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Caroline Hirons: the skincare guru on her Skin Rocks brand

The Caroline Hirons range. (c) Caroline Hirons
The Caroline Hirons range. (c) Caroline Hirons

The Cheshire Life celebrity interviewer and make-up artist catches up with his old friend – the queen of skincare.

Tell us about your childhood.

I was born in Liverpool but moved to America when I was four, because my mum was American. We moved back to the UK when I was nine and settled in Warrington. In fact, my mum, Cathy Bradshaw, lived in that house right up until she passed away in March, 2023. Growing up in Warrington was fun as a kid although I hated secondary school. I loved going to gigs at venues such as the Royal Court in Liverpool and Manchester Apollo. Liverpool was easier as you could get there using public transport and you didn’t need a parent to pick you up. I was a street kid like most kids of our age at the time – you went to play out, and you stayed out until it was tea time. Woe betide you if you weren’t around when you were shouted to come in for you tea at 5 pm.

Growing up in the 1980s where were your favourite places to hang out?

Mr Smith's in Warrington, which I frequented from the age of 15 as I was 5ft 10ins tall and looked older. Liverpool city centre, and shops such as Miss Selfridge and Chelsea Girl.

Great British Life: Queen of skincare Caroline Hirons. (c) Caroline HironsQueen of skincare Caroline Hirons. (c) Caroline Hirons

When did you realise you wanted a career in beauty?

I moved to London when I was 17, I was always back and forth to London to attend some sort of gig and then I thought, sod it, I might as well move here. In 1997 I got a weekend job at the Aveda counter in Harvey Nichols. I was married and had children by then. Although I had done some secretarial work and bits of retail I needed a weekend job. Initially, it was just another shop job that was only 15 minutes from where I was living at the time but on my first day I instantly liked it and soon realised I was good at it.

Tell us about your progression within the beauty industry

I’d always been interested in skincare and beauty as my mum worked on Helena Rubinstein and Coty counters. My grandma had also worked in the industry, for Guerlain and Coty, in George Henry Lee's department store in Liverpool. So I guess it was in our blood.

Great British Life: Caroline's mother, Cathy Bradshaw, working for Helena Rubenstein in Boots Warrington.(c) Caroline HironsCaroline's mother, Cathy Bradshaw, working for Helena Rubenstein in Boots Warrington.(c) Caroline Hirons

Who has been the most influential person in your life?

Probably my mum, because of her character, work ethic and how she conducted her business. She wouldn’t go to the post box without her lippy on. She was such a lady.

Is there a particular moment in your professional life that stands out?

I’ve been lucky enough to have a few. I won a CEW (Cosmetic Executive Women) Award in 2019, which was a nice recognition from the beauty industry. Then the first time I was mentioned in magazines such as Vogue. Being on the cover of You Magazine was special, especially for my mum. Helping to raise over £600,000 for the Hair and Beauty Charity, via our initiative Beauty Backed, is something I’m incredibly proud of.

How did you meet your husband Jim?

We met at the Marquee Club when I was 19. He’s a musician and his brothers were in a band and it was just one of those serendipitous moments. He was 25 with long hair like Michael Hutchence and a nice bum. That was it for me.

Great British Life: Caroline signing copies of the New Edit edition of her bestselling book. (c) Caroline HironsCaroline signing copies of the New Edit edition of her bestselling book. (c) Caroline Hirons

How has being a grandmother changed your life?

In ways you can’t imagine. You think you’ve experienced love when you’ve had kids but then when your kids have kids it’s another level. At one point Jim and I had four under 12, so I understand parents' frustration but as a nana, I’m so chilled. The two grandchildren are the loves of our lives… the obsession is real.

Your book: Skincare – The Ultimate No-nonsense Guide, was a huge success. How did the opportunity come about and how challenging was it for you to write it?

I was at a gig in Hyde Park, I might be a nana but I do like a gig. I was approached by Megan Carver, who is my publicist to this day, while I was in her press area at this gig and she asked me when I was going to write a book. At this time I already had the blog so why would I want to do a book? Eventually, HarperCollins persuaded me and it became a huge success. In fact, we are about to hit a quarter of a million copies but the process of writing it was horrible. That’s how I got my ADHD diagnosis because I couldn’t sit in front of a blank piece of paper. My daughter was diagnosed with ADHD too and when she did the test Jim and I did it too and it was clear we also suffered. I had to go private to eventually get the meds and diagnosis, which I was fortunate to be able to do, as there was a two-year wait on the NHS. It was so painful trying to write the book but once I got going I had it done in four or five months. We had 36,000 copies on pre-order and it was number one in the Sunday Times list.

Congratulations on your award-winning Skin Rocks brand. How and why was the brand created?

I was doing consultancy work for brands but I started to think I wanted to create something I could leave for the children – to create a legacy and have longevity – so I started the process and funded everything myself. We trial all our products clinically across all skin tones and ages – that’s very important for me.

Great British Life: Caroline and Jim. They met when she was 19. (c) Caroline Hirons Caroline and Jim. They met when she was 19. (c) Caroline Hirons

The first products you created were Retinoids 1 & 2. Who are they designed for?

I wanted Retinoid 1 to be a mild option for people who may have sensitive skin or have tried a retinoid before but found them too strong.

Retinoid 2 is for people who want a bit more.

Which Skin Rocks products could you not be without and why?

1. Retinoid 2. It’s my personal maintenance serum – there’s no peeling or irritation. It’s just a fantastic product to use.

2. Fragrance-free moisturiser.

3. Support Oil. I love a face oil and I wanted to create one that could be suitable for all skins. When I got the clinical trial results back and it had been proven to reduce hyper-pigmentation in four weeks, even I was shocked. It’s like a cashmere blanket and a fire extinguisher for your skin as well as reducing hyper-pigmentation.

Great British Life: Skincare queen and grandmother, Caroline Hirons. (c) Nicky JohnstonSkincare queen and grandmother, Caroline Hirons. (c) Nicky Johnston

It’s wintertime, which means central heating is on, and the wind is more abrasive on the skin, what tips would you give to readers to help winter-proof their skin?

1. Invest in an oil. Perhaps use it under your moisturiser or go for a richer moisturiser when you reach for your winter coat.

2. Lip balm. Have one in your handbag and by the side of the bed.

3. Address your hyper-pigmentation. It’s the perfect time of the year to have laser treatment, for example, but remember it can and will comeback in the summer.

What are your three favourite makeup products?

1. Gucci Westman blusher. The brand costs a fortune but it’s beautiful.

2. Vivre Skin Dew. It makes my old hag face shine. I was presenting an award at a ceremony the other week and a makeup artist pal siting next to me asked if I wanted powder to blot my skin? I said no, don’t you bring your powder near this face. This skin is dewy. I’m 54 and I want to glow.

3. Charlotte Tilbury's Legendary Lashes Volume 2. I can get a good lash with that one but I’m always on the search for a great mascara.

What are your three favourite Cheshire haunts and why?

1. My mum's old house in Woolston.

2. Wilmslow. My products are in SpaceNk there and I always have a great time when I visit.

3. Lymm . My brother lives there.

What does beauty mean to you?

Being the best person you can be. It’s much more important how you treat people and also taking time to take care of yourself.

Great British Life: Ben, Dan, Ava and Max - Caroline's four children at Ben's wedding. (c) Caroline Hirons.Ben, Dan, Ava and Max - Caroline's four children at Ben's wedding. (c) Caroline Hirons.

What projects do you have coming up in 2024?

There are three major projects and five product launches so far. I think 2024 is going to be a massive year for us.

And finally, what advice would you give to your younger self?

Go easier on yourself. In fact, since having the ADHD diagnosis everything makes sense about what I was like growing up: I found it impossible to be interested at school I would blurt something out and insert myself into conversations. Now I realise it wasn’t me being awkward or difficult, it was just how I was. I wish I was a little bit kinder to myself.

Skin Rocks is available to buy from skinrocks.com and all SpaceNK branches.



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