On… Beauty Uniform – some extra bits

This post is for all the lovely people who blogged and emailed and tweeted and insta’d and left comments and questions about my Beauty Uniform over at Cup of Jo yesterday. It makes me so happy that you guys enjoyed it.

In the Burgess spirit of ‘more is more’ I thought that maybe I would post some extra things about beauty. When it comes to this stuff I can talk for a long, long time, with a lot of product-specific information, and it was edited a bit for JoGo. If make-up and skincare is your bag, then you’re in the right place, kitten pants. Welcome to the motherload.

About my daily skincare routine:

I don’t do anything in the morning. I have dry, dry, dry skin but since I started using the Yu-Be stuff at night, I don’t need to moisturize in the morning, I just slather on the SPF and go. At night I cleanse, spritz that SK-II liquid hope stuff (which by the way is way cheaper at Sasa, where I have been shopping since it was just a tiny cut-price corner beauty store in Hong Kong), and moisturize. I couldn’t do anything more on a daily basis. I would never stick to it, and I have better things to do. On beauty blogs, whenever they have a post like ‘it’s a morning-and-night 15-step regime that has changed my life!’ I always think ‘oh darling, you need to get laid’. Then again, sometimes I stare into space and think about AHA moisturizers for a really long time, so what do I know?

About face masks:

My favorite is definitely this one, but I have a few others I play with from time to time. I really like this Korres one, I sometimes exfoliate with this lovely powdery thing, I have a smidge of this wonderful stuff leftover from London (it’s hard to find Environ in the US and I’m never sure if the online retailers are legit, but if you’re in the UK, find an Environ place stat and try it out), and in the depths of winter when my face feels like an elbow, I put this on. It smells like herbs and makes my eyes water but it is veh healing.

I don’t know if any of these products are really necessary, by the way. Every six months or so I’ll try a new mask and be like WOW THIS IS THE ANSWER. Obviously it’s not really the answer. The answer is sleep and happiness. But masks are fun and easy. By the way, when you try a new mask, or any make-up product, if you don’t think it’s working for you, then for Pete’s sake return it. I return everything that doesn’t work for me, always – life is too short to waste money and shelf space on bad products. (Yah. I am DEEP.)

About aging:

I used Retinol for about a year before getting knocked up, but you can’t use it while you’re pregnant or breastfeeding and somehow I never got back in the habit.

I don’t use eye creams, even though the crepey-ness of my eyelids is not about to spontaneously reverse, because all the experts say that they don’t really work or matter (unless said experts are, of course, selling their own brand’s eye cream). I know I look tired all the time, but then again, I am tired all the time. So I’m not sure an eye cream would make much difference.

And I know the point is probably coming for Botox because I’m quite frowny (I have resting bitch face), but I just can’t quite accept it yet. Recently I found out about a thing called Juvederm and every now and again I google ‘Juvederm before after’ and ‘Juvederm eye hollows’ but then I google ‘Wildenstein cat lady face’ and the fantasy ends.

On hair:

Now that my hair is shorter I make the effort to blow-dry it properly, with a round ceramic brush, and Bumble and Bumble Prep Spray, every time I wash it. I find blow-drying it so extraordinarily boring that I never used to bother, but now when I do it my husband tells me I look pretty, so I do it just for the compliment. I know, I’m very shallow.

I don’t do any hair masks or any of that stuff. Too boring.

When I go out at night I always want to look like Drew Barrymore or Cindy Crawford in the early 90s, you know, BIG HAIR with oomph and attitude, hair that you can flip around and use to punctuate your sentences. (“Screw him, darling. Screw. Him.” FLIP.). So I’m on a constant quest to find bouffy products. Schwarzkopf Osis Dust It Mattifying Powder is what would happen if talcum powder and super glue made sweet, sweet love. I also lovelovelove Sam Brocato Full Body Styling Clay, applied to damp hair then blowdried.


See? Big hair.

I get my hair cut anywhere. I am too impatient for the boring wash-your-hair-blow-out thing, it’s such a waste of time. My hair is thin and straight and not exactly high-maintenance, plus I really like my own shampoo and conditioner. So I just walk in with freshly washed hair, tell them what I want, and then walk out 15 minutes later.

More about make-up:

Back in my 20s in London, I had fun experimenting with a different look every day, particularly dramatic rock-goth eyeliners, because, well, why not? I had the time and there’s something about London that makes you want to dress up when you leave the house, just because it’s so damn fun. These days I work from home in New York City (which is, strangely, far more low-key than London in terms of fashion, and or maybe it’s just that fashion has changed, plus I’m older… but then again, I can’t imagine girls in London wearing Lululemon workout clothes to hang out in all weekend like New York girls do, with zero make-up or perfume, because where is the fun in that? Or maybe that’s a worldwide phenomenon now – do you do that, London girls? Okay, that’s a conversation for another time, let’s move on). But I try to make myself wear a little makeup every day, just because I find it depressing when I go to pee and then wash my hands and catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, looking all pale and drawn and ancient, like that spooky breastfeeding queen in Game Of Thrones.

So. Anyway. I have a couple of weirdly specific make-up techniques and products that sound REALLY strange to explain, but they’ve just sort of evolved over the years and I swear by them. (You know how people who are good with eggs just make an effortlessly fluffy perfect omelet, and if they were to explain it step-by-step it would seem incredibly over-specific but to them it’s just how you make a good omelet? It’s like that.)

I always use this strange-but-amazing little brush from Sephora, the Pro Full Coverage Airbrush 53, and sort of smoosh it over my skin after applying concealer – I don’t know how but this thing really does make you look airbrushed, and blends out little red spots and broken blood vessels, without covering up nice things like freckles.

For nights out, if you want to dial up on the whole glam thing and have ten minutes to kill: take a pea-sized amount of a liquidy highlighter like Becca Skin Perfector (in Pearl if you are super-pale, Moonstone if you’re more olive-skinned, Opal or Topaz if you’re darker-skinned, and honestly, I don’t know who would wear the Rose Gold shade but if it floats your boat let me know) in the C-shape around the outside of your eyes – i.e., from the outer top of your cheekbone, up your temple to above your eyebrow. A tiny pea, mind you, and blendy blend blend. It’s like having your own personal lighting director.

If you want to do evening supermodel cheekbones without looking like, you know, an over-Kontoured Kardashian or Boy George: use a tiny swipe of neutral-nude blush with the MAC 138 Tapered Face Brush. (I know, good brushes are so freaking expensive but they will last you for years so if you’re a make-up person, it’s worth buying one, if you’re not, don’t bother because it’ll just annoy you every time you look at it.) This is the perfect blush brush: it kind of contours softly and gently, never in a harsh draggy way. Pick a color with no glitter at all, that looks almost boring in the pan – somewhere between pale brown, rose and beige. I use Armani Sheer Blush 5 but it’s DISCONTINUED which makes me feel a mild panic inside, obviously, but I did some research for you and MAC Blush All Day seems to be about the same. Pout, swipe, and go.

Okay, last tip: if I’m feeling shiny in the wrong places (quick note – wrong shiny: nose, centre of forehead, chin, bottom of cheeks - right shiny is where you put luminizer ie,: cheekbones, over eyebrows, top lipline), I fluff a tiny bit of yellow powder on my nose and forehead. I started wearing yellow-tinted powder a million years ago, after reading in a magazine that all the supermodels did, and obviously I believe everything I read in magazines, don’t you? I used to use T LeClerc in Banane but it’s hard to find in the US, so now I use Bobbi Brown Sheer Finish Pressed Powder in Pale Yellow.

On beauty guilty pleasures:

My main beauty pleasure is probably enjoying it way more than a grown-ass woman with two babies and a job should enjoy it. Sometimes I feel a bit ashamed for being self-indulgent and vain… But then I think, screw it, who cares? It doesn’t hurt anyone, it’s easy, it’s fun. And how many things can you say that about?





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11 thoughts on “On… Beauty Uniform – some extra bits

  1. Nicole

    First of all, I adored your post at CoJ and am delighted to have discovered your blog. You seem very real and relatable. So, thank you for your candor.

    Two questions: 1. How does yellow powder help? I have a very red cheeks so usually skip blush and I’m wondering about adding a highlighter/illuminator. Does yellow powder take the red out?
    2. Does spritzing the SK-II on your face get in your eyes? Do you do something to prevent that or is it ok?

  2. Maria

    I really enjoyed your beauty rutine on COJ and came here to say hi and you are my spiritual friend :) I love everything beaty related so much and your writing is fantastic!

  3. Salima

    Your writing style is refreshing and you are simply hilarious. As a working mother of two kids I can totally relate to your beauty routine. How can I subscribe to your blog?

  4. Kate

    Ooh I love beauty product recs.
    Have you read Sali’s beauty column in the Guardian? It’s my fave of them all. She’s managed to wrangle it so she only has to review stuff she likes.

  5. Marlene

    hi Gemma, I LOVED your witty, humorous and down to earth answers on Cup of Jo’s My Beauty Uniform! Okay, let me say it again (with exclamation marks and plenty of capped letters) LOVE LOVE LOVE!! Your post put a smile on my face and made me chuckle.

  6. Nadia

    Loved your post on COJ – I even got myself a few things to try! I love anything beauty, but don’t have as much time to dedicate to a daily ‘thing’ with a 13m old.

    1. GemmaBurgess Post author

      Ahh! Thank you! That is so nice to hear! But honestly, I am not that lovely. I’m a terrible person sometimes. This morning I [insert terrible thing HERE]. And then I did it again. And LAUGHED. xxx

    1. GemmaBurgess Post author

      Haha thank you m’lady. (Curtsey.) (Curtsy?) (Curtsey.) (Not looking it up, feeling rebellious.)


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