Allure editor-in-chief Michelle Lee doesn’t just toy with makeup all day, although that’s still an important part of her job.
“The job of the modern editor-in-chief is very interesting, because we have to juggle so many different parts of the business,” Lee said. “We’re often the connecting piece between print and digital editorial, ad sales, marketing, product, video, social media and events, as well as being the brand’s biggest ambassador. [And] I get to play with beauty products all day.”
It’s not lost on Lee that the beauty industry is undergoing a digital shift. The media landscape has been taken over by Instagram and YouTube influencers, so a print magazine like Allure has a lot more competition when it comes to being an authoritative voice in beauty.
“We’re very fortunate in that there’s never been more interest in beauty. But there’s such a glut of information out there these days on social media and YouTube,” said Lee. “Allure helps cut through the noise. People really consider it a valuable resource when it comes to finding the best of the best, since they know how rigorously we test.”
Lee, the former editor of Nylon magazine, joined the publication at the beginning of 2016, after former editor Linda Wells was let go. She’s since helped Allure boost its digital chops and video department, which she said has grown views 800 percent over last year. The publication, under Lee, has also reached outside of its print pages to launch an augmented reality mobile app and a subscription beauty box.
Recently, Lee attended the Personal Care Products Council’s annual conference, from which she detailed the rundown of a day on the job as Allure’s editor-in-chief. The diary has been lightly edited for clarity.
6 a.m.: Rise and shine. I wake up at The Breakers hotel in Palm Beach, where I’ll be staying for the next few days during the Personal Care Product Council’s annual conference. I shower and watch the news. (There’s a TV in the bathroom, which is a lovely touch.) I still can’t get over last night’s Oscars screw up, with “La La Land” being called instead of “Moonlight.” I’m particularly sleep-deprived after I stayed up to watch the whole show.
6:15 a.m.: I open Twitter and look at my notifications. They’ve been going nuts since I sent this tweet yesterday on the plane. It’s at 102k likes and growing after Lin Manuel Miranda retweeted it. I plot how to turn our newfound Twitter friendship into four “Hamilton” tickets.
from left to right: me on twitter, facebook, tumblr, instagram, and linkedin pic.twitter.com/sLDFpPsgzk
— Michelle Lee (@heymichellelee) February 26, 2017
7 a.m.: [At PCPC], as an editor, most of your time is devoted to what we half-jokingly refer to as “speed dating” meetings. Allure has a big, luxe cabana overlooking the pool and ocean where we host our meetings. The entire day is scheduled, almost to the minute. Throughout the day, teams from brands like Coty, Olay and Pantene will come through for 30-45-minute sessions. They’ll tell us what’s new, and vice-versa. My first meeting is a breakfast but I’m already hungry, so I call room service to order a big carafe of coffee with 2 percent milk and a detox juice. I figure “first breakfast” will hold me over till “second breakfast.”
8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: There’s been a mixup, and my meeting with Coty is not a breakfast, but rather just a get-together in our cabana. I’m suddenly very disappointed that “first breakfast” has quickly become “only breakfast.” I meet the Allure team — including beauty director Jenny Bailly, head of brand marketing Jill Friedson and chief business officer Kim Kelleher — at our cabana. We present some of the exciting things happening at Allure, like our digital and video growth, as well as the Allure Beauty Box and augmented reality app Allure Unbound. Our next guests, Olay, arrive. Then it’s Beiersdorf (makers of Nivea and Aquaphor) and, later, Henkel (makers of Schwartzkopf haircare).
12:50 p.m.: We have about five minutes to scarf down some lunch. Jenny and I both order the lobster roll. I scoop out some forkfuls of lobster and stuff a few French fries into my mouth, and reapply Tarte Amazonian Butter lipstick — then we’re off to the next meeting with Unilever.
2 p.m.: After the Unilever meeting, I make myself an iced coffee back at the cabana before we meet with Pantene. My energy is starting to dip, so I need to make sure I don’t start sinking into the sofa. Come on, caffeine, start working.
3:20 p.m.: I have a short break so head back to my room to reply to Slack, emails and social media. I hear from our executive PR director Erin Kaplan that I’ll be filming a CBS segment about microneedling when I get back. I wrote this story about my painful, but effective, experience with in-office microneedling, so we’ll be talking about whether the at-home version works and the new democratization of beauty procedures.
Then I quickly edit pages and layouts for the May and June issues of Allure that the team has sent to me on Slack. My iPhone and iPad Pro have been lifesavers during this trip. I also email-brainstorm and approve some video ideas, as well as background music for an upcoming video with our producer, Maya Margolina. I also discuss castings for our fall covers with our entertainment director, Laura Morgan. At some point, I FaceTime with my kids back at home. Two words: Juggling. Act.
5 p.m.: I carve out an hour to prep for a panel discussion I’m having tomorrow morning with Ukonwa Ojo from CoverGirl and moderated by Condé Nast’s Daniella Wells, about millennials and beauty brands. We’ll be talking about the top 20 most beloved brands, as well as retail trends, social media and apps. We’re previewing not-yet-released research, so I want to be sure to nerd out and properly read through.
7 p.m.: I’m off to the very exclusive board dinner for PCPC, which is hosted by Condé Nast and attended by some of the biggest executives in the beauty biz. The Mediterranean Ballroom of the Breakers is totally decked out and gorgeous when I walk through. I’m seated between Sennen Pamich, the president of Revlon portfolio brands, and Andrea D’Avack, president of Chanel beauty. We have great conversations about the industry, movies and travel. My takeaway for the night: Sennen tells me he’ll give me a list of all the good restaurants I should be sure to hit the next time I’m in Italy — more follow-up is definitely required.
10:30 p.m.: Back to the hotel room after an extremely long day. I edit some pages and reply to a few emails and Slack messages. Before dozing off, I check my Twitter notifications. The tweet has ballooned to 160k favorites, with a retweet from Patton Oswalt and a like by Lorde. I fall asleep and dream about a calmer day tomorrow.