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Marie Claire sits down with the skincare expert to chat about her new venture into the tech world
She’s the outspoken skincare guru with 694,000 followers on Instagram and over 120,000 people in her Skin Freaks Facebook group, all of whom listen to her every word and take her advice very seriously. Her book Skincare won ‘Lifestyle Book of the Year’ at the British Book Awards, it was one of Amazon’s bestselling books in 2020 (thanks in part to the nation’s obsession with skincare during the pandemic) and has been recognised as the UK’s bestselling skincare title of all time. And now Caroline Hirons has taken the next step to help people with their skincare routines – she’s launched an app.
The Skin Rocks app was created in response to the numerous requests from followers to “come shopping with me and tell me what to buy.” It’s a comprehensive amalgamation of over 10,000 skincare products (an ever-growing number), and thanks to the considered filtering options, Hirons hopes that it will help whittle down choices to advise you on which products you do and don’t need, when and how to use them, and identify the best matches for your skin.
In its basic form I want people to pull this out in Boots, Superdrug, Space NK, wherever. One user said they used it in Sainsburys. They went in to buy one product, but saw another right next to it that was £2 cheaper and more suited to their skin. I mean the dream.
‘People would FaceTime me from a shop, or come up to me at events,’ she says. “And they’d say “what should I buy from this brand or can I take you shopping with me?’ This would obviously be rather handy to have her come with you every time you popped into Boots or Space NK, but not exactly feasible. ‘I was literally standing in the shower, arms by my head washing my hair, and I remember looking at a particular wall in the bathroom and genuinely just went “oh god it needs to be an app.” I’ve never rinsed my hair so quickly and legged it out of the shower to tell my team.’
It’s been almost two years since that eventful shower and it’s been a steep learning curve for Hirons since then. ‘Everything I’ve done previously has been very much me and my name, and I’m all over it. But with this, I know absolutely nothing about the tech side, but I knew that the app couldn’t be mediocre. Nothing was going to slide. Especially with the Freaks group on Facebook, they hold me to a higher standard than my mother.’
The app is free to download and can be used without opening an account or creating a profile. However, as Hirons says, ‘the more information you give us, the more we can tailor the recommendations for your skin.’ It soft-launched earlier this year exclusively with her biggest critics – the Skin Freaks Facebook group – and they were tasked with giving their honest feedback ahead of the official launch. ‘I would say nine out of ten of the things they recommended were things we already had in the plan. It was quite validating because it means we are on the right track, we’ve made good decisions so far. One of the early reviews we got was from a person who said “I’ve just been to Boots and it helped me pick exactly what I need, I don’t know why this hasn’t been made before.”.’
Skincare shouldn’t be intimidating. It should be as easy as choosing your dinner. You don’t have to buy everything from the same brand, it doesn’t have to be really expensive, but equally, it’s true you will get a bit more for your buck if you pay a bit more. There is something for everyone, but don’t be intimidated, the important thing is to use it and embrace it and at the bare minimum wash your face and use SPF.
The thing she wants to make clear is that this isn’t the Caroline Hirons app. She hasn’t tried every single product on the app, it’s every brand available on the market. ‘When we launched to the Freaks group, most of them expected it to be just an app full of my favourites. Some of them were actually almost cross and asked why had I put every product in the industry on it. That’s because this is a skincare app for everyone, to democratise the way we shop. It’s for anyone who uses their phone to use WhatsApp, Facebook, TikTok. For people who have no clue about skincare. They can go on into the app, and find out at least where to start. And if they don’t know what type of skin they have, they can tell us what their skin feels like, what age they are, the products they prefer to use, and if they have any allergies. We can start and build from there.‘
However, as we all know Hirons is a strong believer in only endorsing brands that have been rigorously tested and have been created in a lab setting. So she’s quick to say that she won’t be including brands that don’t fall into that category. ‘I’m not really going to be putting something up there that claims to have been made in a kitchen sink with no preservative. I don’t want to be responsible for causing people any damage, it has to be brands that have full safety certificates and the basic criteria.’
Most of us, when we download a new app, click the button to stop push notifications. Which Hirons herself does. But she says that the beauty of allowing these notifications on Skin Rocks is that you will get news on stock changes. ‘I actually got a heads up that The Ordinary’s sell-out Squalane Cleanser was, not only back in stock at Boots (in the big size), but also on a 3 for 2 offer. So we sent it out on the app as an alert, and obviously, it sold out again.’
Caroline’s favourite products right now
The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser, £5.50 | Boots
‘Goof luck getting that in stock,’ she says. But we’ve found it in stock in Boots. Hurry.
The free Skin Rocks app is available on Apple and Android now (Download here)