As one of the UK's most trusted beauty journalists and a beauty influencer followed by thousands, it's safe to say Sali Hughes knows a thing or two about skincare. After all, she has tested, reviewed and recommended hundreds of products and written books about her findings, with her trademark no-nonsense attitude and refreshing honesty. It's no surprise, then, that her results-driven skincare range in partnership with Revolution Beauty has been a hit with beauty lovers – not only for its sophisticated formulas, but for its (practically unheard of) under-£15 price bracket, too. Here, Sali has given GLAMOUR the low-down on what we can expect from her affordable skincare venture – and now, she's introduced two new glow-giving products to the range: the Ringlight Creamy Illuminating Eye Balm and the Better in 5 Express Exfoliating Face Mask. Over to Sali…
Beauty is my passion, and I’ve been writing adoringly and fanatically about skincare for 23 years, but in the last five, I’ve become concerned. As fast as women have become skincare obsessed, they’ve got more and more confused. Dozens of times a week, they message me to ask what ingredients can be used safely with others. “Can this be layered?”, “Will X stop the Y from working?”, “Do I have to use this with this to get a result?” and so on.
Meanwhile, those less cautious get in touch to say their skin is suffering - going red, flaring up, becoming too dry and sore or too oily. My friends straddle both camps, too. It’s madness to me that so many already overstretched women are being expected to combine skincare ingredients like some biochemist!
Even for someone as committed to skincare as me, anything that takes more than 4-5 steps is an absolute no for my lifestyle. But the biggest myth of modern skincare is that it needs to be complicated and hard for it to work. Honestly and truly, the opposite is true. Skincare works best when it is simple, easy, kind to skin and containing compatible ingredients that are proven to do the job.
I’ve been asked on a number of occasions if I’d like to launch my own skincare brand, but my list of non-negotiable proved hard to satisfy. I wanted my products to be affordable and friendly. Right now, people too often have to choose between single ingredient skincare at a good price, or beautiful and intelligently combined formula at a high one. I wanted them to get great, sophisticated formula at a fair price. It was also vital that my products were vegan and cruelty free, without silicone (to ensure a smooth ride under makeup), fast and easy to use, manufactured in Britain and containing only the proven ingredients I use on my own face daily. I wanted things to be simple, to never add in heaps of pointless steps to make an extra buck. Unbelievably, almost two years ago, Revolution said yes, and it’s been non-stop ever since.
Testing my products was challenging. My formulator, Laura, lives over 200 miles away and most of my product development was done with her during lockdown and other restrictions. The very first samples contained all the ingredients I’d asked for, but were so completely not what I imagined that I literally cried in frustration. I have a video of me excitedly opening the box, slathering everything on, then shouting “Aaaargh, this is sh*t!”. But now I know that the first versions aren’t meant to be right - they’re just a jumping off point that, with your formulator, you tune and fine tune for months and months until they become perfect. When you learn that, the whole process becomes a joy. Each little glass sample pot (I’ve well over 600 of them in the house) marked a step closer to my vision, and I’ve learned a huge amount with every one. The most important lesson was undoubtedly to trust my gut. When you’re asking for people to part with hard earned cash, you should demand the best on their behalf.
You should also give them bang for their buck. At every step, I pushed the envelope on price. I could never find an affordable liquid exfoliant containing all my favourite glow-giving acids, so I was hellbent on making one, and I did - it’s called Placid. Silicone-free moisturisers are usually expensive, but for me, an affordable one was a non-negotiable, so we made Gel Quench (for oily/combination) and Cream Drench (for balanced/dry). We really struggled to get all the cleansing balm ingredients I wanted in on budget, but I was adamant that it shouldn’t cost more than £15, so I just kept rejecting it until the money women said yes, and we ended up with Butterclean.
If people have extra money to spend, then great - they can use my products with their favourite luxury skincare. I’m a high/low beauty fan myself. I’ve often layered an Estée Lauder moisturiser over a Superdrug serum, and think that’s half the fun. You certainly don’t have to be monogamous to Sali Hughes products. If you want to embellish your routine with luxury favourites or cult finds, go for it. I can’t stand brands claiming you must use only their stuff for it all to work properly. It’s simply a sign of rubbish products that can’t stand on their own two feet. As long as before you start playing, you nail down the basics - they’re the building blocks to your beauty routine. Just like in their wardrobes, everyone needs a great white T shirt and a pair of blue jeans, every skin routine needs vitamin C, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid. That’s why all three are in my Must-C daily serum.
Your money should be able to buy you a complete formula - something you can apply quickly twice a day and know you’re getting what you need, minus the guesswork. Otherwise it feels to me like ordering a meal in a great restaurant and having the waiter dump a load of fruit, veg and fish in your lap and telling you to cook it. With my range, I wanted to cook it for you. So you can know your skin is happy, then get on with your life.
Keep scrolling to discover the other skincare products Sali can’t live without…
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