The Beauty Guru

Overseeing beauty across the e-commerce platform as well as PORTER magazine, anything Newby Hands doesn’t know isn’t worth knowing. We discussed hero products and beauty practices. Excited? You should be.

What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like in your morning routine?

I never have a problem waking up and getting up which certainly makes mornings easier.  I always have a cup of tea when I wake up, ideally in bed – always organic tea with organic milk.  Recently I have started a proper routine of body brushing followed by Legology Cellu-Lite oil and Dr Barbara Sturm Body Lotion, but it’s super-fast – the brushing takes 30 seconds max, and I especially like this body cream because it sinks in so fast.  It’s the same for my face as I don’t like spending ages on skincare; currently, I’m using Dr Prager’s Foaming face wash, then any of the serums I have currently on the go, usually, that includes Estee lauder’s ANR and the La Mer oil – just use a few drops and it just sinks into the skin. I don’t like juicing or smoothies, I prefer to chew my food so breakfast is usually an egg and sourdough toast or yoghurt, oat bran (great for water retention) and walnuts – I don’t have any food rules but I do try to eat organic.

In terms of beauty, do you subscribe to the theory you are what you eat?

Yes, I do, but not to extremes.  I see so many women who are rigid in what they don’t eat and seem unhappy and don’t look very healthy, and I do hear repeatedly from nutrition experts that when actually tested usually less than five per cent of people actually have an issue with food.  I do eat organic, I don’t snack (it’s a con, you just eat more calories and gain weight), and I do make conscious choices to sometimes eat chocolate (not organic!) and drink red wine but not to excess.  It’s the mindless eating that can be the issue – but I, of course do indulge sometimes and really enjoy it.  I don’t think any food is ‘bad’ for you per se, it’s the amount of some foods that can be the issue.

Watch our recent In Discussion With… Newby Hands (post continues below) 

Tell us about your role as Global Beauty Director at Net-A-Porter?


I joined NET-A-PORTER in 2015 and one of the reasons I love my role so much is because I work across both the buying and editorial sides of the business – I always love seeing what women really love to buy, and what proves popular in different countries.  My teams and I are responsible for creating compelling and creative content around the category, with an international point of view. When the category launched six years ago, we had just 11 brands and now we stock over 230 brands, so it’s exciting being a part of something that is growing.  Plus, we have strong relationships with our brands and especially with the founders.  I love working with these amazing people around the world like Barbara Sturm, Angela Caglia, Gucci Westman and Sarah Chapman.

You have a superb team. What do you look for when hiring?

A real passion and understanding of beauty, lots of people love using products but you also need to see this as a huge global business.  It’s that great mix of business head and a passion for beauty at heart – plus an eager eye for spotting solid new trends compared to passing Instagram fads.

Which brands are you most proud of discovering that have since grown into global brands? I think that perhaps what we do best in the beauty team is often finding new smaller brands and then we help them grow to global success as we also grow the beauty category – that is what probably makes me most proud.  Brands like Vintner’s Daughter and Dr Barbara Sturm are two that started globally with us and over recent years we have all grown together!

Which brands or beauty products are your real hero buys?

So many!  I always love using Estee Lauder’s ANR, and Dr Sebagh’s serums and Philip Kingsley’s Elasticizer because they work so well. I also love Sarah Chapman’s cleanser (one of the very best) and Crème de La Mer is my go-to skin cream.   

Do you have a product you’ve used for years and will always be faithful to?

La Mer Crème de la Mer and Estee lauder Advanced Night Repair.

Where do you stand on beauty tools – do they work?

I love them!  And yes, most do work but only if you use them regularly. My favourites include LED masks, the Joanna Czech face massager – you really can feel it working the muscles, and the crystal rollers are great for cooling and depuffing the skin.  If you use them the microcurrent devices are very good for firming and sculpting the face, like NuFace and ZIIP, you should see a short-term difference even after one go – I keep one on my bedside table so then I do get to actually use it. They are intriguing and often relaxing to use, and part of the success is they now tend to be simpler to use – they have to pass the Netflix test – can you use them while watching TV, if the answer is yes, the better it sells.

For many of us, fine lines creep in without us noticing. Your skin is incredible – what’s the best cure for this and what should we not be doing?

Be consistent and don’t be aggressive – we know the active ingredients that work as antioxidants, plus vitamin C and retinol, also do clean your skin properly every evening and don’t over peel or be over aggressive with devices like micro-needling. Some women almost seem to be battling their skin, when we should support it.  Also, use products for your skin’s needs not just the latest celebrity favourite you read about. I really believe that it is the consistency that makes a skin great rather than always trying something new and overusing products.

To achieve the best result possible, I focus on products that are packed with anti-oxidants – especially Estee Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair, I think I must have now used it for well over 15 years – it’s also super hydrating.  Plus, I really like the SPF and anti-pollution products that also have a tint as these are so much easier to use than some daily SPFs – Sarah Chapman’s Skinesis Skin Insurance SPF30 is a favourite, plus it’s great to use on its own at the weekend.

Are there any more permanent beauty fixes you feel work and look natural?

I always advise avoiding anything permanent when it comes to your face, but I do love things like Botox and certain fillers as in the right hands they can make a face look fresher but are not permanent. I have baby Botox, which is basically a smaller dose so it stops the unconscious movement but not the conscious expressions – so my face doesn’t look frozen. No matter what the hype there is not yet an alternative to Botox in a cosmetic cream, but it’s down to choice and if you do choose to have this or any other procedure go to an experienced doctor in a reputable clinic.

What is the beauty market is luxury?

Luxury is no longer about a price tag, but about the pleasure that something can bring, about how it can make us feel not just look.  We see this especially with the home facials, and the huge growth in at-home devices. This is totally different from the luxury beauty industry of 10 or 20 years ago when it was about a weighted platinum pot and layers and layers of packaging. Luxury today is also the story the behind the brands, and in particular brands with female founders and a strong story behind the products do so well for us – including Dr Barbara Sturm, Sarah Chapman and Joanna Czech.

Do you see any buying patterns in terms of global sales when it comes to beauty?

Our best performing category globally is skincare, which is interesting as usually in beauty it is makeup. Women are looking for skincare that delivers the best results with specifically targeted products and we’ve seen a real lift in all areas of skincare. The most popular brands include La Mer, Dr Barbara Sturm, 111Skin and Tata Harper, who is leading the huge popularity of clean beauty.

How do you think beauty brands should approach client engagement and retention?

Social media is key but as we have seen recently it needs to be handled in a real and personal way. We have seen incredible videos from people like Jen Atkin, Joanna Czech, Gucci Westman, Mary Greenwell and Barbara Sturm sharing advice and tips on social but in a very real way during lockdown – my favourites are the amazing tutorials Jen Atkin has done on how to cut your own hair – that is what women want to see I think, incredibly talented people sharing real-life tips. Also, social media lets a brand really see what is engaging real women and brands need to listen!

Which Instagram accounts do you follow for inspiration?

Jen Atkin, Gucci Westman and Dr Sturm are real industry favourites, also I love John Dempsey (from Estee Lauder companies) for making me laugh, and Celeste Barber for making sure no one ever takes themselves too seriously in this industry.

We love your makeup, it’s supernatural yet flawless. Could you share with us your go-tos?

For a base, I use Hourglass’ Vanish Seamless Finish – Carissa, the founder of Hourglass, told me she wanted a base that was like real skin only much, much better and this is it.  I love the Westman Atelier Highlight Stick – it makes the skin look naturally polished and glowy. And Charlotte Tilbury’s Hollywood Flawless Filter is amazing for beautifully glowy skin. For lipsticks I love to try and find the perfect nude – my current favourites are Gucci’s Hold Your Man and Christian Louboutin Delicanodo. And finally, for mascara I love the new Gucci mascara – it’s excellent – and either Tom Ford or Amy Jean for brows.

Do you think supplements can help boost hair, skin and nails and if so which do you personally like?

Supplements are a real focus for us because supplements and skincare go hand-in-hand with looking and being ‘healthy’. I swap when I finish one bottle – except for vitamin D3 which I take every day of the year – the research on taking this is incredible as it seems to have a positive effect on so many things.  I do like Lyma, Lumity and the supplements from Marie Reynolds in particular. Also, I have been taking the Dr Barbara Sturm Sleep food and it is excellent for giving a better night’s sleep naturally.

Do you have any pre-bedtime rituals?

I always take a bath and usually add a big mug of magnesium salts plus I always use a pillow spray from this works or Votary to help me sleep and I have to wear an eye mask and earplugs.  It’s a bad habit to get into as now it’s almost a ritual that I can’t sleep without doing all these things.

What effect has social media played in the beauty industry’s growth as a brand?

Over 80 per cent of our customers say that they are extremely likely to buy something after seeing a beauty product feature on social media or in a publication. One of our bestselling brands Mimi Luzon includes her Insta-famous 24k Gold Treatment, which found fame through social media, and is quite complicated to use but it seems from the sales that customers like this element. A lot of our facialist brands such as Joanna Czech, Sarah Chapman and Dr Barbara Sturm are super social media savvy, from posting stories with their VIP fans to posting quick demos that you can try at home.

What advice would you give to your younger self starting out?

Be open to change and possibility. I started out in print and ended up online working in content and commerce. My job didn’t even exist 10 years ago. Don’t have a set career path and do be open to new challenges as sometimes you need to move sideways before moving ahead.  And read, watch and listen to anything you can that relates to beauty but then use it all to form your own opinion.

If you were not Global Beauty Director at Net-A-Porter, which other roles would you choose career-wise?

I never had a career plan and fell into this so who knows where else I might have ended up!

Newby’s hero products

For more on all things beauty, pick up a copy of June’s ‘The Beauty Issue’ or download it here.

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Images: Supplied