So here it is: My one-year beauty anniversary. It's hard to believe it's already been 12 months since I first started my job as the associate features editor here at Byrdie. Except, actually, I can believe it, because this year has been chock-full of exciting, exhausting, magnificent experiences that I don't think could have happened in a shorter period of time. (Case in point: I had a 10-minute conversation with Gwyneth Paltrow, joined a spiritual moon circle, ate nothing but fruit for a week, and overhauled my entire skincare routine, all in the same year.) Thanks, Byrdie! I couldn't have done it (or written about it) without you.
But let's get real. I learned some juicy industry secrets during my first year as an editor at Byrdie, and I've been itching to spill them all. Keep scrolling to read seven behind-the-scenes beauty lessons I've learned in one year as a Byrdie editor!
If you think about it, it's a little crazy what skincare brands are allowed to promise in their ad campaigns. How many commercials have you seen guaranteeing that some moisturizer will take 10 years off your face? Ten years? Really?
We've become so used to accepting the hyperbole that sometimes we forget that there's actual science involved in producing effective skincare. But not all products have the years of research and science-approved ingredients to back up their wild claims. At the end of the day, it's the consumer's responsibility to learn about which ingredients really work. (Spoiler: Vitamin C, vitamin A, and chemical exfoliators are among the few products that science agrees will truly work—read about the rest here.)
I eat a plant-based diet, and I have even been known to turn my nose up at makeup and skincare products that seem too natural. (You know the kind—smells like patchouli and comes in brown recycled packaging). But my fellow editors at Byrdie are ridiculously savvy about the ethical beauty market and have introduced me to so many luxurious (and effective!) vegan brands that I never knew existed. Favorites include Root Science, Herbivore Botanicals, and May Lindstrom. (Check out my 12 all-time favorite vegan skincare products!)
Just because you write about beauty for a living doesn't necessarily mean you know your skin best. Until about a month after I started at Byrdie, I was convinced I had a dry skin. Why? Because I self-diagnosed. A facial with celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau taught me that I actually have a specific type of combination skin, and the products I was using were actually breaking me out (something that does not happen to dry skin types, by the way).
Switching to a streamlined routine catered to my skin type has given me the best skin of my life, and it took a professional diagnosis to get there. I pray you: Quit wasting your money on products that aren't right for your skin. Consult an esthetician or dermatologist (or take Rouleau's online skin type quiz!), and design a simple routine accordingly.
I don't mean to gossip, but I'd be remiss not to divulge that one surprising thing I've learned this year is that lip fillers, under-eye injections, and Botox in all kinds of places are way more common than you think. In December, I read a report from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery stating that Americans were injected 6.6 million times last year, nearly 40% more than five years ago. So if you see a beauty editor, YouTuber, model, or celebrity looking suspiciously full-lipped or wrinkle-free, rest assured: A doctor was probably involved.
Eek! More gossip. During my year at Byrdie, I was bestowed with the awe-inspiring, anxiety-inducing gift of interviewing the likes of Hailey Baldwin, Mandy Moore, Kourtney Kardashian, and more. Oftentimes, these interviews are arranged due to a celebrity's new relationship with a beauty brand. For example, if Millie Bobby Brown was hypothetically chosen as the new face of Rimmel London, I might get to interview her. (A girl can dream, right?)
Some celebrities are incredibly savvy about beauty products and ingredients: Consider Olivia Munn, who could wax poetic for days about the efficacy of hyaluronic acid. However, no matter how many facials they get or how much makeup they wear on the red carpet, most celebrities are not beauty geniuses. (Even natural beauty queen Gwyneth Paltrow recommended using toothpaste as an overnight breakout treatment—please do not do this!)
The point is that I find it comforting to know that even the most beautiful women on earth are still on this learning journey with the rest of us. I mean, If Gwyneth Paltrow's beauty routine isn't perfect, then whose really is?
I went on my first-ever cleanse this year. I thought it would be great—it's the hip thing to do, after all. I'd survive on liquid for a few days, then feel completely cleaned out by the end. Right?
Absolutely wrong. Going on a liquid cleanse made me feel hungry and weak, and it screwed with my gut bacteria, leaving me with crippling stomach pain for weeks. Every nutritionist and doctor I spoke with afterward confirmed that "detox" diets are pure quackery. We already have a built-in detox system thanks to the liver, which actually can't even function right when you go on a juice cleanse.
The best way to "reset" your body—if that's what you aim to do—is to clear out inflammatory foods like dairy, alcohol, gluten, and processed meat and snacks. Eat whole plant foods and healthy protein sources, and drink tons of water. That is the only nutritionist-approved way to "detox."
While skepticism will get you far with skincare, when it comes to mental health, it's better to have an open mind. This year, I tried a number of alternative meditation practices I'd never considered before: floatation therapy, Emotional Freedom Techniques, and gratitude journaling. I even went to a "new moon gathering" for spiritual healing. And guess what: No matter how wacky it seemed to float in a dark pool of salt water for two hours or steer my actions according to the planets, it was all worth it, because it connected me to people striving toward a happier life. And that made me want to do the same.
This might be the most important thing I've learned over the course of my first year at Byrdie: Aside from trends or even common sense, if you think something might make you happier and healthier, try it. You never know what you might learn.
Opening Image: Creative Girl Boss