Glamour's New Executive Beauty Director Ying Chu on Beauty 'Dos and Don'ts' and Expanding in the Digital Space

We braved the extreme cold in NYC last week to chat with Glamour's new executive beauty director, Ying Chu, about how she'll update Glamour's beauty coverage, her personal beauty "dos and don'ts," and how she's going to approach online coverage now that Condé Nast has sunk a boatload of resources into a digital Glamour revamp.
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We braved the extreme cold in NYC last week to chat with Glamour's new executive beauty director, Ying Chu, about how she'll update Glamour's beauty coverage, her personal beauty "dos and don'ts," and how she's going to approach online coverage now that Condé Nast has sunk a boatload of resources into a digital Glamour revamp.
Photo: McMullan

Photo: McMullan

When Glamour's editor-in-chief Cindi Leive throws a party, people turn out for it, even if it's 15 degrees outside. Such was the case last Thursday when Leive feted Glamour's new executive beauty director, Ying Chu.

Chu replaces long-time Glamour beauty director Felicia Milewicz, who left the glossy in November to write a book, according to The Daily. Glamour also recently lost their senior beauty editor, Elaine Welteroth, who left to take Eva Chen's old position as beauty and health director at Teen Vogue. So Chu, who served as Marie Claire's beauty and health director for five years, certainly has her work cut out for her.

But after chatting with the new Glamour girl, we're pretty sure she's up to the task. See what she had to say about how she'll update Glamour's beauty coverage, her personal beauty "dos and don'ts," and how she's going to approach online coverage now that Condé Nast has sunk a boatload of resources into a digital Glamour revamp.

Fashionista: What made you make the switch from Marie Claire to Glamour? Ying Chu: I think [Glamour]’s an iconic book and I always sort of watched it from afar--and Cindi is such an iconic editor! When this opportunity came up it was kind of a no-brainer. It’s an opportunity to speak to a big audience, a really influential audience. I also felt there was room at the magazine to really freshen things up, and make things more interactive.

Marie Claire and Glamour have a bit of reader overlap. But in general how is the readership of Glamour different? 
They ARE a little younger at Glamour. At Marie Claire we very much felt like it was a career woman, a working woman, and definitely a little bit older. In their most recent numbers their median readership age has actually gone up. Glamour is definitely the millenials--it’s just a bigger audience. I love the idea of being able to have that high-low conversation with this audience, and they’re much more engaged digitally. To take the print magazine and evolve it so it encompasses all things on all platforms is really exciting.

"Girls in the Beauty Department" is a great magazine beauty blog. How do you plan to expand that coverage? It’s a great franchise, it’s a great column. We want to have not only assistants and interns--who are very much the readers--in the pages but have everyone in the department, including myself and the digital team, contributing to that page. It will be a back-and-forth conversation between print and digital.

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What about social media for beauty? The GlamourFashion handle is very active. All the things that fashion and Anne [Christensen, Glamour's Fashion Director] have been able to do make it more engaging, and a separate channel. We really want to build that out on the beauty side as well. We’ve seen some great beauty bloggers and vloggers, and we want to open that conversation up and contribute to it more in a way that typical magazines haven’t been doing in the past. Kind of just being a go-to for beauty 24/7.

Do you anticipate making any specific online beauty hires? I haven’t quite started yet because I'm waiting for my visa {Ed.Note: Chu is Canadian}, but we’ve been having some back and forth conversations. We’re looking at the structure, and I had a conversation with Cindi today, ‘What is the best way to integrate the teams?’ There’s still a separate team doing digital, and everyone on print contributes--but how do you really make it interactive and feel natural? Glamour is putting resources behind this so that we can really build that out.

As a long-time beauty editor, give us your two biggest beauty “Dos and Don'ts.” Beauty "Do"--always experiment with something you’re uncomfortable with. Beauty "Don’t"? All "Don’ts" are meant to be broken, but I can’t get behind lip liner. I had a personal "Don’t" moment in the 80s/90s when I was first playing with makeup in high school, and it was all about that lined lip. I can’t even look at that anymore!

What do you think the Glamour reader wants to know about beauty? Hands down, women in general love to know anything and everything about hair. What we also want to do is elevate the pages. We’re getting fashion photographers to shoot beauty, and we really want to bring the fashion conversation into the beauty pages. It’s all about a head to toe look. The identity of all these young style-makers includes their hair and nails and makeup--beauty’s not an afterthought anymore and our readers certainly don’t think it’s an afterthought. They’re not afraid to change up their look. The Glamour reader is not afraid to experiment. We can look at what’s happening on the runway and at street style level, and that trickling down.

So talking about the fashion tie-in, will you be doing more runway beauty coverage? We will do more. We’ve already been talking about the upcoming fashion week. Fashion week has become really saturated and overwhelming backstage. Everybody kind of gets the same information. We will plan stories based on the access [we get] to all the great designers, models, and hair and makeup people at fashion week. We're thinking, 'How will our access help the readers?'

One last question. Nail art: Waxing or waning? It’s still going strong, but I think it’s hit its peak. There are die hards of course, but I feel like it’s at its max right now.

The May issue of Glamour will be Chu's first. We can't wait to see what she does with the glossy's beauty coverage!