What beauty editors know that you don't
Imagine a life where highlights and haircuts with the world's top experts are free, where there is an endless supply of Crème de la Mer, where you leave work at 2 P.M. to get a massage or pedicure and your boss cheerfully tells you to have fun. (Are you still with me?) Now, imagine you get paid to live this life. Welcome to the world of a beauty editor.
Each month, magazines bring you advice on which eye shadow shades are hot, what the most flattering haircut is for your face shape, and which self-tanners work for pale skin. But have you ever wondered how beauty editors know all this? (For me, it's because I was born knowing everything there is to know about beauty. Obviously.) In reality, it's because beauty experts have free products and procedures hurled at them. It may not seem fair—why do they get endless supplies of Chanel lip gloss, and all you get at work is an endless supply of paperclips?
—but expertise is the name of the game. Without batting an eyelash, a beauty editor can tell you definitively what the best cleanser is, how to get away with not washing your hair for four days, what on earth a peptide is, why the jasmine in perfumes is picked at night, and the difference between alpha and beta hydroxy acid. The advice you see in magazines each month is just a fraction of the actual knowledge they possess.
I'm here to share it with you.
I wasn't always beauty-savvy. A childhood spent climbing avocado trees and shunning Barbies in favor of books does not necessarily a future beauty editor make. But in college, while pursuing a career as a writer, I found myself at a magazine as a beauty intern. The first time I walked into the magical thing known as a beauty closet, I almost fainted. Much like that episode of Sex and the City where Carrie goes to Vogue and has a heart attack over the fabulosity of the fashion closet, I was shocked to see that the room (Yes! An entire room!) was stuffed to the brim with every product known to man. Better yet, it was ours for the sampling. After all, how are you going to be a beauty expert if you don't try all the products?
There are thousands of beauty products in this world (Hundreds of thousands! Millions!), and your average girl can't be expected to try them all. So, we tireless beauty editors do the work for you, dutifully slapping on face cream, testing hair straighteners, and staring intently at nearly identical shades of lip gloss, trying to figure out which is better for olive complexions and which for fairer skin tones.
See? And you thought it was all fun and games. Beauty is very serious.
Actually, I'm kidding. Most people take beauty way too seriously, and it simply doesn't need to be that way. Beauty should be fun! It should make you feel better about yourself and accentuate what you've been blessed with (and gracefully and discreetly hide what you're less than pleased with). All that nonsense about "redheads can't wear red lipstick" and "don't match your manicure to your pedicure" and "young women shouldn't wear foundation" and "never play up your eyes and lips at the same time" is just that—nonsense. It's all about finding what works for you. If you're in your teens or twenties and your skin is slightly blotchy and tinted moisturizer simply doesn't give you enough coverage, I say wear foundation until the cows come home! The trick is simply finding the right foundation that doesn't make you feel like you have on a mask.
It's not rocket science, people. Sure, beauty is serious in that it's terribly important for your self-esteem. Like it or not, we do live in an image-conscious society, and why not put your best face forward? But, after all, at the end of the day, it is only makeup. Lighten up, don't be afraid to experiment and make mistakes, and have fun with it!
And when your friends ask you how you know all about night-blooming jasmine and peptides, well, you can just smile and say that you were born a beauty genius.
First Things First
Beauty editors are very stern about certain things. Now, I don't necessarily live my life according to all of the Stepford-ish maxims, but rather take them as loose guidelines. After all, there are exceptions to every rule . . .
The Beauty Editor Commandments
1. Never wash your hair two days in a row.
2. Always wear SPF 30 sunscreen, come rain or shine, winter or summer.
3. Wash your face every night before bed . . . even when drunk . . . even when tired.
4. French manicures are not an option.
5. Everybody looks better with a hint of bronzer or self-tanner.
6. Avoid frowning—just like your mom said, your face will stick that way.
7. Don't smoke—it causes wrinkles, sallow, uneven skin, and yellow teeth. (Oh, yeah, and that whole cancer thing, too.)
8. Introduce acids into your daily routine—glycolic, salicylic, retinoic, whatever. Your skin will thank you.
9. Antioxidants are your best friend. Eat them, drink them, wear them, love them.
10. Smile. When you carry yourself beautiful, you are beautiful.
But, Hey, They're Only People, Too
There are some silly things that beauty editors are unnecessarily sticklers about, such as nail polish shades (never wear red on your nails!) and shampooing (see above!). While this is good advice, say, if you're a banker—who's going to take you seriously with fire-engine-red claws?—one size does not fit all. My best friend has oily, limp hair, and no amount of volumizer or hair powder is going to allow her to skip a day between washes as is normally recommended. As for the "no red nails" maxim, well—that's just foolish. (A life without red nail polish is no life at all.) Become as beauty informed as you can, and take everything you read (hey, even this) with a grain of salt. Everyone is unique and reacts to different products and tips in different ways. If we were all completely the same, where would the fun be in that? Variety is the spice of life, after all.