There's no denying that Instagram has changed the beauty industry. On one hand, its democratisation means that up-and-coming makeup, nail and hair artists can exhibit their work in front of a global audience; on the other, its algorithm, ad-led, and influencer-sponsored content can often mean that we're not getting the whole truth when it comes to products.
Enter Gelcream: the Instagram account disrupting the industry, one review at a time. "Gelcream is a vibe. No ads, total freedom, light and shadow. Drink some water! Relax" so reads the account's bio, which at the time of writing has 73k followers. Founded by US-based Russian fashion editor Yana Shept, Gelcream came about "very suddenly, I first had the idea the same day I started it."
The premise is this: Yana photographs beauty products, from wellness supplements to fragrances and much-hyped new palettes, and reviews them honestly with a mark out of 5. Doesn't sound particularly revolutionary, but in today's #spon-laden world, a totally transparent review is getting harder and harder to come by.
The account has garnered attention from all corners of the industry, with some reviews causing upset. After an unfavourable review of Kim Kardashian-West's KKW fragrance back in May ("No returns, no exchanges, copy-paste designs, basic formulas, generic products... isn’t Kim just a mirror reflection of our generation? I am afraid it was us who created this 'monster'."), OUAI founder Jen Atkin took to the comments section to make her feelings clear on Gelcream's post.
Of course, an Instagram account that isn't beholden to advertising is going to ruffle some feathers, but what draws followers to Yana's platform is more than just her take-no-prisoners honesty. One scroll through the feed and you'll soon be saving the aesthetically pleasing photos she takes of the products. "I like the idea of a magazine being on Instagram," Yana explains.
Gelcream turned two this year, and Yana created merch – "it's fun!" – with her signature mottos on. T-shirts read 'No ads' and 'Drink water' – the latter of which she has dedicated an Instagram highlight to on her page, reminding us all to stay hydrated.
We chatted to Yana about all things Gelcream, from working with brands to her repeat buys. Click through to see what the woman behind beauty's most honest Instagram account had to say.