In conversation with: Lucy Partington – beauty editor at Stylist magazine
With an average distribution of 424,107 copies per week, Stylist magazine has well and truly cemented it’s place as a holy grail for women in the UK (and anyone commuting in and around the UK). And so naturally, I was flabbergasted when the beauty editor at Stylist, Lucy Partington, agreed to be featured here.
The questions took some time to put together, I wanted to get the best possible information from Lucy. How did she get to her position? How difficult is it to do put together a beauty editorial? With the goal that her story can maybe inspire someone (plus me) to work hard to get to where they want to be. Because it is possible!
At what age did you know you wanted to work in the beauty industry and did you know it journalism was the direction you were going to pursue?
I was 21 and had just finished my degree. I’d had an interest in writing for magazines since I was a teenager, plus I loved makeup (I had a beauty blog way back in 2009) but it wasn’t until I saw a beauty internship position come up at a magazine called Psychologies that I put two and two together. I went on to get the 4-week position and it was during that time I decided to make becoming a beauty journalist my mission.
What did you study at University and how did it help you get to where you are now?
I did single honours journalism at De Montfort in Leicester. It was very newspaper focussed, so although I definitely learnt more on the job while I was interning, it helped to shape my career.
What was your first job out of University?
I’d had a part time job at McDonald’s since I was 16 that I kept up throughout breaks at university, so once I’d graduated I moved back home to Grimsby and went full time. It wasn’t the dream but it gave me the flexibility to be able to intern in London as and when things came up – if I’d have had an office job I would have been restricted to 25 days (or less!) holiday a year which would have made things more difficult and I doubt things would have worked out the same way.
Looking back, what were some of the pivotal moments that have shaped your career so far?
After I’d interned at Psychologies a last minute, week long placement on the beauty desk at Cosmopolitan came up – somebody else had dropped out and I was recommended to fill their place. So I did, and from there I kept going back for a few weeks at a time. I was paid a day rate (which, in a world of unpaid internships, was amazing despite it actually not being that much money) and eventually, just after a year since I first worked there, I was offered a full time, 3-month position. I didn’t know what would happen after that but I took that was my chance, quit McDonald’s and moved to London. Luckily, three months turned into three years, so that was probably the most pivotal moment. Without that chance I don’t think I’d have ever taken the risk and move to London – I owe a lot to my beauty director at Cosmo!
How long have you been Stylists’ Beauty Editor?
I started in February this year, so around 10 months.
What are some of the best parts of being Stylists’ Beauty Editor?
Oh god, there is so much! I get to try loads of amazing beauty products, I get to travel and go to amazing places in the UK and around the world, I get to meet incredibly inspiring and amazing people – from product formulators to small business owners, and then I also get to host panels at Stylist Live (which is so daunting and scary but also amazing) along with so much other stuff. I’m incredibly lucky to do the job I do.
What are some of the more difficult parts?
That there is never enough time in the week! Alongside all of the above we have a weekly magazine to get out, a website to update and video content to think about. It can be stressful at times but it’s always worth it in the end – and I always remind myself that we’re not saving lives. Nobody is going to die as a result of what we do (or don’t do!).
How do you know if something will catch on as a beauty trend?
If we see certain ingredients or products popping up across different brands then that’s usually a good sign. We tend to say that three’s a trend, so if there are, say, three brands launching a lipstick with hyaluronic acid in, we’d probably write about it. Then we look to the autumn/winter and spring/summer catwalks for hair and makeup looks.
What is a beauty trend you are currently seeing popping up?
There’s a lot of silver makeup – we did a story about it a few weeks ago – and it’s different shades and variations from pewter to platinum to just all out silver glitter. I’m a bit of a magpie so I can always get on board with anything that’s metallic or sparkly.
How many products do you use in your morning routine?
At the minute I’m on a paired back routine prescribed by my dermatologist. So I cleanse with La Roche Posay Toleraine, then use Skinceuticals Serum 10 followed by Skinoren azaleic acid and then Skinceuticals SPF50. And that is it!
What is one product that is always in your handbag?
I always carry Glossier Balm Dotcom and a Milk Makeup concealer I picked up in New York but I barely use them.
I am all about those superstar ingredients – do you have a favourite ingredient, that is just magic for your skin type? (Mine is either HA or glycolic, cannot live without them).
Probably Vitamin C or Vitamin A. I think mostly because I know they’re both scientifically proven to work and to make a visible difference to skin. I’ve also become fond of azaleic acid in the last few months – it’s made a noticeable difference to blackheads on my nose!
What is your biggest beauty fail?
Oh god, I’m sure I’ve probably had so many. The most obvious ones I can think of are hair related – I had a really severe emo fringe for around eight years, and then I chopped all my hair off so it was short on one side and slightly longer on the other. I then insisted on using at-home dyes to colour it bright red, purple, orange, I even had a go at dying my hair blonde once but it just went yellow. I have no idea what my 18-year-old self was thinking.
How do you put a feature together for Stylist’s readers?
Once an idea is approved we have to figure out how it’ll look on the page – so will it be a 1000+ word write through, will we break it down into sections/boxes, will we have a 400 word intro and then 10/12 product recommendations, or will it be something else? We also have to think about visuals – what images are we going to use to hold the story? And then once that’s all decided it’s a case of speaking to any relevant experts and getting quotes from them, planning out what each paragraph will say and how we’ll guide the reader through and what the conclusion will be – then we write!
Lastly, do you have any advice for any budding beauty editors reading this?
I always say that if I can manage it, anybody can. But persistence and experience is key. It’s a very competitive industry because jobs are so few and far between but a good work ethic will go a long way.