When I tell people I'm a beauty editor, they often ask what that means exactly. "I write stories about beauty and health for the internet!" I explain. Of course, this is just a nutshell description—a sound bite. And, for as many details as this synopsis leaves out, there are just as many questions and curiosities that circulate outside the industry about what the beauty editor role is really like.
We understand why—from the looks of a beauty editor's Instagram account, it can seem like our jobs consist of nothing but cosmetic brands wining and dining us in between showering us with free lipstick and facials. Admittedly, the title does involve some of this. (Okay, a lot of this.) But I think I speak for many beauty editors when I say we abide by a strict "work hard, play hard" mentality.
With the brunches and monoliths of eye creams comes some pressure—pressure to consistently conceive the most cutting-edge, compelling story ideas possible; to crank out multiple (what we hope are) informative, entertaining pieces every day; to meet skintight deadlines; to attend a full schedule of meetings and events; to stay informed and ahead of industry trends; and all the while, to represent the brands we write for with grace. At Byrdie, we always joke that beauty editors lead a #roughlife (because of course we don't), but the job does fill our plates up high.
That said, I think I also speak for most beauty editors when I say that this position is very special, and when we zoom out, we feel that viscerally. It is truly an honor (and a blast!) to get to report on what's new and fascinating in the beauty world for you all, our wonderful, savvy readers.
But many of you have also expressed an interest in learning about what things look like when we zoom back in on the beauty editor life. So, to give you an idea of our day-to-day tasks and responsibilities, I'm bringing you along on an average workday in my life as the associate features editor here at Byrdie. Interested in becoming a beauty editor yourself? Or, just plain curious about what we do all day? Keep scrolling to become a fly on the wall at Byrdie HQ!
Early morning isn't always the most glamorous hour for a beauty editor, but it is an important one. A neuroscientist once told me that 74% of 18 to 24-year-olds reach for their phones the second their eyes open in the morning. I'm not proud of it, but this describes me exactly.
Because I'm a sleepaholic, I cannot force my body to wake up before 8 a.m. But once I do, I instantly launch into email mode. We beauty editors get hundreds of emails a day—alerts about new product launches, trending topics, upcoming brand events, pitches for stories, and more. The first half hour of my morning involves weeding through them from bed. I take note of the top-priority information; I send my intern her assignments for the day; I reach out to last-minute experts to quote in the stories I'll write later. Then I force myself out of bed and get ready for the day.
Breakfast meetings are common in the beauty editor schedule. Today, I'm attending a morning event with natural skincare brand Jurlique at a hip new eatery in West Hollywood. I'm here to learn about the brand's latest launch, an Activating Water Essence (and, of course, for the free avocado toast).
The beauty editor community is tight-knit, so I see many of the same people from event to event. It quickly starts to feel like a fun little beauty family. I grab a seat in between an editor from Bustle and a content producer from Hum Nutrition. We play with Jurlique's new product over biscuits and fresh orange juice, before my meter runs out, and I'm off to a meeting.
Tuesdays at 11 a.m. we have our weekly editorial meeting. This is where the whole Byrdie team gets together to reflect on the top performing stories from the week before, discuss upcoming events in the industry, and brainstorm ideas for future content. These meetings are important to track our progress, recognize stories that readers liked, and come up with a game plan for the next week on Byrdie.
It's been a busy morning so far, but after our meeting is when the real work starts. Once I get to my desk, I put my nose to the grindstone working on my stories for the next day. This involves finding images, rounding up expert quotes and research, and writing, writing, writing. (Some beauty editor roles involve more editing than writing, but here at Byrdie, the editorial staff writes most of the content you see on the site.) Today I'm working on a roundup of tips from makeup artists about common blush mistakes and how to fix them.
If there's time, I might also squeeze in a quick story covering something happening in the news that morning, like a new collection of Gilmore Girls makeup or a hair trend that just popped up on Instagram.
Another big part of the beauty editor role is taking one-on-one meetings with brands. We do this to become better familiar with their products (both new and classic) and to learn more about their company in general.
When brands come to Byrdie HQ to meet and show us their products, that's called a deskside. Today, the lovely founder of Root Science, Gigja Hlin Wesneski, is paying us a visit. This small-batch, organic brand is a Byrdie favorite, because of its natural, results-driven formulas, ethical sourcing, and gorgeous packaging. At the deskside, we learn more about how the brand was conceived and launched, what their current best-sellers are, and we walk away with a bag of samples (the best part!), including a bottle of their soon-to-be-released Tonic, a hydrating toner spray.
From now until the end of the workday is a race to meet the 6 p.m. deadline, when our stories for the next day are due. Sometimes (like today for example), it seems like this will be impossible. But magically it always gets done.
After I send my draft off to be edited, I'm able to prep for the next day. That means answering emails, reaching out to experts, and getting a head start on research.
A beauty editor's job doesn't end when the workday does, Next, I'm off to the highly Instagrammable Olive & June nail salon in Beverly Hills for an event in celebration of Essie's new Gel Couture line (which is amazingly chip-proof—I'm wearing it right now!). Tonight it's free mani-pedis on Essie. Not a bad way to end the day.
My nails are ready to party, but my brain is way too tired. By 10 p.m., I'm under the covers. The plan is to sleep straight through the next 10 hours, and I'll need it, because starting tomorrow at 8 a.m., we've got a whole new day-in-the-life in store!
Next up, read about a day in the life of a Byrdie beauty editor.