Considering she's the most-watched makeup artist on YouTube, Michelle Phan probably needs no introduction. But on the off-chance you're not one of the 177 million views she's received to date on her channel, I'll give you a little background: Michelle is 22-years old, an illustration student at Ringling College of Art and Design in FL, and she stumbled into video makeup artistry when fans of her personal blog (on which she mused about everything from her daily life to art) started asking her to do a tutorial on natural-looking makeup. "I was going to do a step-by-step post on my blog," said Michelle, "but then I thought, 'Why not do a YouTube video instead?', because there were only a handful of makeup tutorials on the site at that time.'"
That was back in 2007, which in real time is fairly recent, but in vlogger time may as well have been the Dark Ages. Michelle's debut tutorial received 40,000 views in the first week, and her fan base hasn't stopped growing since. Her YouTube channel now has over 750,000 subscribers—nearly 10 times the amount that Oprah Winfrey's channel has. She's also Lancôme's first ever video makeup artist spokesperson—not to mention, a member of our own makeup.com expert panel!
Michelle graciously took time out of her hectic schedule (she's gearing up for a trip to Paris next week) to pop by my office today for a quick Q&A. But before I get to that, I have to take a moment to comment on Michelle's skin now that I've met her in person: UN-REAL. No wonder her friends begged her to do a makeup tutorial—her skin is so ridiculously radiant, I would follow whatever beauty advice she gave me!
And with that, here's our Q&A with beauty's newest superstar.
What's the one beauty question you get asked most often? "I wouldn't say there's one specific question, but the topic I get asked about most often is skin. Not every girl wears eye shadow or lipstick, but everyone has a skin problem she wants to fix, whether it's dark circles, acne, wrinkles... Acne is probably the most common issue my readers have, since many of them are young."
What’s the strangest question you’ve ever been asked? "Oh wow, I have to think about that one! But you know, even the strangest questions can lead to practical advice. I've had guys ask me how they can wear makeup without making it look as though they have any on. The advice I give them is great for women, too, because none of us want our foundation or concealer to be obvious."
Which professional makeup artist are you dying to meet? "Laura Mercier. I relate to her—she started out as painter, and I started out as an art student, so I feel as though we have the same foundation. I'm scheduled to meet Aaron de Mey for the first time next week in Paris, which I'm really excited about! And I would have loved to have met Kevyn Aucoin—if I could meet any makeup artist throughout history, it would be Kevyn."
What’s your earliest makeup memory? "I was maybe 5-years old and I ate a cherry popsicle, which stained my lips red. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and I looked like Snow White! Not long after that, I saw my mom putting on red lipstick, and I made this connection between wearing makeup and feeling special. From then on, I was obsessed."
Who is your beauty icon? "Audrey Hepburn—what a classic! Every woman wants to look youthful and fresh the way she did. Her look is actually very trendy in Korea right now: Doll-like eyes, minimal eye shadow, minimal lip color, and strong, straight brows."
If you were only allowed one makeup product, what would it be? "Eyebrow pencil, which people are always surprised to hear me say! But if your brows are groomed, it doesn’t matter if you're not wearing any other makeup—you'll looked pulled together."
Which blogs and vlogs do you follow? "I love Pixiwoo. Their tutorials on runway looks are amazing, especially since very few other bloggers seem to do runway-to-reality tutorials. Bella Sugar is a great place to discover cool new blogs. They've showcased ones I'd never ever heard of before."
What’s in your makeup bag right now? "LancômeColor Design Lipstick in Pink Preview—my favorite color at the moment!—Lancôme Dual Finish Powder, Shu Uemura's lash curler, concealer—and, of course, a brow pencil!"