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S03 E07 | 46m | The power of failure


Written byGemma Newman

the welllness edit podcast with holland and barrett

What we're talking about in this episode

In this powerful and honest conversation, Emma talks about the power of failure as she shares how it was failure that led to her subsequent success as a podcaster. With her extensive knowledge of beauty, she talks about:

  • The two types of beauty personalities.
  • The best beauty skincare ingredients that work for everyone.
  • Her personal weight loss story.

With guest:

  • Emma Guns - an award-winning beauty journalist and podcaster. Writing for a number of magazines and newspapers, Emma also hosts the UK’s top-rated beauty podcast on Apple Podcast, The Emma Guns Show, covering topics including beauty, health, wellness, mental health, eating disorders, business, entrepreneurship and finance.

Listen to Episode 7

Search 'The Wellness Edit' on your favourite podcast streaming service

The expert guide to understanding immunity

Emma Guns shares her lessons in wellness

The beauty journalist and leading wellness podcaster Emma Guns opens up about failure, mental health and what motivated her weight loss

‘I was thrown in at the deep end’

‘I really wanted a job on a glossy magazine. I went straight from a local newspaper reporting on the local church fete to having a desk at OK magazine [where Emma was beauty editor for 10 years], going to parties at five-star hotels. I remember the editor saying, “This is going to be a steep learning curve. But we think you can handle it.” 

‘A few weeks later, I was at Elton John’s White Tie and Tiara party. There was a moment, where I saw Barry Manilow standing there chatting with Simon Cowell and thought: “This is like being at Madame Tussauds but everyone is alive.” But I didn’t anticipate how much work it would be.’

‘Failure led me to start my podcast’

‘After I left OK, in 2012, it was a jolt down to earth. I had a few years treading water, not making any money or getting commissioned. I started listening to podcasts, people like Tim Ferriss and Joe Rogan, and they’d have these incredible guests who were very honest and self-deprecating about failure, and I found it really comforting. When you’re constantly dusting yourself off, it can feel like it’s only happening to you. I thought: “Right, I’m going to start a podcast.” Originally the show started out deconstructing the success of these incredible beauty brands. Then it evolved as I opened up about mental health – not long after beginning it, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety.’

‘People split into two types of beauty camps’

‘On one side, are people who enjoy the ceremony and pampering of beauty. They won’t think twice about doing a seven-step Korean beauty routine, they love facial massages, essences and oils, and tend to use products that work on hydration.

‘On the other is the person who uses active ingredients because they’re trying to slow down the ageing of the skin, and want to see improvements. There’s less pleasure, and it’s a much more functional regime. It’s not a very sexy skincare routine, but it’s the one I follow.’

‘There are four key beauty ingredients that everyone should us’ 

‘Retinol is the gold standard. It’s a vitamin A derivative and known to make a real difference to skin. I started using retinol before my 40th birthday, but I wish I’d started using it when I was 30. ‘Vitamin C is another wonderful ingredient, it makes skin glow. I use an antioxidant [such as vitamin C] every single day, it’s the first thing I put on my skin when I come out of the shower and my face is clean. Hyaluronic acid is also an absolute non-negotiable for me. I adore it. It’s for extra hydration, but always put your moisturiser over the top of it as it needs to be sealed in. And if I talk about any essential skincare ingredient, it’s SPF. I wear factor 30 or 50 every single day.’

'I like to wake up and move straight away’

‘That doesn’t mean I’m always hammering in the gym or going hard. First, I’ll check in with myself and do a scan: what do I need today? Is it yoga, or is it exercise in my living room, where I have dumbbells and kettlebells, or I use [personal trainer] Jillian Michael’s Fitness app, which is amazing.

‘If I didn’t sleep well, I’m stressed and have a lot to do, I might go for an hour’s walk in the park and just identify the trees – silver birch, sycamore, oak – to disconnect. Getting fresh air and sunlight is vitally important, and one exercise isn’t better than the other.’

‘People message me about my weight loss every day’

‘A couple of years ago, I dropped 30lb. I’ve been really candid on Instagram and the podcast about why I did it. Part of the motivation was numbers on the scale and clothes size, definitely. The bigger thing was, I felt uncomfortable in my own skin. I had this very private battle with food. Often, out with people, I wouldn’t eat anything, but at home that wasn’t the case, and I was in denial for a very long time. 

‘My weight loss wasn’t down to a diet, because I think they can be blunt instruments, especially it there are emotional reasons for why you’re eating a certain way. Instead, every day I have a goal, which is I want to feel as healthy as possible, and I make decisions that will get me closer to that.’

‘It’s important to slow down’

‘The theme that comes through again and again from my guests, whether it’s Wim Hof [the Dutch extreme athlete] or Andy Puddicombe [the Headspace founder], is – slow down. Every time I’m about to act, and haven’t taken a minute to think about it, I’m probably going to do something I regret, whether that involves a difficult conversation or a business decision. How many times have I responded too quickly to an email, and it’s been a bit of mess? The response I gave when I waited served me better and gave less stress. Take a step back, figure out how you feel and leave it till tomorrow morning.’

Want to learn more? Listen to more episodes The Wellness Edit podcast here.

Search 'The Wellness Edit' on your favourite podcast streaming service

The thing that makes you different makes you special, with Anita Bhagwandas

In this episode, Anita shares the joys and challenges of being an advocate. Navigating colourism, poor representation, and her late ADHD diagnosis, she helps listeners unpick ingrained beauty standards and cultivate a beauty regime that celebrates themselves. 

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