The Edit

Beauty Spotlight: Emma Gunavardhana

When it comes to beauty, there is one lady I always love to keep an eye on – Emma Gunavardhana. Emma is one of those beauty fanatics that manages to make you feel as though you’ve tried the product; she answers the questions that you didn’t even realise you were wondering and sorts the rocks from the diamonds in a matter of moments.

With an impressive and varied career in beauty (from editing the beauty section of OK! Magazine to contributing to the likes of Easy Living, Zest and the Sunday Times Style), Emma has seen it all when it comes to beauty. This in mind, I wanted to see which products had truly managed to turn her head in an ever-evolving industry.

Over to Emma! Rose x

What was your very first job in beauty? The first job I ever had in beauty was on a local newspaper. They produced a monthly supplement with beauty content and when the previous writer left I begged to be allowed to write the editorial. I was saving up to go to college to get my post-grad diploma and most of the time I was writing about local news; church fetes, school plays etc, so getting to write about what I loved was a treat. The first product that ever landed on my desk was Skin Lights from Revlon and I thought it was the most amazing thing to be able to try out a product and then write a review.

Did you always know that you wanted to go into beauty journalism or did you explore any other avenues beforehand? It wasn’t a question at all – I knew I wanted to write about beauty. The thing you’ll find with journalism is that everyone’s path is completely different. My career in journalism started on local newspapers and I had to write about whatever I was told to write about. I covered all sorts of weird and wonderful things – including a 100th birthday and huge car accident – but it was all with the goal of getting enough experience to get onto a glossy magazine. I didn’t particularly enjoy writing about the other stuff but I saw every story as being a step closer to writing about beauty full time.

Do you have a favourite element of beauty? Hair care, make-up, skincare? There’s no part of beauty that I couldn’t get lost in but skincare holds a special place for me. My real interest in beauty started when I developed severe acne at the age of 12. We’ve all had those moments when we’ve stared bare-faced in the mirror examining our skin and I spent hours doing that in my youth thinking ‘how can I fix you?’ I love the element of play and perfecting that you have with make-up (I know I’ve often thought of a character or celebrity and copied that look when I do my hair and make-up for work). But skincare gets to the core of how you feel much more. I tried some crazy things when I was younger to fix my spotty complexion and if anything soothed or solved it what changed the most was my confidence. That’s my reason for loving skincare so much.

You see so many new launches that it must take a lot for something to really stand out to you. What was the last product that really turned your head? It’s so hard to pick one product because right now I really don’t think the consumer has ever had it so good. If you look at the innovations in skincare and colour in the last, say, ten years you begin to realise that something really special is happening in the beauty industry. Skincare is technologically advanced but affordable. There are products on the shelves that if they had been around ten years ago would have been considered premium and extremely expensive, now you can pick them up for under £20.
Colour has never been so easy to use either. Taking long-wear lipsticks for example; they used to mean dry lips but formulas have changed so much that you can get an all-day pout without that uncomfortable tightness.
There are also a lot of products on the market that a decade ago would have been professional ‘tricks’ like the creams that de-puff under-eye bags, the primers that add luminosity to skin and the foundations that give maximum coverage without caking. All in all it’s a really exciting time in beauty. There isn’t one product turning my head right now because they all are.

If you had to pick ten beauty items to use ever again, what would they be and why? 

1) Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream. I use an obscene amount on my lips before bed every night. It’s as simple as, if I use it my lips are supple, if I don’t they chap.

2) Illamasqua Precision Ink. It took me a long time (and some schooling from David Horne) for me to learn how to do good, symmetrical liner, and I love the depth of pigment and long-wear of this pen and the fact it’s so easy to use.

3) L’Oreal Glam Shine Gloss. My lips tend to be dry but this gloss is so quenching and comfortable plus it delivers high-shine colour that I love.

4) Lancôme Visionnaire Foundation. I haven’t been using this long but already it’s become a real favourite because it makes my skin look fresh but also perfected.

5) Pureology Pure Volume Shampoo & Conditioner. I have very fine, limp hair and if I don’t treat it right it looks a mess. This system gets it clean and gives it a bit of bounce before I even start applying styling products.

6) Nice & Easy Root Touch-Up by Clairol. I’m getting far too many greys to count these days but rather than sacrifice a few hours in a colourist’s chair I just cover all my grey bits once a month with this. It’s so easy, looks very natural and takes no time at all.

7) Bio Oil. My skin can get quite dry and when it begins to feel tight, whether it’s my face or my body, I use this either by itself or mixed into a cream to soothe it.

8 ) Mascara – it’s too hard to say just one but Estee Lauder, L’Oreal, Clinique, Lancôme and Maybelline do some of my favourites. The trick is to work with your mascara and not expect it to do all the work with one coat; work it into the lashes, wriggle the brush, push the lashes up to help them along.

9) Lancôme Galatee Confort. I like to massage a cleanser into my skin to dissolve make-up and then tissue it off. This melts any cosmetics I’ve used and leaves my skin feeling clean but also supple.

10) Illamasqua Gleam. Cheekbones just look happier for having a little bit of this crème patted into them. It adds a very subtle healthy look to your entire complexion.

You are very into fitness as well as beauty. What are your favourite beauty products for a sporty person? I’m not into wearing any make-up when I exercise – not even mascara – because one of the greatest things about a good sweat session is how good your skin feels afterwards. I love running by the river before work and all I do beforehand is cleanse my skin using Bioderma Cleansing Water and then apply a light moisturiser with an SPF. Anything that mixes with your sweat feels gross so a light texture is key. I really like Clarins Daily Energizer Lotion SPF15 or the SuperGoop Sun Screens are really comfortable. In the summer I love a post-run spritz with Super by Dr Nicholas Perricone Coconut Quench spray.

What would your advice be to fellow beauty journalists or bloggers? It’s not advice as such but I do think we are very lucky to work in an industry full of really incredible and talented women. I just try as much as possible to learn from everyone that I meet.

Tell us about the funniest experience you’ve had as part of your job. One of the more peculiar episodes involved being invited to a top London hotel to meet Kathy Hilton, mother to socialite Paris. It was before anyone knew who the Kardashians were so Paris was a big deal at the time. I was invited into Kathy’s suite, where her husband Rick was sitting in his dressing gown and sports socks, so she could tell me face-to-face about her skin care range. It was unlike any other presentation I’ve ever been to, as it was just the two of us, and it ended with her producing a crystal bowl of hot water and washing my hands with her hand wash on the sofa. She was unbelievably charming but I did walk out of that hotel room, stand in the corridor and think, ‘Did that ACTUALLY just happen?’

If you could create an Illamasqua product, what would it be and why? It’d have to be a lighter base that’d be what I like to call Sunday Lunch make-up. It’d be a low-maintenance foundation with enough coverage to colour correct while still letting skin shine through.

Who are your favourite beauty journalists or sources that you would recommend us keeping up with? I get a thrill out of reading all the other editors’ work and seeing their shoots. I especially love how present everyone is on twitter and how informative the beauty feeds are. I love sites like SheSaidBeauty hearing what people are interested in and also what’s happening trend-wise. Get the Gloss has become a real favourite too as it’s full of gorgeous and informative editorial.

Do you have any predictions for the next big beauty craze? It’s all happening at once at the moment; colour, long-wear, structure… It’s like we’ve re-mastered the 80s and taken all the things that defined that era and made them, well, ‘less’. I love the fact that colour, big hair, bold eyebrows etc are back but perhaps we’ll see the 90s Calvin Klein aesthetic revisited next?

I’m not sure about you but I am ready to hit the beauty hall! Let us know if you have tried any of Emma’s hero products and what you think of them, we’d love to hear from you. You can find Emma on Twitter @EmmaG_Beauty and visit her blog at

Until next time! Rose x

(All images taken from


Govinder Rayt

Govinder Rayt

Writer and expert