Beautyeditor: The Insider's Guide to Beauty

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"If I’m recommending something to my readers then I need to be able to stand behind it." - Michelle Villett, Beautyeditor

Beauty products are wonderful, tricky things, and if you don't have an ally to help you find the good stuff you risk spending a lot of money for bad results – or you'll miss out on some of the best beauty secrets around. Fortunately for all of us, there is Michelle Villett, founder of the award-winning beauty site beautyeditor.ca, who sorts through all the latest beauty products to help readers find the best new looks. It's also the place to go when you want to get the latest red carpet and celebrity beauty looks, makeup tips or when you want to ask an expert anything about beauty.

Beautyeditor is new Say Media partner based in Toronto and the site was recently updated with a beautiful and sleek new design. We caught up with Michelle via email to find out what beauty trends she's excited about now, what women want in a beauty site (and who's doing it well), plus the 5 favorite products she can't live without.

For those that are new to your site, what are some great posts to start with? As much as I love following and writing about hair and makeup trends, I’m actually a total nerd about skincare and health stuff—my philosophy is that beauty starts from the inside out. The most popular post on the site is called: The single best product EVAH for your skin is not, in fact, an actual skincare product… It’s all about cod liver oil, and how I discovered that taking it orally is hugely beneficial for overall skin quality and concerns such as acne. Testimonials continue to roll in from dozens and dozens of readers who gave it a try and found it worked for them, too.

Another popular article—which is also my favourite on the entire site—is called: Do women hate other women for being beautiful? Let’s talk about The Pretty Penalty—and if it really exists. The answer is YES! And the comments may be an ever better read than the post itself: it generated the most heartfelt, thought-provoking stories from readers sharing how appearance has impacted their male and female relationships.

With my background as a magazine beauty editor, I’ve picked up tons of pointers from the makeup artists, hairstylists and other experts I talk to on a near-daily basis—such as the tips in: No offense, but you’re probably making one of these 7 mistakes with your foundation

Finally, anyone who knows me well knows that I’m always doing beauty experiments on myself (sometimes not so successfully). Two examples are How I faded my hair colour at home—and rescued myself from burgundy hair-dye hell! and My brief, traumatic foray into the Oil Cleansing Method (or: how overreaching can sometimes backfire on your skin). Enough said!

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What are your most popular beauty how-tos? When the Ombré hair colour trend originally started getting big, beautyeditor was one of the first sites to explain how to get the look at home, in: Why yes, it IS possible to do your own Ombré hair colour at home. Another popular how-to is: How to cover absolutely anything (zits! cold sores! dark circles!). The most important step in your makeup routine should be perfecting your skin—but the goal is to make it look like you’re not wearing anything, which can be pretty tricky.

What beauty trends and products are you especially excited about this spring?

Hybrid lip products: The whole lip colour category has really changed lately from a technology point of view. Instead of the cakey lipsticks and goopy lip glosses of the past, we’re now seeing hybrid products that combine vibrant pigments with a hint of shine in sheer, moisturizing formulas that feel like lip balms. I love that you can find them in a rainbow of colours and at all price points, from Chanel (Rouge Coco Shine) to CoverGirl (Jumbo Gloss Balm). You can even multi-task and apply them on your cheeks as blush.

Bold brows: Another trend I’m happy to see take off is the bold brow look. Obviously, we’re not meant to make ours quite as dark or dramatic as the runway versions from Marc Jacobs or Jason Wu… but I think everyone looks younger and more model-esque with fuller brows! Personally, I felt like years of threading was making my arches too thin, so I gave that up about a year ago and now see a makeup artist who only uses tweezers to shape them. It’s made a huge difference.

Nude nails: I never really got on board with nail art, so now that it’s on the wane, I’m excited to see nude, almond-shaped nails taking its place. One expert I spoke to likened them to “a boob-job for your hands.” They really do make your fingers look longer and more feminine.

Do you try every product recommended on the site? How do you decide what makes the cut to get mentioned? Yes, if I’m recommending something to my readers in an editorial (or advertorial, for that matter), then I need to be able to stand behind it and have used it myself. I don’t review every single beauty product that comes onto the market, though, so I think that’s why my readers trust me when I do mention something. Chances are, that means I’m pretty excited about it! The criteria for a mention comes down to performance, innovation and uniqueness. Other considerations would be the colour (when talking about makeup), packaging and price point.

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You have a lot of experience covering beauty products. What makes a great women's beauty site in your opinion? Number one is authenticity. Nobody wants to read a blog post that comes across like it’s selling something. The best writers find a way to cut through the “beautyspeak”—that press release-y way of describing products—and talk about them, and beauty in general, in a voice that is real and honest. It’s more about personal experience than straight reporting. I don’t want to know about the 50 new launches that came out this month. I want to know about the ONE product that actually worked, and why.

I also think a sense of humour is important. Magazines always have this thin veil of seriousness when it comes to beauty—but online, there’s the opportunity to be much more informal and conversational. Would you rather read a straight-laced article on the best red carpet beauty looks or the biggest WTF beauty moments?

That said, there still needs to be some substance behind the entertainment. Otherwise, it can feel a bit like a bag of chips—nice to snack on but not really satisfying. I don’t think readers will ever feel deeply invested or connected unless they’re actively learning new things from a website, whether it’s how to apply their foundation properly or the best cult beauty products to invest in.

What are women looking for? I don’t know about all women, but the ones I write for are basically like me: interested in beauty, but not completely obsessed with it. They’re not junkies who are buying every single makeup collection that launches and spending hours each morning applying a complicated, multi-coloured smoky eye.

They just want an edit of what’s out there, so they know which key products really work and are worth the money. They follow celebrity and runway trends, but always with an eye to looking natural and pretty, not overdone. And they’re after great tips that’ll make their lives easier.

What other beauty sites are doing interesting things and why? I love finding out about the skin, hair and makeup habits of the people profiled on Into the Gloss. It’s that whole personal testimonial thing that makes them so compelling—I always read them and make note of the cult products mentioned that I want to try myself. No More Dirty Looks does a great job of covering the natural and organic beauty category with a mix of reviews, science-driven reporting and personal grooming testimonials (similar to Into the Gloss, but from readers instead of VIPs). xoVain and xoJane both nail it when it comes to tone (informal) and angles (always personal). Their headlines get me every time!

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What are your 5 must-have beauty products right now?

  1. Dior Nail Glow: This is a clear nail polish with a hint of pink, and it boosts the natural pink colour of your nails while making the white tips look whiter. It’s a great fast-fix when you don’t have time to do full polish.

  2. SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50: This is the least greasy sunscreen I’ve ever tried. It’s also mineral-based and has a slight universal tint.
  3. Lush Sikkim Girls Perfume: I’m not a mainstream fragrance wearer. This new launch, named for a female duo with incredible powers of seduction, has notes of frangipani, jasmine, vanilla and tuberose. It smells totally exotic and unique.
  4. MAC Extended Play Gigablack Lash Mascara: It’s totally different to the oversized brushes that are dominating the market right now. The small brush and soft formula give you a ton of control and allow you to coat every single lash without clumping.
  5. Dove Dry Shampoo: The brand’s celebrity hairstylist, Mark Townsend, encouraged me to use it not just on dirty hair but also as a volume-builder and texturizer for clean hair. It works—and it’s dirt cheap!

What's something your readers would be surprised to learn about you? Probably the lengths I will go to for a beauty and/or health experiment! I’ll try almost anything. Lately, I’ve been reading a lot about nutrient-dense foods and how much better it is to get your vitamins and minerals from them instead of supplements. I actually went to the store and bought raw beef liver. Apparently, it’s the very best source of vitamin A—which has major skin benefits. It was hands down the most disgusting thing I’ve ever prepared, but I did try it!

Beautyeditor is a Say Media partner. Get the latest beauty updates on Twitter @beauty_editor.

[Images: All photos via beautyeditor.ca]