by Bianca Mendez
When Christina Heiser began her career as a beauty intern at Fitness, the magazine industry was a little different. There was no Instagram or Snapchat and print still had an edge over digital. Ten years later, after stints in Everyday Health and WomensHealthMag.com, she got into brand writing and took on the role as senior beauty editor for L’Oreal Paris. Here, she discusses her day-to-day, why she made the leap into content marketing, and how she balances her job and a stellar freelance career.
Can you share your career backstory?
Rory Gilmore was my idol as a teen, so I joined my college newspaper freshman year (back in 2006!) and got an internship at a local newspaper my sophomore year. I realized I didn’t really enjoy reporting on hard news, so I decided to try my hand at magazines. I got an internship in the beauty department of Fitness and loved it, so I continued to do beauty internships through college. I’ve always loved beauty (I would read makeup message boards and shop at Sephora all the time in high school), but I didn’t realize I could turn that into a career! Three months after graduating in 2010, I got a job at Everyday Health, a digital media company, as an entry-level production editor for DailyGlow.com, their beauty website. I was promoted to an associate editor after a couple of years, but then that website folded and I moved over to working on EverydayHealth.com in 2014. I was laid off in 2014 which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. After four years of working full-time, I needed a break! I was unemployed for three months and then landed my next gig as a senior associate editor for WomensHealthMag.com, where I oversaw all of the beauty, health, and lifestyle content on the digital side. I was there for a year and eight months before accepting a job as a senior editor for Webedia, an agency that works with brands to develop content. At Webedia, I work for L’Oreal Paris. I’ve been there for a little over a year now!
After a career in editorial, what made you want to work for a brand?
Given the tumultuous nature of the industry, I decided I wanted my next move to be over to the brand side because I felt that this would offer more job security. I was also getting really burnt out by the daily grind of reporting news stories and I was looking for a job that would offer a better work-life balance. More and more brands are getting into editorial, so I was confident that I could still do what I loved to do, just slightly differently. There are a lot of beauty brands I genuinely love (like the one that I write for now!), so I was excited to enter into this space.
How has writing for beauty changed since you started? What’s one thing about working in beauty that surprises people the most?
With the rise of influencers, there are definitely a lot more players in the beauty game these days. Also, social media wasn’t nearly as big when I first started—there was no Instagram or Snapchat, and now posting content on both those platforms is pretty important. I think one thing that really surprises people is that being a beauty editor doesn’t mean I sit around playing with makeup all day. Beauty and health overlap a lot, so I end up reading a ton of scientific studies and interviewing dermatologists.
What’s your day-to-day job like?
Most of my days are spent writing and editing content for L’Oreal Paris’ online beauty magazine (I write/edit 25 articles a week!). I manage two junior editors, so I also oversee their work. I work closely with various teams at L’Oreal to make sure our content is on-brand, and I also spend a lot of time researching beauty trends and SEO-friendly story ideas to build out a monthly editorial calendar.
How does writing for a brand differ from writing for a magazine/website?
The biggest difference is that when you’re writing for a brand, you have to speak in their voice, whereas when you’re writing for a magazine or website your own voice can come through. Also, when you’re writing for a brand, you work closely with teams you might not work so closely with at a magazine (like marketing and legal).
You also do a ton of freelance work. How do you balance that along with a full-time job?
It can definitely be tricky! Sunday is the day where I usually complete most of my freelance assignments for the upcoming week. If I’m going home to work on freelance assignments, I try to stop by 11 p.m. so that I can still get a good night’s sleep. I have a massive Google doc where I keep track of all my freelance assignments and their deadlines, so that helps me stay organized.
What advice do you have for anyone who wants to get into beauty?
There are so many opportunities in the beauty industry, so if you’re looking for an internship or your first job, keep an open mind. Don’t just look at openings at magazines or editorial websites. Look for internships/jobs with brands you love, at PR companies, etc. Any experience is good! Feel free to reach out to beauty editors you admire and offer to take them for a cup of coffee. I’m always happy to speak to college students or recent grads looking for advice. Starting your own blog and building up your presence on social media are great ideas. If you have your own blog, you can start to build up clips that you can then use to help secure an internship, writing gig, or first job.
What about for anyone who wants to work at a brand?
Follow your favorite brands on social media and check out their websites to get a sense of their voice. There are so many different facets to working for a brand, so it’s good to have skills outside of writing (like social media, producing videos, editing photos).
What’s one thing you can’t live without?
My phone…I’m addicted!
Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat?
I’m an Instagram girl! Follow @xtinaph!
Bianca Mendez is a writer and editor who has contributed to Refinery29, TeenVogue.com, Bustle, and other publications. Her perfect day in NYC consists of trying the latest fitness class followed by a night of wining and dining. Check out more of her work at biancammendez.com, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.