If you haven't heard about Caroline Hirons, you need to google her at once. She's the most talked-about skin expert online, and her knowledge is pretty much unparalleled. Combine this with her warm, open character and kickass sense of truthfulness, and you have someone whose brain you really want to pick.
She's also just an inspiring, self-made woman who would be brilliant for a chat over a cup of tea. She also has a soft spot for Dublin, given her Irish heritage and extended family populated by a suspiciously high number of Eileens. And I think we'd be happy enough to grant her honorary citizenship.
I took myself happily off to Dublin's brand new (and utterly glorious) Space NK yesterday to meet Caroline for some serious skin talk. Excitement level? Squeakily high, but I managed to contain myself. Kind of...
Frankly, just one conversation with Caroline was so educational, and contained so much, that we're only going to cover general skin issues today. To find out Caroline's answers to your specific skin questions, check back in next week!
There were two general issues which apply to everyone, regardless of skin type, on which Caroline had a lot to say:
Caroline has a reputation for her encyclopaedic knowledge of topical skincare, but she makes a point of stressing that topical products won't solve problems that start from inside. She says:
When it comes to problem skin, you have to look at nutrition, you have to look at your stress levels and the products you're using. There is no one quick fix.
She "takes serious issue" with dermatologists who say that there is no connection between our diet and the condition of our skin.
Caroline also advocates the use of dietary supplements. When I asked her whether there's something that everyone, regardless of skin type, should be on, she did not even blink before saying,
Omegas. Whether that's fish oil, flaxseed oil, linseed oil. Whichever way you get it. Zelens makes perilla oil, which is vegan. It's quite revolutionary on the market because most omega oil comes from fish.
There's very few people who don't do well from a good dose of Omegas. And invariably, even people who are intolerant to fish can take the vegetarian version. It's just something really good to do for your skin, for your brain, for your wellbeing. In large doses, they're appetite suppressants, they can kill sugar cravings. But for the Irish, I'd recommend Omegas and Vitamin D.
No shock there! It's surprising that the lack of light hasn't killed us all yet...
And we all know that salt and sugar are not good for our skin, but Caroline isn't letting us wriggle out of admitting that to ourselves! When I asked her what we should be avoiding, she had this to say:
Sugar is number one. It's just bad for everything. The only thing sugar is good for, really, is sating a bad mood! Also, too much salt can make you puffy. That's what gets me; I'm a salt addict! I just try and be careful.
Caroline advocates an attitude of healthy moderation when it comes to the sun. There are some of us who don't benefit from time in the sun, but for most of us, this isn't the case. According to Caroline, using adequate protection and taking a bit of time to enjoy the sunshine is healthy.
We cannot keep telling people to stay out of the sun. It's not feasible for people's lifestyles, and it means that, like here in Ireland, when you do get the sun, you go crazy. We need sunshine. We need vitamin D. If you don't have adequate vitamin D levels in your body, you're going to be seriously ill- depression, bad skin, rickets!
I'm an SPF 30 girl myself. There's only a 1 per cent difference between SPF 30 and SPF 50, so I think SPF 50 can give you a false sense of security. Except in products made especially for children. You just give them a block, you know, because they're going to be playing out much more than we are out.
The sun is a life force, telling everyone to stay out of it is stupid, frankly - just use it wisely!
This has been part one from the Beaut.ie book of Hirons. May the skin Gods shine upon you.
Are you a Hirons fan? And I know you're wondering - yes. She has the best skin I've ever seen, as well as being kind enough to compliment MY skin!
I mean, that is the skin equivalent of the Dalai Lama saying something like "Dude, you're, like, super zen."
I skipped home in the bucketing rain!
We'll be addressing some of the particular questions and concerns you asked about in the next few days. But in the meantime, tell us, did you make it in to Space NK to see Caroline Hirons at her skin clinic? And what do you think of advice on diet and supplements?