Tanya Burr Shares Her Beauty-Vlogging Secrets

Photo: Courtesy Tanya Burr.
With 1.24 million Twitter followers, 1.5 million Instagram followers, and nearly 2.8 million YouTube subscribers, there's a good chance you've already heard of British vlogger Tanya Burr. If not, here's a quick rundown.

The 25-year-old was working at a beauty counter when she started uploading product reviews to YouTube. Some six years later, she's a viral superstar with her own cosmetics range, Tanya Burr for Superdrug. Last week, she added "author" to her job title with the release of Love, Tanya, a beauty, fashion, and lifestyle guide with autobiographical elements. 

Burr — who has an Origins campaign, book tour, beauty launch, and a wedding to men's fashion vlogger Jim Chapman lined up this year — met with us in London to dispense some words of beauty wisdom. Break out those notepads! 

Love, Tanya has just been published, but it's not your standard beauty guide. What do you see as the main takeaway?
"People have said that they’ve closed the book feeling really empowered and good about themselves, and ready to take on life. I’ve had a few tweets like that, and I’ve thought, ‘Yay, that’s exactly what I want people to feel when they finish the book.’ I would also like the book to be a keepsake that people can go back to time and time again. And, I hope that they learn a little bit more about me.”

How did you make the leap from vlogging as a side project to making it a career?
"I decided to quit my main job at a makeup counter and work part-time. I couldn’t get part-time hours at the makeup counter, so I went to work part-time at Topshop. That allowed me more time to work on my channel, and very quickly it went from 30,000 to 60,000 subscribers in about two months. I just really enjoyed having my own business, making contacts, and going to meetings. I just loved it. I have that entrepreneurial attitude that I got from my dad."

What's the biggest misconception about your work? A lot of outsiders seem to think, 'I could do that and get free stuff.' What's your response?
"[Vlogging] is really hard. It takes dedication and commitment. You have to be creative, but a businesswoman at the same time. There’s really so much more to it. You have to be really self-motivated as well. You can’t just sit in your pajamas all day. You have to get out there and get to work."

More and more beauty brands have been looking to partner with vloggers. How do you adapt to that increased exposure while keeping your audience happy?   
"I think it’s more a case of not adapting; of staying true to myself. I get contacted by brands all day, every day, and I make sure that I’m only choosing brands I really want to work with. For example, I’m about to start a campaign with Origins. I’ve used Origins since day one. Six years ago, my fiancé’s sister recommended the Mega-Mushroom Face Cream to me. To have Origins then come and say, ‘We want to work with you,’ I was like, ‘Perfect, this is brilliant.’ If a brand that I’ve never heard of comes to me, I’ll try their products. If I don’t love them at all, it doesn’t matter how much money they offer me; I won’t take it. You can’t just think about that paycheck; you have to think of the bigger picture. I have to respect my audience as well, because they really trust me. I can’t be talking about or recommending something I don’t really believe in."

Does it feel strange to now have your own range, and perhaps see other beauty bloggers and vloggers review it? 
"Oh, yeah. Luckily, the vlogging community’s been really great about my range. YouTube’s been really supportive."

Your book mentions many of the essentials you love. But, what products do you use time and time again in your vlogs?
"[Elizabeth Arden] Eight Hour Cream. My lips are so dry [right now], and I keep applying this. I use NARS Sheer Glow foundation all the time. Bobbi Brown Gel Eyeliner — I feel like I use that one in every single story. Sometimes, I think, ‘I must branch out and find a different eyeliner; people are going to get bored of this.’ I also use Maybelline’s Falsies mascara all the time."

Your fiancé, Jim Chapman, is also a well-known YouTube personality. Do you two have a playful competition about followers? 

"Not at all, actually. It’s really weird. I don’t even know how many followers he has on Instagram. We see our work as a business, and we don’t really mix pleasure and work. We don’t really talk about work in our free time, so I never feel competitive."

What other vloggers do you admire? 
"SunbeamsJess is amazing. Her style is completely different to mine, but I still appreciate her videos. I also love Suzie from Hello OctoberLily Pebbles, and Vivianna Does Makeup."  

What advice would you give to an aspiring vlogger?
"You have to really want to do it. You have to pretty much give up your life, because it takes so much work and dedication to get noticed. You need to prepare for it not to happen overnight. Keep on going, be persistent, and have fun with it."

Lastly, why do you think the beauty world is so drawn to vlogging right now?
"Vlogging is so honest and so real. Sometimes, I hardly edit them. You can’t really get that on TV. If we were shooting the two of us talking for reality TV, they’d come in and say, ‘Would you just mind saying that again? Can we get a close-up?’ Even if they say it’s reality, it’s not, whereas vlogging is true reality." 


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