YouTube beauty personality Teni Panosian

In a social-media landscape filled with amateurs, Teni Panosian, the beauty influencer recently named ambassador for Maybelline and the face of Murad’s Invisiblur Perfecting Shield, stands out as a pro.

The 32-year-old Angeleno’s videos on YouTube, which have attracted more than one million subscribers, detail makeup looks that work on women across the globe. But she’s increasingly extending beyond beauty and has had success evolving her digital content by delving into home and travel topics. Panosian chatted with WWD about hitting fashion week, the future of partnerships between brands and influencers, and her favorite skin-care product right now.

WWD: How would you describe your approach to beauty?

Teni Panosian: I have a great appreciation for the artists who do a lot of artistic, outside-the-box looks, but I have never been a makeup artist. My style is more everyday looks that people can re-create. It’s from one non-makeup artist to another non-makeup artist. I get a lot of comments like, “I did your date-night look for my 10-year anniversary with my husband.”

WWD: Do you feel you have to be careful about what you say when working with brands?

T.P.: Yes and no. You don’t want to act so that you are not portraying your true self, but you also want to portray an image that’s brand friendly. You don’t want to curse all the time and be sloppy at parties. My audience knows that I keep it proper most of the time, but people know that I’m also human and I like to have fun sometimes. I talk with my friends in a different way than I talk on social media because certain things may not be appropriate. I want it to be OK for mothers to have their daughters read and watch my stuff.

WWD: What direction are brand partnerships with influencers heading?

T.P.: I have been partly hoping and partly seeing this natural progression back to the traditional [advertising] space, but not in the same way that Julia Roberts or Scarlett Johansson would be in an ad. They are portraying influencers in their environment where their audiences are used to seeing them. When that happens, audiences get really excited. They want to see us succeed in that way, and I think a lot more of that will start to happen. I know a lot of people won’t like it, but we have a lot of power right now, and I think brands are starting to take notice.

WWD: There’s been a lot of discussion about the roles of social-media beauty personalities compared to professional makeup artists. What’s your take?  

T.P.: There is a place for everybody. I’m not a pro makeup artist. I’m trying to show you shortcuts for the makeup looks that you are doing on yourself. It’s not makeup artist techniques that you are performing on someone else. There are true educators and artists out there that take a different approach. They are about the true artistry of makeup and that’s great. There is an audience for that and there’s an audience for what I do.

WWD: Social media has been slammed for creating a flood of Kardashian look-alikes. Do you think that’s an issue?

T.P.: Maybe some people like minimalist, bronze-y makeup. Why should that necessarily be tied to the Kardashians? They didn’t invent that look. Honestly, I don’t follow them or their makeup artist. For me, it’s not on my radar and I don’t think about it.

WWD: You went to fashion week as part of your partnership with Maybelline. What were some of the beauty highlights?

T.P.: I loved the amazing matte orange lip at Jason Wu, but I saw that more risks were taken at London Fashion Week. New York was more understated with beauty. Ashish was the coolest show I have ever seen. There were blue faces, intense eyeliner and jewels. It was something to behold.

WWD: What is a makeup product you are excited to use for the holidays?

T.P.: The Pat McGrath glitter lips. It’s one statement that I’m excited to include in my makeup routine when normally I might just do a smoky eye and nude lip.

WWD: What’s your favorite skin-care product at the moment?

T.P.: I am actually seeing a new aesthetician…Shani Darden. She has always had this product called Retinol Reform. The last time I saw her, she gave me a bottle still in the lab package and it was an upgraded formula. I saw her a week ago and it has just transformed my skin. She is 100 percent my skin-care guru and I love that product.

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