Trust-worthy sources of beauty & well-being: who are they?

I grew up surrounded by loving family, where conversations flowed all day long, often around the kitchen or dinner table, where my parents or grandparents gathered family and guests. I grew up listening to those conversations, to bedtime stories that my parents read to me before the lights went out, but mostly I remember stories that were created just for me by the resourceful mind of my paternal grandfather Yvan, a creative and accomplished man who travelled a lot, spoke several languages and who took me on amazing journeys around the world by constructing fascinating story-lines just for my own pleasure, education and delight.

There was lots of freedom to roam and explore with my friends on our daily adventures or during summer vacations in the Baltics and later at my parents country house, where there was time to read, listen to conversations and music, as well as the sounds of nature. The pace was slower, life was happier and somehow more fulfilling.

We live in the day and age when many people consider themselves to be ‘experts’ on various subjects, when in actual fact they have no qualifications to justify the title of an expert in their chosen field – this of course is subjective and open to a wide discussion.

We all are bombarded daily by the information from all kinds of directions -radio, TV, ads on the tube, social media and there seems to be no filter for it. Take beauty journalists or bloggers – are they best experts to give advice on your skincare routine? If you are sick, you will go and see a doctor, not read advice by a health blogger I hope. Internet won’t cure you if you are ill, but the right doctor has a good chance of doing it, possibly alongside qualified  professionals like dietitians, acupuncturists & physios.

My point is that we all have a right to educated choices. Read, process, decide. We can all admire someone or follow someone famous, whose lifestyle seems so fascinating  we want to emulate it – but what you see or read about them, what made you follow them in the first place – ask yourself if that is real? Does following some on Twitter or Instagram make you feel better or worse about yourself – that’s the question we all should ask ourselves before pushing the ‘follow’ button.

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The longer I do what I do ( I write all of the content for my website, apart from the guest posts but don’t necessarily consider myself to be a blogger – I actually have a postgrad degree in journalism ), the more it becomes clear that honesty is the best policy. Some of the bloggers I like advertise on their website and do sponsored posts. Do I have a problem with it, as I don’t do it myself ? Not one bit, provided there is full disclosure. The thing is, the world of beauty is not as pretty as one might think but often bloggers are more knowledgable & more open than the press. Why? Well, publications depend on ad revenues and many beauty articles are sponsored by the marketing and PR machines, putting the latest ‘miracle cures’ that promise to solve your skin voes in your direct vision field. You go and spend the money that goes into the ‘pocket’ of the brand and pays the salaries of marketing and PRs but do you, the customer, get the long-term satisfaction from your skincare, beauty or well-being purchase or do you continue to haemorrhage money in your quest for the latest beauty launch?

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I think we all need to press the pause button and listen to ourselves to start with. Do you know your skin type? The ingredients that irritate your skin or aren’t compatible with your body? Take the time, get to know yourself and then and only then go and look for like-minded people and professionals, the voices of which resonate with you and make you feel better. Try to engage with them, build rapport but still pause before you take someone’ advice and run away with it.

It is one thing to read a magazine, view the fashion show or an art installation – beauty, well-being, health are somewhat different and require care and knowledge. Beauty journalists and bloggers ( myself included ) are not experts on a par with doctors, nutritionists, tricologists, dermatologists, facialists – a true professional takes years of studying and practising to build a practise. After working for many years not all doctors achieve a private practise status, yet many well-known bloggers make a mint with technically no qualifications. They have experience, are savvy and driven, they are smart and sociable. They know marketing and PR tricks and they become successful because no doubt they are good at what they do and they appeal to their audience. I am not passing judgment or telling you whether to trust this or that source. What I suggest is to remember that no-one is a better judge on what’s good for you other than yourself. Never stop learning, trust your instincts and follow the sources that resonate with you, makes you reflect and wonder – sources from which you know you are learning and that ultimately benefitting you and your life by helping become a better version of yourself.

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Use social media as a useful tool but not as a therapist who will solve all of your problems all at once & instead of you. Gravity works against us and there is no miracle cream that will stop its effect on our faces and bodies – if somebody tells you otherwise, turn around and walk away. Social media shouldn’t replace a gut feeling or instincts. Trust people who have honesty and integrity amidst the noise. Questions what you read and see on TV.

I recently read a book from the Inspector Fandorin series, written by the Russian writer Boris Akunin and there was a passage there that really stuck with me: ”Remember that the best one can do for another is turn him in the right direction and give him a gentle push. Whether he walks in that direction or not, only he has the right to decided’.

Disclosure: My choice of magazine selection or books in this post is by no means my endorsement of them, not am I implying any criticism to any specific title, blog or book here. I read a variety of publications & blogs daily, some in passing, some in detail. All the books in the image in the post I have read and hold an opinion on each but that might be food for though for future posts. 

Categories: Women's issues

20 Responses to Trust-worthy sources of beauty & well-being: who are they?

  1. Liz says:

    Thank you Galina for another thought-provoking and eloquent post! It’s a topic that seriously needs to be discussed, and I definitely share your opinion. I’m always a bit sceptical of labels and self-proclaimed “experts”, “guru” “influencers” “authority”. My blog journals my personal journey towards a healthier and kinder life, and I hope from a reader’s perspective that it’s not perceived as an imperative or the “right” way to live a life – because this is exactly why I steer clear from a lot of magazines. I was sick of the peremptory tone and the so-called “must-haves” products. No for me, it’s to each their own. Whenever I write a post, a lot of my time is spent researching so that I’m able to publish something I’m personally 100% comfortable with, I don’t settle for less. Everyone is then free to make their own decisions. I wholeheartedly agree with you regarding our precious instinct or gut-feeling. If something sounds off, why go against our nature and ignore what our instinct is trying to tell us? I love reading blogs and some of them are fab enablers but in the end, I and only I make the final decision to get something or not. xx

    • galina says:

      Dear Liz, thank you for taking the time to leave such an honest & thought-out comment. This subject comes up in many conversations but sadly they seem to be taking place in hushed tones. I value honesty when it comes to journalism and blogging and your voice adds credibility to beauty bloggers, who value integrity and are constantly learning, as opposed to chasing the latest magic products. We are all unique and we should all feel the ground under our feet and listen to our gut feeling and our heart, as opposed to being way-led by marketing or PR of the latest ‘must-have product’ campaign. Galina x

  2. Tamara says:

    Ok I have mixed feelings about this. While I definitely think everyone should be choosy in whom they trust, I don’t necessarily feel that not having a degree in a particular subject matter makes someone less of an expert, it really is very individual. Some skincare brand owners and formulatours don’t have university diplomas to back them up and are self taught, yet I believe they know just as much as someone who does. Of course there are others who really don’t know all they should about skin yet are also making and selling products. As a beauty blogger I hope I am a reliable source for people, and of course I want to be trusted. In all my videos and when talking about skincare I try to point what the ingredients are there for, how the product performed on me but also that skin is individual, and give as much relevant info for people to decide if it might be for them. I do a lot of research, my degree is in International Development, but I have been reading up on skin function, ingredients and different studies since I was 16. So I think I probably more about skincare than I do about the subject I graduated in, but no I don’t have a diploma to back me up, does this make all this knowledge invalid? And how could I possibly say to people not to trust other bloggers without a degree in natural sciences without being a hypocrite? I also have a very cynical attitude towards any specialists, there have been studies done on value of expertise and the results are less than reassuring. Even if you go to say a dermatologist, they pr scribe something and wait to see what happens, there is almost as much trial and error as with a friend recommending something. And when it comes to doctors there is also plenty that they don’t know, and obviously not all doctors in the same field are as good as each other. Naturally the same applies to bloggers not all are the same, you get the good and the bad. What makes a person an expert in anything is how much time and study they dedicated to a particular subject, I don’t think that the fact that they didn’t sit an exam to prove their knowledge is always relevant. Honestly expert or no expert everyone can be wrong, and what works for some doesn’t for others. I like reading blogs to discover new things and people’s experiences, if I find people with similar taste I know I’m likely to enjoy the products. I don’t really have an answer to this, but it’s up to each of us to decide where we put our trust, because it’s really sad not to trust anyone.

    • galina says:

      dear Tamara, thank you for taking the time to give such an honest & personal answer to the issues raised in my post. I don’t think that a degree necessarily guarantees quality of education and it is quite common nowadays for people to have a degree in something and end up working in a completely different field ( as an example, I have two University degrees in banking, yet my current work is backed up by a Postgrad in Journalism and not beauty or fashion or psychology, in which i don’t have formal training but like you, I have been interested in those subject for many years. I don’t claim to be an expert but I share my own experiences and offer my readers to decide whether they want to try something or consider something becoming part of their lifestyle ). I believe that passion is a great motivation and know brand founders that are incredibly knowledgable and create amazing products, without having a formal education related to their line of work. For me, some of them are more trustworthy that some of the big brands our there.
      My point is that there are many ‘gurus’ and ‘experts’ out there that give advice that doesn’t hold the interest of customers at heart but that of brands, hence many people end up feeling disappointed and not sure where can they look for credible advice concerning beauty or well-being. And you know, as well as I do, that some advice given can be even damaging for a person. Look at the diet or juicing fads that are often based not on one’s individual, nutritional needs but on desire to ‘fit’ into the unrealistic ‘ideal’.
      Beauty is very individual and it’s not a question of not trusting anyone, but knowing oneself and then following the advice of people that can benefit you and your lifestyle and not put more money into the pocket of a person who without disclosing it to you, gets paid by the brand to ‘advertise’ it. Honesty is the best policy, allowing people to make a more sound judgement, based on seeing a full picture and not its fragment.
      Yes, a doctor or dermatologist can be equally aligned with a brand or a pharmaceutical company and often that’s the case but they do hold a duty of care to their patients, while I am not sure it is a viable consideration for some journalists, experts or bloggers. This article is not meant to point fingers but simply to give food for thought, as I state in the last paragraph. There are some incredibly talented, knowledgable people who aren’t in the mass spotlight, yet deserve to be – my article is meant to put this out into the open, as our own role models are a reflection of our inner world.
      There are no rights or wrongs, we are all different and respond in kind to different things and are part of different tribes- all I want to highlight is that we need to take advice from ‘celebrities’ in the beauty and well-being field with the eyes wide open. I hope you will agree with me. What’s great is that we have a dialogue and each party has a chance to learn from it 🙂
      Galina

  3. Tamara says:

    It is not that I disagree with the points that you raise, I just feel that this subject is very much one of muddy waters. I don’t proclaim to be an expert or a guru, even the word makes me feel uncomfortable, and you say that you don’t consider yourself to be an expert. But it’s not always what you claim to be, but how others see you, when people come to you for advice it is because they trust your judgement, and you might not feel like you are an expert, but to someone with less knowledge you are. Open conversation is always the best policy, beauty journalism for editorials, which also get advertising from some of the brands that are constantly featured, that’s a whole other beast. I don’t know if you ever read the book “The beauty myth” by Naomi Wolf, I think you might enjoy it. I just don’t think I can be objective about the subject of experts and gurus, not because I consider myself or aspire to be one, but because I do want to be taken seriously when I write about something and it’s just a little close to home. I would never want anyone to blindly trust what I say, or what anyone says with regards to beauty or nutrition, hence the disclaimers when I write about things like supplements, explaining that it’s my personal experience, and that I’m not a nutritionist. Does it bother me that not everyone does the same when they are also not nutritionist? Does some of the skincare advice I hear on YT, or read on blogs makes me want to smash my computer? Sure. But frankly I’m not sure what I can do about that, or explained to people why it’s bad advice since I can’t back up my knowledge with a piece of paper. And yes my heart sinks a little when talking about my blog at events and people asking me about my background, and seing the disappointment in their face when they realise I’m not an MUA, have no formal skincare training, I can see the thought “oh she can’t know what she is talking about” on written all over their expression. It makes me feel like all the time and hard work I put in my posts is just irrelevant. I know you are not pointing thingers or anything like that at all, and yes bad advice is a real issue, but honestly people clearly want to learn by making their own mistakes, and hopefully instead of giving up on blogs and experts all together they will just eventually learn to recognise the good ones.

    • galina says:

      Tamara, I agree with you that this subject is very complex and I possibly only touched the tip of the iceberg but I am glad and grateful to have this open discussion with friends, colleagues and people who work in the beauty and well-being industry.
      The word expert or even worse, guru really don’t mean something, unless one person helps another person to deal with something – then at least there is meaning in actions. I, for one, think that actions speak louder than words sometimes and being part of the green community only reinforces that. There is lots of goodwill and genuine interest in each other, be it bloggers, brand founders or women and men in general.One just needs to set intentions right and start from focussing inward and then expand.
      You make a great point about people trusting other people judgement and for me personally it is always a great honour that comes alongside a great responsibility. As my advice, if the person chooses to follow it, can have an effect. That’s why I always consider my words carefully and am sure so do you and many other people we know.
      Even with a friend one sometimes might question his or her motivation. I think each one of us has to have a clear answer why he or she follows this or that person’s advice.
      People has a right to make up their own mind but you take pride in what you do and you genuinely love what you do and that, in my opinion, is what your followers appreciate and it is one of the reasons that they follow you.
      We all belong to this or that tribe and yes, at times it is frustrating that certain people get the limelight while others, no less deserving and sometimes more deserving don’t, but I think that when one truly loves what he or she does and does it with the best intention, it shows in their work and attracts like-minded people. personally, I would rather have a small group of followers with which I am engaged in a dialogue and from whom I can also learn, rather than a giant but meaningless one. I guess this is a question of vanity as well and sadly, often, it is a downfall of even the most talented people at times.
      You make a great point about people wanting to make their own mistakes and I do hope that through certain tribulations smog will lift and it will stop being about the latest expert and become more about people and sources that people genuinely trust.
      Like you, I have moments of doubt about what and how I do but I guess I am lucky to have the confidence that was instilled into me by my family and I also am very lucky to have wise soundboards in friends, colleagues, experts, bloggers, journalists whose judgement I value and trust. This takes time & experience but also highlights the importance of being in balance with oneself, before having the confidence to give advice to others. I don’t pretend to know beyond my scope and I won’t answer the question unless I know the answer. I am also happy to recommend people who I know and trust personally when I am not the best person to answer their query. The thing is that there are genuine professionals in any industry, the trick is to know where to look and who to trust.
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for a book recommendation, I read it a while back and I think it might be a good time to go back and re-read it.
      Galina

  4. There are so many aspects to this post Galina that I’m not sure where to start. I agree with you to a point however I also empathise with what Tamara is saying above too.

    You are touching on several issues here; trust, integrity and honesty in what a brand, magazine, celebrity, journalist, blogger etc puts out there, the qualifications a so called “expert” may hold and how credible that makes them on a subject, the new wave of celebrity “health experts” who are taking the health & wellbeing industry by storm and then the PR and Advertising industry that helps to promote all this.

    I personally feel that qualifications have their place however you can have the most qualified person who may not have that person’s complete wellbeing at heart. Often GP’s are incentivised, dieticians are focussed on what the current Government health guidelines are (and let’s face it they change all the time), consultants can be very insular with their viewpoint, which may be focussed on one level of expertise only. Does the fact that they are qualified and a so called expert make their word more valid than another? Not always. We can be blinkered even as an expert, perhaps more so, because we think our way is the best and the only way.

    Having said all that, I do believe that seeking out a qualified individual where health is concerned is indeed important dependent on your condition. However even then, there can be a, “these experts are better than those experts”. You’ll hear that Nutritional Therapists who are BANT registered are perceived as better or more qualified than Nutritionists or Nutritional Therapists who are not. There’s often a snobbery surrounding it. One course may be accredited one minute and then the organisation which accredits the courses and schools change their criteria. Unless that school chooses to conform to the new criteria their therapists no longer have a right to this certification anymore. Their expertise hasn’t changed, the criteria has.

    What I’m trying to say here, is that we need to look deeper than the surface of where expertise is helpful and also when it becomes a hindrance. It’s also about the individual as well. Why are some experts trusted over others? Reputation normally, and recommendation.

    Celebrity within the industry is another kettle of fish entirely and one which does indeed concern me along with the wonderful world of Google! As someone who has chosen to study nutrition and health so that I have a credible knowledge base to work with, I cringe sometimes at the information that is available to the layperson without proper guidance and that is where perhaps your article comes into its own. Having access to information on say superfoods but not knowing that they are powerful nutrients which can cause a “healing crisis” in the body if mismanaged is frightening. Too much can be unhealthy and dangerous too.

    Then there’s magazines, blogs, websites all giving their pearls of wisdom. And I do believe they all have their place, however they are only as credible as the people who run or write them. And this is where we need to perhaps be far more mindful and question more. Money talks in all industries and none are immune, even health and wellbeing.

    There are few people who do not have a price. I’ve been shocked by what I’ve learnt during my time as a blogger and a retailer in the natural beauty industry. Things aren’t as clean cut as they may appear on the surface. There are many shades of grey and I feel this is where bloggers often come into their own. There is a strong group out there who blog with integrity, honesty and truth. And maybe this is what’s important here in addition to trusting our own innate wisdom. We need to learn to cut through the noise, and the crap we are fed, choose our sources of information wisely and question EVERYTHING. I’ll shut up now 🙂 xx

    • galina says:

      dear Charlie, let me start with saying thank you to both you and Tamara, as well as Liz, Nic and Elijah and many others who are offering their thoughts and opinions on this. I learn from this and I love the dialogue, which makes me ponder this issue and see its from different angles and perspectives.
      When it comes to experts, doctors, dieticians etc you make a very valid point, which I share. Having had my share of experiences with the professionals, I know from personal experience that there are good and bad ones out there. There are some experts or doctors who are well-known but having been their patient, client or interviewer I will never want to return and see them again. There are others to whom I will be forever grateful for their kindness, knowledge or perspective on things. It is not just about having the relevant training, it is also about the human factor and genuinely caring. Doctors especially can be de-sensitised in order to do their job properly, yet there are moments when one knows that they care, which might make things more complex but equally makes you appreciate them more. The same thing with every person – in order to do things well, a person needs to not just have the knowledge, but love or have passion or calling for what he or she does and care about consequences of their actions and not just because we live in day and age when lawsuits are a plenty.
      I very much enjoyed reading and thinking about your comments and in some way you re-inforse what I originally wrote – it is so much more than just about the title. I know some incredibly talented writers or practitioners who for this reason or other choose fame above all else and as a client, friend or colleague I choose to go somewhere else because it does affect their work and their judgement. Some of us are better judges or character, some of us choose to follow other blindingly – either way it always help to take five once in a while and question your judgement or choices of people we chose to surround ourselves with.
      Reputation and recommendations from those we trust do matter. I remember my grandfather saying to me, when I was quite young: ‘first you work for your reputation and it takes years, but then it starts working for you. However one wrong action on your part might take it away forever’. That is something that has stayed with me then and is still something that is important and relevant to me now.
      I fully agree on Google, with which most of us like to self-diagnose when we are feeling off .) As to celebrities and nutrition, a separate subject! People often forget that celebrities are as human as we are but they just might be smarted, savvier or luckier than an average Joe. That doesn’t make them experts and often their endorsement doesn’t come for free.
      As to nutrition, I hope people take notice sooner, rather than later, before their health suffers or they find our that they can;t have kids – not because of genes but because of lifestyle choices that messed up their bodies and hormones. Particularly worrying to me and you as mothers. Instead of working on self-esteem some mothers choose to transfer their insecurities on their children. A word diet should be banned! And supplements & juices aren’t made equal. No matter what a certain ‘expert’ or celebrity says – what works for one, might not necessarily work for another person.
      You make a wonderful point about magazines, bloggs etc that resonates and with which I fully agree – credibility is at the heart of an issue but then everyone does have different expectations and views on this. I happen to share yours here.
      And your last paragraph nails & sums it up perfectly! Wisdom coupled with cutting through the noise plus questioning things can only improve one’s life for the better.
      Thank you Charlie, I very much enjoyed your perspectives on this – forgive me for one very long-reply!
      Galina

  5. Gem Bolton says:

    Good morning Galina (and cheery waves to Liz, Tamara & Charlie)!

    Wow to how you’ve struck up such a wonderful conversation and I’m loving the honesty from all directions.

    I actually first read this post with yesterday’s morning snack and have since re-read it and each of the comments several times through!

    Charlie’s comment re all the different threads really resonated with me. I feel there are multiple themes and layers of messages, and we could probably discuss each of them separately (and endlessly)! And I know we did in BodhiLuxe days, which is why I was thrilled to see you touching on the topics you’re so passionate about.

    Something that really stood out to me was how you went from the intro re your family history to the main body of your message – the marked contrast between noise and information of childhood and today’s decidedly digital world.

    It struck me how much of the issue relates to the sheer amount of choice we face when deciding which sources to tap into/trust. I know this was a topic cued up for BodhiLuxe and I’d absolutely love to see you dive into this angle further.

    I love your messages of questioning the real, listening to ourselves, and trusting ourselves first. I think this is so important, and that we must learn to become more self-aware in the process.

    I hold my hand up and say sometimes I am drawn to the ‘secrets’ of a gorgeous glowing being, but will endeavour to digest the information provided with a critical mind!

    The labelling of experts or gurus, and knowing what constitutes the trustworthy, is so complex! Again, I want to bring the human element into my comment here. Take two fully qualified doctors or nutritionists and both may fully believe they have their patients’ interests at heart, however, both will have had unique experiences that shape their thoughts, and personal biases that motivate them towards certain research studies or methods. So neither is necessarily good or bad, or right or wrong, they’re just human, and each will have their own loyal following hanging on their every word.

    This can prove challenging for those choosing who to see, and I think this is where it comes back to your message of trusting your instinct and what works for you. It also comes to the human element of personalities and who we feel most comfortable with and engaged by…though I’m not suggesting you pick a doctor by congeniality alone! 🙂

    I am one that will research a professional’s qualifications right down to the provider and membership bodies (I like the fact the latter denotes rigid requirements including CPD, which in the health world strikes me as vital with new research always coming to light), but then I’m also very happy to enjoy a blog written by someone who has a passionate interest in their subject regardless of their educational or work background. The way I use the information from both sources may differ, but I have a unique respect for each.

    For me, it comes back to one of my favourite words (oh yes, I’m banging on about this again, haha!)…authenticity. I’m most drawn to people who truly embody the messages they share. And then I’ll do my own research before deciding which of these messages to take on board!

    SO, another long response for you…and I hope I’m making some sort of sense!

    Many thanks again Galina and all for this thought-provoker.

    Xx

    • galina says:

      Good evening Gemma and thank you for joining in this conversation!

      If you read and re-read the post and comments then what has been ‘slow-cooking’ for a while was perfectly cooked when presented, phew 🙂
      I agree with you and Charlie that this subject has only touched the tip of the iceberg and I would love to see conversations take place, instead of all of us reading another interview with a predictable celebrity or another article on the latest ‘miracle ingredients’ that is going to change our life.
      Yesterday I attended a Bazaar and LV event and the subject of white noise, smoke and mirrors, selfie obsession and the implications that digital world is bring into our lives was also discussed, which made me reflect on all of this late into the night, again, might I add .)
      Exposure to so much information, with which we often don’t know what to do is not good for our heads or for our well-being and neither are the constant selfless, leading to the emergence of the ‘ me, me, me culture’ when we often forget to savour the moment and appreciate our skincare routine or our body, instead rushing to the next new launch.
      As to your view on the personal, human element, I fully agree wit you. One might come to see the best specialist in the chosen field and walk away being disappointed, while a newly qualified person might win one over. Again, it comes down to knowing ourselves and making wise, educated choices or at least thinking before jumping in with the eyes closed. As to authenticity, you know what they say – ‘alike attracts alike’. I just hope that in the constant rush, we learn from our common past and get back to pausing, contemplating and make a sound judgement based on knowledge, research & human connection, instead of becoming part of the impersonal crowd who follows the latest idol blindly.
      Galina x

  6. Well dear Galina, you certainly have invoked a stimulating discussion. All your responses show that people have really thought long and hard about the subject. My response is in answer to your actual question:
    Who are my trustworthy sources of wellbeing and beauty?
    You are quite right in saying that we are bombarded with information: social media, magazines, tv, radio etc
    However the truth for me is this and it’s purely a matter of preference but for all the advice that is out there in the media, at the end of the day I like personal recommendation. And this would have to come from someone I know very well i.e. close friends or long-term clients – basically someone who shares the same high standards. And this is particularly so if I was seeking say a good health practitioner in whatever field I was searching for at that time. Then the results of any treatment would speak for themselves as to whether I would also agree with the given recommendation. And interestingly enough this is how it has been regarding my clientele. Everyone has come through word of mouth. So it goes to show the power of it.
    As for my go-to sources for beauty information well, I follow a very tiny handful of people on Twitter. Honesty, Integrity and to use a favourite word of Gem @BuffBeauty Authenticity shine out immediately from any article.
    What interests me is having information and then I can do my own research/testing etc. This is what happened for example with S5 skincare. You wrote a very interesting article following a meeting with the brand owners. Then you tweet that Violane is going to be in Selfridges on a certain date. So I took myself off, went to meet her, got to try the products and hear more about them, made a decision to buy, loved the results and hey presto they have a permanent place in my cabinet.
    Everyone will have their own methods but you are absolutely right when you state that knowing ourselves is the key to making the best choices and that I believe follows through for life in general.

    • galina says:

      Dear SJ, thank you for your reply and for joining in the conversation that seem to open new angles to the subject.
      Like you I also prefer personal recommendations – they come from the heart or the people who I value and trust. Yes, in the end the person who gets recommended might be fleetingly in your life, or might make a bigger impact – one never knows but I tend to choose carefully and tred lightly.
      Beauty and well-being are quite personal subject and in essence we all deserve good, personal advice that we can take on-board and which will help us improve our lives. They say that beauty is skin deep and so should be the advice that is given by those in whom authority is placed.
      S5 is a great example and we both can name many but then neither of us would recommend a brand that we haven’t tried to our friends, colleagues or followers, would be? I wouldn’t accept a payment from a brand that I don’t use ( mind you, each person has a price) but the issue here is still integrity and taking responsibility for the advice that one gives to a wider audience.
      Galina x

  7. Andy Millward says:

    Great post Galina, I do agree with a lot of the comments here that just because someone is qualified / unqualified, doesn’t (or shouldn’t) always credit / dis-credit the information given.

    Speaking as a qualified aesthetician / facialist, I have come across many other “qualified” therapists who’s knowledge is not as advanced as some bloggers I read.
    Unfortunately the standard of “qualification” within the beauty industry is actually very poor here in the UK. The NVQ 2 & 3 standard is very low and what is taught about skin is actually very basic. They tend to focus more of technique than knowledge.

    A “qualified” therapist is then taught additional knowledge when working with brands. However the quality of knowledge varies drastically from brand to brand. For example, an Elemis therpaist and a Dermalogica therapist would learn very different things, because each skin care house has their own method and of course, agenda when it comes to selling products.

    Unfortunately too many therapists rely on what they ‘taught’ without doing their own ‘learning’. I personally have done lots and lots of my own learning, outside of NVQ qualifications, I have been very lucky to train with one of the most advanced skin care brands but I have also done lots of independent courses and would urge all therapists to do the same. That’s if they are actually serious about learning their craft. Many just aren’t hungry enough for it unfortunately and believe once they’re “qualified” then they’ve done enough.
    Impartial and non-brand specific training is best, such as Marste Academy and Pastiche (Florence Barrertt-Hill) because they aren’t biased to a skin care brand.

    Of course I’m also a big believer in advanced learning from books. Not everything has to be taught in a class room or form part of a qualification. The key thing is to read as much as you can and use intuition to join the dots on any bits of information that conflict. Everything learned forms part of each individuals range of knowledge.

    I would say over 80% of what I know now did not come from my qualification but from learning I have done independently. It’s having the qualification that allows me to work and be insured.

    Of course, when scientists don’t agree, there is not much help for the rest of us either, Which is why you could have two qualified facialists, both of equal knowledge and experience, but could have two very different methods because they’ve taken different direction in their careers. It doesn’t necessarily mean one is right and the other is wrong, it’s just different approached and methods.

    Andy
    x

    • galina says:

      Dear Andy, thank you very much for joining in the conversation, as a man and as a professional in the beauty field. I agree wholeheartedly with what you say and am a big admirer of how you view and do things. Striving to perfect one’s knowledge, never resting on the laurels and always trying to improve things are all unique and very specie qualities that you possess in spades. I only wish more people like you worked as skin specialists, as under your guidance complex issues become smaller and both women and men can learn how to make sure their skin looks and feels optimally, irrespective of age. You are also generous with sharing your knowledge making skin issues less daunting and sadly many of us feel lost when needing to address a skin concern but not always knowing where to go for advice that is practical and trust-worthy.
      We are all different, we respond to different things but as long as there is desire to learn, I hope people will be able to find the sources of beauty and well-being that are worthy of their trust.
      Thank you again for being honest and eloquent on a subject that is much bigger than its title .)
      Galina x

  8. Nath says:

    Dear Galina, first Thank You for starting this discussion!

    So many bits and pieces have been commented here wonderfully by Liz, Tamara, Charlie and Andy that I am afraid to touch on them without adding a scroll of text to what has been said anyway.

    That’s why I choose to comment on 3 things 🙂 With one example. “A health blog tells me that I have to drink one glass of water with the juice of 1 lemon each morning.”

    1) “Honesty is the best policy”. It truly is. For brands, and for bloggers or journalists. Transparency is key! I want to hear opinions but I need to understand how this opinion was formed: is it something this person half-arsedly read on the Internet? Is it their belief for no real reason? Is it their go-to belief that can be overthrown by facts, do I know more than them? Is it a topic they are passionate about? Or is there an agenda, are they selling something? Here I must decide if I am willing to accept the agenda, or not. – For the lemon water example, I’ll have to see, is the blogger promoting juicers? Is she a nutritionist? If I hear YES and NO together, respectively, I am likely to not follow her advice.

    2) The media noise. The beauty and fashion press is a money making system: nurture fears and sell cures (and copies). I’m okay with that to a certain extent. As readers we “know” we buy a fairy tale, it’s silently been agreed upon in our culture. Everyone can see that beauty industry professionals don’t look any younger or particularly prettier than average people, and the only well of youth and great shape that really, really works in fighting time and gravity and, often, the common sense, is Photoshop. We know.
    What I perceive as way more cynical and toxic are the various ways this system has discovered to greenwash and pinkwash their doings. This is where I get in rage, and try to memorise the “experts” that support that. Just to never take any advice from them. – Again, the lemon water example. Will the editor present just this tip or will she back it up with quotes from doctors and nutritionists? Will she present a pro and con list so I can make my own? Is a juice brand advertising in the same issue?

    3) Fandorin quote. I agree that “cognitio sui” is at the heart of everything. You need to understand, to know yourself. Only then can you benefit from the “push in the possibly rigtht direction”, from the best doctor’s advice, from the best dermatologist’s treatment – even in the best case of a passionate professional, who is not only formally educated but also interested, up to date, unbiased. As I say to my doctors “I know you know more than I do about the condition, but I happen to know more about me”. Then I ask for explanations, reasons, options, consequences. Because it will be My decision and I will have to live and deal with all consequences, not my doctor, not my beautician and certainly not a random blogger. – And to close the case with the lemon water, the best advice I heard to this day came from a nutritionist who actually took the time to explain for whom it can be beneficial and for whom it’s plain dangerous. (Has to do with stomach acid levels and overall health but I don’t want to share it here for obvious reasons ;))

    P.S. It’s funny how the true experts shy away from calling themselves so. They prefer terms like “explorers” or maybe “industry veterans” or so, but rarely will a real expert stand there and boast. With knowledge comes more incertainty, and knowing more makes us understand how little we know! As in: “How can I be an expert with a million open questions?” Getting close to the пустая бочка symptom, non? 🙂

    • galina says:

      dear Nath, thank you for joining in the conversation & offering your honest views and insights – that is the biggest gift one can ask for when writing a post on the subject that needs to be discussed, yet often isn’t.

      1) You are so right on this. I don’t judge people on their choices but when advice is given online I also want to know where and why it was generated. If someone works with a brand, discloses it and then praises them in public I might be curious to try it. If, however, the person advocates the brand, works with it and keeps mum about this fact – well, I would be inclined to go somewhere else. Personally, whether I pay for the product or it is sent to me, I will only write about it if my tester or myself really did like it, after using it for a few weeks. I always say it in advance if a brand wants to give or send something to me. And when asked, I am happy to state whether I paid for the product or was given it – in that respect, I think disclosure is key.

      2) I am with you on greenwashing and al and experts who say one thing today and another when a new trend comes in and changes what was said before.I think advice needs to come form either personal experience or knowledge, otherwise what good can advice like that bring?

      3) Love what you say to your doctors and fully agree. It is like innate knowledge mothers have about their kids when something is off. We might not have a doctors degree but knowing your child gives us ammunition to go to a person with a degree to find clues and help. As to what you say about the advice of a nutritionist above, again, we seem to be in agreement. What works for one, might be contra indicatory to another and people who give advice need to say this out loud, instead of giving one advice that is supposed to heal all.

      One can never know everything, all we can thrive is to learn more, understand better, gain more experience – being called an expert is daunting at best. All each one of us can do is do their best in their personal and professional lives, to strive to retain humility, gratitude & kindness. Never rest on the laurels and always strive to be better. And know that if we give advice, it can have consequences for those that take it especially when it comes to beauty, confidence, health and wellbeing. A good diet can improve but it won’t cure a heart condition for example or recommending a peel to a person with sensitive skin can lead to them having major problems with their skin – that’s why in our day and age of too much information, I care deeply for those people and sources I can trust & value that they take that responsibility seriously and not just say that they do.

      Galina

  9. Dija Ayodele says:

    Wow! this is such an important topic and with the myriad of information out there it can be so difficult for the ordinary person to know what to believe and who to trust. Like Andy, a lot of what I know is self taught, after the formal qualification was achieved and whilst I call myself an expert, it is by no means a static situation because knowledge can always be improved and there is so much out there to learn in order for one to continue to hold on to the title. As someone else has said, it is also a title that others bestow on you. I also feel that even as an expert it is good to realise your own limitations. You are never going to know everything. Very frequently, I refer clients on to other professionals that I believe know more than me. For example, I don’t do peels, so I usually give out Andy’s details even though I can talk the client through a peel, I’d rather someone who does them day in and day out do it. Some may say its throwing money down away, but I’d rather a safe client any day of the week. You’re also right when you point out that sometimes magazines have to be aware of who pays the bills sometimes 🙂 I find now even some bloggers are getting in on that act and its difficult or understand how they can be so all over the place with their product choices?! At the end of the day authenticity will always stand out and its bloggers that have a natural flow and thread running through that sensible people will be drawn to.

    • galina says:

      Dear Dija, thank you for sharing your views on this subject, I am so happy you joined in the conversation!

      I agree with what you and Andy say and personally appreciate practitioners who on occasion might refer a client to someone else for some specific concern or treatment. None of us know everything, even though we might strive to learn all the time but the fact that there is a support network of humans and professionals who are confident enough in themselves to recommend someone else to their client garners admiration from me!

      Doing what I do I question myself and am always open about how I work and what I do from the beginning, be it with a subscriber, a friend, a colleague, a potential client or brand. I don’t post sponsored content and try every single product that I feature ( even though on occasion, for reasons like skin type, age or specific concern I might delegate the product testing to someone who I know and whose feedback I trust to pass on my readers ) but see no problem if someone works with a brand or PR agency and writes about products for that reason – we are all different, we respond to different things and our needs and interests are different. it all comes down again and again to one word – ‘authenticity’. It is one thing to run a business and take pride in one’s work, it’s another to mislead people who read or follow your advice or trust your judgment on something. I hope people can distinguish one from another and place their trust accordingly

  10. Sarita Coren says:

    Wow, Galina! Clearly from the very astute responses, you have touched on a topic that is layered, as each comment points out. You covered it very fairly, and that is not a simple task to accomplish. It is an issue that I attempted to handle in one of my posts too (about the six questions we need to ask before buying into the latest fad. I touch on many of the points you raise here).

    Here is my stream of consciousness that came up while I was reading. There is no organized format in the name of going with the flow.

    Personally, life has always been an experiential learning curve: meaning, sometimes I had to learn the hard way what works and what doesn’t. As long as it’s not life-threatening advice, drinking that glass with lemon water, to piggyback off Nath’s example, isn’t a big deal. However, like the nutritionist’s advice that resonated most with her, if an article is prone to exaggeration without any stipulation as to when use is contraindicated, then it’s time to take pause and wonder why. We develop those “red flags” over time and due diligence, so there’s definitely a digital learning curve.

    The key is in asking the right questions–and even asking your own body what feels right, a great point you make about ultimately listening to our gut. (This is where intuition/higher intelligence kicks in, where all the mental noise ceases, and where vital truths await us).

    You also bring up the term “expert” which is something that I wrestle with a lot. Who has earned the title and when do we acknowledge that we are our own experts for ourselves? Experience is a wonderful teacher and wisdom can be innate (young children are often my highly respected guides), so we have to go with our gut on this one too. I tend to veer on the spiritual end of this too and if I’m really clueless as to whose advice I need to follow, I’ll ask for higher guidance (no need for specific terminology. This isn’t at all a question of religious observance but rather one of tapping into forces that see and know more than we can see from a limited human standpoint). There is way too much that science has not accessed yet, but some of the energy healers that I’ve seen over the years know already. These are hard to prove, yet that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. So who do we trust? Who do we go to? It’s about developing trust and sometimes that entails trial and error, but it’s those lessons (also referred to as mistakes) that resonate the most with us and shape us into who we are. So it’s ok to make them and then grow.

    What works for one person won’t work for another and that’s the way the world works. That’s also why I follow bloggers who are clear that their reviews are personal opinions and that posts may use affiliate links but only for products that they’d recommend anyway. I am careful when I use links myself because I know there’s a fine line, but ultimately, it isn’t. Hype vs. Authenticity is easy to spot when you know what to look for.

    I give a lot of credit to blogs like yours (and others in this thread) that raise discussions like this one so that we can pause and examine our existing paradigms and leave better for having learned from other viewpoints.

    Thank you for inviting me to check out this post. I plan to read it again and again too because there are many solid points you raise that beg taking personal inventory. XO

    • galina says:

      my dear Sarita, thank you for taking the time to leave such a thought-out comment – your attention to detail and thoughtfulness is a gift in our speedy day and age, when attention span is scarce.
      You are right, wisdom comes with age and trial and error and I fully agree, that unless advice is life-threatening there is no harm in trying something and observing how one’s body reacts to it. The trick is to know yourself and to listen to the signals we get back from our body, skin, intuition….And as you say, asking the right questions. So many people are afraid or reluctant to ask and to question – I think we always should, if something is unclear.
      We are all different and as you rightly say, what works for one, might not work for another – I always err on the side of cautious when someone raves about the magic product. We also have different expectations, don’t we?
      Expert is indeed a tricky term and we all interpret its meaning differently. In addition to ‘traditional’ experts, I also trust and respect alternative therapy practitioners. However they must come recommend from a trusted source and have depth and experience and not be a ‘celebrity’ guru. I can name a few osteopaths, aromatherapists, healers etc. who have been tremendously helpful to me, friends or colleagues and whose judgement and advice is sound. I guess the ‘secret’ is again knowing yourself and trusting your intuition bells, when they start ringing.
      Giving credit to people who you value and allowing the circle to expand is what makes the world a better place and our sources to trust board bigger, so there is choice for people to make in terms of the direction they need to go. And one can never cease to learn, if and when we do, we must be tired of life and ready to leave. Learning daily and questioning existing state of things helps us all grow and be more open to reflection.
      I am grateful to be part of the community which is generous in sharing knowledge and wise to listen to opinions and experiences of others. Thank you for your insights and reflections, they are precious!
      Galina x

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