Michelle Phan is the Beyonce of the beauty vlogging world, ranked as the 7th highest earning YouTuber in the world with a beauty company worth £300 million and base of 8 million subscribers.
Since she began her home-made beauty vlogs in 2006 (which include, among other things, transforming her face into a breathtakingly accurate array of celebrity looks) she has clocked up a staggering one billion You Tube views, a L'Oreal contract, her own booming beauty retail line Ipsy and she’s now fronting Icon and Icon UK in a brand new YouTube channel.
So what has the online beauty mogul learned about make-up?
So Michelle Phan, if you could only use one beauty item ever again what would it be?"Concealer is one of the most essential beauty products out there. It does everything from hiding blemishes and raccoon eyes, to drawing attention to your eyes and cheekbones. I use em Shade Play Color Mixing Concealer Palette to spot-treat discoloration around my eyes, lips, and nose. It comes with six hues that you can mix to conceal, highlight, and neutralize."
You've created so many famous looks – from Cara Delevingne to K-Pop stars – which has been your absolute favorite?
"Spanish Rose is one of my favorite looks I've created thus far. It's a beautiful look that can be worn to a wedding, a night out, to work and beyond."
Describe your everyday beauty look...
"When it comes to my beauty routine, less is more. I spend way more time and money on skincare so that my makeup routine is fast and easy. Like my fashion, I like to keep my beauty looks simple. That may be hard to believe because of all the beauty looks I've created throughout the years, however my beauty tutorials were an outlet for me to play dress up on my face. My everyday makeup is much more simple and understated - it matches my personality more too!"
What is your beauty routine?
"I am fanatical about skin care, so my routine is fairly elaborate. I believe good skin takes work. My routine involves several steps and one or two products for each step. To put it simply, my steps include cleansing, sun protection, retinoid cream, serum, moisturizer and eye cream. Each step has it’s own process and products."
Any ideas for a cheap but effective beauty trick?
"I use mascara as eyeliner. I take my angled eye liner brush and dip it in mascara and I use it as a gel liner. It actually lasts longer than gel liners because it’s waterproof. I use it a lot at the beach or when I need longwear makeup."
If you could pass one piece of beauty advice onto a future daughter, what would it be?
"You need the right tools to apply your makeup well. This doesn’t mean you need to go out and spend a fortune on makeup brushes and various implements. After all, the best tool is right in front of you: your hands! Anyone can apply eye shadow, foundation, concealer, cream blush, lipstick, contouring and highlighting easily with their fingers. (You might not believe this, but you can even do a smoky eye with your fingers.) If you can’t afford an entire brush collection of nice brushes, start small with a powder brush, an angled blush brush and a foundation brush with synthetic bristles. These three essentials are good investments pieces and anyone will be happy to have them."
Which celebrity always has a great beauty look in your view?
"Rihanna. She is very transformative with her beauty and style. I also admire G-Dragon, an Asian pop star who has very androgynous style."
Your channel has had 1 billion views. Has becoming Michelle Phan the world-famous beauty vlogger been a crazy experience?
"For a long time I have passionately pursued my dreams, although I was never quite sure where it would take me. When I decided to go to art school to follow my dream of becoming an artist, I had no idea I would end up on YouTube or that my videos would end up being seen by millions of people. I was not a professionally trained make-up artist. I am self-taught in every way – from make-up artistry to shooting and editing my videos. I never expected this to happen, but it's been an incredible adventure and I've learned a lot along the way."
Do you ever find it hard to switch off your computer or phone and relax?
"When I’m working during the day, I will often use my laptop without charging it to ensure that I take breaks. When it dies I’ll know it’s a sign for me to take a break as it charges back up. When I get home I will shut off my phone and everything else. It also helps that I have passion projects that are completely different from my job."
Why do you think people love online beauty vloggers so much?
"For the longest time, people have been exposed to superficial facades. The internet brings that refreshing, authentic point of view that people have been searching for. Authenticity is the most important aspect of appealing to younger people. YouTube has created a more personal experience with beauty brands, where consumers are able to see their beauty besties actually trying the products and teaching them how to use them. Consumers are most likely to choose a brand that they have a connection with."
Where does your love of beauty come from?
"I first recognized the power of makeup at an early age. From observing the way rosy cheeks and red lips transformed Belle in Beauty and the Beast to watching my mother’s daily beauty routine."
How should we adapt our winter beauty look for spring?
"Winter usually requires heavier moisturizer because of the cold. Spring is when you can switch over to a lightweight moisturizer. Once the skin is taken care of, everything else is easy! Wear a bold lip color or eyeliner to welcome in the colors of spring."
What is the single product you think every girl should have in her make-up bag?
"A good black eyeliner, because you can use it for anything and everything, even lip liner. You can use it as mascara by blasting it with a hair dryer until it melts, then use a spoolie brush to comb it through lashes. You can also use a hair dryer to turn the pencil into a gel liner and an ombré gradient eye shadow — it thins out the texture of the eyeliner, so it creates a gray color, and then you can work your way up to black shadow."
Best piece of beauty advice you've ever heard?
"The sun causes 90% of wrinkles, so if you want to slow down the aging process, wear sunscreen!"
ICON UK is creatively led by Michelle Phan and is Youtube’s ultimate lifestyle destination for young women
And for a personalised prescription of the products that should be in your own make-up bag, check out our sister site Powder. They'll recommend you a bespoke menu of skincare and make-up to suit you (plus, it's FREE!).