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SKINCARE AND BEAUTY TIPS with sarah james of whoorl

interview by kiana moridi

photography by emily hart

It seems like everywhere you turn, there's a skincare product ad or a TikTok review urging you to buy that one miracle item that will miraculously change your life. But how do we know what's best for our skin through the noise of it all? Through trial and error, we quickly learn that skincare is not a one-size-fits-all. 


To learn more about how to understand our skin's needs, we chat with skincare and beauty blogger, Sarah James of Whoorl. Equal parts knowledgable as she is stylish, Whoorl covers topics from skincare and style tips to how to be a better citizen of this world. She's intentional and thoughtful, all while implementing clean, realistic beauty steps along the way. Here, we chat with Sarah about beauty myths that need debunking, the power of a good lipstick, and tips for prepping your skin for the warmer months




Tell me about your background in beauty. What got you interested in the industry?

I’ve been fully obsessed with beauty products since I was a little girl, sneakily pilfering through my mother’s vanity. The use of color and light to accentuate a person’s features has always been incredibly interesting to me, although decades in corporate sales never intersected with the beauty industry on a personal level.


It wasn’t until I started blogging when I noticed my audience really resonated with my posts centering around beauty topics. So my platform’s beauty focus has truly been an authentic unfurling for over a decade and it’s been a super fun ride.


What are your go-to summer skincare products?

After months of dry skin and static-filled hair, I welcome summertime with open arms! My go-to skincare product would have to be SPF. As much as I love the sun, it is our skin’s #1 enemy in terms of accelerating the aging process. Since I use active ingredients such as retinol in my skincare routine, not using sunscreen completely negates all the changes I’m trying to achieve. And those serums aren’t cheap! 


However, finding a great sunscreen can be such a daunting process. Here are some of my tried-and-true favorites.


Any tips for transitioning skin from spring to summer products?

Many people can lighten up in terms of heavy moisturizers as the warmer months approach. Lightweight oil-free gel creams are lovely when the weather is super hot and humid.


If you could only wear one cosmetic item every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Oh, so easy. Lipstick. I am a full-on lipstick addict, and yes, it’s been a lonely year for my lip products during the pandemic. 


The great thing about lipstick, though? You can use it as a blush as well, so two birds, one stone.

Image by Viva Luna Studios

Photo via Unsplash

sarah james.jpeg

What's a good makeup routine for natural, dewy looking summer skin? 

Cream blush and a little bit of concealer only where you need it! Forget heavy foundations - just spot treat your skin with concealer where you need, and let the rest of your gorgeous skin shine through. A cream blush that I’m loving right now is by Tower 28 - it’s a tinted balm, so it imparts a lovely glow to the face. 


Is retinol a must-have for everyone?

Nothing is a must-have. Retinol is an incredibly well-performing and well-studied ingredient that reduces fine lines and wrinkles by increasing the production of collagen of the skin, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. For me, as a 46-year-old, it’s the most important step of my skincare routine, but it might be a good idea to talk to your dermatologist or esthetician in regards to your particular skin concerns.


What’s something you’ve learned over the years about skincare that most people may not know?

Protecting your skin barrier is the most important thing you can do to keep your skin healthy and radiant, and many times that means using less products. It’s hard not to get swept up in the deluge of beauty marketing, but doing too much/using tons of products/over-exfoliating/etc can cause major problems down the road. 


Many people are starting to get botox and fillers this year. What are some tips for gracefully aging for those who are opting to stay away from the needle?

Although I’ve never used botox or fillers, I’m not against cosmetic procedures. Ultimately, I just want everyone to feel good in their skin, and what that looks like differs from person to person.


For me, it’s all about protecting, refining, and nourishing my skin, which translates to SPF, retinol, and lots of hydration. 

What are some beauty myths that need to be debunked?

I truly do not know where to start! Myths like, "You must exfoliate! Retinol thins the skin! You must use clean beauty!" My suggestion would be to follow Dr. Ranella Hirsch on Instagram. Dr. Hirsch is a board-certified dermatologist who frequently debunks myths and I’ve learned so much from her.


How do you feel about Gua Sha and jade rollers?

I think they are a lovely way to reduce tension in the face and neck and, when used correctly, can de-puff by draining lymphatic fluid. However, I’m not sure about any permanent, lasting effects. (However, if you have jaw tension, this roller will change your life.)


We’re living in a time where beauty advice and tips are all over social media. How can we know what’s best for our skin personally, instead of purchasing items that may not work for our skin type or needs?

This goes back to the excessive beauty marketing surrounding us, whether it be by brands, experts, or influencers. It’s not easy, but drowning out the noise is key. Beauty FOMO is alive and well (I feel it too!), but the key is listening to and observing your own skin. I also think this is why I tend to share more about makeup because it’s a fun way to express yourself without making big changes.


And of course, if you have a plaguing skin condition that really wears you down, find a great dermatologist to help devise a plan for your skin health.


What’s your advice for keeping skin youthful and healthy, sans botox or cosmetic procedures? 

Take care of YOU. Your skin health, your mental health, your physical’s all interconnected, and managing stress levels is a huge part of keeping your skin healthy and happy.


Oh, and sleep on your back. 


Any makeup trends to be on the lookout for this summer? 

Bold brows aren’t going anywhere and considering I succumbed to the pencil thin eyebrow trend during the 90s, I need all the help I can get! I am loving this brand new brow product by Kosas - it’s virtually foolproof to apply and contains ingredients that condition and support brow growth. Win-win.

For more beauty and style tips, visit, or check out @whoorl for more updates. 

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