On… a make-up stocking

It’s the most wonderful time of the okay never mind let’s get on with it.

Guys, I have written about Christmas stockings before, so you know how much I love them. This year, my sister and I decided to give each other beauty-focused Christmas stockings. Each of us is confident (in a slightly competitive way) that she will nail it. We capped it at $125, which is a totally arbitrary number, but also the kind of number that is important because it buys a perfectly nice sweater from J Crew or a TRUCK LOAD OF AWESOME MAKE-UPPY THINGS FROM EVERYWHERE.

This is what I’m getting her. (If she is reading this, SPOILER ALERT.) (No seriously Anika stop reading this.)


1. NYC Professional Make-Up Illuminator Lid Lingerie Eye Tint $7

When it comes to improbably cheap eye make-up, I tend to test it on the back of my hand, stare at it and make a little ‘mph!’ sound, wander around the store, examine my hand again ten minutes later, try to smudge it, and if I’m sufficiently intrigued I go back, try it on my eyes, and then carry on with my day. THEN, at about 9pm that night, I make my judgement. Yes. It is a nine-step process.


I had glowy, almost-but-not metallic, almost-but-not glittery eyelids, ALL DAY. They didn’t crease. They didn’t smear. They didn’t wear unevenly. They didn’t make me look crusted with paint, like one of those sweet-but-oh-so-sad make-up obsessives on the Anastasia Instagram feed. They just did what they said they would do. They were like a really good boyfriend.

I went right back to buy them, and many many days of wearing them later, I still love them. So will you.

The secret is to choose two colors and combine them on the back of your hand – I like the silvery Fame & Fortune combined with the dark taupe-ish Night Glow - then tap them on your eyelid with your ring finger. All over your eyelid, out to make a little wing, underneath to add drama, everywhere, you can’t mess it up.

This stuff is so great that you could apply it drunk, standing at a dirty mirror above a bathroom sink in a crappy bar, with one eye closed, wobbling slightly, while you simultaneously listened to your best friend, who is taking a slash at the same time, shout under the stall about her ex – and you would still nail it. If I was in my 20s, i.e., with the kind of life where getting drunk might happen anytime, anywhere, at any point in December, then I’d stash this in my bag for the entire month. They are instant party.

(BTW if you’re in the UK or elsewhere, try ASOS for all your NYX needs.)


2. Benefit Dandelion Blush $15 

The perfect everyday blush: Benefit Dandelion Blush in its adorable mini size for $15 or splurge on the full-size for $29.  This will give you a sort of a flushed glow – a bit of contour, a bit of highlighter, a bit of color, all at once. Don’t use the dinky little square blush brush it comes with, though, because it’s simply ridiculous. Instead, use:


3. Morphe #E51 Deluxe Angle Blush $17

This is the blush brush you have been looking for. It never complains. It never shreds. It never collects make-up and looks all defeated and cracked-out, like my Sephora brushes. It’s just a good little workhorse that delivers a perfect cheek time after time, and it will never let you down.


4. MAC Ruby Woo Mini $10

Whenever I can, these days, I buy a mini lipstick rather than a full-size. Why? Because [lights cigarette, looks you right in the eye] full-size lipsticks are [points cigarette at you to emphasize her point] bullshit.

No one is ever going to use up an entire lipstick. It’s never going to happen. Ever. If you use up an entire mini lipstick, then buy the full-size one with my blessing. But you will almost certainly not use it up. Because favorite lipsticks, like favorite songs, have a shelf-life. And one day, you will be sick of them. Trust me. I used to wear MAC Syrup lipstick while drinking Godfather cocktails, eating chocolate-covered brazil nuts and listening to The Ting Tings and all those things make me want to fall asleep now. Everything changes. (Apart from perfumes, those are forever. Except the ones that remind you of your exs. Obviouslah.)

Even better? Mini lipsticks negate the need for a separate lipliner. They do the job for you.


Here’s the thing about Ruby Woo. It is a wondrous red. It truly is. It makes your teeth whiter and your skin smoother and your eyes whatever-they-may-be-er. It works on every single person in the entire world.

It is also drying as fuh. It looks cracked and patchy after three hours. And it takes your lips down with it: they take a day to recover. So in order to even consider wearing Ruby Woo, you need to get:


5. MAC Prep + Prime Lips $17.50

This prevents your lips from chapping, while keeping bold matte lipstick in place, all day. Guaranteed.

Yes. A lip primer is an odd choice for a Christmas stocking, because it’s not particularly interesting. But just wait until you use it. Then you’ll understand. I discovered it a couple of years ago, when a very gorgeous young woman walked into an elevator I was in, and I said ‘LOVE THE LIPSTICK! Ruby Woo?!’ and she said ‘Yes!’ in a kind of scared way, and I said something like ‘I love Ruby Woo, but it dries my lips out, woe is me’ and she fished the MAC Prep + Prime out of her purse and said ‘This is the secret! This is the only lip primer that does what it promises to do! It’s the only way to wear Ruby Woo!’ Then we left the elevator and Fox was like ‘oh man, she was so scared of you’. Ha. I think she liked me. Whatever. Side bar: I wonder how many lip primers she tried to get to MAC Prep + Prime. More than ten?


6. Mothermade Snail Masks $17

On a hangover, the concept of a snail mask is enough to make me retch. But when I’m just feeling a bit dry and ordinary – and frankly, when aren’t I? – then the snail mask is my favorite pick-me-up. It’s also unusual enough to make up for the boringness of the MAC Prep + Prime, too. A good Christmas stocking addition.


7. Grace and Stella DePuffing Collagen Eye Masks $17

I bought these on a whim and I ADORE THEM. They really do make the entire under-eye area look brighter, smoother, more moisturized. And smarter. Yeah. I think they make me look smarter. (Funny how we only use positive words in beauty copywriting, huh? What I really want to say is ‘less haggard and wrinkly, less puffy and bloated, less dumb’. But then by the time I get to ‘dumb’ we all want to crawl into a hole in the ground and wail. We should not wail. I just finished this wonderful book and honestly I’m just so glad I’m not living through the Terror in France after the Revolution, with thousands and thousands of innocent people being guillotined left right and center and the streets running thick with blood, that I will never wail again.)

How much does that come to? $125? More or less, depending on how many NYX lingerie tints? I’m not a numbers guy. Right. That should do it. 514S7e4b8WLWhatever I have left, I’ll fill with a British chocolate she loves, called Revels. Revels all look more or less the same from the outside, right? Little chocolate ball things of various sizes. But inside might be raisins, an orange-y thing, a coffee crumble thing, a malteser-type thing, plain milk chocolate or toffee. YOU CAN NEVER TELL UNTIL YOU EAT IT WHICH ONE IT’S GOING TO BE. What kind of a MONSTER invented this?!?! This chocolate STRESSES me OUT. (Yes, I am too much of a control freak to handle the uncertainty of surprise chocolate. In every other way I am perfectly normal I swear.)

Happy nearly-Christmas! I will post more in December. I promise.







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10 thoughts on “On… a make-up stocking

  1. Alice

    Read this 10 minutes ago, have already bought packs of eye masks for self and mother (this is second rave I’ve read in a week) and will head to Boots with fingers crossed later for NYX lingerie (ASOS letting down the side on shade, the tease). Thou art GEM-NABLER!

    1. GemmaBurgess Post author

      Hahaha I AM the GEMNABLER! I like that. And YAY for eye masks!! They are SO good. I hope you and your mother like them. (PS Since when did Boots get NYX?!?! Such good news.)

  2. Gina

    You are totally the GEMNABLER! I already bought the Timeless Sqalane serum and also bought a Timeless Hylauronic Serum because they are so reasonable priced. Now I just added a number of things to my amazon cart.

    I also got the Lady Jane book you recently recommended. Basically I’ll do anything you tell me.

    1. GemmaBurgess Post author

      Did you love the Lady Jane book DID YOU DID YOU TELL ME no seriously I hope you liked it isn’t it so joyful?

  3. shana

    *googles taking a slash*

    Also…when you wear red lipstick, do you just surrender yourself to basically not eating or drinking, lest you’ll end up smearing it all over? I know there’s lots of editorial advice on this but i’m always curious as to what real people do.

    1. GemmaBurgess Post author

      WELL. This is a good question. I’m not going to NOT wear make-up because it might get messy, IYKWIM, but I’m also not going to NOT eat just because I have a perfectly rouged pout that night… I prefer to wear red lipstick to the movies, or the theatre, or somewhere I can drink through a straw. I often wear it to the playground or to take my son to school, as it’s the fastest way to look put-together. I prefer more eye-make-up for a dinner out – but if I accidentally find myself wearing red lipstick with a burger in front of me, I’ll sometimes just wipe the lipstick off completely, before I eat, so I don’t have to look at kiss marks on the damn burger. Sometimes after the meal I will apply lip balm and hope it looks kiss-y stain-y, if it doesn’t, I usually have a nude lipliner knocking around my bag somewhere, I can pull myself together with that. Or maybe I’ll just keep eating until I’m in a coma.

      In summary: make-up is fun, but so is eating, neither should be enjoyed to the exclusion of the other.

  4. Raphaele

    Je ne sais pas ce qui s est passé …. premiere fois que je me fais influencer par un blog au point d acheter qqchose ( attention tu m as fait decouvrir outlander et plein d autres livres et films que j ai adore) mais la….
    Je m etais dis je m acheterai le no7 deep raspberry de ton post Squalene a NY dans quelques semaines car pas possible de l acheter de France….et je passe devant un magasin MAC et voila que j ai achete Ruby Woo et le primer…. n’importe quoi car je ne mets jamais de rouge rouge….mais ton histoire dans l’ascenceur avait du imprimer super fort dans mon cerveau. Alors je l’offre a qulqu un pour noel ou je le garde?

    1. GemmaBurgess Post author

      Ok I am far too shy to reply in French but in summary, oui, bien sur tu le garde!!… No7 Deep Raspberry is also available on eBay, I think, if you take a look. I’m proud and slightly ashamed that this little blog was the first to ever convince you to buy something – I truly truly hope you like the lipstick. (And v glad you like Outlander.)

    1. GemmaBurgess Post author

      Oo I’m sorry, I saw this too late to write one! – I will post a Valentines Day wish list instead!! xx


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