When you think of beauty editors, you probably assume their lives are all makeup all the time, right? Wrong.
“It’s funny because stereotypically when you think of a beauty editor, you imagine a girl who’s wearing a lot of makeup and is super tanned because she’s trying out all these self tanners,” says Eva Chen, Beauty and Health Director at Teen Vogue.
“99.9% of beauty editors I know don’t wear makeup on a daily basis. And it’s the same way with me because we’re constantly putting stuff on our face that when we do have downtime, it’s [spent] makeup free.”
So although she loves to try out the latest brands and new makeup trends, Chen has realized that natural beauty is what’s most important and that beauty is all about finding what works for you, even if it’s not “in” this season.
Yet for someone who once thought she’d be a doctor, you might think that Chen has veered far off the path she set out for herself. But you’d be wrong again. The self-proclaimed “science geek” applies her love of science and technology to the ever-dynamic world of beauty every day.
Chrissy’s Beauty School got the chance to chat with Chen about her work at Teen Vogue and her love for the world of beauty. Here’s what she had to say!
Her Campus: For many girls, yours is the dream job. Is this something you always saw yourself doing or did you have other career goals?
Eva Chen: “It’s actually pretty funny, I never saw myself working in magazines. My whole life I thought I was going to be a doctor…Part of that is that it’s very much what my parents wanted me to do—they were always encouraging a career in the sciences. But I was always a huge reader as well; I would devour every magazine that I could get my hands on.
My mom subscribed to Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar and Elle magazine, and I would always read them. But I just never thought of it as a career option and I think that’s one thing that I always tell teenagers now: look to see what you do in your free time, look to see what you really look forward to doing on the weekends because that’s probably a passion of yours and you can definitely make a career out of that.
In college I was pre-med. I went to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and somewhere between junior and senior year of college I took an internship. I thought I wanted a break from pre-med and [wanted] to try something new [so] I took an internship at Harper’s Bazaar. And it was kind of like that light bulb going over your head moment where everything just clicked and came together. [Up until then,] I [hadn’t] even realize[d] that this was a job option for me, so that was a really eye-opening experience.”
HC: So what’s a typical day at work like for you?
EC: “The great thing about working at Teen Vogue, and one of the things I love most about my job, is that it is different every day…So every day is kind of different which I think makes it more fun. I would have a hard time just having a desk job [and] sitting there staring at the computer screen all the time.
And it’s nice that there’s a social aspect to [my job] because I am constantly out learning about the latest products, talking to hair stylists and makeup artists, going backstage at fashion shows and then going to their photo shoots. So it’s a really rich job because there are so many different aspects to it so you never really get bored. You’re not allowed to get bored.”
HC: Working in beauty, you must be constantly trying out different products.
Is this one of your favorite parts of your job or have you gotten pretty used to it by now that the novelty has worn off?
“It’s still really exciting…. One amazing thing about beauty is that the technology is always changing and the science is always changing so it’s exciting because it’s always a little bit different. Yes, there’s always going to be a new red lipstick, but the formula changes.
That said, every one in my department [is] into different things. My assistant, for instance, is obsessed with nail polish, so she’s always freaking out over really cool nail polish colors. And I’m really into skin care so I’m really excited to see skin care products. And I have an intern who loves fragrance. We’re all into different things so we’re still constantly excited by stuff.
HC: I saw your interview with Alexis Wolfer from the Beauty Bean [an online magazine that focuses on beauty inside and out]. I’d never heard of this website before but it’s a fabulous site! How important is it to you to you use this platform to show positive and touching stories about beauty?
EC: “I think it’s so important, especially for the audience…I think it’s really important for beauty in a magazine, not just Teen Vogue, to be kind of inspirational and not about ‘fixing you.’
At Teen Vogue, something that I really try to stress is that you’re fine the way you are. If you choose to use these products or if you’re inspired (because you love fashion) to do a crazy nail polish or a crazy eye shadow, go for it but it’s not mandatory and beauty should always make you feel good. I think that the world is a negative enough place already without having to feel bad about the way you look and I think it’s important just to make people feel good and give them options and ways to play with their look.”
HC: Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to work in the magazine world?
EC: For teens who are looking to work in the magazine world, I would just recommend that they intern when they’re in college. Don’t feel like [you] have to do it freshman year for instance…When [you’re] about to be a junior or senior, start thinking about internships because it’s really important to intern if you want to work in the magazine world.
[Also], just be open to trying a lot of new things. I never really expected that I would end up where I am right now and have this job that I feel so grateful for. But I think [that] whatever you love—whether it’s movies, books, music architecture or clothing—there’s a career there for you so just try not to stress out too much. Things will unfold as they’re supposed to.”