And expert tips on how to make those expensive beauty buys work in your favour
In our new series Voices of Irish Country Magazine, we’re sharing some of the most popular columns found inside each issue of the magazine – past and present. This piece, by our beauty columnist Aisling Keenan, was taken from the Mar/Apr 2023 edition. Keep an eye on our website over the coming weeks for more excerpts from our brilliant writers
Have you spent your hard-earned money on a beauty product you were sure would change your life, only for it not to do what you thought? Here are some expert tips on making your beauty buys work for you
Do you know that thing where you don’t want to recommend someone for a job who you think might mess it up, because it’ll reflect poorly on you? I feel that way about recommending beauty products – especially in the case of an expensive one. I am so reluctant to recommend something if I think someone might be disappointed, and consequently lose faith in what I have to say entirely.
But in the course of my job, I’ve made hundreds (if not thousands) of recommendations to people and, inevitably, have left some of those people underwhelmed at best or absolutely fuming at worst. I decided to drag up some of the most common “why isn’t this doing what it’s supposed to?” frustrations and get expert advice on how to turn it around.
Should you ever be in these same beauty scenarios, you’ll know what to do.
Help! My fancy foundation cost €55 and it’s looking dull, catching in my skin and not lasting past lunchtime
Louise O’Brien, Dermalogica Ireland’s Training Manager, gives her best advice, which doesn’t actually involve changing the expensive foundation at all.
- “Top makeup artists will tell you that preparation of the skin is vital for the overall outcome of any makeup look. Foundation will not sit well on an unprepared canvas. Selecting the correct skincare prior to makeup produces the best results; and long-term, helps support skin health.
- “If you’re dry or dehydrated, applying a hydrating serum will work best after prepping the skin to aid product absorption. For more oily or breakout prone skin, salicylic and niacinamide-based serums will help to reduce inflammation but keep the skin calm.
- “To avoid makeup slipping off the skin, selecting the right weight of moisturiser is key. Choosing a light, medium or heavy moisturiser based on the oil and water content of your skin will ensure you absorb the product where necessary but still feel protected.
- “Always allow moisturisers and sunscreens time to dry down on the skin before applying make-up. About 10 minutes is sufficient.”
I spent big money on a serum and it seems to be doing absolutely nothing for my skin. Where am I going wrong here?
Jennifer Rock, The Skin Nerd and Skingredients founder gives her advice, which all starts with getting to know your skin a bit more.
- “Firstly, you need to work out if your skin is dry, oily or just dehydrated. How can you tell? Dryness is something you tend to have all year, oiliness can be easier to decipher because excess oil is visible on the skin. If you are dehydrated, skin tends to be taut in certain areas and feels void of water.
- “I would also ask yourself if you were likely to be under or over-exfoliating your skin. People tend to lean heavily on multi acids and use them in combinations with actives such as retinol. Individually these ingredients are amazingly beneficial for the skin but if overused, they can cause the skin to become compromised.
- “Hydrating the skin with a sheet mask will allow any skincare applied afterwards to penetrate further. Great options for maximising moisture are masks which contain hyaluronic acid – a humectant that attracts moisture to the skin and keeps it there.”
Any time I try to contour it looks too orange, too grey or too mucky – why can’t I master this?
Louise Sheehan, Training Manager for Clarins in Ireland, says that it’s all about the undertone.
- “It could be time to change your contour product of choice! Contour products have undertones, so you may need to try a few different types before you find your perfect match. Knowing your own skin’s undertone is the first step in the right direction.
- “If it is starting to look a bit mucky, there is a good chance you could be over blending or applying product onto the wrong base. If you are using a powder contour, best practice would be to apply a setting powder over the area before applying it. Powder blends best over powder, creams blend best over creams.
- “If you really need to make the contour you have work for you but it is too dark, you can apply your contour first and apply your foundation over it, the contour will still be seen but in a far more subtle way.”
I bought this mascara that everyone raves about, but it just isn’t giving any wow factor, it flakes and I end up with panda eyes. What can I do?
Louise Sheehan says priming, oil protection and choosing a waterproof option might be the answer.
- “This is a common issue with mascaras. You can introduce using a primer on your lashes – these are brilliant at prepping the lashes to hold a mascara in place. Look for a primer that has lash strengthening ingredients so you can treat your lashes as you wear it.
- “The reason you could be a victim of the dreaded panda eye fall down is your skin is oily and this oil transfers onto your lashes causing pigment to fall from the lashes. Use a mattifying primer on your eyelids to absorb any excess oil. You could switch to a waterproof mascara but make sure you have a good eye make-up remover.
- “Also, mascaras can tend to lose their ‘wow’ after some time, if too much air gets into the tube and can dry out the mascara, so try not to over ‘pump’ your mascara wand when applying as this is exactly how air gets into the mascara tube.”
Everywhere I look on Instagram, I see perfect, tanned limbs, yet when I apply mine? Streaks, crusty looking parts and a really awful fade. Any advice?
Julie Allen from the Bare by Vogue team and Meghan Trainor are in agreement here: It’s all about that base.
- “The first step to any tanning routine is all about the base. Exfoliating is key here, as removing dead skin cells will create a smooth surface for the tan to apply to and ensure an even colour result overall.
- “Moisturise any dry areas just before applying tan – elbows, hands, feet and knees are the usual suspects – but ensure it is just these dry areas. Moisturising the entire body can actually act as a barrier to the skin, meaning your tan doesn’t get the chance to develop correctly.
- “The days prior to applying tan are when full-body moisturising should take place, and the skin should be clean and free from any oils or perfumes just before tan application. Lastly, make sure to give your tan enough time to develop.”
I was sure this purple shampoo I bought would change my life as a blonde, but my hair still looks dull and still looks yellow. What’s the story?
Real talk: Purple shampoo can’t save a bad colour job, and it can’t work on hair that’s not properly clean, says Mar Gahan.
- “Purple shampoo is always sold as a toning shampoo, however a lash of this in the shower is (unfortunately) not the solution to all of our coloured blonde problems. Start with a detox shampoo to remove any impurities and excess oil in the hair, leaving a clean canvas for the toning shampoo to work.
- “The shade of blonde should give insight as to where you are going wrong: If the hair is dull, then you have overused purple shampoo – it should only be used once a fortnight. If the hair is still yellow, this will be down to the colour application, and really no purple shampoo can help this.
- “Also worth noting is that people sometimes get confused between orange/yellow. If you have any slight hint of orange in the hair, the purple shampoo will only enhance the orange in the hair, making it more noticeable – not ideal.”
Don’t miss Aisling’s latest column in the current issue of Irish Country Magazine where she talks about summer-proofing your skin, makeup and hair during the warmer months