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Home / Fashion and Trends / This beauty podcast goes more than skin-deep: Recharge by Rachel Lopez

This beauty podcast goes more than skin-deep: Recharge by Rachel Lopez

Sali Hughes, who writes thepopular beauty column in The Guardian, knows when to steer clear of false claims, froth and frippery.

fashion-and-trends Updated: Aug 31, 2019 16:42 IST
Rachel Lopez
Rachel Lopez
Hindustan Times
Sali Hughes podcast stands apart from the usual. There are episodes exposing the fallacy of clean beauty, how brides should prepare for their big day and beauty for women living with alopecia.
Sali Hughes podcast stands apart from the usual. There are episodes exposing the fallacy of clean beauty, how brides should prepare for their big day and beauty for women living with alopecia. (Image credit: Rui Faria for the Guardian)

Want to be a YouTube beauty guru? Here’s a shortcut. Grab a cheek highlighter and a fluffy brush. Sweep a ton of the glistening stuff on to your cheekbones. Then slowly say, “Oh My God. You guys. Did you see that?” as if there was any doubt that a formula designed to reflect light would do anything else.

If video is where to see beauty products in action, audio, surprisingly, is where to hear them being critiqued. On a podcast, with only voices in your ear, you’re not distracted by retouched skin or eyelash inserts, celebrity endorsements and promises of perfection.

The newest podcast in this space is hosted by the queen of no-nonsense beauty advice. Sali Hughes, The Guardian’s beauty columnist for a decade, has done with words what YouTubers have failed to do with visuals. She champions mass-market products (hooray for Nivea and Dove creams). She thinks out of the box (nappy-rash cream can heal tattoo burns; who knew?). She won’t recommend a designer lipstick without mentioning a cheaper alternative or hack (and how to rub it on your cheeks too).

Hughes’s respect for budgets likely comes from her rough start. She fled home at 15, was homeless, and got by on her earnings as a make-up artist’s assistant until she became a journalist at 22. Her book, Pretty Honest, addresses post-baby beauty, make-up after chemotherapy, what to pack for a one-night stand, and whether lip gloss is compatible with feminism (she says it is).

Listen to the first episode, which takes a critical look at self-righteous ‘Clean’ beauty here.

Her weekly The Beauty Podcast is only three episodes old, but it’s crackling. No warming up, no small talk. In Episode 1, she gets experts to examine ‘clean’ beauty, everyone’s current obsession. Turns out, clean isn’t necessarily better. Sulphates aren’t poison. Natural products aren’t safer (they don’t contain much of the natural ingredient, for one thing). Gluten-free skincare is an idiotic claim, unless you’re eating your moisturiser. And advertising ‘cruelty-free’ in a country that already bans animal testing is gimmicky and disingenuous.

One episode features a make-up artist who worked on three royal weddings, but the chat steers clear of cliché. The women discuss how same-sex brides now match their makeup so as to not overpower each other. And how women, as they crash-diet to fit into their gowns, can end up with dull skin on the big day. This is the point when Hughes tells you what gushing YouTubers don’t: “It’s arse or face”.

(Over the moon about something that’s still under the radar? Tell me at rachel.lopez@htlive.com)

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