If you’re an Australian woman interested in fashion and beauty, you’ll have chanced upon Justine Cullen’s prolific presence in the pages of your favourite magazine.

The editorial over-achiever, refreshingly down-to-earth mum of three boys and champion of sisterhood was tasked with helming the Australian iteration of ELLE Magazine for its launch in September 2013, after a much-feted – and award-winning – run at SHOP Til You Drop.

“Winning Editor of the Year in 2012 [for SHOP Til You Drop] was pretty amazing,” she says. “But I think launching ELLE from scratch – while absolutely exhausting and stressful beyond belief – will always be the career opportunity that I look back on and feel the most proud of.”

At ELLE she’s continued her stellar run of championing interesting storytelling and taking what many in the industry would describe as “risky” choices – like putting a breastfeeding (and unbelievably gorgeous) new mum, model Nicole Trunfio on the cover.

When we caught up with Justine, true to form she was as charming, funny and down to earth as ever – like her take on personal style was so far from the pat three-word descriptor some fashion cronies are known to toss off on rote.

“I’ve never really cultivated a personal style in the way I probably should have. I just wear pieces that I like and feel good in. Sometimes I’m very polished and grown-up, sometimes I’m more bohemian,” she tells us, before checking off Chloe, Isabel Marant, Scanlan Theodore, Bassike and Raf Simons as favourite designers.

What about beauty?

“I was a beauty editor for 14 years, so… yes [it is important]. But that doesn’t mean there’s a lot of it – I’m getting more and more low-maintenance with age. I think should probably be the other way around…”

“I save time every day with a ‘here’s one I prepared earlier’ approach. That is: I get my lashes done regularly because I genuinely feel like with those on I don’t have to wear any make up if I don’t want to, but still always feel ‘done’.”

“Gel manis and pedis mean I don’t have to think about my nails in between. A good haircut means I can wash my hair and go without needing to style it. Even for a night out I’m pretty much ready to go in 5 minutes.”

Along with those ingenious pre-meditated beauty hacks, there’s probably a genetic lottery win involved (LOOK AT HER SKIN FFS!!), as well as a committed no-meth policy.

“Well, I am a believer in the ‘butt or face’ theory (i.e. that you have to choose one or the other)”, she explains, “and I just don’t have the willpower to opt for butt… Also, I don’t do any meth. None at all.”

Take note, people. Justine Cullen is a wise woman.

Photographed by Rudy Zverina

Words by Susannah Tucker

Her Style File