A friend told me once, “You’ll never write your best work writing about lipstick.” I listened and acknowledged, as the left part of my brain agreed. I had just come from an eyeliner event the day before, and I was complaining about how everything that was discussed could’ve easily been dispensed via a single, all-encompassing email. I’ve heard “this (insert product) will change your life” too many times to care, and yet there are beauty editors, those who’ve done this far longer, who are still hearing it — and caring.
The truth is, we are spoiled. In the industry, we call ourselves “beauty girls,” individuals from the media, primarily print, who cover the beauty beat, which includes skincare and makeup. It’s in no way a nod to our looks — God, no. There’s a degree of narcissism required to do this kind of thing, but we wouldn’t go that far. If there is anything that those in the beauty beat have in common is that we all genuinely love it, and not just for the free stuff. We expend our spare time experimenting on masks, scientifically crafting the perfect regimen and perfecting the smoky eye. We try.
Some days, when the traffic is horrible and we’re just not feeling it, we complain about our job. How we have to go to another 5-star hotel to try out the latest makeup collection from Chanel. We complain, but we’re also giddy. We may dread the drive or Uber ride to the event, but once we get there, we’re all in. We partake, down to the especially prepared scones.
The only downside to this beat is exactly what my friend said. The beauty writer is often limited to the scope of the product. If you’ve been doing it long enough, all the lipsticks and creams start to look and feel the same. What do you write about a lipstick that’s exactly like every other lipstick you’ve tried, no matter how “groundbreaking” it claims to be? You stick to the specs. You write it like a tech writer would write about a new cellphone that’s not the new iPhone, without feigning excitement or wonder, all while avoiding saying anything negative unless it made you break out in hives (or exploded in your hand).
But this is also what keeps the job exciting. Once in a while comes a brand that will sweep us off our feet, whether with its cute packaging, genius marketing, or its actual effect. Once in a while comes a product that’s new to us presumably jaded writers, and it would actually work. Whenever this happens, I am jolted from my spoiled, entitled ass and overcome by a sense of purpose, no matter how minute. I get to share this with everyone. It’s not a piece of writing that’s going to be remembered forever, but these days, no one remembers anything forever, anyway. Done, done, on to the next one — in beauty, and everything else.
In my next post, I’ll be sharing an interview I did with my favorite beauty writer of all time, former Lucky Magazine beauty editor and GOOP beauty director, Jean Godfrey-June. Back story included.
Thanks for reading!