From OG guru Michelle Phan to highlight hero Bretman Rock.
As a Filipino-Chinese woman growing up in America, I was constantly told — by my classmates, by movies and TV shows, and by commercials — that the most beautiful girls in the world had fairer skin, lighter hair, and eyes that didn’t look like mine. Looking at myself in the mirror, with my tan skin, dark hair, and eyes that I used to describe as “poop-colored,” I walked through most of grade school struggling to love my features.
In high school, I started seeing girls who look like me on TV. And even though there was still a scarcity of Asian celebrities I could name, I considered it a victory. I started feeling like progress was being made. A few years after that, I discovered YouTube and social media, and in the process, found an entire community of beauty bloggers that made me feel truly represented.
In many industries, people of Asian descent are often silenced and marginalized. I think of the beauty bloggers I watch as forces of positive change, broadening ideas of representation to their hundreds of thousands of followers. This generation of celebrities is one I can get behind because I see the work they’re doing to encourage young people to follow their dreams. Although there’s no doubt that representation can still be improved within the beauty industry, it’s empowering to see these influencers earning recognition for their work and claiming the spotlight.
@MICHELLEPHAN (MICHELLE PHAN)
It makes sense to start off with the OG beauty guru, Michelle Phan. After recreating two Lady Gaga makeup looks that catapulted her into the spotlight, the Vietnamese entrepreneur became a must-watch for makeup tutorial-lovers everywhere. Nowadays, she’s stepped back from making YouTube videos and is concentrating on the business side of the industry: She founded beauty subscription box Ipsy, as well as her own makeup line called Em Cosmetics.
@PATRICKSTARRR (PATRICK STARRR)
The Filipino blogger is arguably one of the most recognizable YouTubers around, with over 4 million followers on Instagram and almost as many subscribers on YouTube. He has two collaborations with MAC Cosmetics under his belt, and has featured former Miss Universe (and Miss Philippines) Pia Wurtzbach on his channel. Patrick’s glitter-dusted makeup looks and open personality have resonated strongly with his followers, making his videos a joy to watch.
@JVONGPHOUMY (JOANNA VONGPHOUMY)
The Laotian-American influencer made her fame creating minute-long makeup tutorials on Instagram, as well as posting her work as a henna tattoo artist. Joanna is known for creating looks that feature fresh, glowing skin — and you’ll want to copy her tutorials immediately after seeing the results.
@NIKITA_DRAGUN (NIKITA DRAGUN)
The Vietnamese blogger is not only known for her fierce makeup looks and colorful hair, but also for her work as a transgender activist. She previously posted a video to YouTube entitled “I Am Transgender” that went viral in late 2015 and resonated strongly with her fans. Since then, she has become an activist for trans rights in the beauty industry, amassing 2.2 million followers on Instagram in the process.
@PROMISETAMANG (PROMISE TAMANG)
Often referred to as the “Human Chameleon,” the Nepalese vlogger is known for her jaw-dropping transformations. She’s used makeup to turn herself into superstars like Ed Sheeran, as well as cartoon characters including Betty Boopand Darla from Finding Nemo. Fun fact: She’s also Michelle Phan’s sister-in-law.
@BRETMANROCK (BRETMAN ROCK)
After starting on YouTube and Vine as a meme-maker and comedian, the Filipino influencer expanded his repertoire into the beauty realm. Bretman’s hilarious personality, plus his knack for creating over-the-top photos, has struck a major chord with his 9.5 million followers on Instagram. Just this year, the 19-year-old collaborated on a highlighter palette with Morphe that pays tribute to his Hawaiian roots.
@THATSHEART (HEART DEFENSOR TELAGAARTA)
Heart’s YouTube channel, which is home to over 2 million subscribers, features everything from skin care to nail art, but she’s best-known for her hair tutorials. Born and raised in the Philippines, she moved to LA to pursue her passion for beauty. She has since released collaborations with e.l.f. and BH Cosmetics (that her fans definitely appreciated).
@NABELA (NABELA NOOR)
Alongside her amazing makeup looks, Bangladeshi-American vlogger Nabela is also an outspoken activist for body positivity and representation of brown and Muslim girls in the beauty industry. Her YouTube channel, which has accumulated over 500,000 subscribers, features content ranging from politics and news (she was invited to ask a question at a GOP debate during the 2016 Presidential election) to life as a Muslim woman to her favorite makeup products.
@KKIMTHAI (KIM NGUYEN)
The Vietnamese blogger is known for her brightly colored feed and seriously enviable strobing skills (scroll through her Instagram and you’ll want to up your highlight application immediately). She’s also a master of multitasking, as she manages her YouTube channel while going to school full-time.
@IMJENNIM (JENN IM)
The Korean-American blogger is a master of skin care (check out her extremely detailed morning-to-night routine here) and dabbles in makeup tutorials when she’s not running her clothing line, Eggie, or collaborating with brands like ColourPop Cosmetics. She has 2.1 million subscribers on YouTube and 1.6 million followers on Instagram.
@PEARYPIE (AMATA CHITTASENEE)
At first glance, Amata’s Instagram feed looks like that of a travel blogger, but in actuality, she’s one of Thailand’s most sought-after editorial makeup artists. Her theatrical background contributes to her dramatic style, and she has freelanced for MAC Cosmetics for Bangkok International Fashion Week.
@ELLENVLORA (AKA PURE EVL)
The Korean-American blogger does it all and looks amazing in the process. She covers anything and everything, from food and travel, to fashion and beauty. Although she’s not on YouTube as frequently as the other vloggers on this list, she regularly shares her best skin care and makeup tips with her 430,000 followers on Instagram.
@DRESSYOURFACE (TAMANNA ROASHAN)
The Indian-Afghan makeup artist’s dramatic looks have earned her over 2.6 million followers on Instagram. In addition to creating gorgeous traditional Indian wedding looks, Tamanna also regularly holds masterclasses in person and online. She’s known for her signature winged liner and sultry, smoky eye makeup, which I’m still in the process of trying to recreate.
@DEEPICA (DEEPICA MUTYALA)
After posting a video of her color correcting her under eyes with a bright red lipstick, Deepica’s online following boomed. The Indian-American YouTuber has almost 175,000 loyal subscribers, where she focuses on makeup for brown girls. The positive reaction to her videos sparked the idea for her collective, Tinted, in which women of color unite to talk about beauty products that work well for darker skin tones.
UK-based Indian vlogger Kaushal found fame after her Kylie Jenner-inspired makeup tutorial went viral (the video now has over 10 million views). Her 1.2 million subscribers follow her for her ultra-glam bombshell makeup looks and traditional Indian makeup inspiration.