Expert Advice

Sue Harmsworth: My skincare routine

After 30 years of using the ESPA range – from development to launch, founder Sue Harmsworth reveals her age-defying skin and body care regime.

With her current routine tailored to age and skin type, not all of her combinations may be right for you, however learn how mixing and layering can create lasting natural beauty and an uplifting sense of inner calm that truly makes age just a number.

The Ritual

My personal philosophy was always “less is more” until I got into my late forties, then I started layering more and mixing products. My routine is rather extensive and layers advanced serums, oils and moisturisers to provide the hydration, nourishment, strength and protection my skin needs.

Those who are younger won’t need this level of layering (although they should have an effective cleanse, tone, treat and moisturise routine), but I think as you evolve, so should your skincare.


In the morning I just use Hydrating Floral Spafresh – I don’t cleanse at this time as I don’t believe in over cleansing. My skin is actually very good and if you have good skin you don’t want to be doing more than is necessary.

So I simply wipe over on cotton wool Floral Spafresh before mixing Lifestage Net8 Serum with a little Optimal Skin ProSerum – to give it the oil, as well as the concentrated actives that come from a serum.

Then I put Tri-Active™ Advanced Instant Facial on top of that and move onto eyes. Here I use the Lift & Firm Intensive Eye Serum and 24 Hour Replenishing Eye Moisturiser.

I don’t use a lot of moisturiser, just enough, because if you apply too much you start pilling or foundation and make-up becomes difficult to put on.

I tend to vary moisturisers between Optimal Skin ProMoisturiserRegenerating Moisture Complex and 24 Hour Replenishing Moisturiser.

If I’m travelling (because of the Circadian Rhythms – the 24 hour cycle of physiological processes our bodies go through and are affected by external factors such as sunlight and temperature) I use Optimal Skin ProMoisturiser.

If your body or body clock is out of balance, or even if you’re hormonally imbalanced, it helps stabilise this and adjusts to your skin needs.

I think a lot of older women wouldn’t think of using ProMoisturiser, but that’s why I use it – to rebalance after time changes and flights.

On a day-to-day basis I tend to use Regenerating Moisture Complex, occasionally using 24 Hour Replenishing Moisturiser as well.

Regen because of the Vitamin C and antioxidants – I like to use products that are high in antioxidants due to high city pollution, so I find both ProMoisturiser and Regen help combat all of that.

With the 24 Hour Replenishing Moisturiser, I’ve used it for years and years and years. Not only because I formulated it nearly 30 years ago so have an emotional connection to it, but because of the Frankincense – using it when I need it.

If I’m going somewhere I feel is polluted, I use Optimal Skin ProDefence SPF15 to seal everything in.


I cleanse religiously every night, but three times a week I leave my skin to let the immune system do its work, because I feel you can sometimes overload the skin.

Outside of this, three times a week I’ll use Refining Skin Polish mixed with Hydrating Cleansing Milk.

Here I’ll exfoliate my whole face right down to my décolleté as well as hands, cuticles and right up to my wrists with Refining Skin Polish – using it quite liberally.

The reason I mix the two is because I have a little redness, so find using Refining Skin Polish with Cleansing Milk a) helps it move better, and b) has that calming effect on my skin.

Now I know you’re not supposed to, but I try to exfoliate as close to my eyes as I can. I’ll always exfoliate through the eyebrows and try to bring it as close as I can without it being risky.

When I’ve done that I’ll add Regenerating Face Treatment Oil with a mask over the top.

At weekends I might use Essential Cleansing Mask, but if I have a bath at night in the week I’ll use Overnight Hydration Therapy as a bath helps open up your pores and lets the oil and mask work better.

For my eyes, because of the travel, computers and driving, I use Soothing Eye Lotion quite often as well as a combination of serums.

Body Care

I’ve always skin brushed so will do this before a bath in Epsom Salts and whatever’s the most appropriate bath oil.

I’ll often mix bath products too, so at the weekend I used Detoxifying Bath Oil because I bathed during the day, which is unusual, combining with one of our foaming bath products.

I like to make bathing a real treat time, as I find 1) it’s the quickest relaxing route for me and 2) it’s an ideal time to really use product…Candles, dim lights, warm towels, Pink Hair & Scalp Mud and my favourite music!

If I’ve got time after the bath I’ll use body butter, but if I’m in a hurry, I’ll use Optimal Body TriSerum because of the spray and it’s so easy to use as a finishing product.

As we have so many beautiful oils I find mixing the oils and body butters is just so fantastic. So if ever I get a massage, I’ll ask them to mix the body oils and butters as a massage medium as I’m so dry.

Can’t live without…

I can’t live without Hydrating Floral Spafresh Spritzer during the day and when I’m travelling – I spray it over make-up for hydration.

A lot of people don’t realise if you spray water onto your skin it’s dehydrating because it evaporates. So Floral Spafresh is fantastic as it has the distillates of the essential oils making it really hydrating.

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Caro Dooling

Caro Dooling

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