15 Beauty Lessons With Journalist & Author India Knight
15 Beauty Lessons With Journalist & Author India Knight

15 Beauty Lessons With Journalist & Author India Knight

As a beauty columnist for The Sunday Times, India Knight’s honest and reassuring advice has resonated with thousands of readers over the years. In her new book, ‘What Works When You’re Older’, she shares more of her beauty wisdom – so we asked her to give us a bit of a teaser…
By Rebecca Hull

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Knowing what works for you is key. It’s what my new book – India Knight’s Beauty Edit: What Works When You’re Older – focuses on. I know from my Sunday Times beauty column that a lot of women in middle age and beyond get to a point where they’re just on autopilot. They use what they’ve always used, but they are aware that it’s not working for them as well as it used to, whether you’re talking about skincare or make-up – faces change as they age, and what looked great when you were 30 now just sits in your creases. The problem is there’s such a vast and bewildering array of choice out there that when you decide to refresh your make-up bag or bathroom shelf, it’s really hard to know where to start. So, I wanted to pare it right back and highlight only the products that work – foundation that’s going to stay put, the best pencils for hooded eyes, the concealer that hides brown spots, the skincare that actually makes a difference etc.

Skincare is where you should invest. Good skin is what makes you look your best, so I believe in spending your money on the best products you can afford – though as I explain in my book, price isn’t always a reliable indication of excellence. It’s important to not always be seduced by a massive price tag or waiting lists, which are normally figments of the marketing team’s imagination. My one rule is, if in doubt, go for a French pharmacy brand. It’s never going to be a bad choice. My absolute favourite is Bioderma – it’s incredibly reliable across the board – closely followed by La Roche-Posay. Both have specific ranges that address specific concerns.

Spend on your serum, save on your moisturiser. In my opinion, all moisturiser can do is sit there and provide a protective layer. That’s great, but serums actually get below the skin and all its layers, which is why it’s better to invest wisely here. The good ones are fantastic, and the closest that skincare comes to performing miracles. Nothing short of cosmetic intervention will make you look ten years younger, but serums have ingredients that help you to look like the best version of yourself. A handful I can share include La Roche-Posay’s Pure Retinol Serum, Beauty Pie’s Super Retinol and Skinceuticals’ legendary C E Ferulic.

SPF is non-negotiable. I used to be so blasé about wearing it because I have brown skin and I thought it gave me an advantage. Big mistake – and I now have the dark spots to prove it. It’s true that 80% of skin ageing is down to sun damage, so I am now obsessive about wearing it – every single day, whatever the weather, on the basis that it’s better late than never. I love Heliocare’s 360 Oil-Free Gel and La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios Age Correct SPF. Aside from the excellent protection, I like the textures and the way they feel on the skin, i.e. comfortable and invisible. The Heliocare is a very good base for make-up, too – not a given, as a lot of them make things slide off.

There’s no point having an endless skincare routine. So many of us are doing too much. Skin is a living thing and you can’t constantly cover it in layers and layers of stuff, day and night. You need to let it breathe. Clean it, obviously. Exfoliate it every now and then. Give it some moisture – this is important as you get older. Use a serum to address specific concerns – but do also either go make-up free a few days a week, or go to bed with nothing on your face.

It’s not worth giving into the hype. The beauty industry can be very persuasive, and I don’t want my judgment to become clouded. They very kindly send me everything, and I test it on myself. That’s the entire process. No extra gifting, no schmoozing, no nice dinners, no breathless press releases – I just want to take an honest approach to all reviews to cut out the constant confusion. I only write about things I love – there is no point wasting words on something crap.

Anyone can wear red lipstick. It’s the hill I’m prepared to die on – everyone in the entire world looks amazing with a red lip. Of course, providing it’s the right shade for them. It doesn’t have to be matte or a real Old Hollywood red. It can be a discreet stain, like you’ve bitten your lips, and it can be any kind of red from cherry to a near-orange. I am evangelical about red. There is nothing like it to light up the face. Regardless of the shade you do choose, there are several lipsticks I often return to that are creamy, hydrating and comfortable. That includes M·A·C’s Satin Lipsticks, L’Oréal’s Plump and Shine Lipsticks, Charlotte Tilbury’s Hyaluronic Happikiss range and Revlon’s Super-Lustrous Lipsticks.

If you have favourites that work for you, stick with them. For me, that’s the Elemis Balm Cleanser and Alpha-H’s Liquid Gold. My rotation changes all the time because I’m constantly testing new things, but these are two products I always have handy. I’ve used them for years. The cleansing balm leaves my skin perfectly clean, comfortable and soothed. As for Liquid Gold, this is possibly my all-time favourite skincare product. I know – it’s some claim. But it gets rid of dead skin cells that are sitting there spoiling your face, it imparts marvellous radiance after just a few uses, and it helps with fine lines and low levels of pigmentation. It also hydrates beautifully.

There is such a thing as going too far with treatments. I think people can drive themselves mad trying to recreate a look that belongs to a moment that isn’t coming back. I also think, sometimes, people can look quite odd. I have a minute amount of Botox and a bit of filler, and even I feel conflicted about that. I sometimes hate the way the industry tries to make women feel permanently dissatisfied with the way we look, or like we should be doing more. It’s like we’re never enough as we are, and it can get on my wick.

Intimate fragrances always get my vote. By that, I mean those that you only pick up if you lean in. I used to waft around in clouds of Poison by Dior at university in the late 80s. It was the era of massive scents that could choke a person at 100 paces. Everywhere smelt of Giorgio Beverly Hills, or Poison, or YSL Rive Gauche. So revolting. And then gourmet scents, ugh. Who wants to smell of cake ingredients, aside from a four-year-old? It’s the scent equivalent of prancing about in a princess outfit. These days I prefer to be discreet. I’m a big fan of Le Labo, and if people want a new scent, I always direct them to Frédéric Malle.

Beauty doesn’t have to cost the earth. Some of my favourite budget buys include The Body Shop’s Chamomile Cleanser – it’s amazing and about £6. I use it if I’ve been wearing a ton of make-up as it removes every scrap. The brand has had a major revamp and is now always worth looking at for well-priced, effective skincare that punches well above its price tag.

A small amount of the right make-up can make a big difference. I used to wear lots of make-up, but now I hardly wear any. However, I always have Erborian’s BB Cream on hand – it helps skin look better and fresher in 30 seconds – and Charlotte Tilbury’s Pressed Powder to counter shine. It’s very finely milled and undetectable to the naked eye, even under bright lights. I also love the Jones Road Liquid Bronzer; it’s so good and imparts both colour and the prettiest, most wholesome glow – use the tiniest dot. Finally, Armani’s Luminous Silk Glow Blush in shade 50 – a soft, peachy coral – is a firm favourite of mine. It has a beautiful finish.

Brows are so important. I’m not as obsessed with mascara as other people are – I think brows define your face more. I don’t always wear mascara but when I do, it’s Vieve’s Modern Mascara I turn to. Brow products come and go but I’m devoted to Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow pomade and have been for decades. Victoria Beckham’s brow pencils are a close second.

Extensions aren’t for everyone, but I swear by them. If you find the idea of permanent, bonded ones scary, go for tape extensions – which is what I use. Beyond that, Toppik is a brilliant product if you have bits of scalp showing that you want to cover. When I want to repair damage, it’s the K18 Leave-In Molecular Repair Hair Mask I turn to. It has a patented bioactive peptide treatment that heals and strengthens traumatised, coloured hair. It visibly reverses damage in minutes. I wouldn’t have believed any of this had I not experienced it for myself, but it’s all true.

Happiness shows in your face. This is so cheesy, but my grandmother used to tell me this and it really is true. Happiness, or at least contentment, makes you 100% more attractive. It’s why people who have just fallen in love look so amazing. So, with that in mind, my parting advice is to do what makes you happy. Oh, and always put your foundation on with a beautyblender – it’s much better than a brush.

India Knight's Beauty Edit: What Works When You're Older is available to buy here.

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