If you’ve read a few glossies in the past, you may remember seeing Chereen’s name in the masthead as beauty editor and contributing writer. We spent five minutes with the For The Beauty Of It creator to find out what double cleansing involves and why she’s a fan of the dewy skin look.
How did you get started in your career as a beauty writer and journalist? What inspired you to start For The Beauty Of It?
I've always been passionate about writing (and reading), so I decided to follow my heart and studied Literature and English Language and Linguistics at university, with the hope of becoming a journalist for print media. For as long as I can remember, I've been an avid magazine reader, and it was my dream to become an editor at a magazine. I was lucky enough to land the position of junior sub-editor at the South African edition of Woman & Home magazine straight out of varsity. It was here that I was finally able to merge my love for beauty with my love for writing, and I was promoted to the health and beauty editor in 2009. After about a year in this role, I was offered the position of beauty editor at O, The Oprah Magazine, and I jumped at the chance as it meant that I would have to relocate to Cape Town – my dream! It was around this time that I started reading Cupcakes and Cashmere, an American-based fashion and lifestyle blog written by Emily Schuman. I fell in love with Emily's posts and photographs, and before I knew it, my (now) husband and I were spending evenings building my blog. For The Beauty Of It started as a space for me to record my experiences of living in Cape Town, as well as sharing some of my favourite beauty finds with others. Little did I know that I'd be working on it full time and actually making an income off of it eight years later!
When did you realise makeup was your passion?
I don't think I ever really had this realisation – I've just always loved makeup and beauty products. I used to spend all my pocket money on Tinkerbell nail polishes and lipsticks when I was a little girl, and one of my most memorable gifts was a simple blusher from Boots No7 that I received for my 9th birthday. There was nothing special about this blusher – apart from the fact that it was my first 'real' makeup item. My best friend and I used to spend our play dates compiling our own magazines. She was the editor and I was both the fashion and beauty editor. It's so funny to look back on this and realise that it's always been in me!
What are some big wins and challenges you've had while growing your brand?
One of the most memorable achievements was being named the Best Beauty Blogger at the SA Mommy Blogging Awards 2018. Blogging and working as a freelance writer can be quite an isolating existence, and it can be difficult to feel as though you're making a mark. Sure, the numbers prove that women are enjoying my work, but numbers often become a bit impersonal. Receiving this award was a very public way of acknowledging the fact that all my hard work is being seen. I've also been lucky enough to work with some of my favourite beauty brands, and I officially earned more money from my blog in December than my monthly salary working in a full-time job.
The biggest challenge is definitely trying to juggle all the roles that comes with being a blogger – planning content, writing, taking photographs, running social media accounts, tending to invoices.... I've found that I've had to become really organised and strict about how I spend my time. Something else that's a struggle is trying to remain fresh in an industry that sees new talent cropping up continuously and that changes on an almost weekly basis.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Every day is different, and it really depends on whether I have any current deadlines. I also work as a freelance writer, so freelance features and sponsored blog content always come first. I'm not much of a morning person, so I usually have a slow start to the day: I'll wake up at around 6am, then slowly get myself ready for the day before my son wakes up between 6:30 and 7am. My husband usually sorts out our son's breakfast and lunchbox, while I make sure that he brushes his teeth, gets dressed, and applies sunscreen. After dropping him off at school at 8am, I indulge in a cup of coffee while soaking up some sunshine for about 30 minutes (if the weather's good). I find that this helps me to wake up properly and puts me in a really good mood, ready to face whatever the day has in store for me. It's at this point that I'll move upstairs to my desk and get started on work for the day. I'll check my inbox, post to social media, then get started on some writing – whether for my blog or for a client. I try to finish off work at around 1pm, just in time to fetch my son from school. I try to take afternoons off so that I can spend quality time with him, but this all depends on whether I have any deadlines on the go. If I'm feeling creative, I'll shoot some photographs for blog posts while my son plays Lego. During busy times, I'll likely find myself sitting at my desk again come 8pm, after my son has gone to bed. I'm a bit of a night owl and actually enjoy writing at night, as I find that I'm most creative then.
Being a mom is an all-consuming job. How do you find time for self-care?
Both my husband and I work from home, and I find that this has been a real saving grace. When I can feel myself starting to get too overwhelmed, I'll let him know and he'll usually take my son out for the afternoon so that I can rest and have a bit of space. As I mentioned before, I'm a bit of a night owl, so I find that most of my 'me-time' happens after 8pm. I'm a huge fan of skincare and indulge in the full routine every single night without fail. I treat myself to a long soak in the tub, complete with a face and a hair mask, at least once a week. I also make sure that I exercise as much as possible – we go for regular late afternoon walks as a family and I like ending off the evening with some yoga. When I'm feeling a bit irritable or find myself snapping at my family, I'll take 20 minutes out to go for a quick cycle around the block. It always helps to clear my head. (I'm also partial to a good binge-watching session over the weekends; pizza is mandatory!)
Tell us a bit about your must-do beauty routines...
I never go to bed without doing the whole hog, which includes double cleansing, a soothing facial mist, a serum, an eye cream and a moisturiser. I love exfoliating my skin and have to hold myself back to ensure that I don't over-exfoliate. I usually exfoliate using an AHA product two to three times per week, and I follow this with a hydrating face mask. I battle with dark spots and pigmentation, so I regularly use products containing retinol and vitamin C to help treat and prevent pigmentation. I also refuse to leave the house without wearing sunscreen.
What's your holy grail makeup product and why?
Definitely a good sunscreen with at least an SPF30.
What's your favourite makeup trend of the moment? And any trends you don't love right now?
I love the current emphasis on fresh, dewy skin. It's just a pity that my skin isn't completely flawless, but I thank my lucky stars for products like Urban Decay's Naked Skin Liquid Foundation that helps me to cheat the look! I also love that the classic cat's eye flick is back – it looks so chic and put-together. When it comes to trends I'm not a fan of, I won't lie: stiletto nails are a big no-no for me. I think they look way too over the top, and I can't imagine how you'd get anything done with nails like that.
What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?
The best piece of beauty advice I've ever received is to ensure that you double cleanse – especially in the evenings. As someone who has always struggled with congested skin that's prone to breakouts, I've found that double-cleansing has made the biggest difference to my skin. The trick is to ensure that you’re using gentle products that won't strip your skin; SkinCeuticals Gentle Cleansing Cream is my go-to.
And finally, what does beauty mean to you?
For me personally, beauty is all about feeling happy and comfortable in your own skin. There are no hard rules or 'must-dos' for me: everything that forms part of my beauty routine is there because I love doing it, and because it makes me feel good. And when I feel good about myself, I find that I have more positive experiences in the world: my work benefits, and my relationships benefit too. To me, beauty is just another way to show yourself a little love – and we all need to love and nurture ourselves in order to become happy, fulfilled human beings. Find what works for you and what makes you feel most beautiful, whether it's a lovely face mask, a long soak in the tub or a run on the beach.