By Chantel Guertin
For many years I worked as a beauty influencer on TV, sharing my favorite products with viewers. Aside from being an author, this was one of the best jobs ever. I loved the excitement of it all—flying to a new city each day, staying in hotels, going on-air to chat about my love of the latest lipstick or face serum . . . But that’s just half of it. What most people don’t realize is what goes on behind the scenes, which is often anything but glamorous. So, I thought I’d share a few fun facts, in case this is a career you’re considering or you’re just curious about how it all works and the secret to balancing brand partnerships and authenticity to create great content and get paid.
- For years I received hundreds of dollars’ worth of free products every single day, delivered right to my front door. Plus OTT gifts, like a Chanel basketball, personalized Marc Jacobs mascara, an iPod so I could use a running app with my new Nike sneakers. For years and years, I never had to buy a single product. Neither did my friends or the women at the shelter down the street. The other day I went to the store to buy a mascara for the first time in years and I cried at the price. (As an aside, this is an example of why you should always have a waterproof mascara on hand—you never know when you might unexpectedly bust out in tears).
- I had to give away a lot of really good, really expensive products I could never have afforded to buy. Once, I’d mistakenly packed a $585 serum into my carry-on bag instead of my checked luggage. Not only did security throw it out, I didn’t get paid by the brand because I couldn’t get another bottle in time for the segment. Another time, the airline’s rule about not allowing bags to be overweight (even if you paid extra) meant I had to unload the heaviest items, including a $400 hairdryer I loved. The stranger I gave it to was very happy.
- Sometimes, even when you can plan for the best, the worst can happen. Have you ever had to shop for a specific shampoo at 1am at Walmart in the middle of nowhere because it’s the only open store and the shampoo you need to show on TV in five hours exploded over your entire bag?
- Speaking of Walmart, did you also know you can get an entire outfit, makeup and hair products in the middle of the night when the airline loses your luggage and you have nothing with you except the sweatpants you’re currently wearing, which are obviously not appropriate for live TV? It’s true.
- TV stations don’t pay guests. So the only way to get paid is to partner with a brand you love and include one of their products when you’re on air. The trick is that they have key messaging they want viewers to know and you need to memorize it and get it exactly right. Mispronounce the name, give the wrong tip on how to use it or a host skips over the product because you’re out of time? No paycheque. That said, most brands are so nice to work with, and very understanding when these mistakes happen. Still, there’s no second chances on live TV.
- Some TV shows do give you the full A-lister experience. You roll in without a stitch of makeup and they do their magic while you sip coffee. But once, I got caught in a snowstorm and was nearly an hour late getting to the station. The makeup artist had already left and I had no backup product—not even a lipgloss in my purse. I had to go on air with a completely bare face, and let me tell you, it wasn’t one of those #iwokeuplikethis, I can’t believe she’s not wearing makeup kind of deals. I looked bad. Dark circles and blemishes? Yep. Even the cameramen were afraid and shot the entire segment with a wide lens to make me as small as possible, so I wouldn’t scare the viewers. I was mortified.
- It was a really fun job. And when someone reached out on Instagram to tell me they tried a tip I provided (and it worked!) or a small indie brand let me know they’d had their best month of sales because I showed their product on-air, it made me feel good—and like I’d made a difference to someone else’s life, even in some small way.