Makeup Master: Michelle Phan on the Beauty of Digital



When you think of beauty vlogging and makeup tutorials, Michelle Phan is the first name on the tip of everyone's tongue. With over 300 hundred videos and 7 million subscribers (and counting), it’s no wonder why the digital phenom was recently honored with the Streamys Icon Award. But her life isn’t entirely online; as the budding beauty entrepreneur is also putting it down on paper with her first book, Make Up: Your Life Guide to Beauty, Style, and Success Online and Off. Glam go to chat with the YouTube all-star about everything from her everyday necessity to where she thinks beauty and digital are headed:

On her choice putting her tips to print:


I’m such a huge fan of books. I love the idea of having something tangible and turning the pages and gaining wisdom from reading a book and just being entertained by that. I grew up reading books. People think I’ve always been online, but I haven’t. I remember going to the library, going through the [card] catalogue system – the filing catalogue system, not even on the computer. You’d have to open these files and look for through index cards and everything. And going to bookstores. So I grew up reading books, and I wanted my followers, who are so digital, to have the same experience, but read something that's coming from another digital person. And so that’s how that idea really came about, and the books is really inspired by the idea of if I was a big sister, and I had to write a manual for my little sister, what would it be. It’s really written from big sister to little sister.

On her Streamys Icons Award:


It felt too soon! I’m too young to have an icon award. I haven’t done everything I want to do. It was such a beautiful, prestigious, honorable award, I couldn’t really say no. I also think it’s because Internet years are different than offline years. One year online almost feels like five years because so many things are happening online, they come and they go really quickly. I mean, it was only two years ago when Gangnam Style was the biggest thing in the entire world, and now when you think of it, you think it’s so passé. And before that, there was Rebecca Black. Things change a lot online, so I think maybe it is appropriate for me to have an icon award since I’ve been doing this for seven years. You can imagine being seven years online; it’s a really long time.

On where she sees beauty and digital heading in the future:

I think the biggest change is how accessible everything is to everyone. Now a five year old can upload something on Vine or Instagram. When you think of phones and mobile phones, it was only 10 years ago, but for only for adults — maybe if you had cool parents you could get one when you were a senior in high school. Now anyone has a digital device – it doesn’t even have to be a phone now, it could be a watch or your mp3 player, and you can go online with it. That really changed everything because it’s so accessible to everyone.

What’s happening right now in digital is that everyone is seeing different types of beauty around the world. Now I think the idea of beauty is evolving, I don’t think there’s that one look, one face, one ideal anymore. I think there are different types of beauty that exists everywhere, and you have your own market for that kind of beauty. A person can go online and see someone they find beautiful—to them that’s their look. I think beauty is changing and everyone is accepting flaws and accepting that everyone looks different. I think it’s just becoming this huge melting pot of ideals of beauty.

On the #IWokeUpLikeThis Look:

I know grunge makeup is really big this fall, the smudgy, messy eyeliner look and now brows are different, too. Thick brows are still very in, but it’s the unruly brow, the I-don’t-look-like-I-did-my-brows-but-I-did look. I’m loving it because it’s such a casual, downtown look that I appreciate because sometimes I feel like we don’t have to look perfectly polished all the time. It’s ok to look a little messy, a little unruly because it’s natural. I mean guys look like that and can get away with, why can’t we?

On her everyday essentials:

I would say a good concealer is your best friend because it can cover up your deepest darkest secrets whether it’s a blemish or a hickey. And you can double up and use it as foundation if your need to. A really good red lipstick goes a long way. And my last one would be a really good mascara because you can double it up as eyeliner too. All you have to do is take your angled eyeliner brush to the mascara, and voila gel-cream eyeliner you can use.


On her beauty icons: 

The first one would absolutely be my mom. I used to watch her apply her makeup everyday, so I always had this bond with her – not just as my mom, but as my first makeup artist too. She applied makeup on herself everyday and I was so entranced by her. And I would also say Audrey Hepburn because, I mean, how could you not? She is timeless beauty, and in Korea, her eyebrow look is so popular, I think every girl in Korea has the Audrey Hepburn eyebrows going on – the very thick straight eyebrows are so popular over in Asia. My last one would be Olivia Hussey. She was in the [1968] Romeo & Juliet movie. She was so natural; I don’t think she wore any makeup; she’s a beauty icon to me.