She's been a beauty and health editor for more than two decades and has tried every product under the sun. Our Editor At Large explains what she has learned about skincare, why she’s a fan of intelligent creams by Augustinus Bader and how paring back her products has saved her skin
Ever since I was little, I have been fascinated by the world of beauty. I would sit on the end of my mother’s bed watching her apply her skincare, a firm three-step, cleansing, toning and moisturising regime. I would go with her to the local department store to buy her expensive creams and scented potions. I remember the smell and softness of her freshly moisturised skin when she kissed me goodnight and the sparkle on her cheeks when the term ‘light reflecting’ was a revolutionary concept. She still has beautiful skin at 69 and instilled in me the importance of looking after your skin. I can still smell the pineapple cleanser from The Body Shop that was my first ever product.
Over the years, my love of beauty products has been unwavering. At 21, I spent my first pay packet at Harvey Nichols’ beauty counters, restocking my entire makeup bag and bathroom cabinet with my dream products. There have also been times when my cosmetics bag has definitely been responsible for tipping the scales into excess baggage at the airport check-in. Landing my dream job as a beauty and health editor (firstly at Glamour, then Vogue and then through Get The Gloss and working for many newspapers and publications) means I have tried and tested more products than my groaning cupboard shelves can handle.
However, as I’ve got older (and probably wiser), I’ve gradually pared my beauty regime right back. I wear less makeup than ever before and I use fewer skincare products. Why? Because I guess I have worked out what works, what is worth spending your money on and more importantly, what is not. Thousands of skincare products have landed on my desk over the years, but it’s those that are properly researched or backed by science that really stand out.
Two products I’m loving using at the moment are The Cream and The Rich Cream from Augustinus Bader, new to the market this year. Professor Bader is one of the world’s leading stem cell and biomedical scientists who specialize in treating burns victims. Until now, Bader says, stem cell science has focused on removing stem cells and working with them outside of the body, but his technology works with our own stem cells, activating them in situ to regenerate the skin and giving them, and your skin, a new lease of life. Basically, Bader tells me, “It’s all about cell communication”.
I firmly believe that today’s woman is using way too many productsHis highly-patented technology responds to trauma or damage to your skin, creating a signal to your stem cells to function optimally rather than making an age-related response. Since I’ve been using the two creams I’ve had many a comment about my skin which genuinely looks clearer and softer than it’s been in a very long time.
What I love about this brand is the lack of products in the range and also the notable absence of a serum, the modern skincare ‘must-have’. So far, there are only two products and Bader is not going to start developing an eight-step regime just so he can cash in on his technology (if anything, next would be products for the scalp, super sensitive skin, the body and a lip balm).
In fact, he says that using a serum between your skin and this product will “prevent access of the serum to the skin”. This for me is a relief. Firstly, I have three children and a busy work life and I don’t have half an hour every morning or evening to spend pampering my face (I have a million products in my cupboard and never really use them). Also, I firmly believe that in general, today’s woman is using way too many products. The trend for ‘layering’ skincare and an often aggressive beauty regime has reached crazy complex heights and in turn, it’s causing skin issues that may not have existed previously.
I have experienced the overuse of products first hand. About two years ago I suddenly got a mass of tiny spots constantly erupting around my chin and mouth. I went to see dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting who told me I was using too many products and my skin had basically had a freak-out. She treated me by putting me on a product ‘diet’ - she instructed me to buy dermatology-lead skincare with zero fragrance and no foaming agents. It worked, my skin cleared up over the course of a month. As one skincare expert I know once said to me, “the function of our skin is to keep things out, we are spending our lives trying to shove things in”.
In general, my beauty regime is pretty simple. As I get older I actually use fewer products rather than more. I believe that many of today’s skin problems are caused by overuse of products and tools that fiddle with and suffocate the skin. In the mornings, I cleanse my skin with a wash-off milky cleanser before splashing with cold water to close pores and to make my skin look fresh.
I love starting my day with The Cream by Augustinus Bader because of the stem cell science behind it – I have genuinely seen an improvement in my skin since using it and it leaves my skin fresh, plump, non-greasy and perfectly primed for makeup. In the evenings, I remove my eye makeup and then soak a muslin cloth in warm water and press it onto my skin before wiping away the day. The muslin cloth is mildly exfoliating which is a bonus – I think regular, gentle exfoliation is important to allow products to penetrate the skin properly. Next, I moisturise before bed and take the product down my neck onto my decollete. The Rich Cream by Augustinus Bader is a favourite - it has a deeply nourishing texture without feeling greasy.
I also ensure that I stay as healthy as I can, eating nourishing, fresh food, a low sugar diet and exercising three to four times a week – I believe that no amount of skincare can compensate for not looking after yourself. Makeup-wise, I don’t go for ‘the full face’ either – I find the contoured, caked look a bit mask-like, dated and ageing. For me, there’s no better makeup than a smile.
I’m not saying I will never use another serum or that I don’t have beauty treatments (once a beauty editor, always a beauty editor obviously) but as I embrace my 40s it’s all about intelligent products and less of them. This, for me, is the future of skincare, not some unnecessary 12-step regime.
The Cream and The Rich Cream each cost £205 for 50ml from www.augustinusbader.com
Follow Susannah @susannahtaylor_