Career Chat – Q&A with Madelyn Chung, Beauty Writer Extraordinaire

Madelyn Chung is a freelance editor with a ton of great gigs under her belt. As the former Style editor at HuffPost Canada, and a writer for, sweet, Yahoo! Beauty and 29secrets, Madelyn is no stranger to the beauty world. We had the opportunity to chat with Madelyn and learn about how she transitioned from her university life and into the real world of beauty journalism, how she makes her content relevant, and her favourite beauty looks for summer.


BNTF: As a grad of Ryerson’s School of Journalism how important (or unimportant) is post-secondary education for a career in beauty journalism?


MC: It definitely played an important role, at least in my personal experience. Not only did I learn a ton (about journalism, not necessarily beauty) from J-School, but my school internship is pretty much what got me started on my career path.


Having said that, what’s most important in terms of landing a job as a fashion or beauty writer is experience. I know plenty of people who didn’t go to school for journalism, but have had successful careers as fashion and beauty editors or writers, simply by gaining experience through internships or writing jobs, whether they are paid or unpaid.


BNTF: Many people find the transition between college and “real life” a bit challenging. Can you tell us about your journey between the two? What was your first job post-university?


MC: I was fortunate enough to land a job immediately after school. My fourth year internship was at Chatelaine magazine, where I worked extremely hard as a web intern. Not only did I assist the editors, but I also made sure to write as much as possible, so I could have clippings for my own portfolio. My supervisors recognized my hard work, and offered me a job within the company (Rogers Digital Media) as the editor of syndicated content. From there, I made more connections with other media organizations, which ultimately led me to my job as lifestyle editor at and then style editor at HuffPost Canada.

BNTF: What’s one thing you wish you could go back and tell yourself when you were first starting your career?


MC: Stay true to yourself and be as transparent as possible. When you’re first starting out, it’s so easy to get sucked into the allure of receiving free products, etc. and a lot of times, people sell out. And with so many influencers and sponsored and advertorial content, it can be hard to decipher whether people truly stand behind the products they are repping, or if they’re just doing it for compensation. Nowadays, I make it a point to only write about products I truly love, rather than trying to make other people happy by offering coverage.


BNTF: Where do you find sources of inspiration to amp up your creativity?


MC: Reading websites I love, browsing through magazines, Instagram and looking at old beauty spreads. If I’m out of story ideas, I ask my friends what they’d like to read about, or what type of content/reviews/tips and tricks they’re looking for.


BNTF: Our blog covers a ton of beauty articles from Q&As, product features, howtos to must-haves. Which story in your beauty portfolio are you most proud of?


MC: The piece I’m most proud of isn’t a review, product feature or how-to… it’s a blog I wrote about cutting my hair. My hair was my security blanket, and cutting it off was a big deal. It really pushed me out of my comfort zone and forced me to put myself out there, rather than hide behind my strands. It just goes to show how something as simple as a hair change or a new lipstick can really boost your confidence, and I think that was one of those moments where that realization really clicked. That’s the kind of content I like to read, personally. Something that is raw and real and makes you feel something, rather than just someone telling me a certain product is going to make my life better.


BNTF: What are two pros and two cons of being a freelance writer?


MC: Pros – Freedom to create my own schedule and being able to contribute to numerous publications at once.

Cons – The hustle to keep steady work and not getting paid on time (this is very common, unfortunately).


BNTF: Writing about beauty products can get a little redundant, what are your top tips for upcoming writers to keep content fresh and exciting?


MC: Always personalize the story! I think traditionally in journalism, you’re taught to never include yourself or write in the first person, but I find the most useful/enjoyable beauty content is written from this angle. When I write about a product, I write in a conversational tone — a good trick is to think about how you would tell your friends about said product.


BNTF: What’s your favourite outlet for all things beauty related?


MC: Into the Gloss. It’s one of the few publications whose reviews I actually trust, and I love reading about which products my fave celebrities and editors are using.


BNTF: Your go-to makeup routine this summer?


MC: Funnily enough, I outlined it here but in a nutshell, I’m all about as little makeup as possible in the summer. I really just focus on glowy, bronzed skin, lots of mascara, messy undone hair and a neutral, glossy lip.


BNTF: And finally, what do you look forward to next in your career?


MC: Seeing what happens next!


Inspiration images courtesy of Madelyn Chung


By: Taja Jarvis, Toronto, @TVJV

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