Right before we launched Dormify.com last year, I reached out to Eva Chen, beauty editor of Teen Vogue. I did not have any press contacts at all, and I had gotten her email address from a friend who worked in Public Relations. By way of email, I introduced myself and Dormify to Eva. Of course, I never expected to hear back from an established, super busy fashion magazine editor who doesn’t even cover home décor.
I was wrong. Not only did Eva respond immediately, she introduced me to the appropriate contacts at Teen Vogue, and has kept in touch with me over the past year. We even got to hang out together in Austin at SXSW. Total #friendofdormify.
Typical conversations between Eva and myself consist of what we are both working on currently, our busy yet exciting travel schedules, and sharing restaurant suggestions. (We both enthusiastically agree that Rubirosa is worth breaking all diet rules for!)
However, recently I scheduled a time to meet with Eva to interview her for my Focus On column. I picked her brain about her career path and beauty tips while we picked at pastries and drank tea at The Nomad Hotel.
Stephanie Hayman: At Johns Hopkins you were on a pre-med track for three years. What sparked your transition to magazine publication and the beauty department more specifically?
Eva Chen: I started out as pre med. I wasn’t totally sure about it when I made this decision, I just went into it and I knew it was something my parents wanted me to do. One summer, I took off and did something new and different for me—an internship at Harpers Bazaar. I loved working in Beauty and Features. It was a wake up call. I mean, what girl out there doesn’t love makeup and doesn’t love beauty? Since that internship, I never looked back. I think it’s important that college students try new things even if you are not sure about it. Just go for it.
Stephanie: It seems like you still value your pre med track though. How has your background in medicine been helpful to your current role as Teen Vogue’s beauty editor?
Eva: I am obviously very interested in the science and technology aspect of beauty. You know, you learn something from every experience you have, even if it’s not directly related. I carry my education from Johns Hopkins with me. I also worked at a law firm for 3 months where I learned organization skills and how to work in a corporate environment. I suggest that people get involved in as much as you can while you are in college. You can see commonalities in any field if you are willing to learn.
Stephanie: Agreed! I too think that that students should get involved in as much as they possibly can. Although, a large school work load as well as activities outside of school can result in skin breakouts due to unwarranted stress. What is a basic skincare regiment that college students could follow?
Eva: The main problem for college students is the lack of routine and the lifestyle issue. Staying up late and not washing a days worth of grime off their faces. A basic skin care regiment? Wash your face before you go to sleep at night and wash away all traces of makeup. Not exercising and not sleeping will also affect your skin.
SH: And your favorite products for skincare?
Eva: I’m obsessed with my Clarisonic. I use it every day in the summer. You should prioritize with a really great spot treatment, a moisturizer or serum, and a really simple cleanser. I like Philosophy’s exfoliating pads—they help refine your pores, clean acne, and get rid of discoloration. This product will give you a super enviable, poreless complexion. Another bit of advice - You will deeply regret laying out and tanning. If you’re doing it now at age 20, you’ll even start to regret it when you’re 25.
Stephanie: I’m not an everyday makeup wearer. If girls don’t want to wear makeup to class, but don’t want to look like they just rolled out of bed, what are your suggestions for achieving a fresh, simplified look?
Eva: The most basic product that will give you that polished look is a great mascara, nothing too gloopy though. Something really simple, like EYEKO, can give you that great, wide-eyed look. Neutrogena Healthy Volume is another great one that thickens and defines under your eyes. A multipurpose concealer is also an important product—definitely spend time finding one that works really well with your skin. This is something that is worth splurging on. Tatcha Japanese beauty papers are a great way to reduce shine without having to carry around powder and a brush. You can just throw a pack of them in your bag. For your hair, a sleek, pulled back ponytail that is a little bit more polished. I am not talking about a sloppy one ladies! John Frieda’s Anti-flyaway wand is kind of “genius” too. Check it out.
Stephanie: What are your favorite drugstore brand products for college girls or young professionals (me!!) on a budget?
Eva: I love Neutrogena! The products just work. I use them myself. Garnier’s new BB cream—tinted moisturizer and sunscreen in one, is fabulous. If you have sensitive skin, try Aveeno’s Ultra Calming Foaming Cleanser to reduce redness. Burt’s Bees is a great all around line for natural minded people. And I love Sally Hansen for nail polish. The Complete Salon Manicure is my absolute favorite. I used it in a cab on my way to a fashion show, and gave myself a super sparkly gel manicure.
Stephanie: Current beauty trends and obsessions for summer and this upcoming fall?
Eva: A strong red lip. I always feel lame saying it is a trend though, because really, it is always in fashion. It gives you a polished look without putting a lot of effort in. Bangs and colored hair extensions are going to be huge for fall. We saw pastel hair extensions on the runway at Oscar de la Renta—looked pretty awesome. Braids are always a fall trend—we have recently seen this look on the runway, and of course on the Olsen twins. If you don’t feel like washing your hair everyday, you can spray a dry shampoo (try Tresemme’s) and rub it in to create a silky braid. It’s a great look for school.
Stephanie: Expiration dates on beauty products. What’s the deal?
Eva: Everyone will say something different. But the most important thing is if something smells weird its “donezo.” It’s most important though to change up eye products. Any time you are sick or have an eye infection, you have to change your mascara and eyeliner. My basic rule of thumb is every time you replace your toothbrush, you should replace your mascara. It’s a hotbed for infections and you typically shouldn’t share eye products with friends. Since drugstore mascaras are pretty fantastic these days, it shouldn’t be too difficult to replace mascaras when needed.
Stephanie: It is evident from your Twitter updates that you love to travel and it seems like you are somewhere new every week. What is the best way to travel with beauty products and makeup? Any tips for girls going abroad who will be on-the-go every weekend?
Eva: I usually have 3 makeup bags when I travel. Thank goodness the TSA hasn’t stopped me yet! Basically, I have one for skin care and hair, one for makeup, and a small one that I keep in my purse. Also, anytime I get a small product sample, I save it for travel. I love Birchbox for this reason. Kiehl’s samples are also my favorite. I’m not embarrassed to say that I’ve gone to Kiehl’s to say I want to try a product and then I save it for when I travel!
Stephanie: At Dormify, we believe that fashion inspires home design. Do you feel the same relationship between fashion and beauty?
Eva: I definitely think beauty and fashion are intrinsically linked these days. Every fashion brand now has a beauty off shoot. Marc Jacobs has fragrances. Dolce has makeup. When I go to a show, I’m taken back by the clothing, of course, but the beauty is just so gorgeous. People are taking more fashion risks and beauty risks at the same time—streaks in their hair, crazy nails, and bright lips. I love it all.
Stephanie: You are very active on many different social networks. Do you have a favorite?
Eva: I don’t have a favorite because that would be like choosing a favorite child. They all play well with each other. Tumblr is great because it is so easy to use and the audience is always engaged and actively looking for inspiration. Recently, I’ve been playing around with Viddy—instagram for video. I also post on YouTube because I get 1000 questions a month, and I answer them there.
Stephanie: Who are some of your favorite people to follow on twitter?
Eva: @OscarPRgirl. She has made Oscar de la Renta relevant and cool for a whole new generation, which is awesome and inspiring. Also, @IntotheGloss, who is a friend of mine, is about beauty from a fashion point of view. @psimadethis is great for DIY. I like @MrStreetPeeper, @MissLadyFinger, @carlscrush. @WhoWhatWear is great shopping guide for college students.
You can follow Eva too!
Tumblr: Whatever Eva Wants
Instagram & Twitter: @evachen212
YouTube: Eva Chen