A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was a magazine beauty editor for all of five minutes. Now, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if you’re female, enjoy getting presents and have even the slightest interest in looking nice then being a beauty journalist is the best job in the world.
Actually, I don’t think you can even describe it as a job because that suggests an element of toil – and beauty journalism is entirely more perk than work. Here’s what a typical working week looks like:
- Think of an idea for a beauty feature. For example: ‘hmmm, my hands feel a bit dry this week… I know, I’ll write something on hand cream!
- Spread the word amongst beauty PRs about your brilliant feature idea.
- Wait for the beauty products to start rolling in. As well as things for your #heavenlyhands feature, the PRs may also send you some of their other products too, or perhaps some flowers and cupcakes, just to remind you how much they love you.
- Select a few products to include in the feature, making sure you represent a range of price points (because as a wise and benevolent beauty journalist, you know that not all your readers can run to Chanel handcream. Besides, you’ve earmarked the Chanel for your sister’s birthday present). Put the rest of the products in the magazine’s beauty cupboard, making sure you keep the best ones for yourself. Because you’re the one doing all the hard work here, aren’t you?
- Write, ooh, maybe 250 words on how A/W 2015 is all about hands. Hands are basically IN. Think up some other words for soft. Silky. Smooth. Supple. Cashmere. Kitten-like. Use a thesaurus if you get stuck. Bonus marks for alliteration.
- Get a workie to send off your chosen products to be photographed for the feature.
- Take a nap.
Obviously this doesn’t quite fill an entire week. The rest of your time will be spent attending product launches, which might involve breakfast at a top London hotel, cocktails with the brand’s celebrity ‘ambassador’ or being chauffeured by helicopter to a spa for a day of pampering – or maybe all three at once. At the end of these events, you will be presented with a
going-home present goody bag, which will be filled with the entire range of products and perhaps some other gifts too. A scented candle perhaps, or a monogrammed bathrobe.
Unsurprisingly, after a few months of this you will start to accumulate a lot of stuff. Some beauty journalists (ie. the ones who work for the Guardian) give their spare goodies away to charities. Others (ie. most of the rest) sell them on Ebay. I once heard of a journalist who financed her entire honeymoon flogging beauty freebies.
As well as launches, you will also need to make space in your busy schedule for beauty treatments: a luxury keratin blow-dry here, a full face of fillers there. Whatever you want, you can get – and of course, there won’t be any charge. Goodness, no! Not for you, you lovely, cashmere-handed beauty journalist.
Anyway, what with all the presents and compliments and treats it won’t come as a surprise to hear that most beauty journalists never leave their jobs; in fact, many of the editors on the glossy mags have been there since the 1950s, although decades of free Crème de la Mer and monthly complimentary Botox mean they still look as if they’re in their mid-thirties.
So if being a beauty journalist is so fabulous, why did I leave the job? Well, I suppose part of it was down to the fact that I got into journalism because I wanted to write, and churning out a few hundred words each week about soap just wasn’t scratching my byline itch. It might also be something to do with the fact that I’m an idiot. Which is why I’m here, writing this blog, with hands like an eczema-blighted rhino, while my former beauty colleagues are in a spa somewhere in the Caribbean being massaged by angels.