Working in the beauty industry might seem like the ultimate glamour gig, but, as with any field, jump-starting a career involves a lot of hard work, networking, and dues-paying before landing a first role. And no one can speak to the ins-and-outs of the business like Time Inc.’s beauty editors. Last night, five of our top brass addressed students from the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing program and spoke about the rapid changes happening in the industry and just how to launch a career in it.
Interested in entering the beauty world? Read on for five surprising, insightful tips we picked up from the editors.
1. You Don’t Need a Degree in Beauty
Although a formal education in the field is undeniably helpful, you don’t need a beauty-centric degree to kick-off your career. While some editors, like Marci Robin (who majored in creative writing) and Holly Carter (who majored in communications) studied subjects that directly prepared them for editorial, other members of the panel began in completely different fields. Deanne Kaczerski, for example, chose a medical focus, and Pamela Edwards Christiani was a teacher and lobbyist before landing an assistant gig at Essence.
2. Learn the Ropes
Whatever your educational background, you can become a beauty expert—and internships are invaluable for this. Not only will you learn the inner workings of your potential career, you can also glean some of your supervisor’s knowledge.
Speaking with pros like dermatologists and makeup artists is another way to get acquainted with the career choice. Carter noted that she sometimes feels like she is part scientist due to the medical knowledge she's picked up while interviewing derms over the years.
One thing that everyone on the panel stressed, however, is that being a beauty editor is not about just trying on lipstick all day. “We spend hours on the phones with dermatologists. There’s a lot of research and time that goes into picking that one product in the corner of the page,” said Angelique Serrano. “There’s a really well thought-out reason why it’s there.”
3. Think Outside the Box
Today, the traditional way of landing a job, by submitting a resume for a posted opening, probably won't cut it. With this in mind, some of our editors made sure they stood out in the competitive industry by getting creative. Frustrated with not being able to find a position after graduating, xoVain’s Robin auctioned herself off on eBay as an editorial assistant, which ultimately caught the attention of a few editors and led to her first gig. Edwards Christiani was offered a role as an assistant at Essence after a chance meeting with the magazine’s then editor-in-chief. Serrano used her breaks between classes to fax her C.V. to her favorite magazine, the now-closed Teen People, in hopes of landing an internship. This persistence paid off, and after graduation she was hired by the mag's sales department.
4. Stay on the Pulse
In a social media-driven world, change happens faster than you can click “follow.” And because of the popularity of bloggers, vloggers, and countless web publications, the voices in beauty aren’t just growing, they're becoming more unique. “It creates more voices, more dialogue, and ultimately, more relatability,” said Serrano. “At Time Inc., we believe beauty is for all,” added Kaczerski of how the industry continues to grow more inclusive.
Robin pointed out, for example, that the most-read beauty stories on xoVain’s sister site xoJane are written by Tynan Sinks, a male beauty writer. “Yes, the beauty products Tynan tests for stories are marketed towards women, but that’s not going to stop men who want to wear lipstick from wearing it,” she said. “There aren’t too many walls stopping it, and brands like Milk Makeup are featuring men in their campaigns.”
5. Be Authentic
While social media opens up the space for more conversations about beauty, with so many voices vying to be heard, and brands partnering with bloggers, it can be hard to gauge what products writers actually love. Edwards Christiani believes that blogging is losing some of the authenticity that made it popular, so it’s important to be true to your opinions as an editor. Robin also stresses the value of being genuine and notes that while xoVain writers are often sent beauty products to try, many of them often run out and buy products themselves to write about, even though they aren’t paid to do so.