Ahh, 15. It was a year that was filled with magazines, lip gloss, and a whole lot of awkwardness. Growing up, I wasn’t particularly good at beauty. My sister and I would sit in each other’s rooms and sloppily paint our nails while watching chick flicks and eating popcorn. I’d carry around a budget mascara in my handbag at school, daring to break the rules by lengthening my lashes in the bathroom mirror. I so desperately wanted to be Cady Heron, Jenna Rink, or Cher Horowitz, when in reality I was a gawky teenager with good grades.
To celebrate Cult Beauty’s 15th Birthday, I had the pleasure of looking back over old photos from my younger years and realising just how clueless I truly was! Between then and now, I’ve learned a lot when it comes to cosmetics: I have a skincare routine that’s quick and easy, and tailored to suit my skin. I have a small makeup bag full of hero products I replace each time they’re empty. And so, I wanted to share fifteen of the beauty lessons I’ve learned over the years – lessons I think 15-year-old me would appreciate. And hopefully you will too – as well as an extra special 20% off selected items at Cult Beauty with code: AFFBDAY
15 Beauty Lessons I’ve Learned Over The Years…
1. Wear SPF Every Single Day
If there’s one beauty lesson I’ve learned the hard way, it’s not wearing SPF. Growing up, I would enjoy sitting out in the sun and sunbathing on holiday without applying all that much sunscreen. I would tan up a storm, but it led to having dry, dehydrated skin, and constant redness. I was so embarrassed about my redness, for such a long time. Using SPF daily has turned that around for me – protecting my skin from the sun’s harmful rays and reducing my redness considerably. I still get flushed cheeks at the slightest things, but I’m so thankful I have a way to manage it for the most part.
My SPF Hero Products
2. Learn How To Cleanse Properly
I’m specifically talking to my teenage self with this one – a makeup wipe just won’t do! I grew up being very lazy with my skin, and then wondering why I would break out in spots. I actually still associate the strong orange scent of my makeup wipes with the Twilight series because my teenage bedtime ritual was to wipe off the day, and promptly get into bed to read more of the vampire saga. It was a simpler time, albeit a spottier one.
Now, I like to cleanse my face with a gentle cleanser and cloth – I like Pai’s Cleansing Oil for this. I do it twice a day, once in the morning, and once in the evening. If I’ve been wearing make-up, I’ll also use make-up remover and a reusable cotton round. It’s a simple lesson, but one I should have known about years ago!
3. Start Using Retinol
I turned 30 earlier this year, although I’ve been told I don’t look 30 just yet. Despite the obvious flattery, I do think it’s partly to do with adding retinol into my skincare routine. I’m not really one for anti-aging products – we all age and that’s ok! – but I do like how chemical exfoliants help my skin feel softer and renewed.
If you are new to using retinol, I recommend watching this Doctorly video on how to properly integrate retinoids into your skincare routine, so you get the best results. I now use retinol daily, and my skin has never felt better.
4. Leave The Crazy Lipstick At Home…
When I was a pre-teen, I remember wearing a smudgy, baby pink lipstick to every occasion. Birthdays, Brownies, whatever. If I was out of the house and I wasn’t at school, you could be sure to find me walking around with sticky, sugary pink lips. Looking back, I know now that wearing a lipstick lighter than my natural lip colour is a no-no, and application is everything. But hey, we all have to start somewhere!
5. …But Be Open To Having Fun With Makeup!
Saying that, having fun with makeup is the only thing that will really get me to experiment outside of my millennial no-makeup makeup look that I wear every day! These days, I have a bit more awareness of the colours that suit me (just like I do with my wardrobe) and thankfully, I also have a steadier hand. My favourite ways to make my makeup pop include smudging tinted lip balm on my eyelids and cheeks, wearing a very bold French red lip with the help of La Bouche Rouge, and adding a sparkle to my eyelids with Hourglass Scattered Light Eyeshadow in Smoke.
6. Luxury Skincare Is Worth It – If You Know Your Skin
Growing up, I used budget skincare. In fact, everything we had was on a budget. I still owe my mum for teaching me how to properly look after money, and making it go further. So luxury skincare was a completely foreign concept to me until my late 20s, where I reached a point where I could treat myself every once in a while. However, I did a WHOLE lot of research before splurging. As I have dehydrated, dry skin, I was able to avoid buying products like water creams that just wouldn’t be as hydrating as I needed. I’ve since enjoyed trying products from brands like Bioeffect (I love their EGF Serum!) and Dr Barbara Sturm (read my full review) and seeing how luxury measures up to my typical routine.
7. Invest In The Right Beauty Tools
A hairdryer changed my life. I’m not kidding. Two years ago, my sister gifted me a very powerful, lightweight hairdryer, and I went from aching arms and limp hair to quickly dried, voluminous locks, overnight. I’ve always had very thick hair, and it’s made haircare a struggle. When I used to box dye my hair, I would often need two boxes. Hairdressers would comment “Wow, you’ve got thick hair!”, and I’d hear that as “This is going to be hard work”. And it was. But good beauty tools take some of the stress out of looking after myself!
8. Find Beauty Professionals You’re Comfortable With
On that note, it’s worth finding beauty professionals you feel truly comfortable with. I’ve had friends walk away from hairdressers with hair cuts that have made them cry. In fact, I once walked away with bleeding nails after a terrible manicure, and still thought I was to blame for having ‘dry cuticles’!
When I was a teenager, I actually used to get nervous going to the hairdressers, because I’d be worried about how I’d look for the following months after getting a cut. (It didn’t help that I had some terrible haircuts in my teens). Since getting older, I’ve realised that professional beauty salons know to consult with you first and create that with your vision and their expertise. They shouldn’t prescribe styles you don’t want, even if they think you should like it. If you feel like something is wrong, speak up. But also, if you feel like the beauty professional isn’t listening to you, change salon.
9. Learn What ‘Sustainable’ Beauty Really Means
Beauty requires some research, and sustainable beauty is the same. I’m so happy that Cult Beauty has its Cult Conscious collection, a selection of products with sustainable credentials that are third-party verified (read my full review). It helps to demystify what sustainable beauty really means – because I think it changes for each of us. Personally, I only wear cruelty-free beauty brands, and I’ll look for additional credentials such as products in widely recyclable packaging.
10. Don’t Be Scared Of Your Period
Periods are a normal thing that millions of people deal with every day. Unfortunately, when I was a teen, I was not only shocked to discover that periods were something I would have to experience, but I was also scared of them. I mean, it’s understandable. They’re painful, messy, and at the time, not really talked about. At school, it was embarrassing enough to simply ask to use the bathroom. And so, it led to one fateful day where I bled through my pants, and my school trousers, onto my chair in my English class. I remember it vividly. I was mortified. I ran from class, and when I reached the nurse’s office, I was shamed for not having my own period products with me. I’d simply forgotten to refill them in my bag, and forgotten when it would arrive. But I was made to feel so very small.
Now, I think periods are less taboo, and I hope I can add to that acceptance. I still hate my period, but I can manage it in a way that works well for me. Personally, I find using a menstrual cup alongside period pants works best, and I encourage you to try different products until you find your right fit. Periods are a lot less scary when you have them under control.
11. Bacne Won’t Go Away By Itself
I have skin that’s prone to bacne. Just like having spots, this was something I hated at school, but have since learned to clear up through the power of skincare! I have a great skincare routine for my body, that starts in the shower with my Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant, which I like to scrub all over. Next, a gentle body wash. And then, Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Exfoliant. This is the stuff of dreams! My skin is softer and clearer than ever before. Just be sure to wear SPF on top, as chemical exfoliants can make you more prone to sun damage.
12. Supplements Are Your Friend
Supplements can seem a bit wishy washy, but I’ve learned that they really do help if you take them for targeted issues. I swear by iron supplements, especially around my period, as they help me to feel more energised and have fuller hair too. I encourage you to take them if you menstruate or often feel fatigued.
Vitamin D supplements are also a must for the colder months, and with these I’ve been able to reduce my symptoms of SAD.
13. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Good skin starts with good hydration, and my friends will tell you just how much water I drink every day! I like to keep a water bottle at my desk and in my bag at any given point, to ensure I drink at least two litres of water a day. And yes, that is in addition to tea, coffee, and flavoured drinks!
14. Remember To Recycle Your Empties
Do you have a recycling bin in your bathroom? Didn’t think so. For some reason, it’s perfectly normal to have recycling bins in the kitchen and even at your desk, but they’re lacking in our bathrooms. One of my more sustainable beauty lessons has to be learning to recycle my empties. I always try to buy products that come in glass or paper packaging, so I can recycle them at home, and for the rest, I’ll take them into my local supermarket or store for plastic recycling.
15. Treat Yourself!
Finally – treat yourself! (Or if you’re a Parks and Recs fan like me, you’ll forever hear that as Treat Yo Self!) Beauty is to be enjoyed, and it’s an activity that not only better looks after me, but also makes me feel better too. My Monday night ritual is to get in the bath, put on a face mask, and watch a film, and there’s not much that I look forward to more. If you’re reading this, this is your sign for a little more me-time!
My Me-Time Treats
What beauty lessons would you want to share with your 15 year-old self?
Let me know – and don’t forget to enjoy 20% off selected items at Cult Beauty with code: AFFBDAY