The Emma Guns Show is the perfect blend of real-life talk, professional advice and inspirational storytelling, with some seriously hard-hitting guests who pack a powerful punch of knowledge, experience and relatability.
Emma Gunavardhana, host and creator, was the beauty editor at OK! magazine for ten years and has written for Red, The Telegraph, Get the Gloss and Women’s Health along with many other magazines and online publications.
Emma’s guests come from all walks of life, each as inspiring as the next. In the early days, the podcast was simply named ‘The Beauty Podcast’ but considering the wide range of topics covered, cementing the theme to just beauty is to do the show a disservice. Her interviews always tell a story and leave me feeling uplifted and confident to start following my dreams a little more each day.
Her openness with her guests creates a friendly atmosphere as though eavesdropping on two friends shooting the shit over coffee. There’s not a whiff of awkwardness or tension, which allows for a relaxed listen. I love Emma’s interview style, it’s researched, well considered and conversational. I’ve listened to many an episode in the bath, while slowly yet surely turning into a wrinkled prune.
Before I stumbled upon The Emma Guns Show I’d only really listened to Russell Brand, Joe Rogan and some wrestling podcasts. It was refreshing hearing from a British woman in her 30’s who takes skincare and beauty seriously as well as discussing mental health, general wellbeing and life struggles.
I binge listened to the entire back catalogue and I discovered Nadine Baggott and Sali Hughes, of what I’m grateful. It also got me reading Glamour magazine again after the Jo Elvin episode. I loved learning more about Sam Baker, CEO and co-founder of The Pool, which is one of my daily go-to websites.
I adored the episode with Paula Begoun of Paula’s Choice and Beautypedia fame. She was so endearing and appeared to take a genuine interest in Emma’s story, as much as Emma did in hers. The interview with Brandon Truaxe, CEO of Deciem was a dream come true for the skincare nerd I’ve become over the past year. I also highly recommend the episode with Dr Sohère Roked, it opened my eyes to the true nature of female hormones and how dramatically they can play a part in both our physical and mental health.
I knew a few months back that I wanted to interview Emma. As an aspiring writer within the beauty and health space, she inspires me greatly. I shot over an e-mail, hoping it would be a yes and to my delight it was. It’s slightly daunting sending questions to an experienced professional interviewer who’s conversed with A-list celebrities and industry experts. Plus, she’s interviewed my ultimate girl crush, Kerry Washington. Envious doesn’t even begin to cover it.
I hope you enjoy and don’t forget to subscribe to The Emma Guns Show and set a day aside for binge listening, you’re going to need it.
You’ve been working within the beauty industry for a while now and you must have seen many revolutionary changes within media platforms, print and beauty journalism as a whole. What’s your opinion on the rise of the beauty blogger, vloggers and Instagram?
I think it’s fantastic. That’s not to say the changes didn’t feel peculiar when they began to happen. I worked on magazines and newspapers – print institutions – and it never occurred to me that their power and influence would change. How wrong I was. I became a beauty writer because I had terrible teenage acne and used to spend hours researching products, remedies and treatments that could possibly help. Back then resources were limited and I wish there had been someone with the kind of content Caroline Hirons and Nadine Baggott are putting out there as it would have been so helpful and also a real comfort to know I wasn’t alone. So ultimately I think it’s been brilliant, especially for the consumer, that there are voices out there and people like Caroline and Nadine, who are incredibly experienced and knowledgeable, are available.
As a freelancer, how do you switch off from social media, digital devices and that feeling of not being able to turn off the laptop?
In all honesty, I’m not sure that I ever do. I’m terrible at taking time off, even in my last office job I didn’t ever use up all of my holiday allowance, and it’s something I’m working on as a freelancer – to try to switch off and allow myself a break every now and again. I’ve definitely gone through periods of burnout and I’m aware it’s unhealthy and an unsustainable way to live. I do try to take 10 minutes a day to meditate using an app such as Calm or Headspace, or just consciously take time out and focus on something other than work, and I also like to exercise every day to clear my head.
It can be quite disheartening to constantly be recommended beauty products that are expensive online and in magazines. What skincare brands can you recommend for people who either don’t have much money or don’t want to spend a lot?
It’s for this reason that I love that there are independent blogs and vlogs run by people who really know what they are talking about and who review products fairly while being extremely candid about what works and are transparent about what you’re actually paying for in higher priced products. The Ordinary has really simplified what ingredients do and how to use them. That’s why my first advice to anyone is google the ingredient list.
On your podcast, you’ve mentioned suffering with depression as a young teen due to polycystic ovarian syndrome. You’ve also mentioned that you still have anxiety now. How do you manage this on a daily basis and continue existing in this world, which can often seem so fast paced and overwhelming?
I wouldn’t say the link between the depression and PCOS was as simple as that, but I felt very uncomfortable in my own skin because of the symptoms, which included facial hair, alopecia, weight gain and acne. Those years are so crucial for developing self-esteem and I just wanted to be invisible and clung onto the idea that everything would be okay once I was an adult. Anxiety is a tricky beast, but I check in with myself daily and if I’m feeling triggered I’ll cut myself some slack and do something that I know will calm me down, whether that’s meditate, listen to some music, go for a walk or do some yoga. I never had this toolkit until recently and it really does help to have something that will talk you off the ledge when you feel an anxiety attack coming on.
I’ve got to ask – what has been your favourite red lipstick so far during Red Dread?
#reddread started because I interviewed Helena Christensen for Red magazine and she was talking about how wearing the perfect red lipstick with no other makeup can be really beautifying and although I nodded along and agreed I’ve actually never found THAT red lipstick that is supposed to make you instantly more beautiful. Plus, I’ve always found red lipstick to be fiddly, high maintenance and too much hassle, so I wanted to be able to experience this magic for myself, so I set out to try as many as I could. My favourite though is actually the one Helena told me she’s been wearing a lot – Chanel La Fascinante – and I’ve worn it loads since starting the challenge.
Caroline Hirons has been on your show and you talked about your mutual respect for the soothing sounds of bands such as Slayer. Music seems to be an important part of your life. Who’s currently on your playlist?
One of my favourite things is escaping into a musical wormhole. My current playlist is a mix of The Black Crowes, Guns n Roses, LA Guns, Motley Crue and Bon Jovi, but I’m a sucker for amazing female vocals and my Youtube search history will always include something like ‘whitney hitting the high notes’ or ‘christina aguilera vocal ad-libs’. I’m not even sorry about it.
If the sky was the limit, who would be your next guest on the podcast?
It’s funny you should ask because I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I wrote a list of dream guests when I started, Michelle Visage being one, and I’ve done it again recently. I have a much better idea of what listeners like to hear now the show has been live for nearly 18 months and I think I could do a great show with JK Rowling. She’s unbelievably inspiring, stands up for herself and what she believes in and I know we would have a brilliant conversation on the podcast that would leave listeners feeling better for having tuned in. I’d also like to interview Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bethenny Frankel.
What do you believe to be the key to success?
I honestly don’t know, which is why it’s something I like to ask my guests about. I tend to speak to people who have made a success via an untrodden path, which is why I ask about the challenges and how to know the difference between an obstacle and a brick wall. We’re all trying to figure something out and anyone who suggests they have all the answers is, in my opinion, full of shit.