The best YouTube makeup videos are like salty, yummy chips. You just mean to have one or two, but before you know it you're in the bottom of a bag covered in crumbs, and hours have passed and you don't know how you got where you are. But you've ordered 12 high-pigment eye shadows and you're suddenly great at putting on false lashes.
Nicole Guerriero, a 28-year-old YouTube beauty guru who lives in St. Petersburg, has mastered this fine art. For the uninitiated, beauty gurus are renegade makeup artists who post tutuorials, reviews, hauls and all nature of fun beauty content on YouTube, then get so many clicks they're eventually able to form paid advertising partnerships with YouTube. The gold standard might be Michelle Phan, also from Tampa Bay, who I profiled some years ago when she was just a fledgling guru. She's now a huge star with Dr. Pepper commercials and major endorsments and 6.4 million subscribers.
Guerriero is gaining ground, fast. She has more than 1.3 million subscribers, growing every day. Guerriero, a Dixie Hollins High graduate who started posting videos four years ago while working as a bartender at BJ's Brewhouse in Pinellas Park, has been able to support herself with her YouTube channel for two years now. "I wish I knew the secret," she told Deal Divas in an interview this week. "I don't. The first year I was on YouTube it took about the whole year to gain 50,000 subscribers. After that it was nonstop. I don't know what happened or what did it, but I'm grateful for it."
Guerriero's skills are on-point, yet her videos are fun, never too self-serious. She has been known to look down in the middle of filming and realize she's missing nail polish on one finger, or that her hair is falling and she needs a bobby pin NOW. She teaches everything from how to apply false lashes to how to do a fishtail braid to how to copy Angelina Jolie's look in Maleficent. In 2013, she was voted Favorite YouTube Beauty Guru on Ryan Seacrest's website, beating out some of the best in the biz.
Obviously, we had a ton of questions for Nicole.
What got you started doing YouTube beauty?
I had always been told by my friends that they loved me doing their hair and makeup and stuff. I saw girls doing the exact same thing online and I was like, "I can do this, too." I thought it would be a great creative outlet for it. I turned on the camera and was like, 'Let's try it out.'
What was your first video?
It was an Elf haul. I got a bunch of makeup from Elf cosmetics and just went through it. It's not even on my channel anymore. My old videos were so bad. There was no editing. I had a little tiny point and shoot camera.
Have you had formal makeup training?
I'm all self-taught. I took cosmetology for two years in high school my freshman and sophomore year, but they didn't really teach us a lot. I've always been into makeup. I wasn't allowed to wear makeup until I was 16. I have a strict Italian mama. But I was also so into it, so when I turned 16 I was trying to put everything I could on my face. I had always been artistic and I liked to paint and draw. When I realized I could draw and color on my face, I was like, "Yes!" It was a natural transition for me.
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Have you scaled back the amount of makeup from those early years?
Some of my videos a couple years ago, I'd look back at my makeup and was like, "Jesus, why did you put so much makeup on yourself?" Before, I used to wear a really strong, intense, in-your-face brow. Now I'm more about the soft brow. Sometimes I'll be like, "This looks so good," and then I see it on video and it's completely different.
How would you describe your personal style today?
Natural glam. I like to look like myself, but I still like to do liner and lashes. Just for myself, most of the time, I don't even wear makeup. I have no makeup on my face right now. Before, I used to wear makeup everywhere. Now that I wear it all the time being in front of the camera and stuff, I like to give my face a breather. If I'm in the house all the time, I'm just bare-faced.
We're in Florida, and our faces melt. What tips to you have for keeping it together in the heat?
Definitely wear primer. I can't stress that enough. I couldn't even imagine putting foundation on my face without a primer. I also like to use setting sprays. Model in a Bottle is a setting spray that's basically like hairspray for your face, so it locks everything in. If you're going to the beach and you just want to even out your skin tone, go for a BB cream. It's lightweight and it has the sun protection built in. But most of the time when I'm going to the beach I'm not worried about wearing makeup, I'm just worried about swimming.
What's the most common request you get for a tutorial?
Wedding makeup. That's a high-requested video, is bridal makeup. For me, for bridal makeup, I feel like you should look exactly like yourself, just way better.
It's so funny, it's probably lashes. I can't live without lashes. That would be funny on a desert island right? Wearing nothing but lashes. My favorite for glamour are the Velour Doll Me Up and for casual the Ardell wispies. My mom loves them, too. I have her totally hooked. She'll be running out to 7-11 and is like, "I have to put on my lashes." It makes you look so much more put together.
What's your favorite drug store product?
L'Oreal True Match from the drug store. That's my favorite foundation for life. I wear it all the time. It's like $7. To me it's way better than high-end foundation. It complements my skin tone so well. You can do one thin layer.
What looks or products scare you?
I like to think I would try everything once, because, how would you know if you don't try it?
What would you say to women who are afraid to take risks with their makeup?
I would say just try it at your home. You're by yourself, you're not doing anything, and if it looks bad, you can take it off!
Ways to follow Nicole: