Yesterface caught up with Stylist‘s Anita Bhagwandas to find out all about her career in beauty journalism. In our Q&A, Anita talks about her favourite cosmetics, her top beauty icons, and why you should never be afraid to experiment with your style…
Occupation: Beauty Assistant at Stylist magazine
Education: BA in Philosophy, followed by a Journalism MA, both at Cardiff University
Hometown: Newport, South Wales
1. Hi Anita! So, how long have you been working at Stylist?
I’ve been on the Stylist beauty desk for about four months. Before that I was Editorial Assistant at Top Sante for 18 months. Before that I interned and did holiday cover for Editorial Assistants on every magazine and paper you could imagine.
2. Describe a typical day at Stylist…
There’s never a typical day at Stylist, but what every day has in common is that it’s incredibly, frantically busy. As a weekly magazine our content needs to be up to date and 100% accurate so a large part of my day is spent researching and writing features and working on the beauty products for the Style List at the front of the magazine. I also write and pitch stories for Stylist.co.uk and Emerald Street, so I’m always looking for fresh new ideas.
3. What do you love most about your job?
Getting to write interesting, thought-provoking features that are so different from the generic beauty features you read in many magazines. Everything at Stylist is cutting edge, beautifully written and appeals to the modern, intelligent woman – I’m thrilled to be a part of that.
4. Do you get to keep the beauty samples you’re sent?
We test as much of what comes in as possible which is brilliant – there’s nothing like trying a product to know if it really works. Rehashing a press release isn’t journalism, but trying products, knowing how they work and relating this back to the reader certainly is.
5. Each week you come up with interesting and visual beauty pieces for Scoop – how do you keep thinking of fresh ideas, and what inspires you?
It’s easy to package areas like beauty and fashion into their own niche, but everything begins with inspiration. Take Henry Holland’s SS/2012 show at the last fashion week. He was influenced by This Is England (the cult TV series) which was heavily influenced by the music and fashion scenes at the time, which both play off social and economic factors in Britain at the time. Everything in culture is interlinked, which is what I try to get across with every news piece I write.
6. Why is beauty important to you?
Far from being the shallow entity many people think it is, the power of beauty is incredible. It’s interlinked with our core beliefs about ourselves and how we feel from day to day. How many of us have had a ‘bad hair day’ that ruins our mood, or a spot that seems like the end of the world.
Beauty is an art form to me; I’m always inspired by watching people like Alex Box or Terry Barber working their make-up magic at fashion week. Above all it’s a way to play out different versions of yourself, and reinvention is really important. You wouldn’t want to look like you did at 16 would you? (I used to wear green mascara so I’m certainly glad I’ve moved on!)
7. How did you get into beauty journalism?
I started out as a features journo. But working at Top Sante on both beauty and features I realized where my interest was stronger and began to freelance for papers and write in my own beauty blog in order to get into a beauty role. That’s when I landed my job at Stylist after it was advertised.
8. What advice would you give to anyone wanting to become a beauty journalist?
Think realistically about how long you can be prepared to intern for, and make the most of your time at the placement. Make yourself a contacts book, keep a copy of anything you write in a portfolio to show to people and listen to all the advice you’re give.
If you’re not given any (beauty desks are always, always busy) then ask for five minutes with somebody to get their advice. Cultivate a niche for yourself to give yourself an edge over the competition whether that’s having a brilliant beauty blog, or knowing every cult US brand from 3 Custom Color to Tarte.
9. What’s been the highlight of your career to date?
London fashion Week was brilliant, but writing for The Daily Mail, having my own online beauty column at The Guardian and all of the amazing features I get to write at Stylist are all huge highlights.
10. Do you have any beauty icons?
I live by the motto ‘go bold or go home.’ So my influences are Alex Box the incredible creative director behind Illamasqua, James St James (legendary NY party boy), Bettie Page (the original fetish model), and Siouxie Sioux to name a few.
11. Which current celebrity’s make up style do you adore the most?
Kim Kardashian always looks flawless and Jennifer Hudson rocks the best lip colours. Charlize Theron, Mary Kate Olsen, Jen Brill, Christina Hendricks, Julianne Moore, Beyonce, and Lady Gaga always play and experiment with their looks which is amazing. It’s the celebs who rarely change their make-up (er, hello Jennifer Aniston) who totally bore me.
12. What’s your favourite make up “look” or era eg. 60s feline flick, 50s glamour etc.
I love rockabilly music, so the fifties look with pompadours, quiffs and pin curl hairstyles are my favourite. I love the classic red lip and black eyeliner combo, but always think its fun to play with those elements, for example taking that red lip and making it glossy or metallic. Or taking the basic black eyeliner and making line into a forked flick just for a little variation.
13. What’s your top piece of beauty advice?
Never be afraid to get anything wrong, the only judgment that means anything is your own. Case in point, Louise from Made in Chelsea wore a black lipstick a few episodes ago and looked incredible – so unexpected, but really beautiful and chic.
14. What three make up products couldn’t you live without?
Bobbi Brown Under Eye Concealer is amazing and the colour range is unbeatable. My T3 Hairdryer dries in no time and makes my hair feel like silk and MAC Rubywoo lipstick is the ultimate red. I swear it can be seen from space, it’s that bright.
15. What would you hope to find in your beauty stocking at Christmas?
The entire collection of Edward Bess lipsticks or some beautiful Tom Ford Make-up.