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After a series of recent masthead shake-ups, a new generation of young, ethnically diverse beauty editors is emerging—and they're bringing a fresh perspective on beauty to traditional media.
For the past few months, we've been speaking with some of them and today we wrap up this series with a conversation with Megan O'Neill, who has been an associate beauty editor at Lucky magazine for about two years. It's especially appropriate timing, as Lucky has just announced that beauty-world super-star Eva Chen—formerly the Beauty Director at Teen Vogue—will be taking the reigns as Editor-in-Chief of the magazine. Eva's legendary vision will no doubt affect Lucky's beauty coverage, and we're looking forward to seeing that. In the meantime, here's what Megan has to say about diversity in the industry, the brands who are doing it right, and her favorite products.
How important is it to readers to see a diverse representation of beauty? Have you had feedback from them on this issue?
All types of women walk the earth, all types should be displayed. And, yes, whenever we've done a story on things like natural hair or creams that are especially excellent for darker skin, undoubtedly, a friend or acquaintance will text me to say how much she appreciated the piece and how refreshing it was to see. One day it won't have to be "refreshing" because it will be the norm. Like when magazines have special features like"Ethnic Hair Special" it's 1000% great, but it sort of underscores the discrepancy. The world is a heterogeneous place—magazines should be too.
Do you see a trend towards more diversity on the editorial side of beauty content creation?
Oh, for sure. The world has changed and is changing still, and the population has changed and the president has changed! Walking down the street, it's funny—this isn't something I look for, but I've noticed more mixed children and just more mixed people in general. And there are more black actors and actresses and Oscar winners and models now than when I was a kid. Art imitates life—it's true—so I think editorial content definitely parallels our evolving world.
Has social media affected your understanding of who your readers are and/or their understanding of who you are?
Definitely! Social media sort of deconstructs our audience and creates individual identities/personalities. Readers can post to our web site, and we can see what they're wearing, what styles and trends they're obsessed with and, in turn, pander to them. And on our side, we can tweet and instagram, and it's such a cool little window into our individualworlds. I'm secretly thrilled when someone I follow or idolize tweets a picture of their dinner or necklace or cat or something and in the background is their bedroom dresser or kitchen cutting board. Social media creates this intimate, friendly ambiance—I think it's so so cool.
In your opinion, which beauty brands are doing a stand out job of speaking to a diverse audience of consumers?
So many are doing a great job in foundation—it's not just pale, nude, and olive. Loreal, Dolce & Gabbana, Korres, Cover Girl, Vapour Organic Beauty, Iman cosmetics, Make Up For Ever—all have these gorgeous darker tints (I use Make Up For Ever HD Foundation every single morning—it's my absolutely perfect match and just instantly melts into my skin). Stila is launching these awesome CC sticks (stands for "color correcting") with darker options, as well as concealer pots.
There are also a lot of new shampoos specifically formulated for natural and relaxed hair. Softsheen-Carson has an at-home relaxer kit with olive-oil-infused formulas that are super-gentle and moisturizing, and Carol's Daughter has this ingenious transitioning system for women with chemically treated hair who want to go natural. It's just the best to walk into a store and have options. I'm psyched to see what's next!
· Teen Vogue's First African American Beauty Director Elaine Welteroth on Diversity [Racked]
· Glamour's New Beauty Director Ying Chu on Ethnic Diversity [Racked]