I recently attempted to join a closed, online group for skincare aficionados. I think I just wanted to prove I could be accepted, and I was. You had to almost swear an oath of allegiance that you would divulge your best secrets. I know, more realistically, that I was accepted because I am really good at filling out questionnaires. Once in, it was like being in huge WhatsApp group, where people were desperate to share their routines and I was baffled. Do you have time to use ten different products every night? There were so many rules, and brands I had never, ever heard of.
It is estimate that by 2020, skincare is expected to account for 26.8% of the beauty and personal care market. And whilst, in the past, more complex formulations where only available through salons or premium brands, they are now available through much more accessible brands. So whether you invest in something luxurious or go for for a cult online bargain, you can immerse yourself in a world of acids, retinols and all sorts of suspensions.
I’m not knocking the choice available, and it is always good to be better informed. Gone are the days of scarily haughty sales assistants in beauty halls, that’s for sure. But as an economist by trade, with a business background in the industry, I do know that as I type there are teams sitting in meetings right now devising products to sell you a solution to solve problems you never knew existed. Beauty is a huge money making machine, after all.
In this Insta-orientated climate, I know from speaking to skin professionals that they are horrified by some of what they see. They are dealing with the after effects of clients slathering on products that don’t work in tandem, and creating facial battlegrounds in the process. If anyone asks my advice about skincare now, I tell them to save up what they spend on these vast amounts of products, and see a dermatologist. I’m also still a fan of the beauty salon, which has reputable brand-backed training.
If I get asked about acid peels I tend to refer to the advice given by Lily Savage, who once set up a beauty salon with her sister, Vera Cheeseman. They concocted their fruit acid treatments using Ribena and car battery acid.*
Very few people have perfect skin and the quest to acquire a younger looking version of your own is an endless search. Whilst I have been researching all of this, my better half has been following a new healthy living regime. All I know is he’s constantly looking for his gym kit, blitzing things in blenders and filling the fridge with fruit and vegetables. The caffeine fixes have gone, as have the midnight searches to find my secret chocolate stashes. I hope he doesn’t read this, as he already looks ten years younger. If he keeps going he’s going to look Love Island ready and, to be quite frank, I don’t need that kind of pressure.
As for me, I’ve got less spots, and more wrinkles but a trip to my favourite beauty counters is much more democratic these days, and that’s a wonderful thing. My eyesight, though, is eight prescriptions in now. But I have worked out that when I take off my glasses and look in the mirror, my skin miraculously becomes flawless. I think I’ve finally cracked it.
*Please note that Lily Savage is the comedy invention of Paul O’Grady and this particular method of resurfacing your skin is not recommended.
About the author: Nancy Buckland Kirk is a writer with a keen interest in fashion and beauty and a career which has spanned modelling, teaching and spreading the word about leading beauty brands.
Related feature: Nancy Buckland Kirk’s Fashion Memories.