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Eleanor Pendleton of Gritty Pretty

The digital beauty editrix on making her online magazine a must-read, the Aussie brands on her top shelf and what beauty means to her.

We haven’t known about Gritty Pretty or its petite-but-powerful founder, Eleanor Pendleton for as long as we should have. Founded in 2016, we’d only discovered the digital beauty magazine (and curated online store!) in its sophomore year. But like most of its 150,000+ readers, we imagine, we were quick to catch on to the brilliance of this particular publication.

A quarterly magazine, Eleanor’s concept is three-years-old but speaks for itself in its singularity. Cover girls have included Australian celebeauties like Sara Donaldson (of Harper & Harley), Lara Worthington, Nicole Trunfio and more, as well as actress Lily Collins to supermodel Lily Aldridge. What this says of Gritty Pretty is its appeal and high standing amongst its contemporaries — even amongst other female publications that have been on shelves for longer. 

The content too, is world-class, bringing to the fore everything from the hottest, newest and latest products for all to covet; to need-to-know topics like legislation updates on animal testing in the industry. The beat is beauty, and that may be a superficial scope to some — but Eleanor’s vision and take on what it means to her is encompassing, conscious and ahead of its time. In a sea of trends and articles that are repetitive and mass produced, in an industry that is inundated and swayed by brands and marketing that wield style over substance, Gritty Pretty is a breath of fresh air.

We’re honoured to have Eleanor, and we urge you to follow @gritty_pretty on Instagram and bookmark the site. Just like we did on day one.

Why is beauty so meaningful to you?

Beauty, and its ideals, is deeply personal to an individual. There is no single definition of what defines beauty. What one culture considers to be beautiful, another may not, but where the magic lies for me is in the interesting. A splatter of freckles; natural red hair or mixed race — there is so much beauty in the unconventional. There is something to be said for a woman’s beauty when she feels comfortable in her own skin.

Eleanor Pendleton of Gritty Pretty_Après Avant

Tell us about Gritty Pretty’s current direction, the goals you’ve set for the magazine, and your ultimate dream for it as a publication.

Gritty Pretty Magazine is currently in its third year and I feel it’s only just now finding its momentum. We have on average 150,000 readers of the quarterly digital publication and we’ve shot some incredible women for the cover including Miranda Kerr, Hailey Baldwin, Shanina Shaik and Lara Worthington. Our covers take months to negotiate and secure. We are a start-up publishing company so we don’t have the funds to pay any cover talent (most publications don’t), which is why I’m so proud to have created a publication with my team that celebrities such as Miranda Kerr, Hailey Baldwin and Lara Worthington want to cover and see the true value in.

Right now, our direction is focused on what it always has been from the beginning — growing our audience so we can inspire and educate more women around the world while pushing the boundaries of what is possible with digital. Every time a woman visits GrittyPretty.com, I want it to be a beautiful experience for her. We remain committed to that.

My ultimate dream for the publication is to grow my team — which started out just as me and is now a team of six — to a team of 15-plus. I want to see the publication become commercially successful so that we can do more, shoot more, write more and give our readers more. I have a wish list of cover stars I keep on my desk so I can manifest it into reality. At the top of my list is Chrissy Teigen — I think by being herself and using her platform, she has paved a way that proves women can have a voice, they can be funny and brash (without being labelled as outlandish) but they can also have a family and feel confident and strong in their own skin.

What is the top lesson you’ve learnt from being a beauty editor to being the editor of your own beauty magazine?

Working in magazine publishing for almost 10 years taught me the art of discipline as a writer. During my time as beauty editor at InStyle magazine, we were taught from the beginning to be a cynic and question everything. So every time I met with a beauty brand and they’d present their “new magic cream that gets rid of wrinkles”, I’d question them, “But HOW does it? What is the key ingredient? Does it simply hydrate the skin, which plumps the epidermis and in turn fills in fine lines or does it genuinely work on a deeper dermal level?”

I learned early on to look beyond the marketing BS we are all presented with and question the scientists, R&D formulators and brand managers to find out if a product truly delivered on what it claimed. Then, once we had established this, I would need to support the science with a scientific journal study to our team of sub-editors, who could then fact check. It was a very rigorous process but it taught me a huge amount of discipline. I’ve applied that same principle to Gritty Pretty, which is why our motto is ‘Beauty minus the BS’.

Can you share with us some beauty tips which have been incredibly valuable to you?

  1. Mix liquid illuminator into your foundation — always.
  2. Drink A LOT of water with a shot of The Beauty Chef Inner Beauty Boost.
  3. Apply bronzer on eye lids.
  4. Use a hair treatment (like Olaplex) once a week and have regular haircuts.

“I have a wish list of cover stars I keep on my desk so I can manifest it into reality. At the top of my list is Chrissy Teigen.”

Eleanor Pendleton Gritty Pretty_Après Avant
Gritty Pretty's Eleanor Pendleton

Tell us about your favourite Australian organic/natural beauty brands.

Sodashi, KORA Organics, Salt by Hendrix and Go-To skin care are my favourite Aussie natural beauty brands. Each utilise fantastic, high quality ingredients but have their points of difference.

Sodashi is extremely luxurious. The ingredients are extremely high quality and the formulas are beautifully concocted. The packaging is heavenly and makes you proud to have it on display.

KORA Organics is certified organic, a process that is extremely difficult and expensive to achieve. When you buy KORA Organics, you know that 95 per cent of the ingredients in every pot, tub and tube are organic and contains no sulphates, parabens, synthetic fragrance, synthetic colours, TEA, DEA, glycols, silicones, PEGS, ethoxylate, formaldehyde or formaldehyde derivatives. Every product is deemed cruelty-free and free of any added herbicides or pesticides. I also love that Miranda [Kerr] infuses the water within her products with rose quartz for its energy.

Salt by Hendrix is a new kid on the block that is completely natural yet offers beautiful, minimal packaging and best of all, a really affordable price point. They’re one to watch!

And lastly, Go-To skin care… Who doesn’t love Zoë Foster Blake for all her beauty genius and wit? Zoë is the reason I fell into beauty writing (she gave me my first internship at Cosmopolitan magazine) but what I love about her brand is that it is so HER. She proves her beauty brand can be fun and not take life too seriously but it can still be quality and work at the same time. She also favours natural but active ingredients, which I respect.

“There is something to be said for a woman’s beauty when she feels comfortable in her own skin.”

What is your never-fail beauty product?

Illuminating tinted moisturiser with SPF 50 (because it’s 3-in-1).

What daily practices do you do to care for yourself, your skin and well-being?

I drink a lot of water, I do reformer Pilates two to four times a week, and I try to get into the ocean as much as possible (even in winter!).

How do you decide on the products you bring to the site?

Just like our Little Black Book of Beauty (launched on June 1 this year), we apply a rigorous testing process. Our team of beauty experts must test all products — each product is scored on its formula, ingredients, texture, finish, short-term pay off, long-term pay-off and packaging. If it meets a certain high standard, we’ll approve it and consider it a cult product that our reader doesn’t just want but needs in her life.

Finally, what does conscious living mean to you?

Being present and grateful.

Eleanor Pendleton Gritty Pretty Apres Avant

Images courtesy of Holly Burgess