On… summer make-up packing list

I’ve always been the kind of friend who will email you a week before you go on vacation (or to a wedding or… for no reason at all), telling you the make-up that you need. (Okay, no one “needs” make-up, on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, make-up is about two inches past the top of the pyramid. So let’s say that I email about make-up that you want but you don’t know it yet. It will make you feel happy. And that’s not exactly a bad thing.)

Sometimes I wonder if it’s annoying. But then if I haven’t bossed someone around for a while, she will text me ‘can you take me to Sephora?’ Next thing you know both of us stagger out of Sephora on Broadway in Soho, covered in lipstick swatches, blinking in the sunlight, having lost hours of our lives. So I figure people must like it. A little bit.

This is what I emailed recently to a friend going on a long vacation. It is edited / expanded slightly for your reading pleasure, with the typos removed (I tapped it out while finishing the last episode of VEEP) and the swear-words removed (I’m a filthy animal).




Clinique Take The Day Off balm cleanser that won’t leak. Wipes don’t really work. Let’s all stop pretending otherwise.


Gentle AmorePacific Treatment Enzyme Peel powder exfoliator because frequent SPF is a titch cloggy on the ol’ pores. (And you will be wearing SPF50 every day, right? This or this is good too, and wear a hat and sit in the shade, okay, sunscreen talk over.) By the way, I don’t know why this product is called ‘treatment enzyme peel’. It’s a soft powder that you mix with water to make a milky paste that gently exfoliates. Tsk. C’mon AmorePacific. Be more literal.

 71DiyjaBYML._SX522_Laniege Water Sleeping Mask – but don’t think of it as a mask. It’s not a mask, and it’s silly that they called it a mask. It’s lovely cooling, hydrating gel. I have gone through about six jars of this in the last few years. It’s that good. (Also delightfully de-puffing if you’re a little hungover, as you damn well should be from time to time on vacation.)

If your skin feels totally tight and parched from too much seawater/chlorine/wind/tequila/illicit cigarettes/whatever, then before you go to sleep at night, put on a layer of La Roche Posay Hydraphase Riche followed by a layer of good old Yu-Be on top. This combination makes a turbo-moisturizer. Yu-Be is basically pure glycerin and traps all that delicious Hydraphase so it has nowhere to go except your parched epidermis. You will wake up with dewy baby skin.
For vacation makeup, obvs you will get fake lashes or a lash tint, or whatever fries your burger, before you go. So all you need to worry about is divine vacation skin, and that’s where Chanel Tan De Soleil super glowy moist natural bronzer comes in. This puppy is ALL you need for AIGOAYT (Aristocratic Italian Girl On A Yacht Tan). Forget foundation, concealer, powder, blush, highlighter, forget all of it, don’t even pack it. Chanel Tan De Soleil is the shit. (That’s actually the advertising tagline.) It’s a giant pot. You can do your neck, chest, arms, everywhere, and it will last you for about six years.
Now: the secret to applying Chanel Tan De Soleil is to mist a tiny bit of La Roche-Posay water spray over it first (or rosewater if you’re at home, but watch out for spillages in transit on non-aerosol bottles). Swirl this brush on top, and then sweep it everywhere, with a feathery-light touch. It goes on perfectly over SPF, too – the miracle Shiseido powder bronzer in medium is outstanding (especially with this Morphe E41 brush, which is the bronzer brush I’ve been searching for… for… for my entire LIFE because I can’t remember when I started wearing bronzer), but it’s a powder, so it can still get a little blotchy unless your face is pretty matte already.
Over the Chanel tan stuff, you don’t need it but you might want an extra peachy flushy blush, like Tarte Achiote (why don’t they carry this shade at Sephora anymore, by the way? It is perfect). Apply a splodge to the apple of your cheeks with this brush. And also take your RMS Living Luminizer to pat onto inner eyes, over eyebrows, cupids bow etc as a little pick-me-up – but you probably won’t need it; the Chanel Tan de Soleil really has the whole ‘glow’ angle covered. Trust me. Do you trust me? You should trust me. (Ashes cigarette, exhales plume of smoke, looks you right in the eye.)
Take Maybelline Lasting Drama Silken Turquoise to line your inside bottom waterline when you feel like adding a little rock edge. You can basically have a bare naked face, scrawl on this eyeliner, and look instantly edgy and interesting. It takes ten seconds. (Incidentally, Silken Turquoise will be my stripper name.)
You will need eyebrows. I leave this up to you. I am devoted to my combination of Shu Uemura Seal Brown H9 and Anastasia in Taupe, because without them, I am face-bald.
Lipsticks melt. Don’t pack them. I’d take a cheapie Milani Spice Lipliner and wear that with any old lip balm every day, and at night, use a swipe of this NYX Epic Ink Lip Dye in Slay. Your lips will look all flushed and bitten, like you had sexy sex in the early evening hours (instead of wrangled small children into bed and then collapsed on the sofa with a bottle of wine and Instagram to recharge before the babysitter arrived).
By the way, the key to lip stains is to smudge some your bottom lip and quickly smear it around with the fingertip of your ring finger, but don’t try to make it perfect – if necessary, use the Milani lipliner to shape your lips, but that’s it. The color should get a little stronger towards the inside of your lips, like you’ve been eating blackberries, but it should look natural, not done. Incidentally, you will have a Slay-stained ring finger for 48 hours afterwards. This is your cross to bear.
Last, and this is probably my best tip: take a tiny bright red lip pencil that you can throw in your wallet the whole trip, and feel reassured that that ONE time you’re unexpectedly in a seaside bar surrounded by effortlessly beautiful people being effortlessly beautiful, you can dash to the bathroom and Sienna-yourself. You don’t need anything else.
s1808666-main-LheroTake the St Tropez spray stuff - the key is to hold the can from much further away from your skin than feels intuitive (i.e. at least 10 / 12 inches) and trust that it’s evenly spread out, even if the guide color looks splotchy. (You probs already know this but the guide color is brown, and that’s only a temporary stain – the stuff that ACTUALLY makes you tan is clear, it develops over 12 hours.) Just one spray up and one spray down each limb, then a little infinity sign around your shoulders and décolletage, and a quick swirly snail around your tummy and back. Put it on before bed, wake up tan. Don’t forget your hands and feet.


For your face, this Clarins Golden Glow stuff is good - not as good as the gradual radiance gel stuff that Clarins inexplicably discontinued, but still a solid choice. Mix it with your SPF in the morning, be tan by night (a clever tip from a clever friend). The tube is tiny, but it lasts forever.

 61K6CcUaqEL._SY679_If you need to take it up a notch, use the This Works Perfect Legs stuff. This was a tip from the same clever friend (full story: we met up a couple of weeks ago and instead of saying ‘hello’ I simply shook her and yelled WHAT IS ON YOUR LEGS DARLING THEY LOOK AMAZING and wouldn’t let go until she told me), and it’s my favorite thing right now. It’s not cheap, but oh it is wonderful, like fucking-immaculate-yet-real wonderful (i.e., it doesn’t give you crazy plastic Barbie skin like that Sally Hansen stuff). I actually defy the Perfect Legs name, like the rebel that I am, and use it everywhere, and so far my arms have not suddenly started thinking that they are, in fact, legs. It doesn’t seem to smudge on clothing, it sort of ‘sets’ and that’s that for the day/night. I also like the Jergens BB stuff, so cheap and cheerful, very moisturizing and tinty-glowy at the same time, but it’s not as tan as This Works.

The This Works stuff combined with the Chanel Tan De Soleil is your recipe for happiness this summer.



If you’ll be swimming a lot in sea/pool, then my favorite hair masks right now are Olaplex No.3 and Davines Nou Nou. Both are great for making sad insecure tresses like mine feel powerful and arrogant. (Cocaine for hair!) Smush a glob into a sandwich bag, and put THAT into ANOTHER sandwich bag, and it should stay safe during your flight.



NUXE Prodigieux Le Parfum smells like summer in the warmest, skin-scentiest, muskiest, sandy-feet-and-salty-beach-towels-warm-from-the-sun kind of way. It’s the same scent as the famous Nuxe oil, but don’t get the oil – it destroys fake tan. It also ruins sheets and clothes. Too annoying. Stick to the perfume. And have a great trip.


PS If you like this post,  you might also like this post (and this and this and this which is a bit repetitive to this post, as I just realized, but at least it shows I’m consistent). And as always, the caveat: this is just my opinion, and I’m probably wrong. About everything. Always.

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5 thoughts on “On… summer make-up packing list

  1. Jessica

    So, I bought the Chanel bronzer and it is a GAME CHANGER. I have pale skin and basically gave up on bronzers for being orange or muddy, but I LOVE this stuff and have (forcibly) recommended to at least two other girlfriends. Thanks so much! Love these posts!

    1. GemmaBurgess Post author

      Well Jessica this just makes me so happy. I’m *delighted* you love it! And that, like me, you are a forcible-suggester-to-girlfriends!

    1. GemmaBurgess Post author

      Hello! WELL.

      I have the Bioderma stuff. I do use it sometimes, but I’m never quite sure if it’s really taking off all my make-up, so I usually use something else first – right now I use Aderma. I was using the Clinique Balm for a while, I might go back to Cerave too. (I never spend much on cleanser: anything that is in use for 100 seconds before it washes down the drain should not be spendy.) But if I ever run out of Bioderma, I end up getting it again. I think I just like the whole watery coolness thing. And it’s especially nice at the end of a hot day, or if I’m not sure if I’ve rinsed off all the cleanser.

      And that is far more than you ever wanted to know about micellar water.

  2. Georgie

    Hi Gemma
    I’m not sure if you’ll see this as I know I’m mining pretty far back in the archives, but on the off-chance you do, the Sephora lip pencil only links to the main Sephora site, and also (more problematically) I’m in the UK and I don’t think we can get Sephora here. Sooooo, to cut a long story short finally, can you recommend an alternative from a brand I might be able to get here please? Thank you, and thank you for your fabulous blog!


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