Michelle Phan, Lancôme’s new 22-year-old video makeup artist, brings an artist’s sensibility to the world of glamour and beauty. “Cosmetics is art that women wear everyday,” Phan said during a recent interview.
Although she was always fascinated with beauty, starting at the tender age of eight with an obsession with antiaging creams, Phan didn’t make the plunge into makeup artistry until after she began writing a blog about art and viewers suggested a link to beauty. The budding artist is a student at the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Fla., and has transformed herself into a self-made makeup artist and a YouTube star, who has filled her own channel with self-help makeup videos that draw more than 500,000 subscribers, according to Lancôme.
While her role is still being defined, Phan now plans on producing one video a month featuring Lancôme products. One idea she already is developing could be entitled, “Clubbing With Lancôme.” Phan has noticed that women need to apply more foundation when they go out clubbing because their faces are paler than their well-tanned bodies, and it shows up under the lights when pictures are taken. In addition to showing viewers how they can transform themselves into their own version of Snow White or Lady Gaga, Phan also offers practical advice, like how to apply makeup during a plane trip to look fresh upon arrival.
Despite her young age, Phan has already stuck a toe in the beauty waters. During 2007, she launched her own niche skin care brand, called IQQU, which is sold online.
“I’ve always been a fan of Lancôme,” Phan said, recalling that she applied for a job as a Lancôme sales associate in 2007 in Tampa, Fla. She was turned down. But Phan is now living the life of a backstage princess. She worked as a makeup artist assistant under Dick Page at the Michael Kors show and also worked backstage for Chris Benz.
“I am fascinated with this whole world,” she said of the beauty industry. “I like the way everyone is so passionate and a great passion will take you anywhere. Keep staying on the road. It will take you somewhere great.”
Phan originally thought of becoming a dermatologist because her mother, who emigrated from Vietnam to the U.S. during the war, had her heart set on her daughter becoming a doctor. Life was hard in the new country — “we used to go to Walgreens and buy used cosmetics,” Phan recalled. But, although Phan has discovered a new world of beauty, her mother hasn’t given up. “She is putting pressure on my little sister.”
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