Sali Hughes gets pretty honest

We are big, big fans of Sali Hughes's column in The Guardian - and we're big, big fans of this book. Sali comes from the same place we do, beauty-wise: doesn't buy into the hype, isn't afraid to tell the truth - and understands what real women want to know about beauty. Over and above that, she worked for many years as a professional make-up artist and so has a true insider's perspective on everything relating to 'slap'.

So we can't recommend Pretty Honest too highly - it's absolutely full of bottom-line advice (although lighter on product recommendations than our own Beauty Bibles). Here's some of her 'Salon Etiquette', to give a taste...

Dilemma: The therapist you're offered is more senior than you can afford. Are senior staff that much better that you should suck up the cost? Solution: A stylist or therapist's rank is an indicator of experience. Very generally speaking, the higher the rank, the greater the number of clients they've treated and the techniques they've studied. That said, a junior stylist may absolutely do an equal, or even better job than someone more senior. If money is tight, save your high-flyer money for dramatic restyles or major treatments only. For trims, nail-paint jobs and blow-dries in between, see someone cheaper. If the more junior therapist does a consistently great job, move over to him/her for everything.

Dilemma: You're a pounder, they're a stroker. Solution: There is nothing worse than a mimsy massage or facial, if like me, you've gone purely to enjoy a good hammering. I want to feel my body or face muscles being worked, gross stuff being extracted from my skin. Being stroked by a therapist (one facialist even spent 45 minutes with her hands floating above my face to cleanse my aura) makes me so unrelaxed that I leave feeling murderous. But unless you tell the therapist what you're after, how can they know? Tell them cheerfully upon arrival that you like a firm or light pressure, that your pain threshold is high or low, and let them know at any point in the treatment if they've gone too far in either direction. It's also useful to express your preferences when booking the initial appointment. Most salons will have a therapist with a firmer or softer touch than others and will happily match you accordingly.

Dilemma: Your hairdresser or therapist has moved salons. Solution: When a therapist moves to another salon, the professional protocol is that they neither announce that they're leaving, nor say where they're going. This is extremely frustrating when you get to book your next appointment and the receptionist gets all tight-lipped about where the hell your favourite is now working. This is why I always, always find out the full name of hairstylists and beauty therapists I love. That way, you can search Facebook and Instagram and get in touch direct. As long as you're approaching them and not vice versa, nothing is out of line.

Dilemma: Is taking in photographs rude? Solution: Hell, no. Visual reference materials are almost always preferred by hairdressers and make-up artists. They save so much time otherwise spent attempting to explain a look verbally, and leave little room for misunderstanding. They are essential and most stylists are secretly frustrated when a client doesn't bring visual references. Search for photographs on the internet and print them out, tear pictures from magazines, bring in snaps of yourself wearing a look that you'd like to revisit.

And we just love the advice she quotes from Elizabeth Taylor: 'Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick and pull yourself together...' Well, quite.

UK readers find Pretty Honest by Sali Hughes at£22 (£9.15 for the Kindle Edition) - buy here