If you’ve been beauty-shopping online, you know how difficult it can be to find that one perfect moisturizer that hydrates just enough without making your face look greasy. Or that one foundation that delivers a shine-free finish without leaving your complexion dry and ashy. Or that nourishing hair oil that won’t make fine hair flat. That’s why we pore over tons of beauty magazines (or e-newsletters)—to get sage advice from women who’ve actually tried and tested these products and lived to tell the tale: the beauty editors.
When it comes to breakthrough beauty products, no one knows them quite like these gals. After all, they’re journalists first (beauty aficionados second). They investigate, experiment and talk to the experts behind each product. We look to them to sort through thousands of products and cut through the clutter, see through fancy packaging and quirky names and be the voice of reason amid bold marketing claims and celebrity endorsements.
But what is it really like to be a beauty editor? More important, which beauty products do they actually use on themselves? We talked to Bustle West Coast’s Fashion and Beauty Editor Sara Tan to learn more.
Dermstore: What’s the greatest misconception about being a beauty editor?
Sara Tan: I think the biggest misconception is that we just get to play with makeup and go to fabulous events all day long, and while that’s partially right, it’s far from the actual truth. I definitely feel very lucky to be able to experiment with new beauty products and attend launch parties and conferences, but we still have to write and edit stories, sit in meetings, pitch new ideas constantly, create content for our social platforms, among other not-so-glamorous tasks. I wouldn’t change it for the world, as being a beauty editor is truly a dream, but it’s still a real job, just like everyone else’s!
D: What’s your beauty philosophy? Who or what inspired that?
ST: My beauty philosophy has definitely changed throughout the years, but now that I’m in my early 30s, I’m all about skin care first, makeup second. Growing up with an Asian mother really influenced my views on the importance of taking care of your skin, no matter your age. For as long as I remember, my mom was always getting facials and treatments and slathering moisturizer and lotion all over her body. (She would also always stay out of and away from the sun.) That said, I love, love, love makeup, but definitely like to keep it natural for day to day.
I am unwavering about my daily skin care routine, never skipping a step and never falling asleep with any ounce of makeup on. I also am fairly religious about getting facials every four to six weeks. You only get one face in this life, so you might as well treat it well!
D: Walk us through your skin care routine, from the moment you wake up and before going to bed.
ST: I usually work out in the morning, so I won’t wash my face until after to prevent over-cleansing. After my workout, I’ll use a cleanser (right now I’m using this luxurious matcha cleanser which has totally made my skin care routine feel like a ritual), followed by a toner to balance my skin’s pH, a vitamin C serum to brighten, a light but hydrating moisturizer and sunscreen. Throughout the day, I’ll use a mist to keep my face looking fresh and feeling hydrated. At the end of the day, I’ll double cleanse if I’m wearing makeup. I’ll use a toner and then 2 to 3x a week I’ll use a mask of some sort depending on my needs. I’ll usually use an exfoliating peel once a week to get rid of dead skin cells as well as a hydrating and repairing one for maintenance. I’ll follow up with a serum, usually vitamin C to brighten again or hyaluronic acid to plump and hydrate, and then I’ll lock in all the moisture with a moisturizer, a sleeping mask (for extra hydration) and a lip mask (because my lips are super dry.)
D: What’s your main beauty concern? And what are the steps you’ve taken to keep it at bay?
ST: Now that I’m in my early 30s, my main beauty concern is maintenance and prevention. I want to maintain hydrated, healthy skin and prevent sagging or wrinkles as much as I can. To do this, I am unwavering about my daily skin care routine, never skipping a step and never falling asleep with any ounce of makeup on. I also am fairly religious about getting facials every four to six weeks. You only get one face in this life, so you might as well treat it well!
D: Best skin care/beauty advice you’ve received that you still follow up to now?
ST: Protect your skin from the sun as much as you can, especially your face. Wear sunscreen, never lay out, never use a tanning bed and always wear a big hat if you’re going to spend time outdoors.
D: How would you describe your makeup style now? What does that say about you?
ST: I like to keep my makeup natural but am a huge fan of a bold lip, lashes and full brows. I am addicted to lash extensions, which helps cut down a lot of makeup time for me since I don’t have to wear mascara or eyeliner. On a normal day, I’ll use a CC compact (with SPF) all over my face, a little blush, brow pomade (from Anastasia Beverly Hills) and a lip balm and lip color.
“I also believe that these days, more women are looking to beauty as a form of self-care—using masks, getting your nails done, going through the motions of putting on your makeup like a ritual—makeup and skin care isn’t just superficial. It can be so much more meaningful and rewarding, and I love that more people are realizing that.”
D: What’s the one skin, hair or makeup product you can’t go outside without?
ST: For skin, it’s moisturizer and SPF, and for makeup, it’s my Anastasia Beverly Hills brow pomade.
D: How important is your hair to your overall look?
ST: So important! Having a bad hair day ruins my mood. I love styling my hair in different ways—it’s just another way to express myself.
D: How do you think women’s perception of beauty has changed over the years?
ST: I think that women are less concerned with wearing makeup to look good for others, particularly men, and are more focused on wearing makeup that makes themselves feel good inside. I also believe that these days more women are looking to beauty as a form of self-care—using masks, getting your nails done, going through the motions of putting on your makeup like a ritual—makeup and skin care isn’t just superficial. It can be so much more meaningful and rewarding, and I love that more people are realizing that.
D: Your most unforgettable celebrity interview?
ST: Kim Kardashian, for sure. She was so lovely and even more gorgeous in person. I’ve interviewed many celebrities in my career and I was still pretty nervous to meet her. But she was gracious, intelligent and super sweet.