With wavy blonde hair and immaculate skin, Dr Michele Squire looks every inch the skin scientist and beauty expert.
In contrast, I feel every bit the freelance working mum – dialling up Skype at 9am from my kitchen table and searching frantically for the “blur background” button to disguise my children’s crafts plastered all over the wall.
As a “beauty concierge” and the founder of Qr8, a Brisbane-based skincare consultancy, Dr Squire specialises in personalised skincare plans. The night before I’d sent her a list of the skincare products that I use, and now I’m ready to hear her verdict.
“You try a lot of products!” she says in amazement at the of long list of products that I try every week in my role in a beauty editor. “I don’t know how you do it!”
On the whole, Dr Squire confirmed that my skincare regimen was on the right track. However, there were a few key changes to consider, she said.
Dr Squire and Qr8 are at the forefront of a new trend for “bespoke beauty”. Forget one-size-fits-all skincare or feeling the need to buy a complete skincare range over the counter. These days, consumers are increasingly skincare savvy, and want individual products that are tailored to their specific requirements.
That’s where Dr Squire comes in. “There’s so much information (and misinformation) that consumers often don’t know where to start with skincare,” she says. “The average consumer isn’t a scientist, and some companies leverage this to purposely confuse customers.”
Although I’m no beauty novice – having worked as a beauty editor for more than a decade – the opportunity to have my regimen evaluated by an expert is too good to pass up. Dr Squire is a microbiologist and has spent the past 17 years working in the beauty industry.
Our consultation begins with a chat about my skin (prone to redness and breakouts, and beginning to develop fine lines) and my approach to beauty (minimalist and fairly “clean” or natural), before we talk about potential products to try.
Dr Squire liked my Alpha-H Balancing Cleanser; it’s fragrance-free, gentle and effective. But…. for night use only. Instead of cleansing in the morning, she recommends a few gentle circles with a Face Halo which uses water and microfibre to draw away impurities. Over-cleansing, she explains, can damage the skin’s barrier.
Here’s where my routine comes a little unstuck. I tend to opt for clean beauty options. But Dr Squire tells me that natural products are often filled with fragrances and essential oils, which will trigger flare-ups and break-outs.
Instead, she suggests a serum packed with niacinamide and hyaluronic acid, like Clear Skincare B3 Serum, which she assures me will control my oil production.
The biggest surprise? All three products cost less than a single bottle of my clean serum!
Her key advice when it comes to serums is to avoid long ingredients lists. “Look at the size of the bottle. If it’s small and there are over 30 ingredients, then you’ve basically got a fairy dusting of ingredients.”
“You don’t need one,” says Dr Squire flatly. “There’s no requirement for an eye cream.” Instead she recommends just extending my night-time moisturiser all the way up to my eye area.
We’re in total agreement on this one. Like most skin specialists (and beauty editors) Dr Squire stresses the importance of sunscreen, emphasising that it needs to be both high factor (SPF 50+) and broad spectrum (UVA and UVB). “It’s the best anti-ageing ingredient out there,” she explains. Like me, she loves Ultra Violette Supreme Screen SPF50+.
At the end of our conversation, she warns me that my skin needs a complete rest. “You can’t try any new product for at least two weeks,” she tells me sternly. Guiltily I think of the piles of beauty products that I’m sent to try every week.
In the end, I manage to keep myself away from my beauty editor stash, and after three weeks on my personalised plan I can honestly say that my skin looks happy, calm and healthy. Although I’m not regularly bare-faced yet, I’m glowing in a way that I haven’t for a while. And when my friends ask me which products I’m trying this week I can’t wait to recommend Qr8.