Beauty director secrets
Michelle Brownlee Smith shares what she’s learnt – and buys
i’ve worked on the beauty beat for almost 20 years, a job that has allowed me the privilege of trying almost everything by way of products, from luxe to local, scientific to natural. It’s an exciting professional environment, as each day is different, but there are three fundamental and unchangeable truths I’ve learnt along the way: 1 Don’t be swayed by marketing hype and pretty packaging (although it can sometimes be irresistible). 2 Price isn’t always a reflection of the results achieved. 3 There really is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Just ask my husband, Tony, who wants to know if I really do use all 10 variants of shampoo in the shower. (Answer: I do!)
So here it comes: my roundup of what’s worth it, the products I’d buy again and my career highlights.
Treatments that are totally worth the hype
Laser hair removal A course of laser treatments has saved me from years of stubbly growth, warranting the investment. And the good news is that laser technologies have improved so much that the process is nearly pain free, you can see results after the first session and it works on a wide range of complexions.
Retinol This potent ingredient gets a bad rap because skin needs time to adjust to its effects, which is why some women give up when they see the initial irritation. “Retinol is the best way to fight signs of ageing, but the key is to introduce it slowly,” says Dr Des Fernandes, the world-renowned surgeon who pioneered its use in skincare, including in his own Environ brand.
Dr Diana Howard, vice president of research and development at Dermalogica, agrees: “I don’t believe in Botox or fillers but I do believe in retinol, which helps build collagen, increases cell turnover and evens out discolouration.”
Sunscreen You’ve heard this so often that you’ve probably already tuned me out. But stop and stew on this: in a Johnson’s study, women ditched their moisturisers and used only sunscreen for a year. And with no other wow ingredients, their sun spots, skin texture and clarity changed visibly. “By preventing the continual accumulation of more and more damage, we allow skin to heal on its own,” says Dr Steven Wang who co-authored the study.
Probiotics Although there is still a lot of research to be done, this is an exciting beauty frontier. SA scientist and the developer of Esse Probiotic Skincare, Trevor Steyn explains, “The millions of microbes that live on and in our bodies play an important role. On our skins, they help protect the skin barrier.”