What health and beauty editors, authors and industry authorities Sarah Stacey and Jo Fairley don’t know about time-saving, budget-friendly beauty picks and tricks really isn’t worth knowing. Sarah and Jo have a wealth of experience and expertise between them, having written for a range of national newspapers and magazines and books including The 21st Century Beauty Bible, Feel Fabulous Forever and The Green Beauty Bible, the reference book which any naturally-inclined product range is judged by. Their latest book, Beauty Steals, puts the spotlight on top-to-toe treats and strategies that are as affordable as they are super-effective. Nonstopmama also loves the funky neon pink cover. Over to the girls …
Your new book is packed with fantastic tips and product reviews. What made you decide to devote a book to budget-friendly beauty?
We have always flagged up Beauty Steals in the Tried & Tested products in our books. Then Jo’s luggage was lost en route to a family wedding in Nebraska and she was forced to restock her make-up bag at the only source of beauty products in a 100-mile radius: Wal-Mart at Lake Okoboji. The products were incredibly impressive, and the experience acted as a trigger, making us think back to all the ‘Beauty Steals’ which had done well in our books in the past, and that the time was right to do a whole book of them. There have been huge technological and quality improvements at the mass end of the market – as the results of the book show. We made our decision to do it just BEFORE the credit crunch, so it’s been very timely!
Have beauty buffs become even more deal-savvy in these budget-conscious times?
Definitely. And they’re looking at price comparison sites on the internet, too. We have created an INSIDER DISCOUNTS section on our own website, beautybible.com, which now lists all the brands that our 62,000-and-counting subscribers can get a discount on via our site. We’ve set up special deals with some tried-and-trusted leaders in the market – because the challenge is that not every website has current stock (they may buy through the ‘grey market’), or offers swift delivery. So we’ve hand-picked a few sites that do that, and then passed on savings to our Beauty Bible ‘insiders’ (that means anyone who signs up to the site, which is free). We’ve done this in direct response to the fact that there really is a ‘why pay more?’ mentality out there.
Were your testers pleasantly surprised by the performance of money-saving brands they might not otherwise have tried?
Absolutely. We had quite a few products score an average of 9+ marks out of ten, lots of 8+-es, and good scores in many categories – and that’s averaged across 10 women. If you get those kinds of marks from 10 of them you just KNOW that the product performs. Even where the averages are slightly lower – in the 6s and 7s – those products were often out-performing the expensive ones that we’ve trialled! Not always, of course, but in every category there are good finds. ‘Pleasantly surprised’ is one of the most common comments for the products that do well, actually!
Do you think more of us are stocking up on, say, nail polish or body scrub when doing a supermarket shop?
Yes, and why not? The supermarket ranges have some excellent products. But what we would say is that there are also a lot of affordable products out there that really DON’T perform – probably more so than in the pricier ranges, actually. So we feel that for the supermarket/high street shopper, our book is incredibly valuable, helping steer them to the products that do perform.
Many of the best beauty formulas have long been popular with beauty insiders and pros. What are your own must-haves?
Jo: Maybelline lipsticks, mascaras and liquid mineral foundation; Dr. Organic Aloe Body Butter from Holland & Barrett (amazing!), Soap & Glory (too many to list), and the excellent Champneys bath and body products.
Sarah: Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser for sure, the new Barbara Daly Face Lift foundation, Soap & Glory Arch de Triumph eyebrow pencil, Weleda Wild Rose Day Cream, Palladio Herbal Lengthening Mascara, anything from Good Works (budget cousin to This Works) and particularly the Body Oil, plus the Yes To Carrots haircare range.
Along with the product reviews, you offer lots of great money-saving tips and tricks on, for example, eeking out more time between hair colouring appointments, using multi-tasking products etc. Can you share any of your favourite strategies?
Facial massage – start simply by stroking moisturiser up decollete, neck and face from jawline to forehead with fingertips. Get balmy! Balm is simply the best multipurpose product ever, for softening hard skin, taming frizzies, conditioning nails and on and on…. When you want to look super-gorgeous for a party, book in for a make up makeover at your favourite brand counter.
The day before you get hair coloured, remove any build-up with a clarifying shampoo so colour penetrates deeper and lasts longer. Then wait at least three days before shampooing after colour, so it goes right into the hair shaft.
Never let a manicurist buff weak nails. Yes it makes the surface smoother – it also further weakens the nails.
Any great tricks for getting an ‘expensive’ look with budget make-up?
Choose expensive shades in cheap ranges of eye-shadow, eg Bourjois Brun Nylon, which looks a million dollars but is a Super Steal (i.e. well under £5). Blend, blend, blend – everything but particularly foundation, blusher and eye shadow. Match foundation to skin tone exactly. Apply products carefully and lightly – too little is better by far than too much. Practise a lot – particularly if you are using brushes (which we like and you’ll find the best cheapo ones in the book).
Snag it, mama! – We have three copies of Beauty Steals by Sarah Stacey and Josephine Fairley to give away.