Allure's Linda Wells on Why Runway Beauty Matters

We chat with Linda Wells, the first person to ever go backstage to cover beauty during runway shows, about how covering beauty has changed, and how Allure anoints their "best of beauty" products.
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We chat with Linda Wells, the first person to ever go backstage to cover beauty during runway shows, about how covering beauty has changed, and how Allure anoints their "best of beauty" products.
Photo: Clint Spaulding/Patrick McMullan

Photo: Clint Spaulding/Patrick McMullan

Allure's annual "Best of Beauty" issue, which comes out in October, is the beauty equivalent of fashion's September issues. This year's list--and the issue itself--is the biggest its ever been. Two hundred forty-six products, out of tens of thousands tested, got the nod from the beauty bible.

Lots of magazines and websites choose favorite products, but none of them has the influence of Allure. Getting an Allure Best of Beauty seal on your product can generate a 9% increase in sales. Needless to say, the beauty industry was out in full force to celebrate at the mag's unveiling party last night--I saw many happy beauty biz executives thoroughly enjoying champagne. (Oh, and I also learned that Allure gives away a suitcase stuffed with products to the party-goers. Most epic swag bag I have ever encountered.)

Allure's editor-in-chief, Linda Wells, chatted with me about her favorite products, whether runway beauty actually matters to regular women, and her thoughts on the next big beauty product, aka the next BB cream.

Fashionista: Which one of the products on this year's list really resonated with you personally? Linda Wells: The L'Oreal hair products. One of my biggest annoyances is that I have really thin fine hair. The L'Oreal [Professionel Volumetry] line is extraordinary. They won the breakthrough award and what's great about them is, even if you wash your hair, [the product] still penetrates and builds up over time and your hair just gets better and better.

We're in the middle of fashion week right now. Is it a good thing for beauty that all these voices are clamoring and tweeting backstage? I think it's a good thing! I was the first person to ever go backstage, when I was with The New York Times and no one was there. I just went back there. They at first were offended by it, and thought it was their own private world. The models and designers were really disturbed by it in the beginning, but I think they ended up getting it. After that, there were more and more designers who were opening their door to us, and now you have to fight a giant crowd of people.

The swag suitcases.  (Photo: allure_magazine Instagram)

The swag suitcases. (Photo: allure_magazine Instagram)

So do you think real women really care about what's happening with runway beauty? We found that the runway does influence trends, and it's [because of] how it's filtered and how it travels. The runway itself is its own little funny bubble. But then that goes to Hollywood, because a lot of Hollywood uses the same makeup artists. The makeup artists are very influenced by the runway, and they're all friends.

But everybody wants to look pretty. There are not that many people who are willing to be out there and go crazy like Lady Gaga. In the magazine we talk about ways to adapt it. We're in a time of extreme color and experimentation. So in a funny way, we're in a time where runway shows actually do have resonance, and people are looking at those colors and wanting to adapt them. You can't buy the clothes on the runway right away, but you can actually get the lipstick and put it on.

What's your prediction for what the next hot product, like BB cream, will be? That was a really unique thing. I don't think there's been that moment where everything has come together like that. It's reached the saturation point, though. But I do think the idea of a wearable sunscreen with some tint makes a lot of sense. But it has to be the best sunscreen with the best tint with the best moisturizer. It can't just be that you compromise one thing in order to get all of it. I think there will be perfecting of that. BB cream will keep having that ripple effect for a while though, like BB eyelashes and lipstick. But I still don't think [one product] can be all things to all people.

Allure's "Best of Beauty" issue hits newsstands on September 17, or you can see the full list here.