What is your background/job?
I am the beauty director for BAZAAR.com, so I oversee all the digital beauty content across the website, YouTube, Instagram, etc. as well as our new anti-aging event called Restore. It’s my dream job and I am so lucky to work with some of the smartest and savviest women in the whole media business.
When did you first get interested in beauty and journalism?
I was always obsessed with beauty products as a child and teen, but I never knew you could be a journalist covering beauty until I interned at Allure magazine while in school at NYU. It was a lightbulb moment for me—I could write about beauty as a living! I worked at Allure, Refinery29, and BAZAAR.com for the last 3.5 years.
When did you first become aware of sun safety as an important part of your beauty routine?
My mom is a two-time malignant melanoma survivor. The first time she was diagnosed was in her early ’20s, and the second time was when I was in elementary school. I grew up in sunny Miami and Fort Lauderdale, so my mom made be obsessive over sun safety. I was always the kid whipping a chalky white sunscreen out of my backpack on the playground. When I was a camp counselor as a teen, I made sure to teach all my little campers about the importance of wearing and reapplying sunscreen.
How have you seen tanning and sun exposure normalized or glorified in the media?
If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s the notion that pale skin is sickly or unsexy. I was often teased as child for being so fair in Florida—and I would always counter by explaining my mom’s diagnosis and why I chose not to get color. It’s okay to love and cherish your natural skin color. All skin is beautiful! That being said, if you feel better with a tan, there are thousands of incredible fake tanning creams, sprays, lotions, and potions out there that don’t require DNA damage. We’ve come a long way from the days of Ross getting a bad spray tan on Friends. I choose not to fake tan, but I do try them occasionally for work.
How do you think leaders in the industry, such as editors and writers, can help promote sun safety?
When you’re in a position of authority, especially around products, you need to show people that there are sunscreens out there that won’t turn you bright white, won’t break you out, and won’t harm the environment. It’s our job to find and promote products that will not only save people’s lives but also make them feel beautiful too. One of our top galleries is a list of the best self-tanning products, and I am constantly updating our articles on sunscreens for all skin types and lifestyles.
I also think the conversation around Vitamin D needs to be more nuanced as well. We still produce vitamin D while wearing sunscreen (no sunscreen blocks 100% of the UV rays). But in the winter, it’s a little trickier. Let’s not demonize sunscreen but rather have a more open-minded discussion about how it can fit into a particular person’s lifestyle and other sun-safe practices they can adopt.
To read Jenna’s work, go here