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Watching YouTube Videos Was The Smartest Career Move I've Made

Photographed by Rockie Nolan.
It all started four years ago, while I was lounging in a Lake Tahoe cabin with my friends Brittany and Sammy the summer before my senior year of high school. Brittany and Sammy were on a laptop watching YouTube videos of women putting on makeup. They had tried to explain the allure of these videos to me in the past, but I'll be honest: I thought it was complete bullshit.

Ignoring my eye rolls, they showed me the video anyway: one from Ingrid Nilsen's (Missglamorazzi at the time) "Get Ready with Me" series — which, as you might expect, showed Ingrid waking up, brushing her teeth, eating breakfast, and then putting on a full face of makeup. As usual, I feigned disinterest, but a few weeks later I found myself searching for the very same YouTuber and hitting "subscribe." Four years later, after getting my first job as a beauty writer, attending my first Beautycon, and meeting some of YouTube's biggest talents, I have completely eaten my words.

Between my introduction to the beauty community on YouTube and my job here at Refinery29, I dove deep into the world of beauty videos. Watching these girls and boys talk through their trials and tribulations on screen taught me almost every single thing I now know about makeup, skin care, and hair care. To this day, I credit these content creators for giving me the knowledge I needed to pursue a career in the beauty industry.

A photo posted by Mi-Anne Chan (@misobelle) on

It wasn't until my sophomore year of college that I realized my obsession could turn into an actual job. By some crazy luck, I got an interview for my first beauty internship at W magazine after seeing a listing for the position online. During the Skype interview with my future boss, I noticed a Clarisonic Mia lurking in the background in her cubicle. The beauty-product nerd in me piped up and asked about the device — my boss told me in retrospect that my knowledge of that product was one of the reasons I was offered the position.

Fast-forward two years, and I'm writing about beauty almost daily for the very publication you're reading right now. This past October, my obsession with YouTube came to a head and I got the chance to attend my first Beautycon in New York City — an event that brings together content creators and beauty brands in a convention-like setting. After watching these YouTubers for years, I was finally face-to-face with some of the people who had taught me everything I know about cat-eyes and foundation. I got to meet Fleur de Force (a YouTuber I've been watching from the very beginning) and even Nikki Phillippi — another OG video creator. As sappy as this may sound, it was a surreal experience meeting the women who have shaped the formative years of my beauty education. Without them, who knows where I'd be today?