I once tweeted Jean Godfrey-June that she’s my favorite beauty writer and she replied graciously, as perhaps only someone like Jean would. From Elle, to Lucky and now, GOOP, she writes the most enlightened and insightful stories on beauty, wellness and travel. Before editors had agents, I snagged an interview with Jean (also via Twitter; ILY, Twitter). Here’s the full, unpublished version.
Where are you originally from?
JEAN GODFREY-JUNE: I was born in Newark, NJ, but I grew up in Palo Alto, CA.
How old were you when you started a career in the magazine industry?
22 or 23
What is your writing background? How did you end up writing about beauty?
I love to write, so I write a lot. I found that writing about beauty made it so many many more people wanted to read.
In your book Free Gift with Purchase, it seems you’re a reluctant fan and expert on makeup and beauty. How much do you love makeup, exactly, and the whole world of beauty, in general?
Beauty is a subject that entices a great number of people to read my writing. It also makes me look and feel better!
When you write about nail polish or scented matches, do you ever feel like you should be writing something else? Something bigger than nail polish or scented matches? (I do, sometimes, but then again I love writing about these things.)
What’s bigger? The election? The eternal suffering of the human race? My broken heart? Every story, as Shakespeare pointed out, has already been told.
Your reviews in Beauty Closet inspire me to be a better beauty writer –– who inspires you? Who are your favorite writers/authors? Other beauty writers you look up to?
My favorite writers — Joyce Carol Oates, Joan Didion, Hilton Als.
Of all the products you get in a day, what makes your heart skip, gives you butterflies?
The best one! Seriously, the one that makes you say, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
Do you have a process when trying, reviewing and writing about products? How do you do it?
I try some, and I have other people try the ones that wouldn’t work for me.
What would you consider as a defining moment in your career?
When my editor at Elle, the incredible Amy Gross, asked me to start writing a column.
Any blogs you would recommend?
Et Als by Hilton Als is my favorite.
You have a lot of references to travels in your column — what’s your favorite place to visit and why?
Italy. Gorgeous place, people, language, food.
Best hotel you’ve ever stayed at?
Parrot Cay in Turks & Caicos is my all-favorite.
Best HQ you’ve ever visited?
Hermés in Paris.
Any tourist-y habits?
No. What I love about travel is returning home.
What beauty products have you recently discovered during your travels?
I don’t really look at beauty products when I’m not working.
JEAN GODFREY-JUNE ON BEAUTY, FASHION AND AGING
If you had to survive a day with only five beauty products in your purse, what would they be and why?
Lancome Flash Bronzer for Legs, Bobbi Brown Eye Brightener, Laura Mercier Secret Concealer, Origins Mascara, YSL Gloss Volupte.
What would you say is the most groundbreaking beauty (skin care/makeup) discovery of this century?
Favorite lipstick (brand and shade)?
YSL Gloss Volupte in hot pink
Go-to nail polish?
Fragrance for work? Fragrance for fancy events?
I am totally fickle re: fragrance.
Soap and shampoo?
Korres shower gel, Philip B shampoo
Inexpensive beauty product you’d recommend to everyone?
Yes to Carrots SPF 30
Ridiculously expensive beauty product you’d recommend to everyone?
Philip B shampoo & conditioner
Most horrible product you’ve ever tried?
I didn’t enjoy fake nails. They felt weird and took 15 minutes to get off.
Being so immersed in beauty, do you even have time to love fashion? How would you describe your style?
I adore fashion. My style aspires to be fancy. Italian girl, in reality, lots of missing buttons & in need of an iron.
Given a choice between lipstick and shoes, which would you purchase?
A lot of women would love to have a job like yours — what do YOU love most about it? What makes it challenging? What makes it worth it?
I love writing and editing, and I love the way it changes every day, and I love all the people I deal with.
Will you be writing a second book? What would it be about?
What’s your take on beauty? How has your idea of beauty changed — or has it changed at all? — in all your years in the industry?
Beauty products can make you look a little prettier, and they can certainly make you feel a lot better. Everyone female thinks they’re less attractive than they are, and the best thing about aging is realizing how not-that-bad you really are…