Hana Hong from Marie Claire

As Told By: Hana Hong from Marie Claire

Last updated on: 2019

As Told By

After years of freelance writing and being a part of several different fashion and beauty magazines, Hana Hong is now a beauty assistant and writer at Marie Claire. In a recent article she wrote in Cosmopolitan, Hana discusses both the great (and not-so-great) sides of K-Beauty and more about the pressure and criticism she’s faced in Korean culture. Learn more about Hana’s journey in the beauty industry, the story behind her Cosmopolitan article and what beauty products she can’t live without.

1. Tell us a little about yourself. How did you first get your start in the beauty industry?

I’ve always been interested in beauty for as long as I can remember. Going through my mom’s vanity and digging through her makeup bag was a childhood pastime. I wanted to somehow merge my interest in beauty and fashion with my passion for writing, which is how I decided that I wanted to enter the magazine industry. After getting involved in leadership editorial positions at five different magazines on campus (along with national brands like CollegeFashionista and Her Campus), I got my first big break through an internship at InStyle, where I was able to write various feature stories and continue freelancing for them throughout college as a travel writer. My next internship at Reader’s Digest through ASME (American Society of Magazine Editors) allowed me to take an even bigger focus on beauty as I wrote for their beauty ands wellness vertical. ASME was by far one of my greatest experiences – it introduced me to a recruiter at Hearst who later recommended me for the position at Hearst Beauty Group once I was close to graduating. There, I worked on eight different magazines, including Cosmopolitan, Seventeen and Woman’s Day, until I was assigned to the Marie Claire team as the beauty assistant.

2. As a beauty assistant and writer at Marie Claire, what does a typical day in your life look like?

Honestly, every day is different, which is what I love about it. I could be writing up a story for the next issue, scoping out some research about a new beauty trend, meeting with different brands for desksides on new launches or attending various events across the city. The best part is being able to meet different people every day alongside women in the industry who inspire me on a daily basis.

3. You recently wrote an article about the not-so-fun side of Korean Beauty in Cosmopolitan. Can you tell us a little more about the pressure and criticism you’ve faced in the K-Beauty culture?

Man, I don’t even know where to start because it’s always been a part of my life. Family members would always comment on your physical appearance – whether good or bad. Strangers and members from my Korean church would blatantly point out physical aspects and use them to define you (something that would be considered fairly rude in most cultures). It was something I grew with as a child, but it didn’t begin to really bother me until I hit the teenage years. Having people point out something like a pimple on your face (which is already very troubling for a kid) and acting blasé about it because it’s “out of loving concern” was so confusing to me, and seeing my Korean friends begin thinking about plastic surgery at that age was equally off-putting. I noticed the difference between how I felt around my Korean community versus my other social circles, and quickly realized it was because of this scrutinizing judgment that always followed with the culture.

4. What is one thing you have accomplished in your career that you’re extremely proud of?

I would have to say the K-beauty story was pretty important to me. For years, I’ve wanted to get this story out there even though the topic is taboo in Korean culture. I’ve seen so many girls get crushed by insecurity and judgment from Korean society. These harsh realities of Korean Beauty hit me at a young age too, so I told myself that one day I was going to try and change that. Being able to share my story at a magazine with such a wide platform that I’ve read for years was that promise to myself finally being fulfilled.

Hana Hong from Marie Claire quote

5. What beauty products could you not live without?

It’s difficult to pinpoint favorites because my job means we try out so many, but I LOVE the Elizabeth Arden HydraGel Moisturizer, La Mer Crème de la Mer, Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Face Oil and Dr. Barbara Sturm Hyaluronic Serum. But more than anything, two consistent staples in my skincare routine no matter what are perhaps the simplest ones out there: Eucerin Original Healing Lotion and Dove Beauty Bar. I’ve used them since I was a baby and had extremely irritated, eczema-ridden skin, and even today it helps keep my sensitive skin under control.

6. What advice would you give to those looking to get involved in the beauty world?

In retrospect, my career path wasn’t something you can learn in a classroom; it was the culmination of my proactive connections in the industry. Informational interviews are always great; I spent one of my spring breaks at college in New York networking with editors instead of the typical tropical getaway that students did (paid off in the end). And find yourself a good mentor – I couldn’t have gotten to where I am now without the help of amazing people who believed in me from the very beginning. If you really love what you do, keep going at it. I don’t want to sound like a motivational poster, but it’s true: there are going to be rejections, anxiety, and disappointing moments, but keep trusting in yourself remember that you are your biggest enemy. Persistence can take you to extraordinary places.

Hana Hong from Marie Claire quote

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Interested in learning more from professionals in the digital marketing and beauty industries? Check out the rest of our As Told By series.

Ciera is a content creator, social media strategist and world traveler currently exploring Southern California. With more than six years of experience developing content, Ciera combined her love for writing, traveling, photography and creativity into her lifestyle and travel blog, Life with Ciera. In her free time, she loves going to the beach, cooking new vegetarian recipes and playing with puppies. To see more of Ciera, visit her blog at www.lifewithciera.com.