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How to look after your skin, according to 4 'Skinfluencers'

The industry experts that know what they're talking about 

How to look after your skin, according to 4 'Skinfluencers'© Delmaine Donson
Emma North
Deputy Beauty Editor
Updated: November 16, 2023
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Despite their diverse perspectives Sali Hughes, Dr. Maryam Zamani, Imelda Burke and Ada Ooi all  share a common trait – the coveted glow that seems almost unattainable. From cosmetic injections to organic facial oils, each of these beauty brand founders champions a very different approach to beauty and self-care. 

.As we delve into their unique philosophies and routines, discover the diverse paths these 'Skinfluencers' tread on their journey to achieving flawless skin. From Sali's affordable and straightforward approach to Dr. Maryam's science-driven luxury line, Imelda's commitment to eco-conscious products, and Ada's holistic practices rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine, each perspective offers a valuable lesson in the pursuit of radiant and healthy skin.

Skincare has exploded in popularity post pandemic© svetikd
Skincare has exploded in popularity post pandemic

Scroll on to find out their skincare philosophies, and what products they can't live without:

Why you should trust them:

Expertise: Each expert offers expertise in their field. Sali Hughes, the High Street Champion, challenges the notion that effective skincare must come at a hefty price. Hughes emphasizes the myth of a direct correlation between affordability and product quality, encouraging a realistic and inclusive approach to skincare. Dr. Maryam Zamani, the Aesthetics Doctor, brings a scientific perspective to skincare, drawing on her extensive medical background as an oculoplastic surgeon. Her brand, MZ Skin, prioritizes science-backed formulations and clinically-trialled ingredients, targeting specific skin concerns with a conscious and adaptable range. Imelda Burke, the Eco Warrior and founder of Content Beauty, advocates for a holistic and conscious approach to skincare. Burke's commitment to clear-cut formulas, locally sourced, organic ingredients, and brands aligned with ethical values sets the tone for a sustainable beauty ethos. Ada Ooi, the Holistic Practitioner, fuses her background in Traditional Chinese Medicine with aesthetics, emphasizing the interconnectedness of the mind, body, and soul. 

The High Street Champion: Sali Hughes

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Journalist Sali Hughes has collaborated with British beauty brand Revolution on a line of no-frills skincare products. With prices starting at £14, it’s a no-brainer for savvy skincare shoppers: “I take issue with the idea that one must pay a lot of money for smart, effective and elegant skincare formulas,” Sali says. “It’s simply not realistic for the majority of consumers, nor is it fair.”

Many people will still associate a higher price point with better quality, but Sali argues this isn’t the case: “There is no correlation between affordability and product quality. This is a myth. There are a million variables - packaging, suppliers, marketing spend, glossy advertising campaigns, clinical trials and research programmes - that drive up the price of expensive skincare. But there are great products at every price point.” 

Describing her own complexion as “dry as a bone,” Sali cites dullness as her biggest skincare concern - and ‘glow’ as her number one goal. Keeping her regime simple and consistent, she explains: “I start every morning with a light cleanser, because my skin is essentially clean except for last night’s skincare and the odd dog hair (my dog Sylvie sleeps with me. I make no apologies for it). That’s removed with a clean, warm, wrung out flannel. Three times a week, I follow with a liquid exfoliant. Whether I exfoliate or not, I always apply a high concentrate vitamin C serum, for glow and antioxidant protection. I follow with a moisturiser and a sunscreen of SPF30, minimum.” Before bed, Sali ensures her skin is scrupulously clean: “I remove everything with a cleansing balm, buffed away with the same flannel, then I apply prescription tretinoin and niacinamide from Skin+Me.”

Although Sali welcomes the growing availability and efficacy of affordable skincare, she says the lack of more sophisticated compositions led to her launching her range: “The reason I wanted to make my own skincare stemmed from my frustration that budget consumers got single ingredient products, while luxury consumers got formulas. I don’t want to have to turn my bathroom into a science lab, or to apply 15 different products, or for people to be confused by what can be used with what, so I want blends of many, multi-benefit, proven ingredients - that can be applied in one step without faff or much thought. There was a huge and frustrating gap in the market. That’s how Sali Hughes X Revolution was born.”

It’s worth mentioning that Sali isn’t looking to demonise the luxury skincare sector, though. She still recognises the value of higher-end products that produce great results: “I really do love luxury skincare and have never said otherwise. My issue is not that some skincare costs a fortune, it’s the idea that one must spend a fortune in order to get beautiful texture and visible results. That shouldn’t be true, and it isn’t.” Instead, she believes that beauty should be accessible for all: “There is room for everyone, and no consumer should be excluded just because they don’t have £80 to drop on a face serum. That sort of price is not remotely realistic for very, very many people. Especially right now.”

Sali’s advice to skincare shoppers is to swat up on what’s what: “Know your ingredients and your personal skin goals,” she explains. “I hear people using vague, outmoded terms like ‘anti-ageing’ and wonder what they mean, specifically? Are they looking to target wrinkles? In which case, retinol is the gold standard. Dullness? Vitamin C and alpha hydroxy acids are more useful. Bounce and hydration? Hyaluronic and Polyglutamic acids or glycerin are essential. Niacinamide and ceramides are all wonderful for the comfort and integrity of the skin barrier, peptides are great for smoother texture and firmness.” 

How She Chose:

Efficacy: Sali Hughes selected products based on their proven effectiveness, prioritizing formulations that deliver tangible results for various skincare concerns. Her emphasis lies in creating a straightforward skincare routine that is accessible yet potent.

Price: Hughes is a staunch advocate for affordability, challenging the conventional belief that effective skincare must come with a hefty price tag. Her product choices reflect a commitment to providing quality skincare solutions at prices that are accessible to the majority of consumers.

Sali's product picks:

Customised Prescription - Skin+Me
Customised Prescription - Skin+Me
Cream Drench Rich Anytime Moisturiser, Revolution X Sali Hughes
Cream Drench Rich Anytime Moisturiser - Revolution X Sali Hughes
Anti-Dryness Protection Cream - Garnier
Anti-Dryness Protection Cream - Garnier

The Aesthetics Doctor: Dr Maryam Zamani

With an extensive medical background as an oculoplastic surgeon and facial aesthetics doctor, Dr Maryam Zamani, founder of MZ Skin, believes in a skincare routine rooted in science. “I am black and white with what I believe in,” she tells us. “I do not use products or ingredients that are not backed by science or verified with clinical trials.” 

Given Maryam’s in-clinic experience, she was well-placed to found her own line of topical treatments: “I have tried to create products that can be adaptable to most skin types. MZ Skin is a conscious, science-driven and clinically-trialled range. Every ingredient has a specific purpose in the formulation.” 

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Maryam’s own skin concern is pigmentation, and she follows a strict regime to treat it. “Years of misspent youth sunbathing coupled with hormonal changes during pregnancy have caused ongoing pigmentation issues for me. In the mornings I always wash my face while I’m in the shower, then apply a vitamin C Serum. The next step varies, depending on the time of year, but at the moment I am obsessed with the MZ Skin The Rich Moisturiser to hydrate, promote collagen and elastin production and protect my skin. My evening routine starts with a cleanse, followed by my MZ Skin Rest & Revive. My eye cream, Soothe and Smooth is a must. I also use a prescription tretinoin five times a week to supplement my skin health.” 

At a high price point, MZ Skin is considered ‘luxury’ but Dr Maryam is unrelenting in her pursuit for top quality ingredients. “Science backed skincare doesn’t have to be pricey but formulations that use high-tech actives can be quite expensive.” To pick out good quality products, Maryam encourages anyone on a budget to look past the marketing spin and consider the research: “There are lots of high street, affordable skincare options that produce results. Look at the clinical studies done to determine whether the product performs in the areas you need it to.”

You also might not think Maryam to be so open to a simpler, more holistic approach to skin health: “I love gua sha treatments,” she says. “They can really help to relax facial muscles, improve skin circulation and lymphatic drainage. You are also creating a controlled trauma (that short-term flush of redness), which the skin then starts to repair by making new collagen.”

How She Chose:

Efficacy: Dr. Maryam Zamani's product selection is rooted in science, with a strong focus on ingredients backed by scientific research and verified through clinical trials. Each product in the MZ Skin line is carefully formulated to deliver effective results, particularly addressing skin concerns such as pigmentation.

Price: While MZ Skin is considered a luxury brand, Dr. Maryam Zamani underscores the importance of investing in high-quality ingredients. The price reflects the use of high-tech actives and the brand's commitment to science-backed skincare formulations.

Maryam's product picks:

Soothe and Smooth Hyaluronic Brightening Eye Complex - MZ Skin
Soothe and Smooth Hyaluronic Brightening Eye Complex - MZ Skin
Evy Technology Daily Defense Face Mousse SPF50, £27
Technology Daily Defense Face Mousse SPF50 - Evy
Aquaphor Body Ointment Spray - Eucerin
Aquaphor Body Ointment Spray - Eucerin

The Eco Warrior: Imelda Burke

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Imelda Burke, founder of retailer Content Beauty, says she had a light bulb moment in the early 2000s when she realised that she had no idea what she was putting on her skin. “I was already using natural products to clean my house, visiting organic farmers markets and shopping at health food stores, so I swapped everything I was using to align with how I was shopping in other categories. Since then I haven't used brands that don't match my ethos, other than the odd handwash in public facilities!”

Sticking to her beauty ethos Imelda only uses products that align with her beliefs, preferring clear cut formulas and locally sourced, organic ingredients with zero carbon footprint. Her site operates in a similar fashion. Brands must adhere to strict guidelines to be included, whether championing people through fairtrade rights, holding cruelty-free status or with certified organic manufacturing processes. A ‘shop by ethos’ function is available too so customers can clearly see the credentials of what they’re buying. 

Terms such as ‘natural’ and ‘clean’ don’t have regulatory meaning so the sector can be confusing for shoppers to navigate. Imelda explains: “For some, it’s about aligning what they put on to the skin with their plant-based diet. For others, the focus is on a product’s environmental impact - this could include recyclable packaging, offsetting its carbon footprint or ensuring ingredients are biodegradable and sustainably grown.” And shopping for conscious products to suit all skin types is becoming easier as the sector continues to grow. Imelda continues: “It used to be that product options available for sensitive skin or acne-prone complexions were limited but this is not the case now.”

With a skin she describes as “pretty normal, prone to a bit of dryness”, Imelda keeps her own routine simple: “In the morning I use a purifying cleanser with a light exfoliation action and follow with a PHA toner. Then I use a moisturiser with a couple of drops of oil in it. Then I apply a primer and make-up - which usually has my SPF in it.” For evening, she takes a more targeted approach: “I double cleanse using an oil for make-up removal followed by a cream or gel cleanser. Then I apply a serum, usually corrective depending on my skin's mood - brightening, targeting fine lines or spot-fighting, followed by an eye serum. Once that sinks in, I use an oil or a hydrating face mask as a night cream.”

How She Chose:

Efficacy: Imelda Burke's criteria for product selection include clear-cut formulas, locally sourced, and organic ingredients with a zero-carbon footprint. She prioritizes efficacy by ensuring that each product aligns with her belief in providing effective skincare solutions while maintaining environmental consciousness.

Price: While Burke's approach is eco-conscious, she recognizes the importance of offering products at a fair price point. The selection process involves considering the overall value of the product, including its impact on the environment and its accessibility to a diverse range of consumers.

Imelda's product picks:

Kaeā Skincare The Cleanser, £79
The Cleanser - Kaeā Skincare
RMS Beauty Beauty Oil, £74
Beauty Beauty Oil - RMS
Amly Radiance Boost Face Mist, £54
Radiance Boost Face Mist - Amly

The Holistic Practitioner: Ada Ooi

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Ada Ooi, founder of 001 Skincare London, was working in her grandfather’s Hong Kong pharmacy at 12 years old when she first experienced acne: “He prescribed both Western and Chinese medicines to patients who came in for acne solutions. Hearing him explain to patients that spots show up on the skin because of internal imbalances, I realised he was right. I changed my diet, slept earlier, drank herbs and my spots improved.” 

Now trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), acupuncture, aesthetic therapy and aromatherapy, Ada went on to open a London clinic and has created her own skincare brand. “It’s about getting to the root cause of problems, rather than managing symptoms,” she says about her approach to skin health. “Treating the skin as a coherent whole, connecting it with the mind, body and soul.” 

Ada’s morning skincare routine starts with a cup of warm water, “to warm up my body’s 'engine' and rehydrate.” She continues: “Then I wash my face with cold water and pat dry. I follow with a rose mist, and soak the face with 4 long drops of my serum. While the skin is still damp, I add a dollop of moisturiser. When all has dried I apply SPF.” 

Before bed, Ada says it’s “all about layering”, starting with a double cleanse: “I use my Alpha Paradise Cleansing Dew, £42 - I long for the smell of jasmine and neroli in this cleansing oil every evening. Then I go in with my Exfoliating & Conditioning Cleanser, £42, it has a silky foam texture that feels lovely and cocooning. Then, I soak my face with a rose mist and drench the skin with 4 drops of serum, quickly followed by a few drops of oil, mist again and end with a moisturiser.”

Having experienced inflammation and peeling in the past after trying a high dose of salicylic acid, Ada now doubles down on her holistic approach: “It's a scenario that I knew was going to happen, but at the time I just wanted a quick fix to address excess sebum and blackheads. Now I know to cut out refined sugar and dairy, get plenty of sleep and stick to a regular extraction routine that involves steaming, an oil based scrub and oil massage to soften the pore linings, followed by extraction.” 

Ada is open to the idea of more technology-based treatments but has reservations about injectables, like fillers: “It’s a personal choice but from a TCM point of view, fillers block the regular flow of energy and can affect Chinese Meridian pathways.” The meridian theory is based on the body containing ‘lines’ through which energy, known as qi, flows. Blocked meridian lines are thought to cause psychological and psychical symptoms, including skin issues. For mature skin that finds it hard to retain moisture, Ada recommends a “water-rich diet, including soups and congee,” to rehydrate from the inside out.

How She Chose:

Efficacy: Ada Ooi's choice of products is guided by her holistic approach, addressing the root causes of skin issues. She focuses on formulations that promote overall skin health and well-being, combining Traditional Chinese Medicine principles with aesthetics for a comprehensive skincare routine.

Price: While Ooi emphasizes the importance of holistic skincare, her product choices may vary in price. The selection process involves considering the value of the ingredients, the product's overall effectiveness, and its contribution to the holistic well-being of the skin.

Ada's product picks:

001 Skincare Alpha Glow Flash Facial, £96
Alpha Glow Flash Facial - 001 Skincare
Chanel Hydra Beauty Camellia Water Cream, £52
Hydra Beauty Camellia Water Cream - Chanel
Decléor Neroli Bigarade Hydrating Night Balm, £60.50
Neroli Bigarade Hydrating Night Balm - Decléor

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