Finally, a beauty guide that’s witty, wise and most importantly, truthful! Ex make-up artist and Guardian beauty writer Sali Hughes has written Pretty Honest, a no-nonsense beauty book for real girls, covering everything from ‘Salon Etiquette’ to ‘Showing Some Skin’ and ‘Beauty in Illness’. We caught up with the lady herself to hear more…

What is it about beauty that you find so compelling?

Your face is the first thing anyone sees, it’s how the world identifies you from another, it’s how you express your emotions and attitude. And it’s something we can enhance, decorate, use as an extension of our personal style. How can anyone not be compelled by that?

What’s the one piece of make-up you can’t leave the house without?

I know most women would say mascara, but personally, I’d find it very hard to choose between concealer and blusher. The simple fact is that everyone in the world looks better with concealer. It brightens dark circles, covers blemishes, evens out skin tone. It’s genius. And I can’t be without blusher either. It is the fastest way to look pretty, sexy and healthy.

What inspired Pretty Honest?

I wanted there to be a beauty book about real life, because it simply didn’t exist. I wanted chapters on how to look nice when you feel like complete crap, what to pack in your handbag for a date that might result in a sleepover, what to always keep in your work desk drawer for emergencies. I also wanted women who loved beauty to be told that it was perfectly OK for once. I’m sick of women with a passion for fashion and beauty being talked down to, treated like idiots or traitors to feminism. Both are perfectly valid pursuits and should be celebrated intelligently and unashamedly.

What’s the best bit of beauty advice you’ve ever been given?

“Always be ready to go on the adventure”. My grandmother told me this was the reason she wore make-up – so she was always ready to accept a lovely invitation, to go where she pleased, to feel her best while she was there. I was only six but it completely resonated with me. I still feel the same way.

What one beauty tip would you give to Topshop fans?

Just do it. Wear the red lipstick, put on the orange eyeshadow, dye your hair pink – who the hell cares what anyone thinks? This is your face, your style, your life – and it’s all over way too fast to be playing to other people’s expectations.

Do you have any Topshop beauty favourites?

The Face foundation is quite simply the best high street brand foundation I’ve ever tried. I was lucky enough to try it a few months before launch and it took me completely by surprise. It’s marvellous. I also adore Topshop brushes. I use them heaps for work.

Any career advise for blossoming beauty writers?

Writers write, so get on with it. Start a blog and work out what’s going to make you different. I get lots of young writers email me and ask for work, but they make the mistake of trying to sound like me. I’m much more interested in people with their own voice, their own distinct approach and personality. Work out what makes you different and keep it in mind at all times.

 Pick up your copy of Pretty Honest, The Straight-Talking Beauty Guidepublished by 4th Estate, £22.