Of the 40+ beauty and skincare products in my room, I use maybe five on a regular basis. Those Kylie Lip Kits I had shipped from California to England? I can count the number of times I wore them on one hand. I’m not so much a beauty expert, I suppose, as I am an admirer and consumer of beauty products whose purpose I don’t understand. And my proclivity for all-things-beauty extends to an obsession with beauty podcasts.
As materialistic pick-me-ups go, listening to beauty podcasts is more satisfying than testing out a swatch of lipstick. For one thing, the hosts of my beauty pods feel almost like friends. And, just by using luxurious words like “fragrant” and “fortifying,” my friend-hosts can put me into the zen-est of zen states. Gosh, I would pay some of these hosts real money to whisper “emulsifying” in my ear for an hour.
And then there are the guests — famous people, fancy people, famously fancy people who run cosmetics companies and skincare empires. It’s like the Manuka-infused cream they’re rubbing into their skin is somehow absorbed into their very being so that their words radiate honeyed perfection.
Yes, beauty podcasts are the aspirational fantasy land I visit whenever I need to be entertained or distracted or mollified. Here are my nine favorite beauty pods — listen to them, love them, let them take over your life.
The Emma Guns Show
The rundown: Emma Guns is actually Emma Gunavardhana. She’s a solo host, which makes her a rarity in the beauty pod space. And she’s English, which means she’s inherently elegant. The show focuses on makeup and skincare. But Emma — who’s a very charismatic interviewer — does a great job getting guests, including top makeup artists and all sorts of experts, to open up about topics like their careers, personal ambitions, and strategies for keeping it together in this crazy world.
Perfect for: Anyone who enjoys, or might enjoy, insider-y beauty coverage; Emma Guns is the pod name-dropped by all other beauty pods.
Tune in: New episodes come out anywhere from every 3-10 days (because art has no rules). Listen here.
The rundown: I’d like to introduce you to my best friends, Jessica Matlin and Jennifer Goldstein. Both ladies are beauty editors: Matlin was at Teen Vogue until December and Goldstein is currently at Marie Claire. They’re always attending events, sharing beauty news, and making me jealous of their careers. After updating their listeners on the newest product drops, the women interview lovely guests-slash-people I’d like to be, like the former beauty director at Vogue and Mariah Carey’s makeup artist.
Perfect for: Product hounds. J&J end every episode by sharing their favorite product of the week. And, compared to other pods, they dive deeper into ingredients and other nitty-gritty beauty details, but do it in an approachable, engaging way. I didn’t think I cared about the world of fragrance at all, but now I know I’m fascinated by it. Thanks, Fat Mascara!
Tune in: Fat Mascara airs weekly, on Fridays or Sundays. Listen/check out product mentions here.
The rundown: K-beauty is not a trend, it’s a revolution! Or at least that’s the idea behind The Snailcast, the rare podcast not started by friends who think they’re funny. Instead, the four female hosts are former strangers who all run K-beauty-focused websites: Chel of Holy Snails, Fiddy of Fifty Shades of Snail, Snow of Snow White and the Asian Pear, and Tracy of fanserviced-b.
Perfect for: True beauty nerds. Subscribe to Snailcast to learn about, say, the ideal percentage of L-Ascorbic acid, aka Vitamin C, in a serum. The conversations tend to be less high-energy than those on other pods, and the sound quality and editing could use some work. But the quality of the information and K-insight is hard to beat.
Tune in: In theory, The Snailcast is a biweekly pod. In reality, it’s just not. Listen/check out product mentions here.
The rundown: On Breaking Beauty, Canadian beauty editors and writers Jill Dunn and Carlene Higgins interview beauty-company founders about the origin stories of iconic products, such as Fresh’s Crème Ancienne and Smashbox’s Photo Finish Primer. But you don’t need any knowledge of these products to enjoy the pod. (I’d never heard of them.) In the end, the origin stories end up being more about how founders got into the industry.
Perfect for: People who love motivational success stories grounded in history.
Tune in: Breaking Beauty comes out at the beginning of each month. Listen/check out product mentions here.
The rundown: On this list of pods, Natch Beaut is the espresso in a sea of herbal teas. I’m saying it’s very high-energy. Host Jackie Johnson is a comedian with a penchant for beauty and skincare. She tends to interview non-industry people, such as well-known actors and other pod hosts.
Perfect for: Crass vegans. (Niche, right?) Jackie, a vegan herself, only promotes cruelty-free brands. And she does so using colorful, NSFW language. Also, her co-host is Chooch, a dog with dyed fur.
Tune in: Natch Beaut drops weekly on Friday or Sunday. (So that makes it weekly-ish?) Listen/check out product mentions here.
The rundown: When I’m not hanging with my BFFs on Fat Mascara, I like to spend QT with Harriet Hadfield and Lindsey Kelk, a professional makeup artist and an author/“professional makeup junkie,” respectively. The two, quick-talking Brits now live in LA, which means they spend a lot of time mocking LA culture and using Valley Girl accents — very good ones, I might add. Episodes mostly consist of Hadfield and Kelk chatting with each other or interviewing industry insiders (their interview with Caroline Hirons, skincare expert and beauty blogger, is the stuff of dreams). The format is similar to that of Fat Mascara.
Perfect for: People who love hoarding makeup supplies and reminiscing about their teenage obsession with blue eyeshadow and Lancôme Juicy Tubes.
Tune in: Full Coverage comes out every two weeks. Listen/check out product mentions here.
The Beauty Brains
The rundown: The Beauty Brains stands out for a few reasons, the most obvious of which is that it’s hosted by two men, who also happen to be cosmetic scientists. Perry Romanowski and Randy Schueller have an entertaining rapport, which I’ve chosen to interpret as a subtle power struggle, and an ability to transform potentially boring subject matter into legitimately compelling stuff.
Perfect for: People who like funny scientists and/or beauty? Romanowski and Schueller spend the bulk of every episode answering listener questions about over-priced products and bee venom treatments, while frequently citing studies because, you know, they’re scientists. But they’re scientists with jokes. Here’s one: “Apparently Charlotte went to Harry Potter School of Cosmetic Marketing,” Randy said of Charlotte Tilbury’s Multi-Miracle Glow Balm.
Tune in: The Beauty Brains is currently between seasons. Check out the past two seasons and read answers to listener questions here.
Where Brains Meet Beauty
The rundown: Host Jodi Katz, who works in beauty marketing, interviews industry bigwigs on how they got to where they are. Guests share advice, tell stories about celebrities, and discuss the state of the industry. In general, beauty pod hosts love talking about how Instagram has changed everything, but Jodi also makes time to revisit the pre-insta beauty world. For instance, she recently brought on Linda Mason, a makeup artist who got her start in the 70s, when makeup and fashion first collided in a major way.
Perfect for: Anyone who likes good stories about the days of beauty past and wants to feel in the know about current happenings.
Tune in: New episodes drop every 5-10 days. Listen here.
The rundown: Glowing Up is hosted by actor Esther Povitsky, who plays Maya on Crazy-Ex Girlfriend, and Caroline Goldfarb, who runs the Instagram account “Official Sean Penn.” Against, all odds, they make a supremely entertaining duo. The show doesn’t follow any set format: Povitsky and Goldfarb routinely cover new products, favorite products, and general health-and-wellness trends. They also sometimes chat with Insta-famous guests and go on tirades against Millennial-Pink makeup empire Glossier.
Perfect for: People who like to smother their faces in glitter (but not for anyone looking for a family-friendly pod).
Tune in: Glowing Up comes out every Tuesday. Check out the pod’s product mentions on Instagram here.