As this is Beauty Bible’s first editorial column on VH, we thought we’d take the opportunity to give you the insider low-down on how we met, what we do – and why we do it.
First: well, we’ll always have Paris… It was there that Sarah ‘proposed’ – well, proposed that the two of us do a beauty book together. We’d known each other ‘on the circuit’ for some time, and become friends. (We cannot pretend it’s unglamorous, this beauty editor lark: if it’s Monday it must be the Plaza Athénée, if it’s Tuesday it must be Claridges, and so on. Luckily, most of us get on like a scented votive on fire.)
Until that point, as publishers told us, beauty books generally flopped. But we knew why. Until Beauty Bible came along, they simply said: ‘Take a moisturiser, or use a cleanser…’ And we understood that what women really want to know is: which moisturiser, which cleanser – and which pair of tweezers/blusher/longlasting lipstick, come to that.
So we had the idea of sending products across dozens of categories to panels of women, asking them to trial them over a period of time (up to four months in the case of a ‘miracle’ cream), and report back. Everything goes to 10 women – and what we realised, from the get-go, is that results are almost invariably incredibly consistent. The bottom line? As most women know, something either works – or it doesn’t. And it’s that simple.
15 years on, we have now trialled over 10,000 different products on 10,000 women. (Since everything goes to 10 women…) It’s a mammoth operation (we’ve always said that next time the government wanted to invade a small country, they should just ask us).
We recruit testers through our website (many take part time after time). At the same time – thanks to the co-operation of brands from the priciest to the most affordable, with everything in between – vast boxes start to arrive at Beauty Bible HQ, a.k.a. Jo’s house. Our beloved Beauty Bible Exec Assistant Amy then counts them, sorts them, stashes them – while Jo sorts testers into teams with similar beauty challenges. After that, Jo and Amy make sure that the teams get appropriate products – and off the parcels go, with a detailed set of e-mail forms to fill in for the all-important feedback.
Some months later, the forms come back and Jo still inputs every score herself. (Control freak? Jo…???) And what’s amazing, as we say, is how consistent those scores are. After they’ve been averaged, we put together the testers’ reports – and then add into the books a wealth of tell-it-like-it-is beauty wisdom (much of it gleaned from the industry’s most celebrated gurus).
Why do we do it? To help women take a short-cut through the beauty jungle. It saves you money, by steering you towards products that really work. And it saves lots of beauty gunk from heading straight for landfill (which is important to us, because we’re both very ‘green’. Not that you’d know, with a swoosh of blusher…!)
Trust us: every book nearly kills us, but when we get the final book – most recently The Anti-Ageing Beauty Bible – in our hot little hands, and start to get fan mail from women who love it (many of them VH devotees!), it’s all worthwhile…
Our favourite tip right now: So clever, this: contact lens cases do double-duty as dinky little containers for beauty must-haves, on the go. You can squirt a ‘dose’ of cleanser/toothpaste/moisturiser into a compartment, and it should see you through the weekend.