What a journey! If any of you have watched Jackie Aina on YouTube over the years then you already understand how epic it is to see her on the cover of Essence. Jackie now has over 3 million YouTube subscribers and 1.2 million Instagram followers not counting her growing vlog channel that she shares with her Boyfriend Denis.
The title of her cover is “Glow Girl! Jackie Aina Is Taking The Beauty Industry By Storm” and her piece shares everything from her work on YouTube as a self taught makeup artist to her work with brands as she fearlessly calls them out for not being inclusive enough.
Here is some of what she shared with Essence:
The self-taught makeup artist explains that she found herself stuck in an unhappy marriage, living in Hawaii, isolated from friends and family and working in the Army as a reservist. A fascination with beauty, makeup and social media offered her a “creative outlet” that came along at the perfect time—an escape route from her current situation. But in that same breath, she says she was propelled to make YouTube videos as a way to directly confront the inequities that she and other Black women faced when shopping for beauty products.
“I couldn’t go to makeup counters and get the help that I needed. I would ask them like, ‘Oh, how do I apply concealer?’ Or, ‘How do I contour?’ And it was always like my skin tone was a deterrent to everything,” she recalls. “According to them, it was like, ‘Well, you’re dark. So you can’t really do that.’ It was just like, ‘Okay, I’m sure there’s a way around it. You just have to know what you’re doing.’”
Educating the billion-dollar beauty industry on the enormous discrepancies in the way it services Black consumers is a massive undertaking, but Aina began chipping away at the problem by addressing the issue of colorism head-on. It was nearly impossible not to. “This is a makeup channel. I’m going to have to eventually talk about the fact that my skin is dark,” she says matter-of-factly. “And then eventually I’m also going to tie in those experiences when I’m buying a product, as it relates to wearing makeup.”
By making videos like “The Worst Beauty Brands EVER for POC!” Aina used her growing platform to call out brands that simply were not “chocolate-girl-friendly” or were not doing enough to create products that addressed the needs and wants of darker-complexioned consumers. But before we dismiss Aina’s outrage as simply an example of “cancel culture” or “dragging,” the content creator assures me she is focused on figuring out solutions to fill the voids in the market.
“What good would my platform be if it was only negativity and blasting people all the time?” There is perhaps no better example of Aina’s philosophy than her 2018 collaboration with Too Faced on their Born This Way foundation line. It boasts 11 new shades, and Aina helped develop nine of them, working with founder Jerrod Blandino directly to create an inclusive range.
Still, as amazing as advancements in product development are, Aina also surveys the business structure of a brand and determines whether they have a comprehensive commitment to diversity before working with them. “‘Are you employing disenfranchised people? Are you employing black people on your social teams? Are you making it holistically from the ground up so your brand represents the very products you’re trying to sell on shelves?’” she probes. “I love when I see a team that’s just got everybody, that there are voices from every community because that tells me that behind the scenes you’re also walking the walk and you’re not just trying to capitalize and cash in on the movement.”
What’s Next for Jackie
“With my content, I always try to think, Would it be harmful to my community in any way? Would this upset or encourage a stereotype in any way? As much as I want people to enjoy my content, it’ll never be at the expense of making other people look bad. I’m always trying to be mindful of that more than anything.” Her recent video on Jordyn Woods, for example, was not a salacious takedown of the influencer but instead “girl talk” amongst her followers where she not only discussed Woods’s enviable beauty routine but also the valuable life lessons one could learn from her very public falling out with the Kardashian family. It felt cool, timely and woke AF.
Which is what she ultimately wants for Black women and men in this space: to speak their minds and demand visibility. “I heard a quote once that stuck with me: ‘It doesn’t matter how oversaturated the market is. If God called you to it, there’s room for you.’”
Read her entire cover story here! Congrats girl!