The beauty spy: On reading the small print

You won’t see her, but she’s there, in the salons, spas and shops, and she’s happy to share her secrets on reading the small print of package ingredients.

Until I met the beauty guru Tina Richards (look her up, she markets the Tua Viso, which Kate Moss swears by), it never occurred to me to read what it says on the label of a beauty product. I just figured that if it smelt nice and looked pleasant and I could afford it, I should buy it. How wrong I was. The list of ingredients is where you can work out if the thing you are spending your hard-earned cash on is actually going to do any good at all. And don't just go for the thing with the most ingredients in it; the more there are, the more likely it is you might be allergic to something. Instead, look for ingredients that your skin needs. Don't know what your skin needs? Neither did I, but read on:

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are the ones to go for. Packs might also say glycolic acid or lactic acid, which are both forms of AHAs. These are basically exfoliators, which get rid of dead skin and are used to heal sun-damaged skin. Antioxidants are a so-called "active" ingredient, something that actually makes a difference. They fight free radicals (which, in small doses, are good but in large doses age the skin). Antioxidants include simple nutrients such as vitamin C and more complicated ones such as the coenzyme Q10, (which you should also eat in vitamin form). Some of the more potent antioxidants are Idebenone and ferulic acid, the latter of which boosts the efficiency of other antioxidants. It is not found in many products, but we like the Skinceuticals C E Ferulic, which hugely enhances your skin's natural protection against ageing.

Peptides and polypeptides are tricky to understand but all you really need to know is that they are vital to collagen production as well as cell repair and renewal. Products with peptides tend to increase collagen, decrease inflammation and rejuvenate damaged skin. As we age, our levels of hyaluronic acid decrease dramatically. Essentially, it keeps skin looking plump. Most products that contain it are to be used at night to restore and replenish. Niacinamide (or Vitamin B3) is another one to look for and is found in many Olay products. This is what is called a vaso-dilator, and it widens the blood vessels to stimulate circulation. This improves elasticity and brightens up the skin.

If you don't have over-sensitive skin, then always buy at least a night cream that contains retinol. This is a pure and active form of vitamin A that boosts cell turnover, exfoliates, unclogs pores and reduces wrinkles and age spots. So get younger as you sleep - heavenly.


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Beauty books to make you look and feel fabulous

HOW TO LOOK PRETTY NOT PLASTERED, Dh90 Don't know your lip pencil from your eyeliner? This easy guide is packed with make-up tips and must-haves for your handbag. Due for release on August 26, pre-order now at

BOBBI BROWN BEAUTY RULES, Dh185 Emphasising natural beauty, Brown advises on the best products and tools for keeping skin flawless. Ideal for teens and twenty-somethings.

THE ANTI-AGEING BEAUTY BIBLE, Dh130 Written by the health and beauty experts Josephine Fairley and Sarah Stacey, this book offers great advice for keeping the wrinkles at bay.


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When it comes to our beauty regimen we're all about new products, techniques and inspirations - and for that we always go to Into The Gloss. The blog was created by Emily Weiss, a fashion insider who shares her and her peers' beauty secrets. All of the tips come from real women who use the products regularly and can predict make-up trends. There are seven categories to go through, whether you want expert advice or a look into a model's beauty bag.

Published: August 9, 2011 04:00 AM


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