Getting into a routine with Alison Young

September always feels like a time of change. The weather starts to get a little cooler, the kids go back to school and the holiday period is over. This is when getting into a good routine can be really helpful, but it’s where to start that can leave us confused! We sat down with independent qualified beauty expert, Alison Young, to discuss the importance of a good, well-established beauty routine.

Hey Alison! Why is having a well-rounded beauty routine beneficial to our everyday lives?

“Beauty is more than skin deep; the skin is the largest organ of the living body and reflects how you look and feel. It’s also a physical indicator, so how you look after it is crucially important on a basic level, for just assessing the health of the skin, hair and nails. But also from a feel-good factor, it’s what you see when you look in the mirror, which people have noticed more over the last year. Maybe there’s more sensitivities, more irritation, or more weakening of the hair, more split ends if they haven’t been to the hairdresser, and all of that affects your confidence. If you can have a beauty and grooming routine where you can wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and be pleasantly surprised, then your day can start off better.”

Sounds great to us. What makes this time of year the time to look at your routine?

“September is the perfect time, because normally when the kids go back to school and you’ve bought the school uniform we’re into autumn, and I speak a lot about the seasonal change – it’s when you check everything. You check your skincare, haircare, make-up, your beauty routine, your grooming routine, everything. Just at the season changes of the year. Skin type, hair type and condition is what you should be looking at and I always encourage people rather than repeat purchase after repeat purchase of their favourite, is to look forward. Think about what happened to your hair, skin and nails at this time last year and what’s going to happen to them this year, because sometimes we’re guilty of buying our favourite stuff and keeping going, rather than looking at what we actually need. Do you love what you’re buying, is it still working, and do you want to repeat purchase? Or have you enjoyed it, but you’d like another result? If you’ve enjoyed it but you’d like another result, let’s look at something else for the next three months.

September as well, once you’ve got your kids back to school, there’s only a short period of time before the Christmas season. Reclaim your life and routine in September and October and set yourself up with some good key products in the right places around the house so that you’ll use them, then you’re sorted until Christmas.”

Okay, so we need to be reassessing our beauty choices! For those that may have got out of the habit, can you share any tips for re-establishing your routine?

“It’s finding a new habit. You might’ve gotten out of the habit because we’ve all had a very different time over the last year and a half, and it might be that the old habits aren’t right for you. They might not fit into this new normal and going forward. You might have discovered that you need to make some new habits, and new habits are enjoyable. If you’ve always rushed having a shower or a bath because it’s been functional around the kids, family, school runs, getting to work – you may have realised in lockdown that your bath or your shower is your mindfulness, your salvation, your luxury, your essential and your reset button. It’s looking at those things going forward and saying that you’re going to go and have a bath earlier in the night, you’re going to take your make-up off as soon as you get home from work, or if you’re working from home, that actually, you’re going to have a walk every 40 minutes or so and have your lip gloss and your moisturiser next to your desk. It’s what’s your next routine looks like as we’re all coming out of this and what’s really going to work for you.

When you’re reassessing your beauty routine, reassess where you’re putting it. I muck out everything, cupboards drawers, bags, everything. Just sit there one day with a nice drink and put it all out there, relook at it, what’s gone out of date, what’s not gone out of date, what do you want to repurchase? There will be things in your make-up bag from last year that you can reuse, things from old Today’s Special values that you want to bring out now for autumn. You might think “wait a minute, I have a facial mask, I have a facial scrub”, well put it next to your toothbrush, or on the side of the bath! You’re not going to use it if it’s in a cupboard or stored underneath the bed. Get your beauty stash out, rearrange it, reanalyse it, repeat purchase your favourites when there are great offers, but also, look at some new. To get a new result, it’s a new ingredient, it’s not the same product. Do you want the same result, or do you want a new result? Sticking to a routine that’s no longer working for you is like having a best friend who is no longer good for you.”

Great advice Alison. Do you update your routine with the season? What should we look for when planning our routine for autumn?

“Yes. Every season is the best check point to reanalyse your skin, hair and nails and your grooming routine for everyone, for every age group. The reason is that the weather changes and habits change, food changes… that all affects your skin. Central heating going on and off, wearing thick clothes, they affect your body skin, all of these things as the seasons change technically affect your skin. Dry skin will often go drier, and oily skin can often have a little flare up. With all ethnicities during the summer, even when we’ve been staycationing, you would’ve caught some kind of sun and your skin would’ve gone darker, which hides imperfections. When your skin goes back to your original skin tone, which it tends to do in the autumn months, that’s when you suddenly look and go “oh, wait a minute, I’ve got more spots than I thought,” or “that redness is showing up,” or “I’ve got some pigmentation.” It’s all because your skin tone will go back to your winter colour. The sun helps to stimulate the oil glands, so during the summer months you could’ve been having more flare ups, but as we’re heading into autumn, you can play catch-up.

For your skincare routine, on oily skin you’ll be cleansing and balancing, for dry skin, adding more anti-wrinkle formulas, retinols and glycolics, it’s a time to step up. Summer, you might have stepped-down to an easier, care-free routine, care-free make-up, but autumn, you’ve got to step it up a bit. The care-free look of summer fashion and hairstyles allow you to wear less make-up. The darker nights, comfort food where we might put on a couple of pounds, the central heating going on, your dark circles will start to show up more, because our skin goes paler. In the summer months, you might not have noticed them because you were using a lot of self-tan, or you were sunbathing, or your complexion would naturally go darker anyway, but it’s the winter months where things start to come out of the skin and you start to see them more. They were just disguised in the summer. If you’ve got a tan, things like breakouts at the time of the month or a shaving rash look less noticeable. To the absolute extreme, acne and high colour also look less noticeable. In the winter months, if that’s you, step up your self-tan drops, or add a night-time self-tanning cream, because if you’re noticing these things coming through, they were there anyway – it’s just your tan fading.

Colours will change too, nail colours change, make-up textures change, we often go to fuller coverage and start to bring in some matte this time of year, and some eye shadow. Eye shadow becomes more fashionable during autumn/winter because it reflects the texture of your clothing. It’s also the time when your haircare changes, because your hair will be drying out with central heating and air conditioning as well, so you could be adding in more conditioning or shine products. Even the greasiest hair will be needing hair masks for summer recovery. Hair masks, hair serums, hair oils, all of those need to be dotted into your regime. Your hair products and your skin products are kind of your technical requirements, while your fashion and your fun is your make-up bag and hair tools, as in what style are you going to do your hair.”

Now we’re getting back into the swing of things, mornings can be a rush. Can you share any advice for quick beauty routines that can be done before the school run or commute?

“Don’t feel guilty. Don’t feel guilty if you haven’t exfoliated and masked together for example. How do you find time to exfoliate and mask, when you’ve got to find a good 30 – 45 minutes? The morning may involve a hair wash too, so a lot of people don’t exfoliate and mask as much as they should. When you wake up of a morning, and your skin is looking dull and tired, just do an exfoliation – forget about a mask, you can always catch up with a sleep mask, like these ones from Elemis, Gatineau and James Reed, before you go to bed that night. If you just split your routine up into 60 second achievable wins, then that will work for you. Self-tan of a night before you go to bed and you wake up looking healthier. If you give yourself a good blow-dry earlier on in the week or at the weekend before you start doing the school run, with a blow-drying hair treatment like Wonder Balm or one of the relaxing treatments, then that will last longer. So a few minutes on a Sunday afternoon blow-drying your hair, self-tan the night before or a quick facial scrub like from Alpha-H of a morning, they’re all quick correction but big improvement products that will just sustain you through the week.

Also, reassess your make-up routine. If you’re back on the school run, or commute, or both, (even if you haven’t got kids, that snooze button is attractive!) then it just means if you have a morning where you wear make-up, you’ve got your morning essentials. You definitely need more mascara, you definitely need an eyeliner, and you might’ve gotten away without an eyeliner through the summer. Try a precision one, like from Tarte or Laura Geller. You definitely need a concealer, again, you might have gotten away without a concealer in the summer. It’s just that essential make-up routine needs to be a little bit more now going into autumn, and just have it in your make-up bag so that if you’re running out of time, it’s with you and you can do it on the bus or the train, or while you wait for the kids.”

If time is no limit, what is your ultimate, self-indulgent skincare routine after busy or stressful days?

“I am completely famous for locking myself in the bathroom. For me, it’s all about an essential oil experience. I’ll start with a facial exfoliant and then put a mask on. I’ll then go in the shower and stay in that shower with a drink. If I’ve got to work, of course, it’s water or coffee or tea or chamomile tea, but quite often it’s prosecco. Last night, I went in the shower with Liz Earle products, and designed a cocktail to match my Liz Earle shower gel. I’ll take something that matches those ingredients and link up a scented candle, or burn essential oils, so everything smells like the products I’m using. So rather than having a shower and every time it being the same experience or just being functional, I do this when I’ve got time as a bit of a treat, but most of the time I want to do it when I’m exhausted. If you make time for yourself, time will make time for you back. You sleep better. I even do this at 3am when I come off a Today’s Special Value. I am absolutely shattered and exhausted, but I make myself get in the shower, not necessarily with a cocktail at that time. Just smell some different oils, use some different formulas, like the Elemis neroli, the rose, the Korres vanilla blossom, Liz Earle, all of these lovely essential oil aromatherapy products, whenever you smell something different, it makes you think different. It makes you stop thinking about work or stress or family things, it just makes you stop and gives you a bit of space. Just go that extra mile beforehand for yourself.”

This sounds lovely Alison! Any tips on how to really enjoy that time for ourselves?

“Be inspired. Try and do it on the day you change the bed sheets. That always works because if you’re top to toe fabulous in the bath or the shower then the ultimate indulgence is getting into clean bed sheets, like a hotel at home. Or do it on a day where your washing is all dry and warm, you’ve got your new towels and your dressing gown. I put my dressing gown in the dryer, or I’ll hang it on the towel rail, so that everything’s warm when you come out of the bath or shower.

Treat it like a salon. This is what we do in clinics and hotels that makes it the ultimate experience. When I’m designing treatments, I’m looking at everything, what you eat, what the aromas are, what you’re using, where you’re going, where you’ve been. If you’ve got a busy home that could be your only place to relax. One of the few things that most of us have is hot water, and hot water is therapy. You might not be able to get to a gym, you may not be able to get out, it may be 3am like me, but the ultimate indulgence is to say, what the heck, it’s 2pm in the afternoon, I’m going in the bathroom!

Think outside of the box. Do it at a different time. If you leave your bath or shower until 10pm, 11pm when you’re absolutely exhausted anyway, you’re not inspired to do anything, it doesn’t work for you. But if you do your bath, shower and beauty treatment as soon as you get in from work, it might feel a bit strange. You might be like “oh I need to do dinner, what do I do?” Just doing it then completely cuts off your day. It finishes your day and starts your evening, and you’ll find you’ll have a more relaxing evening and that really works if you’re working from home. If you’re then putting on a comfy tracksuit or your pyjamas at that time, then you think “I’ve got some time to do some yoga” or ” I could watch a film, enjoy my evening”. What’s happening with everyone working from home is that the end of their day and their evening is being merged into one. They’re feeling exhausted and drained and just plonking themselves down in front of the same television show and sometimes it’s about doing something different, a different attitude to give you a different perspective.

If you just switch to an early evening for your beauty regime, rather than late evening when you’re exhausted, you’ve suddenly got this whole evening ahead of you. You’ve said goodbye to your workday and it’s hello you time! You’ll suddenly go to bed earlier, you’ll feel relaxed, you’ll sleep easier, because you’ve given yourself that wind down time. We often talk at QVC about our lovely sleep products, but sleep products don’t work if you get to 11pm, putting the computer down, rushing around, not getting changed, doing the same stuff and feeling stressed and start spraying your pillow spray like crazy. It’s all about the wind down and reclaiming your time.”


Thanks so much Alison, we can’t wait to get back into a great routine (and in the shower with a cocktail!) Check out our Feeling Good Together campaign too, where we’re regularly updating the page with fitness inspiration, wellbeing top tips and expert interviews to help support and inspire you throughout 2021.