The Beauty Royalty Of Social Media

Each of them started out with little more than artistic flair, an affable personality and a trusty webcam or camera phone.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Each of them started out with little more than artistic flair, an affable personality and a trusty webcam or camera phone. Then Youtube and Instagram came into the picture. Now, they’re stars in their own right.

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Instagram: @chrisspy, 3.7 million

Youtube: Chrisspy, 1.6 million

You go to Chrisspy for bold makeup, drama and theatre. Among her most watched videos are “Halloween Skull”, “Gangster Clown” and “Werewolf Makeup”, while her epic transformations into characters like Dory, Yoda and Pikachu are viral hits.

A University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) graduate who did freelance makeup for photo shoots while in school, Chrisspy had little to no professional training beyond a stint at M.A.C. She built her following on Instagram before launching her Youtube channel in 2012.

Fans of the 31-year-old love how she seems comfortable in her own skin, never mind if it’s a size 6 or 16. She documented her weight-loss journey on Youtube a few years ago, sharing her personal fitness goals and pratfalls, and coolly shrugging off the haters. She leaves her oldest videos (the ones with daggy lighting, low production values and novice skills) on her channel as reminders of how she started from nothing – and the progress she’s made.

Her honesty about her struggles with body image and self-confidence struck a chord. Her heart-to-heart chat videos like “Real Talk”, “Why I Took A Break From Youtube” and “Life Update: We Broke Up” showed her as a real person. Many followers appreciated the guts it took to open up on camera and identified with her problems, posting messages such as “Raw & as authentic as it gets”, and “You could film in a dumpster and we would still watch you”.

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Tati Westbrook

Instagram: @glamlifeguru, 1.4 million

Youtube: Tati, 4.7 million

You know the saying that honesty is the best policy? Westbrook used it to build a career as a prominent beauty vlogger with solid credibility.

A former image consultant and makeup artist in Los Angeles, the 36-year-old started vlogging in 2010 to share her love of beauty.

What sets her apart are her honest and unbiased views, backed by detailed road tests and demos. We’re talking about (painfully) peeling off a sub-par mask on camera, wearing Kim Kardashian’s contouring makeup in broad daylight for a whole day to see if it looks natural, and creating a full eye do with an eyeshadow palette just to show that it doesn’t work for her.

Viewers love that she’s relevant – and helpful. Her most-watched videos include “Drugstore Makeup Favourites & Hates” and “My Wedding Makeup”. She makes comparisons between high-end and budget brands, dishes the low down on gimmicky products and fads, and gives candid feedback on buys she regrets – all delivered in an even, genial manner. No juvenile exclamations, no histrionics.

What really cements her reputation, though, is her continued refusal to post sponsored videos, in order to stay impartial (although she is known to review free products at times). In 2016, she released her own Glamlifeguru app (available through selected digital stores), which features highlights from her Youtube channel, bonus content, and exclusive giveaways.

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Patrick Ta

Instagram: @patrickta, 1.1 million

He went from zero to Shiseido’s Global Colour Artist in a mere six years. Vanity Fair dubbed him “The Selfie-made Makeup Artist” – little wonder, as his Instagram account looks like a virtual temple to the hottest It girls and celebrities. And he’s only 27 years old.

Ta’s journey to makeup stardom began in an M.A.C store in Arizona, where he worked as a freelance makeup artist. Soon after, he moved to Los Angeles. There (while still working for M.A.C), he started experimenting with different dos, posting his work on Instagram.

In place of the heavy makeup favoured by many makeup artists and beauty bloggers, he dialled back. His style: effortless looks emphasising beautiful bronzed skin.

This caught the attention of Pretty Little Liars actress Shay Mitchell, who rang him up to ask him to do her makeup. A month later, Gigi Hadid called too, having also spotted his work on Instagram. Then came others: Joan Smalls, Bella Hadid, Blake Lively, Rosie HuntingtonWhiteley, Chrissy Teigen, the whole Kardashian-Jenner clan, and Jennifer Lopez. All high-profile beauties, all known for their radiant, sunkissed complexions and impeccably contoured faces that have become a Patrick Ta hallmark.

After serving as La Mer’s brand ambassador in 2017, Ta scored his Shiseido coup in August, in line with the overhaul of the Japanese brand’s point makeup collection. He also has his own makeup app called Flawless, where he shares stepby-step instructions on how to achieve the looks he’s created, the products he’s used, reviews, video tutorials and sneak peeks at behind-the-scenes proceedings.

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Pony aka Park Hye Min

Instagram: @ponysmakeup, 5.7 million


Pony Syndrome, 4.5 million She is to the South Korean vlogger scene what Big Bang is to K-pop: huge. Celebrity doppelganger videos are her claim to fame – watch her transform herself into a dead ringer for Taylor Swift or Kylie Jenner.

Starting out as a graphic designer and e-commerce model after university, Pony began blogging on a South Korean social network in 2008 as a hobby, posting step by-step photos and, later, videos of makeup application. She has no formal makeup training, but soon became one of the top beauty bloggers on Naver, a popular South Korean search engine.

In 2015, with the launch of her own Youtube channel, Pony Syndrome, she really hit the big time. The video platform gave her a global reach and saw her fan base snowball, possibly boosted by hallyu (or the Korean wave) and by her stint as a makeup artist to CL, a member of allgirl K-pop group 2NE1.

Her sweet-faced looks, chameleon esque makeup skills (she pulls offcutie-pie, glam and vamp equally well) and well-made, easy-to-follow videos (many with English subtitles) were a winning formula. Millions now watch her for tips on topics ranging from makeup for monolids to 10-step skincare routines and even makeup for hijab wearers.

Also in 2015, at the age of 26, she launched her cosmetics line, Pony Effect. The venture helped to land her on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Asia – The Arts list.

The most recent feather in her cap: being appointed makeup ambassador for Japanese beauty giant Shiseido.
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Huda Kattan

Instagram: @hudabeauty, 28 million

Youtube: Huda Beauty, 2.5 million

Kattan is the self-made boss of a cosmetics empire valued by Forbes at more than US$1 billion (S$1.38 billion), with Kattan herself worth around half of it. Last year, she topped Instagram’s Influencer Rich List, raking in US$18,000 a post.

The US-born daughter of Iraqi immigrants, 35-year-old Kattan studied business in university, then took a finance job in Dubai, where she got married and settled down. She found the job boring, so she quit to become a makeup artist, even going to Los Angeles briefly to train.

She couldn’t get a job on returning home, so she started a beauty blog. It wasn’t long before followers took to her tutorial videos, beauty hacks and cult-product recommendations.

When she wasn’t able to find false lashes that were up to scratch, she teamed up with her two sisters to make her own, and Huda Beauty Eyelashes was launched in 2013. The synthetic and faux-mink lashes were a massive hit, selling out on the first day and winning fans such as Kim Kardashian with whom, incidentally, Kattan shares a marked resemblance and style (exotic looks, voluptuous figure, killer pout and a penchant for full-face makeup).

There’s been no stopping her since. Huda Beauty now has more than 140 products, from lipsticks and foundations to eyeshadows, available here exclusively at Sephora. If photo-perfection, daring colours and extreme contouring are your thing, there’s no one bigger out there.

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Hrush Achemyan

Instagram: @styledbyhrush, 2.3 million

All hail the queen of the Instagram face. Discovered by Kim Kardashian, who saw her makeup in person at an LA event and decided to suss her out on Instagram, the 31-year old Armenian-American has since become a regular face painter for the rest of the family. She even looks like one of them – a mix of Kim and Kylie, with shades of Megan Fox.

Despite a reputation sculpted on big pouts, bigger lashes, highwattage highlighting and heavyduty contouring, not to mention a glittering clientele, Achemyan never attended makeup school or worked under an industry pro. Instead, it was pure serendipity that set her on the path to becoming a celebrity makeup artist and top-tier beauty influencer.

As a 17-year-old intern at a bridal studio, she had more affinity for the contours of a face than the cut of a wedding gown – a fact that wasn’t lost on the designer she was working for. So when one bride’s makeup artist cancelled at the last minute, she was asked to step in. She did such stellar work that the bride referred other clients to her.

Later, with the rise of Instagram, she began putting up videos of her work – a move she credits as the rocket fuel that boosted her visibility. She’s further aided by the power of the hashtag. Because when the likes of Kim K and Kendall regularly credit you on their social media feeds and you’re part of their glam squad, your stock only goes up and up.