After 10 years as the founding editor-in-chief of Lucky magazine, I became, one Wednesday not so very long ago, Lucky's former founding editor-in-chief. This development brought about a number of changes. My job came with some unimaginably great perks, and in an instant, they were gone. The clothing allowance, such a glamorous lark as to be risible. The car and driver, the first-class air travel, the suites at the Four Seasons in Los Angeles. All relics of a time and a place that were suddenly and decisively in the past.
As it turns out, losing all of this has felt more like a course correction than a jarring plunge into the unknown. Most of us didn't enter the field of magazine publishing to make a killing, and I'd never been foolish enough to expect that it would last forever. I think it's kind of wild that I got to live that way even for a while.
Still, after spending so much time on the gravy train, it has hurt just a bit to fall off. I had discount cards from a broad and enticing range of clothing chains, boutiques, e-tailers, and designers; I will miss that. A new bag from Chanel every Christmas was in no way a downer.
And, from the moment Lucky launched, I never paid for any beauty product. Cosmetics companies send boatloads of product to magazine editors to be tried and tested—and hopefully written about—on a daily basis. They were stored in a room called the beauty closet, and there is no overstating the quantity of gels, creams, glosses, scents, and other delightful confections to be found there. The beauty closet was my Neverland. There was no more perfect way to slide into the weekend than sprawling out on the closet floor late on a Friday afternoon sampling sugar scrubs and cheek stains. Once I'd fallen in love with a product—or was curious about some other one that I'd heard about—I was free to lodge a request, and that item would arrive on my desk the next day, possibly in triplicate.
I've got more than enough clothes to keep me going from here until the next decade. This pleases my accountant, who has had stern conversations with me about watching my monthly burn rate. Unfortunately, there's another category for which spending is about to go through the roof. But at least when the AmEx bill comes, I will feel justified, confident in the knowledge that—after years of informal but nonetheless impassioned research—I'm buying the good stuff. Here's what I'll be shelling out for.
Click here to read a slide-show essay on beauty products worth spending money on.