Valley Chats with Seventeen Magazine Beauty Editor Amanda Elser

Amanda Elser HeadshotPenn State students, meet Amanda Elser.

Amanda is currently living her dream in New York City as the Beauty Editor at the magazine we all grew up reading,  Seventeen. She started as the beauty assistant and quickly climbed the ladder to beauty editor in less than a year (impressive, right?!). Amanda is in charge of creating fun, unique and relatable beauty content for the monthly magazine as well as contributing to Seventeen’s website.

Her job is a whirlwind of testing products, attending events, pitching ideas and of course, writing stories. Less than five years ago, Amanda was just like us—a college student at Penn State. Read on to find out more about Amanda, her fabulous job and how PSU helped her to get to where she is today.

VALLEY: Did you know that you wanted to be a beauty editor when you were in college?

Amanda Elser: No! I knew I wanted to be in magazines, but I had always thought I was going to be a features editor or something of the sort. It wasn’t until I had my post-grad internship at O, The Oprah Magazine that I became interested in beauty. I was an editorial intern, but the beauty department needed help in their closet so I volunteered. I became so fascinated with how that side of the industry worked and how it blended together everything I loved about magazines—writing, new innovation and trends! You have to be a strong writer to be in beauty because you use so many adjectives and descriptors all day…(dab, swirl, blot, etc!) You have to be passionate about beauty, but that’s not the same as being a makeup artist or hairstylist…(I can barely manage a ponytail.) And you have to be interested in the science behind it…(I could talk to you about Zinc or salicylic acid all day!)

V: How do you think Penn State helped you get to where you are today?

AE:  Penn State is a huge reason, if not the reason I am in the magazine industry today. Bob Martin helped me score my first NYC internship at Harper’s Bazaar the summer going into my senior year. The Daily Collegian taught me everything I know about writing and interviewing. The connections and contacts I made during my brief time at Valley helped me score my first full-time magazine job at Seventeen (shout out Devin Tomb!) and just the Penn State name alone opened so many doors and opportunities for me in the job market—Penn State alums are always so eager to help one another out.

V: What advice do you have for young women like us who would love to break into the magazine industry?

AE: Internships, internships, internships—it’s a lot of money and it’s a lot of time, but without first hand experience your resume won’t ever make it past HR junk mail. I will probably be paying off student loans for the rest of my life, but I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today if not for those summers I spent in NYC working for free.

Don’t try to skip a step! Great, you have an internship, but don’t assume you’re going to be writing your first day! Each department is different, but I expect my interns to learn the basics before I consider giving them bigger projects. No job is too small and even if you just spend 3 months calling in products for shoots you’re actually learning something really valuable—the brand’s image and important contacts. Do everything with a smile on your face. No one likes a grump.

V: Where do you get most of your inspiration for stories?

AE: Pinterest is my best friend. Also, there are so many cool YouTube channels and Instagram accounts that inspire me! Working in the teen world is so different; I literally just go to the popular page on Instagram to see what kids are up to these days. I also go to Fashion Week, which is a huge influence when it comes to latest trends and cool new ideas.

V: What is the coolest part of being a beauty editor at Seventeen?

AE: That I never have to grow up! Glitter, scrunchies, and pink nail polish 4Eva!

V: What are your favorite fall beauty trends right now?

AE: I’m loving the whole 90s revival thing that is going on right now (note “scrunchies” above). I’m a big fan of bold, brushed out brows, brown lipstick, and crimps—preferably not all together.

V: What four products do you find yourself reaching for the most right now?

AE: I keep my own routine fairly simple, but my faves are: Pixi Glow Tonic for toning and brightening, MAC Ruby Woo lipstick for the perfect matte red lip, Naked 3 Palette for a pretty rose gold smoky eye, and Too Faced “Better than Sex” mascara  (it sounds scandalous but it really does rock my world).

V: How do you think the beauty industry has evolved within recent years?

AE: The beauty industry wasn’t hit too hard during the recession. In fact, it probably boost sales. People couldn’t afford the Chanel bag, but they could definitely splurge on a Chanel polish. Because of this, I feel like brands are thinking bigger and better than ever before. Almost everyone has a Dry Shampoo or a BB Cream, now. Speaking of BB Cream, I think US markets are being more and more inspired by Asian skincare. They have the best products and I am so happy that some of them are starting to pop up stateside!

V: Are there any beauty looks you would never try?

AE: I think anyone can pull off any trend, but there are a few looks I wouldn’t try at work—ie, black lipstick and grey/metallic hair—although I could probably get away with it.

V: How has your beauty routine changed from being a student at Penn State to now?

AE: I used to be so afraid of color! Now, I feel incomplete if I don’t have on a bold lip or metallic liner. I also cringe when I think of all the nights I didn’t wash my face before going to bed, or all the days I didn’t wear SPF— UGH—two big no, nos.

A huge thanks to Amanda for chatting with us! Go follow her on Twitter and Instagram @amandaelser.

Photo provided by Amanda Elser

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