skin care: The Ultimate No-Nonsense Guide by Caroline Hirons

Reviewed by Antonella Townsend

Caroline Hirons’s Skin Care is a classic example of how ‘you-can’t-judge-a-book-by-its-cover’ – startling bright yellow, title in a large bold type with the inside cover decorated in a garish army camouflage pattern. Readers might wonder if it might be a quasi-medical journal published by a far right organization. However, after battling through this mêlée of design, readers will find that Caroline Hirons’s text does not leave a pore unturned or unmoisturized!  And it becomes clear that the army camouflage motif stands in for the ‘no-nonsense’ aspect of Caroline’s persona – she isn’t taking any prisoners; neither will she, and I quote, …  kiss or blow smoke up anyone’s arse …  So perhaps you can judge the author by the cover.

Skin Care: the ultimate no-nonsense guide presented in 24 x 19 cm high colour, glossy paper, makes compulsive reading.  Why?

Well, apart from Caroline’s amusing style, many people, and I won’t confine that to the female gender, are very keen to protect and enhance their skin – particularly facial skin.  And Caroline is well qualified to advise on this issue.  Her qualifications are too long to list in this review, although without a medical or scientific degree, readers can be assured that she knows what she is talking about.  And, Caroline is not attached to any particular cosmetic company, so is free to be honest.  Bluntly, so!

As part of the introduction, Caroline writes about how the skin works and why you should respect and care for your skin.  She clearly loves her subject and readers are left feeling the skin is indeed a biological miracle – a busy one fulfilling many functions.  She talks about the differences between darker and lighter skin tones and how each is different.  Most enlightening!

In the first chapter – ‘A Good Skincare Routine’ – Caroline is explicit about what to do and how to do it.  It is, without fail, a morning and evening routine.  Apparently, morning cleansing is not always recommended or considered necessary by some.  To quote Caroline: That’s ok. They’re wrong.  And on the subject of smoking:  Do not smoke. That’s really the beginning and end of it.   (Am I the only one thinking this much candor is quite charming?)

The information on sunscreens and how much sun is useful for our health is very interesting, and necessary.  Caroline recommends applying SPF in between moisturizer and make-up.  Not using a combined moisturizer and SPF.  In true Caroline Hirons style, every aspect of skin care is covered here, such as: drinking enough water, getting sufficient sleep, how many washcloths to buy, and do not countenance ever sleeping with makeup on – If your partner prefers you with makeup, get a new partner.  (I am really warming to Caroline.) 

She goes on to issue directions on serums, NOT using wipes or micellor water (made very clear), and how to use vitamin A.  Many of the procedures are backed up with step-by-step photographs.  Then there are details for different routines according to skin type and how to factor in skin care before and after exercise – hot yoga gets special attention!

The ‘Skincare Myth’ section is classic Caroline, her impatience being fueled by celebrities evangelizing soap and water face cleansing routines.

The ‘average’ woman (you and me) feels enough pressure to be perfect without XYZ celeb saying they don’t work out (lies), they eat ‘everything in sight!’ (lies) and now that they don’t wash their face at all? Give me a motherflannel-loving break.

Wash your face!  An edict oft issued throughout the text. 

A must read section ‘Up in the air: skincare when travelling’, details how to care for your skin on a long haul air travel.  Then, most usefully, how skin care changes with the seasons detailed in ‘Summer Skin’, ‘Winter Skin’, and a section on Vitamin D (very good information). 

‘Diet and the Skin’ contains much needed truths.  I will not comment; it needs to be read.  Although I might disagree with the ‘dairy’ advice, given that Vitamin D is so good for health and skin alike, I think Caroline should take into consideration that dairy products carry calcium and vitamin D, although oily fish carries more IUD.

‘Treatments’ or ‘Tweakments’ was a real (excuse the pun) eye opener.  Written for a mainly UK readership, the advice remains sound elsewhere in the world.  Caroline recommends The Tweakments Guide by Alice Hart-Davis. 

Just when readers might think everything has been covered, Chapter 2 – ‘Skin Types and Conditions’ details what is best for different skin types and for skin conditions, from pigmentation problems to psoriasis, rosacea, milia and other more exotic conditions.  At this point, it might be worth remembering Caroline does not have any medical qualifications.

Chapter 3 – ‘When Life Happens’ from puberty to menopause, Caroline covers it all, including being hung-over.  ‘The three worst things for your skin’ are worth mentioning – sun, sugar and smoking!

Chapter 4 – ‘Your Kit’ details products for appropriate ages, goes into product myths, dupes, vitamin A and Retinoid products, and the problem of cellulite and more.   Chapter 5 – ‘Here’s the Thing’ gives the science behind the skincare industry.  Under headings: ‘Everything is a chemical’, ‘Decoding ingredient lists and claims’, ‘Active versus ‘Inactive’ Ingredients’, and Parabens.  Caroline really spills the beans.  There is an extensive glossary of terms and an index.

Caroline Hirons is no stranger to the Internet; her blog has thousands of followers. Skin Care: the ultimate no-nonsense guide is both entertaining and informative.

Skin Care: the ultimate no-nonsense guide


by Caroline Hirons

Harper Collins


ISBN:  9780008375522

$31.60; Pp.304

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