10 Minutes with The Beauty Ed, Donna Francis.
Donna and I are fairly 'new' friends. It's funny isn't it, the older we get, the less friends we have, I certainly do... I'm extra fussy about who I want to give my time to and i'm definitely not wasting my time with half hearted mates....it's all or nothing with me! I have high expectations of my friends ( which can be my downfall - I think I sometimes expect too much) But I hope and pray that the friends I do have, would do for me, what I would do for them. ( eh Kerbie? -private joke!)
You have been a Beauty Editor for over 20 years now! You must have tried lots of products and seen lots of changes in the industry during this time.
I know – I’m like the old lady of beauty now ha ha! I was really young when I got my first job at Company Magazine in 1998. I actually started out doing work experience in the fashion cupboard like you Donna! I didn’t really realise that a Beauty Editor job was really a ‘thing’ until the Beauty Director at Company asked me to do some research for her skincare article and because I’ve always loved to write, I quickly fell in love with it. I’m lucky to have worked on so many women’s glossy magazines like InStyle and Grazia and also write for newspapers like The Daily Mail. I actually won an award for being the Best Beauty Editor on a National Newspaper.
That's Brilliant - well done you! And weren’t you the beauty agony aunt on Company magazine too?
Actually, that’s where the original ‘Dear Donna’ was born! I had the Q&A column in Company Magazine and the teenage version of Cosmopolitan – CosmoGIRL! This was where my love of creating content for the ‘real’ everyday woman began. These were the days before social media and email, and I used to get sent hundreds of letters in the post from women asking beauty advice. Some of them were a bit X-rated actually. I was best mates with the post room guys.
And now me and you have our own version of Dear Donna!
Yes! Dear Donna Donna is like the Instagram version of what I was doing 20 years ago. But no paper and pen required. And with you my lovely sidekick. It’s funny how things have evolved so much in the industry yet I’m still doing what I first started doing in my career.
You are also a Shoot Director too. Tell us about that.
Oh, I love this part of my job. I specialise in directing ‘unretouched’ beauty and cover shoots for brands and magazines. This basically means that you can’t re-touch anything on a model – even for cover shoots. This includes everything from spots to flyaway hairs that might accidently fall across their face. I was approached to do this about 7 years ago for the in-store magazine that comes in Boots stores. The approach was quite ahead of the game, but now slowly more brands like Dove and Superdrug are catching up which is great.
Why is directing unretouched shoots so specialised?
Most shoot directors only have experience with digital photography – which can rely heavily on retouching. However, because I started directing shoots over 20 years ago when digital wasn’t around, we could only use film then and all you had was a polaroid to tell you whether the hair, make up and lighting was in check. So I am used to paying close attention to the smallest details.
Wow! That sounds stressful.
Well it can be, especially for a brand like Boots which has over 2 million readers reading their magazine every issue! Plus, you have to watch the models every move so you rely heavily on great hair and make-up teams to create lovely natural looks that don’t require retouching. Maybe me and you can work together on one day?
Ah that would be lovely! It sounds a bit like getting Kaye ready in the Loose Women make up room!
Ha ha! Yes, and that’s why I love you and what you stand for. Like you, I have always been passionate about inspiring women to use their beauty products to help them make the best of what they have! We like to help women celebrate their individuality, right? Not hide behind filters or retouching. That’s why I get so angry when mega stars like Khloe Kardashian delete photos from social media that shows them looking what they see as ‘imperfect.’ I say we should celebrate our lumps and bumps. Be proud of our so-called flaws as that’s what makes us US!
Definitely! So, let’s talk products. You must have tried hundreds over the years. Have you got any standout favourites that you always go back to?
Er, yes! But it’s hard sometimes to put them back into my routine as I have to test new things all the time plus I’m always discovering new favourites.
At the moment, the thing that I keep buying again and again is Weleda Skin Food Body Butter – the most gorgeous product that has the most unusual texture – like the sugar icing on top of those Lola’s cupcakes. I can’t leave the house without moisturising! I also never skip on serum as they contain the ingredients that sink deep into skin and make all the difference to your glow. I always recommend Clarins Double Serum and Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair.
What about make-up? What are you loving right now?
I’m very natural with my look so I actually don’t wear a lot. I love tinted moisturiser or a lightweight base like Max Factor Miracle Second Skin which is a skincare make up hybrid and leaves your skin looking so flawless and healthy. I also love a lip and cheek tint that you can just keep in our handbag and use throughout the day. Dr Paw Paw Hot Pink Balm is my favourite right now! And I’m always trying out new mascaras – I’ve never found one that I always go back to. At the moment I’m using Sweed Pro Lash Lift. The brush is super skinny, so it reaches right into your roots and it has a really silky formula, so you don’t have to do that annoying zig zag move to coat the whole length of your lashes.
I love the sound of that! Thanks Donna! So what’s next for you?
I have a few things in the pipeline. I’m still writing beauty features for newspapers like The Daily Mail and I still direct shoots for beauty brands and consult with them about their strategies and social media campaigns. I love being in front of the camera too so I’d like to do some TV – I love that BBC series Glow Up. I work really hard on my Instagram @thebeautyed channel so I really want that and The Beauty Ed brand to grow! I love filming ‘Beauty On The School Run’ with my son Billy and it would be great if that could get some more exposure! Women seem to love it as it’s so relatable and honest – I don’t get paid for any of these reviews so people know they can trust them. I’m always messing up and Billy is often throwing in a few bloopers – you know what kids are like! And of course work more with you too ☺ I’m really into speaking my dreams right now – it feels so good!
Awww, yes Donna! All sounds amazing. Thanks so much!
Loved this interview. Also really like Dear Donna & Donna. Loved last night’s chat about the menopause and have bought slow ageing facial oil. Both Donna’s remind me of hanging out with my girlie friends