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In this age of instant visual gratification via platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, podcasts offer a slower, quirkier way to get information, a sort of throwback to talk radio that you can listen to at your own convenience. While esoteric subjects abound in the podcast universe and it may seem counterintuitive to the subject matter, beauty is a burgeoning category. There are a lot of conversations you can have about beauty without having to see a look or product. To prove it, here are five fantastic beauty podcasts whose hosts hit on topics ranging from whether beauty product ingredients will kill you to how to shop for Korean beauty like an insider.
Fat Mascara launched at the end of February of this year and is the brainchild of Jennifer Goldstein, Marie Claire's executive beauty and health editor, and Jessica Matlin, Cosmopolitan's deputy beauty editor. Their podcast is engaging, well-produced, and authoritative without being the slightest bit preachy or condescending. (They're not afraid to drop an f-bomb, which helps.) The two editors wanted to launch a podcast because of the stories they weren't able to tell due to print's space limitations. Thanks to the duo's access, they've had some great guests including nail guru Deborah Lippmann and former NYT perfume critic Chandler Burr, and they tell Racked that others have been reaching out to come on the show. "I think they like coming on the podcast because they get to be their true multifaceted selves, not just the sound-bite version of themselves they often have to present at work and to the media," Goldstein says. Both women's bosses at their respective magazines are totally supportive of their side hustle. In addition to answering listener questions (like a recent one about collagen supplements), the two hope to discuss any or all of the following in future episodes: buzzy hair strengthener Olaplex, skin and hair essences, how perfumers deal with the smell of NYC in summer, wigs, tattoos, best sunscreens, cruelty-free beauty, and the Real Housewives' ventures.
The Beauty Brains
Two cosmetic chemists, Randy Schueller and Perry Romanowski, are behind The Beauty Brains, which includes a blog, books, a forum, and the popular podcast which is currently at 127 episodes. It's a must for anyone who has ever wondered why some hair products are so expensive or how cosmetics are regulated by the government. Don't be put off by the stark, underdesigned look of the website, though. Think of The Beauty Brains as the Aquaphor of beauty media — the packaging isn't chic but what's inside is perfect and multifunctional and endlesslessly useful. Schueller and Romanowski will talk you off the ledge with their witty, understandable explanations of beauty chemistry when you're worried that cleansing conditioners will make your hair fall out or if lead in lipstick is dangerous. "Our primary goal remains unchanged: we want to educate people about how to be smarter beauty product consumers," Schueller tells Racked. "Podcasting lets us interject more personality into our message and make the whole process more entertaining." In future episodes they want to tackle more about electronic beauty gadgets and how they compare to topical products.
The Snailcast, a group podcast project launched recently by four popular Korean beauty bloggers, is a must-listen for anyone who's ready to go beyond the the small sheet mask selection you can find at Sephora. The four bloggers — Jude from Fifty Shades of Snail, Tracy of Fanserviced-b, Chel of Holy Snails, and Cat of Snow White and the Asian Pear — collectively know a lot about the seemingly never-ending stream of Korean beauty brands, they're all ingredient geeks, and most importantly, they will all give you straight talk about what's worth buying and what isn't. "Someone came at one of us with some BS and it was clear that we needed a way to reach readers as people, and not as somewhat-dehumanized bloggers," Tracy says. "The Snailcast started so we could have an unpolished, unprofessional, intimate, and real way to connect with our readers, and so we could talk about things that are too controversial or too easily misunderstood in tone-deaf text." Prepare to take notes because they really know the market. (This episode about how to buy products directly from Korea is particularly enlightening if you've exhausted what's available here in the US). They will address reader questions such as "what do we do when we've fucked up our faces, an overexfoliation comeback episode." They may eventually have guests on the podcast but they don't want it to turn too commercial. "We've agreed that we would be open to having US-based K-beauty shop owners come on the show if they all come on at once and we narrate the discussion like it's Thunderdome," Tracy says.
Film and TV makeup artists and twin sisters Janice and Denise Tunnell have been hosting a weekly Sunday evening podcast religiously for eight years. The two give a helpful beauty news rundown at the start of the podcast and then generally have a guest on. Guests range from celebrity makeup artists like Sam Fine to Oprah's personal pedicurist (!) Gloria Williams and tons of beauty product entrepreneurs. The podcast always includes a great mix of insidery tips, fun conversations, and important discussions involving diversity in the beauty and entertainment industries. "We like to believe that the theme of our show is all about inspiration, education, motivation and empowerment," Janice tells Racked, and it definitely hits one or all of those on any given week. She says that listeners always want to know how to get started in the business, favorite products, and advice for newbie artists. You'll feel weirdly relaxed after listening to an episode, because there is something very soothing about the duo.
This Week in Makeup
Consider This Week in Makeup (TWIM) the companion podcast to all the time you spend scrolling through beauty gurus' pages on Instagram. The brother/sister duo of Crystal and Forrest offer up a well-produced show wherein they talk about forthcoming makeup launches from both mainstream brands — think Urban Decay and MAC — and the indie brands like Colourpop which are so beloved by the Instagram set. Crystal, a makeup artist, is obviously the product junkie, and she gives thoughtful and thorough reviews of products. Forrest is great at interviewing guests, many of whom are indie makeup brand founders or Instagram gurus. (The duo's TWIM Instagram page itself boasts over 20,000 followers.) "We have an amazingly diverse audience. Listeners come each week from the US to Australia to Nigeria," Crystal says. "We think we offer something for everyone whether you are a working makeup artist, a collector, or a brand owner with your own makeup line." You'll learn something whether you're product obsessed or just looking to discover a new brand.