The top 10 insider beauty tips (from someone who really knows)

Our long-term friend Karen Moline has spent more time closeted in rooms with beauty gurus than anyone else we know.  Hours and hours.  Weeks and weeks.  Years and years.  How so?  Because she's worked on many, many of the leading beauty books out there, capturing the thoughts and wisdom of dermatologists and make-up artists who are great at what they do - but definitely need someone to focus them and put their knowledge on paper... So:  who better to ask which are the absolutely best tips ever-ever-ever...?  As Karen explains:  'As a ghostwriter/collaborator, I’ve been incredibly lucky to have written books with some of the best dermatologists (Rodan + Fields), cosmetic dermatologists (Dr. Frederic Brandt), plastic surgeons (Robert Tornambe), and makeup artists (Nars) in the business.  Talk about a fabulous education at Beauty Uni.  So I’m happy to share thsee top 10 insider’s tips, and I hope they help you as much as they’ve helped me.'

Look out for details of a new Kindle version of Karen's own book, Lunch, at the bottom of this page - but meanwhile, in ascending order...

10.  A moisturiser is not a wrinkle cream.

Moisturisers are meant to hydrate your skin. All they can treat is dryness. SO while you might look better, with plumped-up skin, after you use a good moisturiser, it won’t have any real effect on those lines (or in my case, crevasses and canyons!).

9.   Cosmetics expire.

If you can’t bear to toss your fave lippy, toss it anyway.  If it’s been opened and in your cupboard for more than several months, your risk of infection increases the longer it sticks around, especially if like most of us you keep your cosmetics in the bathroom where it gets humid after a bath or shower.  See this as an ideal opportunity to find a sizzling new colour.

8.   Don’t believe the hype.

In the US, no cosmetics company can make drug-style claims unless the product contains a drug that has been approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). That’s why you’ll see adverts with comments like 'helps improve' and 'studies show' without going into specifics. (Sometimes 'studies' are done on only a few hand-picked people and therefore are statistically meaningless.)

7.   No cream is worth a week’s salary.

There is no over-the-counter product containing the veritable Elixir of Youth ingredient that will restore your aging skin to the dewy freshness of your baby’s dumpling cheeks.  Sorry, but there just isn’t.  Hyper-pricy products might feel and smell luscious on your skin, and might have stunning containers that look and scream I DESERVE THE BEST, but there are umpteen less expensive products that are just as effective - or better.  They just may not look as pretty on your shelves.

6.    The zit on your face today started forming weeks before.

So you can stop blaming the chocolate bar you ate last night!  Pimples might seem to spring up instantly (and always before an important meeting at work or date with a new guy, right?) but they’ve been churning away - thanks to the cursed p. acnes bacteria and excess oil production and hormonal influences - below the surface long before they erupt.  Besides, when you have zits, you need a bit of Green & Black’s to soothe your mood.

5.   Exfoliation is a must-do - but go easy on your skin.

Pity the poor skin cell.  It’s born, chugs its way to the surface of your skin, and croaks a few weeks later.  Slough it off and your skin looks great.  But as you age, this skin cell turnover process slows down too.  So if there’s one step you need to add to your skincare routine as you grow older, it’s gentle exfoliation.  (Yes, the word gentle is in there for a reason - no aggressive products meant for teens with oily skin, please - even if you are a teen with oily skin..!)  This will get rid of the dead skin cells that are making your complexion dull and blah.

4.   Treatment products need up to eight weeks to work.

This is one of the biggies.  How many times have you tried something spanking new and supposedly incredible, not seen any results after a few weeks, gotten frustrated, and chucked it… only to start a new cycle with a new product?  Eight weeks is a long time.  Two months.  Be patient and stick with it! If a product doesn’t work by then, it probably isn’t right for you.

3.    When in doubt, see a competent dermatologist.

It’s so tempting. There are so many cosmetics counters and websites and so many beauty bloggers with advice (and a lot of it is brill, like what you read here.)  But still, never self-diagnose any skin problems.  If you suddenly develop any changes to your skin (which is, after all, your body’s largest organ), you need medical attention (you might have a hormonal imbalance or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, for example).

2.    You need a lot more sunscreen than you think.

Did you know that SPF ratings are done on test subjects who use the proper amount of sunscreen?  Did you know that it’s a teaspoon just for your face?  Have you ever put a teaspoon of sunscreen on your face?  I rest my case.  So I hope you have just realized that using a moisturizer with SPF is not going to give you enough protection; better to use a moisturising sunscreen.  And while you’re at it, don’t forget about your neck, hands, forearms, and legs.  If you’re at the beach you need at least a tablespoon for your body, reapplied after swimming or every two hours. That is a lot of product. (TIP:  Do not store sunscreen in any area that gets hot, like the glove compartment of your car. It degrades in heat, which is why - drumroll, please! - you need to constantly reapply it as soon as the sun’s burning and aging rays hit your body.)

1.    Never, ever go outside without a good broad-spectrum (UVA + UVB) sunscreen.

Now that you know how much sunscreen to use, don’t leave home without slathering it on.  Sun exposure is the absolute top reason for skin ageing - and it’s the easiest to prevent.  I start applying sunscreen before breakfast so it soaks in, and then put on another layer after I brush my teeth. Voila.  Takes a few seconds and then I don’t have to worry.  No excuses, please - the skin you save will be your own.  The only exceptions are blizzards, hurricanes, typhoons, and the cover of darkness.


Karen Moline is the author of the novels Belladonna and Lunch (now available, hurrah, as a Kindle download) the co-author of the humor/parenting book Sh*tty Mum, has ghosted/collaborated on over two dozen nonfiction books, and has written hundreds of articles for publications around the globe.

The Kindle edition of Lunch is priced £2.14 - buy here

To see more of her work, go to