Usually when my daughter and I are on a joint Zoom call, it’s to discuss how GCSEs are going with her teacher. So, it was novel to log on together on a Saturday afternoon for a fun skincare chat. This wasn’t just any old chat about products, though – it was a mother/daughter consultation with one of the UK’s leading plastic surgeons and aesthetic doctors about our skincare regimes and skin issues.
Fancy teaming up with your mum daughter to sort out your skin with the help of a world-leading specialist? With a new online consultation package it's possible and affordable. Beauty Writer Lucia Ferrari and her teenage daughter try it out
Our session was courtesy of Get Harley – the start-up skincare portal with more than 400 top aesthetic doctors and facialists on tap for advice. (It just won the prestigious award for Best Product of the Year at the Aesthetics Awards).
The service allows users to pick the brains of a top consultant for skincare advice in a 30-minute video consultation. They then recommend a product selection tailored to you which you have the option of buying. However, the mother and daughter sessions – which are launching for Mother’s Day but will be ongoing - cost £50 and last 50 minutes.
Mums are often the first person to pass on skincare advice to daughters. I remember and cherish my Mum’s advice to begin using Estee Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair Serum , £51 when I went to Uni (she still buys me a bottle every Christmas thirty years later!).
I was initially more up for it than Allegra. I cajoled her with the promise of some effective medical-grade skincare (probably not available in the shops – only from clinics) which seemed to pique her interest.
Teenagers now are far more discerning when it comes to beauty products than in my day when we used to get excited about a strawberry-scented face mask sachet and a bath pearl! Today’s teens are genuinely skincare savvy and know the difference between hyaluronic and glycolic acid (thank you, Tiktok) but often use things that aren’t necessary or are meant for more mature skin. I thought it would be interesting to hear once and for all what really works - and what doesn’t - for a 15-year-old’s complexion.
Although I’ve been a beauty writer for more than 20 years, there are now so many products aimed at the younger market that I struggle to advise Allegra. Currently, she rotates between cleansers and moisturisers from Glossier , Bioderma , Cerave . Allegra’s skin is pretty good overall, but like me she’s prone to a bit of redness . She doesn’t like wearing foundation yet so we thought it would be great to try and find something to even her skin tone, sort the blocked pores around the nose, and the occasional breakout.
I’m often flummoxed these days as to as what to use on my own skin, too, as I test so many products. So, for once, I’d love to be told what to use by a doctor. In perimenopause, my skin has become more sensitive, and I’ve been diagnosed with rosacea alongside hormonal melasma - a type of hard-to-treat recurring pigmentation which I’ve had since having children 17 years ago. I don’t really like using acids or exfoliants, which I used to rely on for a glow as they make my skin redder. Plus, I struggle with finding a good Vitamin C product to keep the pigmentation at bay which doesn’t start off my rosacea.
The skincare doctors du jour
Get Harley matched us with UK and US trained Dr Ash Soni , a rising star in aesthetics. After doing a fellowship at London’s Royal Marsden Hospital where he sub-specialised in Oncoplastic surgery performing reconstructive surgery for cancer patients, he set up private practices in Surrey, Ascot and London specialising in upper eyelid surgery, jawline enhancing treatments and very natural looking, subtle Botox.
I’m a real beauty know-it-all, but within minutes of chatting I realised I was in the presence of a skincare legend as he was offering up advice and product combinations, I would not have thought of, plus tips I hadn’t heard before. Like getting the most out of your Vitamin C product by using it at night, instead of diluting it with other products or makeup as you would in the day.
Allegra thought Dr Soni was brilliant too - not at all patronising and really approachable. I especially loved hearing Allegra ask about whether she really needed to wear SPF daily (I had told her that myself, but she needed to hear it from a ‘proper doctor’) and whether she needed to cleanse morning and evening? (Dr Soni said yes to that and even suggested a different product for each cleanse!)
Dr Soni’s suggestions for Allegra, 15:
3 x AM steps - a gentle cleanser to start the day, a simple moisturiser followed by a daily SPF
3 x PM steps - a different cleanser to use after school (to remove pollution and grime from the day) a spot gel as needed and the same moisturiser
TOTAL PRICE: £208
I was excited when he suggested an Epionce Purifying Wash , £38, for Allegra to use in the morning. It’s not that well known but I’ve heard it’s not only brilliant for teen skin, but also for adults with sensitive complexions or skin prone to redness.
He also suggested the Skin Better Science Cleansing Gel, £41 (clinic only-brand) a brand which is one of my all time favourites. It’s pricey for a teen budget, however. And are two different cleansers really necessary? But I was so excited to try this cleansing gel myself, and to get Allegra into the swing of the post-school cleanse, so I thought we’d give it a go. We could always just use the same cleanser for morning and afternoon going forward.
The moisturiser he suggested was Obagi Hydrate , £46.32. I was shocked because I associate it with older skin. Judi Murray, 62, apparently swears by it, so was this really necessary for a 15-year-old? But Dr Soni said it’s a hydrating product which works well for all types of skin, plus it’s good for evening out skin tone.
He then recommended the Epionce Purifying Spot Gel , £36 to use when needed.
The real showstopper? The SPF from a brand I’d not heard of called Intradermology NX-Gen SPF 50 , £49. Think a feather-weight mousse with a flattering hint of a tint, which feels beautiful on the skin. He said we could share this. Hurray!
While the total cost is way more than I’d normally pay for Allegra’s skincare, this is a one-off treat. And I figured we’d see which two products make a real difference and continue with those.
Dr Soni’s suggestions for my fifty year old skin:
4 x AM steps – a cleanser, mask (when needed) and a concentrated serum for the redness, and SPF shared with Allegra
3 x PM Steps - a cleanser, serum, and Vitamin C product
TOTAL PRICE: £222
I had given Dr Soni the tricky task of coming up with a results-driven plan for me – a challenge as what is prescribed for the melasma can trigger a bout of angry rosacea. So, it’s important to find a delicate balance of skincare.
I really love the Meder Net-Apax Beauty Calming Cleansing Mask, £40 (clinic only-brand) that he recommended I use morning and night from the clever, science-based range, Meder Beauty. It’s soothing and targeted at sensitive skin which is prone to flushing. Am also a huge fan of the creator of this range, Dr Tiina Meder, who used to develop and test products in Swiss Skincare laboratories.
Dr Soni also suggested I carry on using Meder Beauty’s Red Apax concentrate, £90 (clinic only-brand) straight after cleansing. Previously when I’ve had a rosacea flare-up this serum has got rid of it entirely. I’ve even turned to it instead when previous dermatologists suggested antibiotics for my rosacea. It’s not cheap but it works.
My skincare prescription ended with the Obagi Vitamin C Professional C 15% Serum , £92, which I’d never tried before. It’s a wow for the price, and, luckily, the results! Two weeks in, I’ve had a real radiance boost and no irritation. This is great given I’d had to drop Vitamin C products from my routine a while back as they were irritating my skin.
I loved Dr Ash’s product choices – they were informed, and results driven. He kept us both interested even when discussing the other person’s skincare and answered all my questions. Like ‘is Vitamin C necessary for a teen skin?’ (Definitely not until they start at Uni).
And when our named boxes of skincare arrived, I’d never seen either of us so excited to cleanse!
Allegra had a party to go a few days later, and we both noticed how her skin had genuinely never looked better. She didn’t have much make up on, just mascara and highlighter, and all I could see was clear, glowing, smooth-looking skin.
When she said she’d probably end up applying to our local Starbucks for a job to fund her new skincare regime, that’s a win/win in my book!
As for me? I adore my stripped back regime. I’ve finally found a Vitamin C that I can use without a rosacea flare-up. I do miss using a retinol, but Dr Soni said I can always dip into my Skin Better Science Alpha Ret Overnight Cream, £166, a couple of times a week if I really miss it.
I think I’ve finally learnt that you don’t have to use layer upon layer of skincare to see results.
Our consultation was such a success, I’m going to book us a three month follow up.
A 30-minute standard one-to-one consultation with a Get Harley skin specialist costs £40.
A 50-minute mother and daughter consultation costs £50. It is launching for Mother’s Day and will be an on-going service.