Lawyer turned wordsmith (and our New York correspondent) Jessica Burdon has lived overseas for most of her adult life. A born wanderer, she moved to London in her early twenties then did a stint in Brazil before ending up in Manhattan. She was writing the whole time (penned a novel in her spare time – as you do) before throwing in her law job to turn her hand to her passion full time.

It was a move that has paid off. She’s since been juggling commissions from The Huffington Post, Daily Beast and Russh Magazine with her Beauticate profiles of well-heeled New Yorkers, and she also recently launched Breaking Brazil, a stylish cultural website dedicated to the goings on of Brazil both inside and out. We caught up with Jess in New York and she gladly revealed the contents of her tightly-honed beauty bag, along with how she deals with writers block.


“Pampering for me is part of the creative process.

My best ideas tend to come when I’m in the shower, lavished with lavender scented pure-castile soap and hot, filtered water (I have a Aquasana water filter – it’s amazing for your skin and hair). Then, whisking myself a matcha tea in the morning is what energizes me to turn those ideas into words.

Often I write on the club level of Soho House, with its energy of efficiency and innovation, and when I need to take a break, I slip down to the Cowshed Spa for a massage or a steam.

If I have a bad bout of writer’s block, there is a wonderful place in New York called the Aire Ancient baths. They inevitably bring me the peace, space and perspective I need. I love hot yoga at ‘Yoga to the People,’ a donation-based place. Good for the mind and body and makes me feel like I’m doing yoga on Tulum beach in the middle of a brutal New York winter.

I buy a new perfume every time there’s big shift in my life.

Be it a new passion, the end of a relationship, moving to a new city, or starting a new job, having a new scent helps me set a new tone. Now I’m finalizing my novel for publication, I feel like the bold scent of Frederic Malle’s Carnal Flower gives me a sense of conviction when I’m out and about in New York.

Overall I’m lazy with grooming. I don’t have manicures. I don’t wear foundation, mascara or lipstick. Black eyeliner is my main staple (I love YSL Shocking ), and giving my eyebrows some definition makes a big difference. I use one of those diagonal brushes with the Anastasia Ebony Brow Powder Duo from Sephora.

If I’m in the mood for some coloured lip-gloss, I use Witchery Lip Gloss. It came in the goodie bag at their A/W15 show, which was when I was home last. Otherwise, it’s all about the Lucas’ Papaw Ointment, which lives in my handbag; a little piece of comfort from my beloved Australia.



Erin Wasson is my style icon.

She is so shabby chic. Kate used to be my ultimate, when I lived in London, but Erin has taken over now I’m Stateside. Of course she also models for Zadig & Voltaire, the heart-beat of my rock-chic love.

I try to emulate her messy beach curls by scrunching Toni & Guy Sea Salt Texturising Mist into my hair when it’s wet. Once it’s dry, I give the roots some body with the Label.M Brunette Resurrection Style Dust. Then I use a curling wand to smooth out the front few curls.

It’s always a gamble though, dependent on the weather and having enough time to let it dry naturally. If isn’t sitting well, I tie it up in a bun. I quite like how angular my face becomes when my hair is up, even though the men in my life tell me that women look better with their hair down.

I am naturalist with my beauty products.

I try to avoid chemicals where possible. I use coconut oil as body moisturiser, and Solar Recover ‘Save Your Skin Hydrating Mist’ on my face. Solar Recover but it’s my favorite thing ever.  It’s all natural ingredients like reverse osmosis filtered water, natural vitamin E, lavender and sesame. It feels as refreshing as an Evian spray, yet it was designed to save skin from dehydration. It was made by a sportsman battling the blazing desert sun of Southern California. It’s heavenly… I sometimes bring it with me to the beach.

Sometimes I just rinse my face with water rather than using a cleanser, given I don’t often have make-up to remove. I also make a homemade facemask each week out of olive oil, rose water, green tea, honey, and lemon. Or if I have an indulgent night in, I might make something more elaborate from a great book of homemade facemasks called Homemade Facial Masks: 101 All Natural Skin Care Recipes by Kristin L. Stewart.

Relying on products found in pantries or supermarkets is helpful with my gypsy life – I’m often oscillating between stints in Manhattan writing articles, taking time out on Long Island or The Hamptons to work on the novel, or visiting friend and family in Australia and London.



Living in New York doesn’t involve much eating at home, so it can be difficult to control what you eat.

A diet of restaurant dinners, and lunches while working in cafes, can make it hard to control sugar and fat, I try to stay fairly clear of wheat and gluten. And I try to have a fresh pressed juice a day, for the nutrients. I love Cafe Gitane on Mott Street in Nolita – their palm heart or smoked trout salad, with a fresh mint tea, is perfect for writing. The Ace Hotel is also a great freelancers haunt, with their little morning coffee cart.

I have a balanced relationship with food overall. I eat well but I don’t let it weigh on my mind if I have a bad day or two. When I’m home in Australia, it’s always a glorious stint of home cooked meals and healthy eating.

Being in Sydney feels like one big health spa – vitamin D from the sun, trays of mangoes, power walking the Bondi to Bronte with friends in the mornings and eating granola and fresh fruit from Icebergs on the way back. We have the most varied and glorious range of gluten-free foods in the world, like the Gluten Free Shop; we may be far away but we’re always one step ahead.”

Photography by Jonathan Bookalil; Hair by Andrew Chen; Makeup by Jane Meng

Comment (1)

  1. May 2, 2015
    Borgy Leakey

    Go Jessica – how great to see your beauty and that you are using that brain! A long time since I knew you as a little girl. I am proud of you! I send you lots of love. Borgy