Kiran Branch meets Jen Riley, the face of popular beauty blog Beauty Junkie London to find out how it all started and what's coming next...
Self-confessed beauty addict Jen Riley set-up Beauty Junkie London in 2009 and has since become one of the beauty blogosphere’s big success stories. GTG’s Kiran Branch sat down with the talented beauty blogger to talk about the makings of a successful blog, her favourite beauty products and top health and beauty tips.
Firstly, what made you decide to start your blog?
I started it when I was missing having a creative outlet in a previous job back in 2009; I did it so I could have somewhere to write and it evolved into something more creative than I could ever have imagined!
How did you decide upon a blog name?
For some reason I thought a three-word based name was ideal, I knew I wanted to have the words beauty and London in there… and somehow I landed on junkie… and it stuck!
What’s your favourite aspect of blogging and are there any downsides?
So many favourite elements - I adore playing with products and getting to test out the latest and greatest beauty launches. I love that there are so many people online who can relate to me when I have a dilemma over exactly which shade of red lipstick to choose... despite there being only the most subtle differences between them to the non-beauty blogger eye.
The downsides are primarily around time for me, it's hard work to maintain on top of a full time job. Ever since the early days I've always tried to post daily which can sometimes take up a lot of time and mean I may need to review more under-eye concealers than I would like due to lack of sleep. But the upsides definitely outweigh the down.
How much of a techie are you?
Not huge, but I have definitely learnt a lot since I started - at first it was absolute basics with no web knowledge at all. But I've since taught myself some photography basics, how to edit, some basic graphic design stuff, some HTML and how to edit YouTube videos… I'm by no means an expert, but I do like that I've become a bit more techie over the years!
How do you balance blogging with other interests or jobs? Do you ever go offline?
That's a tough one, I have always had to juggle blogging with my job and sometimes it's quite hard - if a work meeting or deadline is put in sometimes I've had to pull out of commitments at late notice which is never ideal as the last thing I'd want to be seen as is unreliable. But I've always had to put work first and just find a way around it. I've been taking blogging fairly seriously over the past few months too, which at times has meant too long goes between seeing friends, but I always let them raid the beauty stash in the hope that they forgive me!
How do you decide what to feature on your blog?
It purely comes down to my personal interest, if I'm interested in it then I'm happy to write about it - I've been dabbling in some very non-beauty things recently. Writing about anything from travel, to food, to days out... I think it makes it more personal to feature that sort of life variety. Of course beauty will always be the focus, but it's nice to throw some other things in there to mix it up.
What beauty products or brands make you part with cold hard cash?
I'm a sucker for a palette - especially a blush palette. My latest purchases were both palettes - one was NARS One Night Stand Blusher Palette (currently sold out) and the other was the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Trio , £56… both rather expensive, but well worth it and will be very much loved!
What's your skincare regime? What products do you use?
It does vary a lot, but generally I do a double cleanse with an oil to remove make-up and then a cleanser to leave my face feeling really clean - currently these are the NUDE Oil Cleanser , £28, and the REN Rose Centifolia Gel Cleanser, £14, both of which I adore. Then I'll usually follow with an eye cream - currently using Sunday Riley Starting Over, £65 and a serum (either Hydraluron , £24.99, or Antipodes Hosanna Serum , £27.99 for day or Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair at night, £48) followed by a moisturiser with SPF for day such as Shisheido Ibuki Protective Moisturiser SPF15 , £42, or a richer one for night - currently Elemis Pro Collagen Night, £92. Sometimes I'll go for an oil at night as a treatment - usually Clarins Blue Orchid Oil , £30.
What's your haircare regime? What products do you use?
This I tend to keep quite simple, I'm currently loving the bargain-tastic Head and Shoulders Thick and Strong , £4.99 range so use the shampoo, conditioner and treatment from that. Then for styling I use anything as long as it promises volume, with my current favourites being TIGI Bed Head Small Talk (smells amazing) £8.99, and the Ojon Volume Advance Thickening Spray , £20.50.
Down to the nitty gritty, what’s in your make-up bag currently?
Right now I'm using a NARS Tinted Moisturiser , £28, and their Radiant Creamy Concealer , £21, a bright pink blush from D&G , £31, Clarins Be Long Mascara , £21, and Clinique Bottom Lash for the Bottom , £12, MAC Groundwork Paintpot , £15, and Bobbi Brown Smokey Liner in Black Coffee , £18. Then I have By Terry Brow Mascara, £31, Benefit Hello Flawless Powder , £25.50, and Dior Lip Glow Lipstick , £22.50. I do tend to keep the day to day fairly edited so that's it!
Who are your top people in health, fitness, hair and beauty? Who do you rely on in a crisis?
For health and fitness, I would always turn to Barry's Bootcamp for a kick up the bum - the two trainers I've had most of my sessions with are Olly and Shane and they're both great. Will definitely be back there to get in shape ahead of getting married next year.
For hair, I do tend to be quite fickle but Jack Howard has given me the Balayage treatment a few times and I always leave feeling fantastic, so for hair he would have to be my go-to. Skincare wise, if in any doubt I'll always tweet Caroline Hirons for help - she knows her stuff and tells it really straight.
What’s your personal favourite hair and beauty look?
Keeping it simple, my favourite is slightly undone looking hair with a bit of messy volume/texture, with naturally glowing skin, lots and lots of mascara, tamed brows, then peachy cheeks and nude lips. I'm never quite sure if this looks as great in person as it does in my head, but that's the look I go for!
What’s your ultimate favourite beauty treatment?
I love all beauty treatments - you can't beat a massage for relaxing. But then I also love a facial - but do like to have these regularly rather than at random or else my skin can go a bit crazy. But pretty much any treatment can leave you feeling better afterwards - some of the best I've had have been at the Four Seasons London Spa - amazing views and treatments all round.
What’s your top health and beauty tip and your biggest beauty bugbear?
My biggest health and beauty tip is a really boring (but effective) one - drink lots of water! I constantly have a pint glass on my desk at work and try and work my way through as many as possible in the day. My biggest beauty bugbear; on myself it has to be when they use too much hairspray after having my hair done so it feels crispy. On others: mis-matched foundation!
Can you tell us about any hair and beauty blunders that you’ve experienced?
Oh goodness, so many! From the early days when I was a teen I made the mistake of trying to wear a red coloured eyeshadow and was asked repeatedly if I had been crying... but more recently I managed to drop a mascara so it got caught in my hair (freshly washed, of course) leaving black streaks. Or I managed to slip with a razor on my legs and leave a lovely big scratch mark all up my thigh... There are many more I could list!
What do you like to take with you when you go away?
Probably far too much. I have a full stash of mini products that I keep stored for trips away so I tend to make a list of all the 'steps' I have in my beauty routine and find a mini to match. Then stock up on full sized sun-cream in a variety of SPF levels if for a hot destination. I do tend to take full size of body moisturiser too - always comes in handy.
Who is your favourite blogger/ vlogger?
Ooh, do I have to pick just one!? Current favourite bloggers are Ghost Parties because I have very similar taste in products to Kate and Vivianna Does Makeup because I love the way Anna writes - it's very much 'her' voice, and she manages to make every product look so lust-worthy!
Vloggers wise I've been loving Gabriella from Velvetgh0st .
What would be your advice to aspiring bloggers/ vloggers? Is there anything you’d do differently if you were to turn back time?
My advice would be to try and not feel like you have to follow the rules/norm of beauty blogging - it all started from nowhere and the styles and rules came from there so if you want to do something your own way then do so! Also, go into it knowing that it's not all glamour and playing with make-up - sure, there are amazing perks that can come your way but it does take a lot of hard work!
If I could turn back time I would have probably gone for it with YouTube earlier than I have done but other than that, there's not much I would change really.
If you could invite anyone dead or alive to guest blog/ vlog on your site who would it be?
Oooh, another great question! I'd love to do a video with someone like Britney Spears - purely because I'd love the chance to sit and have a chat with her. Or I'd love to see a beauty-secrets blog post from someone like Sienna Miller or Brigitte Bardot as I love their look and any secrets for how I could copy would be amazing.
What does the future hold for your blog/ vlog? Are there any exciting developments in the pipeline?
The future of the blog for me is quite an exciting one - after almost five years doing this alongside a full time job I've decided to make the move to work freelance alongside blogging. So 2014 is going to be an exciting one - I'm also getting married in 2014 so lots to look forward to!