Beauty insider: Joanna Huang

Joanna Huang is the PR manager for Estée Lauder Companies in India. When I say this I mean that she heads PR for Estée Lauder, Clinique, Bobbi Brown, Tom Ford Beauty, Michael Kors and Aramis Designer Fragrances. Yes, she has the job that you would kill for. Her desk is strewn with Bobbi blushes, unreleased palettes from Estée, a couple of Aerin fragrances, you know, the usual. When I told her that I needed a few blushes and eyeshadows to crush and shoot for a flatlay for my blog, she (and the lovely M.A.C team) sent a bagful of powders, lipsticks, glosses, shimmers, liners and glitters that were just lying around. But that is definitely not the reason I’m featuring her in my blog. With her experience Jo knows more about beauty than a couple of beauty editors combined. And she has also met a couple of beauty gurus that you’ve only heard about. Here’s a peek into her world.

How has the journey been?
It’s been an exhilarating, colourful ride to say the least! I started out in the company in 2012, at a time when communications strategies for lifestyle brands relied heavily on traditional mediums – print dailies, monthly glossies, large scale events, tabloid TV – and being present on digital meant a few online publishers. To be a part of our ever evolving media landscape and the transformative role it has played in shifting the way we consume news, influencing decisions and bringing information closer and faster than ever before has been the most exciting part of the job for me! I work with beauty editors to beauty bloggers and influencers, each with a tailored objective and curated outcome that I think will genuinely matter to the reader / consumer. What also excites me the most is to see how beauty has grown as an interest category…instead of it being about fashion all the time! :)

What have you learnt about skincare through your job?
Honestly, I’ve always had skin issues growing up – so I’ve always been quite careful and meticulous about my skincare since the age of eight, at least with cleansing and moisturising! Working for The Estée Lauder Companies introduced me to serums, eye creams, exfoliation and essences, which I didn’t give much thought to before. As someone with combination and acne-prone skin, I try to work with light, hydrating and oil-control products. I always start with a Clinique Facial cleanser and Clarifying Lotion, followed by lightly patting on an essence lotion (Estée Lauder Micro Essence in the day and Clinique Turnaround Radiance Lotion at night) for additional hydration and glow. I let that sit for two minutes and then layer on Estée Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair all over. I can’t live without this product! Then, I layer Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief, possibly one of my most favourite moisturisers and a cooling eye cream (Clinique Pep Start or Estée Lauder ReNutriv Ultimate Diamond eye cream). I hated wearing sunscreen because they can be very greasy and thick – until I discovered Clinique City Block SPF 25 sunscreen which is amazingly light-weight, sheer, tinted and also works as a primer! At night, I never sleep with makeup and use Bobbi Brown’s Cleansing Oil or Take the Day off Balm by Clinique before following through with the rest (except the sunscreen of course!). And twice a week, I use the Detox Mask from Bobbi Brown’s Mask Collection for a thorough deep cleanse!


Please give us three makeup tricks that you’ve learnt on the job.
o   Tip 1 for a smokey eye with only 2 products: It's simpler than one thinks - I line my lash line with an eye pencil and blend upwards for a soft smoked effect. Then I layer a medium-brown shade over the eyeliner, to set. Depending on the eye shape you want (its easier to follow your own eye shape) I keep blending the edges, until I can see a soft smokey halo when my eyes are open!

o   Tip 2 for wearing a bold lip colour: I was one of those girls who was afraid to wear a bold colour, so I learned to start with a stain by adding colour to the centre of my lips, and blending and blotting with my fingers. To intensify, I'd start by building the colour from the centre and keep layering on more, until I reached the intensity I was comfortable with.

o   Tip 3 for a 5 minute makeup look: We all have those days when you just want a fuss-free look (like when you’re running errands or on a beach holiday). I normally only use a concealer that is an exact skin tone match – I apply under the eyes to hide dark circles, around the nose and mouth and spot apply on blemishes. The aim is to look more even-toned and natural. Then, I add a flush of colour on the lips and cheeks with a Pot Rouge, followed by softly smudge a brown eyeliner on the outer corner of my eyes and finish with mascara.

What is the biggest beauty mistake you were making before you started working in beauty?
Lining my eyes with intensely black eyeliner - on the top and bottom lash lines. I'm Chinese and in an effort to make my eyes look large like everyone else, I'd wear a smudged black eyeliner everyday (because everyone was doing it and I read somewhere that it makes your eyes look bigger). Instead, it smudged everywhere all the time, gave me panda eyes, and made my eyes look smaller. I switched to brown eyeliner which looks much more natural, doesn't look as stark and messy even if it is smudged, and I only line the outer half on the bottom lash line. I swear by Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay in Place Eye Pencil in Coffee, M.A.C Eye Pencil in Teddy and Bobbi Brown's Long Wear Gel Eyeliner in Espresso Ink. I discovered mascara works better instead to open up and enlarge my eyes :).

You have also met beauty gurus like Aerin Lauder and Bobbi Brown. Can you tell us some incidents about these famous women?
You described them as they should be described - beauty gurus! Both, Aerin Lauder and Bobbi Brown are visionary geniuses with a pure sincerity about how their work and brands impact women all over the world! 

I met Aerin in Sept 2016 at her immaculately stylish office in New York. And the first thought I had was how effortlessly elegant, simple yet polished, radiant she looked. And, that's exactly what her brand stands for. We spoke briefly and I mentioned how I'd watched her on a TV interview when I was very young. My mother and aunts used Estée Lauder, so I was familiar with the Lauder name. I told her how incredible a feeling it was to be there, standing in her office, talking to her about that specific memory and our shared loved for flowers! 

I've had the privilege of meeting Bobbi twice - and you were with me the second time! I was definitely star struck the first time and tried very hard to contain my excitement. I really look up to her - a lot of my beauty routine is inspired by her simple yet effective, real girl techniques. I guess I will never forget the first time I met her - in her office in Soho, New York, dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt. I was getting coffee in the pantry, when Bobbi walks in and starts organising some of the jars on the shelves and refilling half empty jars of granola for her team. What a warm, approachable and inspiring woman she is!

You travel all the time. What do you carry with you?
I carry a lot of multi taskers and a few essentials. There are no shortcuts with skincare, so everything comes along which I empty into smaller jars. Makeup wise, Bobbi Brown Foundation Stick, concealer and long wear gel liner black and espresso, M.A.C x9 Eye Palette and a Clinique Mascara. I used to carry a lot of lipsticks, which were just adding weight, so now I carry only what I know I'll end up using - Bobbi Brown Sheer Lip Color in Ballet Pink; Clinique Pop Matte in Icon; M.A.C Ruby Woo and Estée Lauder Pure Color Envy Matte in Irrepressible. 

How do you take care of your skin on long haul flights?
On flights, my skin gets really dehydrated and stretchy. So I always have a moisturiser, a face mist and a lip balm. Having a face mist is so convenient for a quick spritz of hydration whenever you need it - I normally have one in my handbag and my desk at all times! 

What is the advice you’d like to give women as a beauty insider?
Invest time in good skincare habits, sleep as much as you can, build a routine that works for you and your lifestyle, and don't forget to hydrate!