On… an epic post about skin

I like skincare. I like makeup. I like being a girl. (We’ve covered this in previous sessions.)

I sometimes wonder if enjoying this stuff so much makes me a shallow, vain victim of our patriarchal society and / or the billion dollar marketing machine of the beauty industry. But then I think ‘fuck it, it’s FUN’. And so, in response to a lovely request from Elizabeth, here are my favourite skincare things.

For reference, I have pale dry-ish skin. Have never had a zit. I realise that makes me incredibly annoying. If it makes you feel any better, I am definitely developing those little lines between my eyebrows, my lips are practically perma-chapped and my eyebrows suck.


I put on a huge glob of La Roche Posay Anthelios SPF50 when I’m cleaning my teeth, and let it soak and settle while I make coffee and breakfast for Errol and all that stuff. I tried a Josie Maran Argan Oil SPF40 a few months ago, as Cup Of Joe recommended it and if she said ‘jump’ I would say ‘Kris Kross’ll make ya’ and then pogo myself around the room. Anyway, I liked it, but I’m emotionally attached to Anthelios by now, so I went back. It’s very moisturising and gives you a lovely glow.

Then I usually wear a little foundation around my chin and nose, because that seems to make me look better. Either Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation in Porcelain, if I am feeling super-pale, or Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk in 4.5 if I am feeling a little less pale or have been – ahem – fake tanning. Everyone needs a little foundation, just to even out their skin tone. Whenever someone says ‘I never wear foundation!’ I always think ‘oh, darling, you really should’.

How much make-up I put on after that depends on how pale and washed-out I’m looking, whether I’m going out that day, and, frankly, whether I’m procrastinating, because when I have something I’m in a sticky patch with, it’s impossible to get through it with unmascaraed-eyelashes. Favourites: Bobbi Brown Pale Pink, Shu Uemura HardPencil in Seal Brown, Dior Showlash mascara, Urban Decay Naked palette. Pretty predictable stuff. I don’t wear lipstick during the day. I used to, but I like kissing Errol too much. Now I just wear lipbalm. This (which I think Fox picked up skiing one year and every now and again I find it and think ‘this rocks!’ then lose it again), this, this or this – whichever I can find first.

(By the way, for male readers of this blog, all three of you, if I haven’t already lost you… dudes, I’m sorry. And for people wondering who the heck I am to talk about skin and make-up, you’re totally right, I’m a writer, and we are one teeny missing link from mole people. I can however boast a lifelong devotion to this shit, experience copywriting for beauty brands, an occasional gig writing about beauty for Tatler, and a best friend who is a make up artist, if that gives me any gravitas at all. No? Never mind then. Let’s move on.)


To remove eyemakeup, Lancome Bifacils. I have tried other removers occasionally, they are all terrible. To remove the rest of my makeup, I use Bioderma Crealine H2O.

Then I cleanse with Cetaphil and water. I’ve used other more high-end cleansers over the years –from Lancome to Eve Lom to REN to oh, everything. But Cetaphil just works and if I leave a little smidge on my skin, it’s moisturising just by itself, which makes weekends away much easier.

Every day or so I use the Cetaphil with the Clarisonic Mia 2. Yes, it really does make your skin feel tingly and amazing. But it’s not the second coming of Christ so everyone should calm down about it a bit.

Then I have a bunch of different moisturisers, because I am a total hydration whore.

Trilogy Rosehip Oil. Very nice if your skin is feeling tired. Great to do a little facial massage too, if you can be bothered.

Avene Eluage. Allegedly an anti-aging moisturiser. Is it working? I’ll tell you in twenty years. I keep threatening to get Botox for the above-mentioned eyebrow wrinkles, and Fox has a predictable husbandy shitfit about it. My lovely friend Country Fille told me that facial acupuncture was just as good as Botox, so I gave it a bash at SHL Acupuncture, which is where I go for my deeply tedious back problems. I think I looked a bit better – more awake or something – for a while. But who knows? Let’s get back to products.

Barefoot Botanicals SOS Cream is the best for if your skin is feeling totally dried-out and oversensitive. I used to get excema sometimes, and this was the only cream that worked. (Steroid creams are not a long-term solution, if you’re using them, try this. It is wonderful. Very very gentle and calming and healing.)

I reach for Biofine and Environ AVST Hydrating Water now and again, when I feel like shaking things up (woo!). I see from trying to order more that Environ has changed their AVST range, which is annoying, as I love that water. It sort of tingles and makes your skin all sticky and plump. (Like a donut.) (A SEXY donut.) I need to find an Environ place in NYC. I used to get it at Pacifica – which, by the way, is the best beauty salon in Notting Hill.

I’m a morning shower person, but for nighttime baths, I might use REN Glycolactic Peel or Environ AVST Hydrating ExfoliantMasque. I put La Roche Posay Lipikar Bath Oil in the bath, it’s like E45 Oil, which is available everywhere in the UK and practically nowhere goddamn else. After the bath I put on Ducray AHA Body Moisturiser.

Back to make-up for a second, a few skin-related things: that you might be interested in: If I’m going out for the night, I’ll also wearPer-fekt Skin Perfection Gel in Luminous, just a smidge, before foundation, as it gives you a crazily perfect airbrushed look, and I might go over my skin with a lipbrush and Laura Mercier SecretCamouflage and get all the little dots and splodges – dark freckles and this little broken blood vessel I have in the middle of one cheek. It takes forever, but Lisa Eldridge says you have ;to do it to get a truly flawless look, and I am, above all other things, obedient.

And if you want to look all candlelit and angelic, like you’re not wearing any makeup but have simply been sleeping 14 hours a night and eating organic everything for the past decade rather than often drinking last week’s wine and eating leftovers standing up next to the fridge, then you need some luminous highlighting products.

My favourites are Make Up For Ever Uplight Face Luminizer in 12 (a gel), NARS the Multiple inCopacabana (a stick), BECCA in Nymph (a powder) or MAC Strobe (a cream). You only need to use one, obviously, so the one I choose depends on what else I’m doing with my make up (they range in glowiness from golden to silvery to sunlighty) and, erm, my mood. Sometimes I mix them with the foundation, sometimes I dab them on my very upper cheekbones and above my eyebrows, sometimes I even dab them on that bit just above my top lip. I know! I’m so unpredictable. It’s crazy.

Remember, the goal is to look flushed and lit from within like a post-coitus Botticelli angel, not glittery like a 70s gangbanger. Choose your products carefully – anything too pale or too dark for your skin will look weird - and blend the shit out of them. (Technical makeup term.)

Oh, I don’t tan. Ever. I never have. If I fake tan, I like Brazil Bronze (the women are epic bitches but they do a great job) and Gotham Glow in NYC. I never found a decent spray tanner in London. Sometimes Fox does Vichy Capital Soleil for me. (I wrote about that experience for Tatler.) For my face, only Lancome Flash Bronzer Self-Tanning Face Gel.

If I’m fake tanning I will usually put some bronzer on my face. I was obsessed with Bobbi Brown Natural Light for years, but the fuckers kept breaking on me, so I did a bunch of research – yes, I am the kind of person who researches bronzers – and got Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Soft Matte Bronzer. It’s a huge compact and very good indeed. If you get it, make sure you get the Matte one. The woman in Bloomingdales Downtown was too distracted by Errol flirting with her and almost gave me one with shimmer. Yah. Seriouslah. Tha humaniteh.

The links I’ve been using, by the way, are normally the brand product page, or the nearest thing I could find. If you don’t live somewhere that has a Selfridges or a Sephora or whatever, then I highly recommend www.strawberrynet.com and www.leguidesante.com and www.newlondonpharmacy.com – other sites that deliver for free, or nearly free, internationally: www.feelunique.com, www.lookfantastic.com, www.iherb.com

There you have it. An epic post about skin.

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3 thoughts on “On… an epic post about skin

  1. P

    Oh Gemma…. your posts are a blessing and a curse. I need my fix while I'm waiting for your next book…. but you make me want to buy ALL OF THE STUFF and I am a lowly administrator and can't afford to do so! :-( Such a conundrum….

  2. Stacey Crase

    I absolutely love your books and have read them a 1000 times each.. looking forward to the next <3 If you love skin care ranges… you need to try Eyra Care, its formulated by Dr Caswell who sepcialises in skin, its absolutely amazing. Takes away all signs of aging etc.. I absolutely love it..


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