There's no denying that Instagram has dramatically changed the beauty industry. On one hand, its democratization means that up-and-coming makeup, nail, and hair artists can exhibit their work in front of a global audience; on the other, its algorithmic, ad-led, and influencer-sponsored content can often mean that we're not getting the whole truth when it comes to products.
That gray area also carved out a space for things like Gelcream, the Instagram feed disrupting the industry, one review at a time. "Gelcream is a vibe," the account's bio reads. "No ads, total freedom, light and shadow. Drink some water! Relax." Founded by US-based Russian fashion editor Yana Shept, Gelcream came about "very suddenly," Shept tells us. "I first had the idea the same day I started it."
The premise is this: Shept photographs beauty products, from wellness supplements to fragrances and much-hyped new palettes, and reviews them honestly, with a grade out of five. Doesn't sound particularly revolutionary at first blush, but in today's #sponcon-laden world, a totally transparent review is getting harder and harder to come by.
Gelcream has garnered attention from all corners of the industry, with some conversations causing upset. After an unfavorable review of Kim Kardashian West's KKW Body fragrance back in May (The caption reads, "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 Shept's platform is more than just her take-no-prisoners, accept-no-ad-dollars honesty. One scroll through the feed and you'll soon be screenshotting the aesthetically-pleasing photos she takes of the products. "I like the idea of a magazine being on Instagram," Shept explains.
Gelcream turned two this year, and Shept created merch — "it's fun!" — featuring her signature mottos. 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 spoke to Shept 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.