Emily Dougherty has a lot of ideas for NewBeauty to fill the many voids, from paper quality to audience appeal, left by other magazine publishers.
The editor in chief, who got the job earlier this year after about 20 years leading beauty coverage at Elle, has taken the last several months to execute an overhaul of NewBeauty’s quarterly print magazine, with the result being a Summer issue with a cleaner and simultaneously lush editorial aesthetic presenting almost anything one would want to know about the many corners and nuances of beauty products and procedures. But with the constant consolidation of other beauty and fashion magazines, Dougherty put a lot of thought and effort into making up the difference, led by what she sees as an almost exclusive focus on younger readers.
“A lot of people are chasing the Millennial ear, but no one is speaking to the Gen Xers, the Baby Boomers, particularly through the lens of beauty,” Dougherty said. “This in an age group that has money to spend and they’re very, very hungry for information. They’re looking for it.”
And while the magazine since its 2005 launch under Sandow, which also operates Interior Design magazine and Fred Segal, has been generally aimed at women looking for information to take to their doctor or dermatologist, Dougherty is hoping to bring in some levity to the pages.
“We have the science, people trust us,” she said, “but we haven’t had the heart.”
That should be settled with a number of additions to the magazine, like having everyone who appears in its pages, be it a dermatologist or an actor, reveal their “glam squad” and what it takes for them to look and feel good. Then there’s a section called “Holy Grail” that surfaces some iconic products, from Skin Trip lotion to Dior’s 999 lipstick, and some interesting tidbits behind them and their popularity; a section called “The Clinic” which groups and streamlines deeper items and stories focused on more intense procedures and surgeries; a bigger and more celebrated gallery of before-and-after images from cosmetic procedures, something Dougherty thinks of as “almost the candy of the issue,” and, of course, more coverage of the ever-growing wellness space.
But it’s clear in speaking with Dougherty that nothing is going into NewBeauty just for the sake of it or as an experiment. Having spent almost her entire career in publishing focused on beauty, it’s obvious that Dougherty has mulled a lot of ideas over the years and is now getting the chance to make some a reality.
One she seems particularly enthused about is what’s going to be a recurring section on the origin story behind some iconic images, starting with Juergen Teller’s 1999 photograph of Kate Moss with a head of rose pink hair peeking out beneath rumpled white bed sheets.
“When I look back, there are so many high points that happened that were never unpacked on the internet, because the internet didn’t really exist when these moments happened,” Dougherty said. “Also, making sure to credit the original creators — that’s something that’s been lost. Things are so ephemeral and Juergen should get credit for this, people should know the story behind it.”
For anyone wondering, Moss went pink exclusively for a Versace fashion show and was going back to brown before heading back to New York the day the photo was taken, at the behest of Calvin Klein, who had also booked her. Laurie Foley, the hairstylist behind the pink, was surprised when New Beauty got in touch with her to talk about the photo and Moss’ hair, according to Dougherty.
That history is something that appealed to Dougherty, as did her idea of leading a magazine that she sees as having no real competition and that relies not on advertising but on revenue from newsstand sales (circulation stands at roughly 300,000 at $10 an issue) and a quarterly product subscription box called TestTube that launched with the magazine.
Even at Elle, where she says she got a hefty beauty section with the support of then-editor in chief Robbie Myers, Dougherty noted “the hubbing was starting,” meaning editors and content were being spread across multiple titles within Hearst’s magazine division. Dougherty’s eye was already wandering before NewBeauty’s new president Agnes Chapski, formerly of Allure, came calling.
“I am really lucky that we don’t have a competitor right now — we don’t,” Dougherty said. “The traditional media has walked away from this [older] woman… content being repurposed across multiple platforms — that is not speaking to a reader, that’s Iron Chef-ing your content. It’s a dream for me to be able to write one story for one reader.”
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