When I tuned in to I'm a Celebrity's opening shows this week, one of the contestants I was really curious about was Emily Atack. I had met her not long before and her makeup bag was a sight to behold – a well-worn Urban Decay Naked palette, Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation, MAC Strobe Cream, it just kept on coming. This was a woman who had every beauty layer covered and clearly enjoyed the artistry and the fun of it down to her honeyed hair extensions and high wattage false lashes. How would she cope bare-faced?
Last year's winner Georgia Toffolo, who struggles with acne, nearly backed out of the show when she was told her luxury item – her foundation – wouldn't be given to her, she had to earn it. In the end, she was allowed to wear it once a day because show bosses agreed it was a medical problem. But as Emily threw herself into a pit of vipers in the first bushtucker trial, the only thing on her mind when it came to her face was how quickly she could get the snakes off it.
When we met, she told me that makeup had been part of her identity since she was very young. "When I was about ten, I was always trying on mum’s Elizabeth Arden Flawless Finish Foundation, £27, in Toasty Beige; whenever I smell it, it reminds me of her. When I was 12, I wasn't allowed to wear mascara to school, so as a compromise she let me dye my eyelashes."
Mum is actress and comedienne Kate Robbins and going out with your 'face on' ran in the family. "Mum was always very glamorous, so were my grandma and my aunts. I was brought up to always take pride in your appearance and make the extra effort and makeup played a big role in that," she says
At school in Bedfordshire, Emily was forever being handed wipes by teachers and ordered to take her makeup off. "I always loved experimenting with makeup and I wore fake tan from the age of 13. Nowadays you are allowed to be 13 and look ‘done’ but in those days it was so taboo - people couldn’t believe how much makeup I wore. But it’s only what people are doing now. For me, it was a fashion choice. I like to think I was a step ahead! I still love beauty and probably spend more on that than I do on clothes."
Emily grew up in the entertainment industry. Her father is Keith Atack, a musician who was in the band Child and her mum was often recognised "back in the day", says Emily. "She and my aunt represented the UK in Eurovision in 1980 – they were in a group called Prima Donna came third. Back then that was such a huge deal."
In Emily's last movie, the Brit romcom Patrick starring Jennifer Saunders, she played a fresh-faced PE teacher with scraped-back hair – not too dissimilar from her jungle look, only minus the snakes.
Here's what she told us when we quizzed her about her (considerable) beauty shopping habit.
Where do you shop for beauty?
"I love a good old Debenhams or a House of Fraser , where you have all you need under one roof. I go straight for the Estée Lauder counter and the Double Wear Foundation, £33.50 . I don’t buy makeup online, I like the full experience of trying it on and testing out products. I live on a high street so I have a Boots and a Superdrug nearby, which means if I need something I grab it there – I spend so much money in Boots!"
The last makeup item you bought?
"My Estée Lauder Double Wear Foundation in ‘Tawny’, £33.50 . It covers everything and stays on like you wouldn’t believe. It’s brilliant for going out. You can dance, sweat your arse off and won’t have to reapply it. On holiday, it’s good because you can get really hot in it and it stays on. It’s sometimes a bit heavy for the day or when I go to auditions. Then I’ll wear a BB cream ."
And your most recent skincare purchase?
"Chanel Hydra Beauty Micro Crème, £70 and the Chanel Body Excellence Intense Hydrating Milk Comfort and Firmness, £60 . Whenever I put this on everyone says I smell really nice."
Which products do you gift to friends?
"You can’t beat a YSL Touche Éclat, £25.50 . I get one for my cousin Kate every Christmas. And Jo Malone candles – they are always wrapped really nicely and feel like such a treat. You can’t go wrong with them, they are the go-to gift."
You have £500 to spend at a makeup counter. Which one do you choose?
I spend a lot in MAC. I love everything - Spice lip pencil, £14 and Ruby Woo lipstick, £17.50 for the evening.
I always buy Mineralize Skin Finish in Gold Deposit, £25.50 which is a highlighting powder for nights out when you want to look really glammed up or on holiday when you want to look shimmery and sun-kissed. You put it on your collarbones and shoulders. I keep forgetting to use primer so I’d definitely stock up on Strobe Cream, £25 ."
Ever had your makeup done at a makeup counter?
"I don’t go to counters now because I get my makeup done all the time for work – my cousin Lydia Barnes is an amazing makeup artist. But the first time was when I was 16, I had just had my heart broken, I was miserable and my mum let me have the day off and took me into work with her in London. We went into Liberty. It was the first time I had ever been there – it was so exciting. I had my makeup done at Bobbi Brown by a really nice man, who made me look pretty and said, “Darling, he’s not worth it!”.
What would we find in your Boots shopping basket?
"Lots! I spent £110 there the other day – but I always forget my Boots card. I always get invited to events last-minute, so I will run into Boots and get bobby pins, a new lip gloss, a mascara and while I’m there I’ll pick up shampoo, conditioner, tampons, Nivea sun cream , everything! If I haven’t had my nails done, I will get a load of stick-on ones such as Boots False Nails in French Pink, £5 - a French manicure that looks quite natural but neat.
"I’ll always buy my fake tan - Rimmel Sun Shimmer Instant Tan, £6.99 . It’s a classic and the first one I ever used. It’s cheap and cheerful, you can put it on quickly and wash it off if you need to for an audition. I like Maybelline Colossal Volum' Express Mascara, £6.99 . I’ll buy all my hair stuff there was well including Pro:Voke Touch of Silver shampoo and conditioner (from £3.19) which stops the blonde going yellow and keeps it nice and soft.
"I’ll also pick up Batiste Dry Shampoo, £3.99 - the blonde one and the brown one because I have dark roots. If I have a shoot coming up I’ll make sure I have Eylure false eyelashes (from £5.25)."
What's next on your beauty shopping list?
"There are a lot of things I need to replace - my Urban Decay Ultimate Basics Palette, £39.50 , which I dropped on holiday and a lot of the pieces are broken. I need also to replace my broken ghd Original Styler, £87 – I love the classic ones.
"I’m saving up for a Dyson Supersonic hairdryer. £299.99 . It’s supposed to be really light and fast - I have a lot of hair!
"I want to try the Dr Sebagh Deep Exfoliating Mask, £59 and going to get the Trish McEvoy Makeup Planner, £46 . A friend has one and I’m convinced it’s going to change my life. It’s like a cross between a Filofax and a Chanel bag. I love the way it’s all compartmentalised as I’m always lugging a great big makeup bag around. I feel like it would keep everything clean as well and stop things getting broken and it looks like a clutch bag, I’d use it on the red carpet.
"I get terrible dark circles and am always looking for something to get rid of them. Maybe I need to drink less wine and more water. I have heard Trish McEvoy Full Face Perfector, £45 is great for dark circles so that’s the first thing I’ll put in my organiser."
Where do you get your hair done?
"At Charles Worthington . I go for a full head of balayage and with Gold extensions which I get every few months. They are long at the moment but sometimes I have them shorter. I went on a date last week and popped in there for a quick blow dry.
"For my latest role as a PE teacher in Patrick, they dyed it completely dark and took all my extensions out. They didn’t want me to look too glam."
Any other treatments you regularly book in for?
"I get my gels nails done regularly but I do need to start having facials. I always get scared of facials because it means going there with no makeup and leaving with no makeup. But I’m going to go to Dr Sebagh and also try LED light at the Light Bar in Harvey Nichols - they can do that over makeup."
Follow Emily on Instagram .