Over two and a half years ago I moved to London and took up a new post as the editor of a national beauty magazine. Prior to this, in my journalistic career, I had not written so much as a snippet or a news story, not to mind a full feature, on anything even related to the beauty industry and to be honest, I knew little about it. I was a cleanse, tone and moisturise type of gal who slept with my make-up on (to the detriment of many a pillow case) far too often. The only luxury beauty item I had ever owned was Clarins Beauty Flash Balm, although I was forever swiping my mum's Dermalogica samples. How quickly that changed.
Today I have boxes bulging full of beauty products, from cheap and cheerful high street colour cosmetics to super expensive, high-end skincare brands and everything in between. Over the years I have attended, on average, 2-3 product launches a week, read countless press releases about 'the next big thing' in beauty, written thousands of words on trends and products and interviewed some of the biggest names in the business. I have learnt a lot, and fast, about the beauty industry (which BTW is worth £15bn in the UK alone).
In the early days, the biggest beauty shock to my system was the sheer volume of choice out there. No wonder, I thought, women find it hard to decide what products are worth investing in and which are all hype. I quickly discovered that the beauty world is obsessed with newness, which has its pros and cons. Yes, research and new technology means better performance, clever packaging, new formulations and the discovery of 'super ingredients', but because we are all (me included) so easily sucked into the newest crazes, we are often guilty of being fickle beasts when it comes to beauty. How many of us cheat on our old moisturiser with a new model before it is even finished, thus (like many of my relationships past) never giving it a real chance to work?
Of course the beauty industry (like fashion) is influenced by fads, and I've seen many. Take BB creams, which I first encountered many years ago on my travels through South Korea. BBs were the most buzzed about beauty products of 2011. Now call me cynical, but I always believed that BBs were nothing more than tarted-up tinted moisturizers. First came the 3-in-1 versions, then 5-in-1 and finally the 9-in-1, until you wondered when BB creams would start taking your bins out for you. And as for the next generation of BBs - the CCs (it stands for Colour Correcting) I won't hold my breath, or put down my three-cheese bean wrap to get in line for one of those either.
Another thing that struck me was the lack of honesty in much (not all) beauty journalism. Many glossy mags, beauty columns and blogs simply can't, or won't, be honest because they are beholden to advertisers (it's never a coincidence that brands that advertise are featured editorially or win awards) or don't want to be crossed off a PR firm's Christmas card (and gift) list.
So other than being largely dispirited, and occasionally very pleasantly surprised, over the last few years, I have endeavored to pass on anything useful, time and/or money saving to my friends. This has entailed giving middle of the night skincare advice to a friend suffering from a stress related face rash to gently encouraging others to stop panicking about the expression line above their left eyebrow, put down the £70 serum down and slowly back towards the doors of the John Lewis Beauty Hall.
Now I'd like to pass on what I know, what I hear and what I've tried on a larger scale - be it a brilliant new cleanser, a clever tip, a beauty gadget that makes life easier, or worthwhile treatments. Alternatively, if something sucks or doesn't do what it says, I will have no qualms about saying so.
In this blog, I promise to be honest, champion the best products in all price brackets, never recommend anything undeserving of your hard earned cash and if I don't know the answer to your question, I swear I'll ask someone smarter than me. Sound good? Then this might be the start of a beautiful friendship.