“You’ve got makeup brands that will launch 20 shades of beige,” beauty influencer Jackie Aina said, in a video she posted to YouTube in 2018. “You’ve got eggshell, cream, ‘iPhone extension cord’ … but there’s only two dark shades.” The clip has picked up more than 1 million views.
Twice a week on her YouTube channel, Aina, 32, calls out such disparities, with a delivery that’s conversational, comical and occasionally caustic. Based in Los Angeles, the makeup artist advocates for viewers with skin tones like her own, helping them navigate luxury cosmetics counters, drugstore aisles and subscription boxes. From concealers to lipsticks to sunscreens, her reviews and how-to guides test products of all price ranges — and provide a measure of just how far the beauty world has come in terms of diversity, and how much further it still has to go. There is, she notes, “a sea full of brands trying to capitalize off the ‘inclusivity movement.’”
When Aina started her channel in 2009, she focused on step-by-step guides to different styles of applying makeup. At the time, she said, “there was essentially no one in that space focusing on beauty for darker skin complexions.” She now has more than 3.2 million subscribers, who have come to know both her glamorous and goofy sides — like her infectious “Jackiejackiejackie” theme song and habit of chair-dancing in between brush swipes.
Aina, a former Army reservist, has worked with such beauty brands as e.l.f. Cosmetics and Sephora, and in August, she introduced an eye shadow palette created in collaboration with Anastasia Beverly Hills. We connected in early November.
9 a.m. Begin my day with a morning prayer with my fiancé. Then, I like to have at least an hour free of social media. I read texts and emails, but try to avoid falling into the trap of endless scrolling.
9:30 a.m. Head to the gym for my morning workout. I spend so much time at a desk and working from home that it’s challenging being mobile throughout the day. Cycling classes grew on me this year. I also do strength training and Pilates. Nothing I’ve ever done — even Army training — could have prepared me for Pilates!
11 a.m. Time for breakfast. But the gag? I can’t stand cooking. Coming from a Nigerian family where food is such a major part of our culture, that’s not the norm. We have a chef who preps meals for us twice a week, working around my dietary restrictions: no pork, dairy or beef. I heat up today’s low-carb vegan waffle, scrambled eggs and spicy chicken sausage.
11:30 a.m. Head to the nail salon. We live in the age of 4K resolution and unreasonably high beauty expectations of YouTubers, so I always need my nails manicured and pedicured. Otherwise, I’ll get dragged for it in the comments.
1 p.m. Briefing call with my publicist and my manager. I’m giving a keynote about entrepreneurship and diversity in the beauty industry at the Teen Vogue Summit this weekend, so we run through talking points to ensure everything runs smoothly.
3 p.m. My team and I go through PR packages we’ve received from brands, and I start deciding what will be kept and what will be donated to charity. We also discuss my content calendar for the next month. My brand deals often include levels of exclusivity, meaning for a certain period of time, I can’t discuss, promote, use on-camera or publicly appear at an event by a competing brand. It’s crucial to stay on top of these periods and track deadlines for content and posting times. In some cases, I have to send brands the content I produce in advance of my post.
4:45 p.m. I do my hair and makeup for the evening. Halloween has become a “season” and I have not one, but two Halloween parties to attend this year.
9 p.m. Arrive at a makeup launch party for UOMA Beauty, a brand I’m particularly drawn to because the owner is a fellow Nigerian. The party has a ’70s costume theme, so I took some beauty inspiration from Diana Ross. We’re there for around two hours before we mosey over to the second party of the night.
2 a.m. Get home and start my 30-minute skin care routine. No matter how tired I am, I always thoroughly remove my makeup, cleanse my skin and brush my teeth.
9:30 a.m. I’m not a morning person and I try to get a minimum of 10 hours of sleep, so I usually prefer to take calls in the afternoon. But this is an important call. I’m talking with Francis Roberts from YouTube about today’s video shoot with none other than my idol, Naomi Campbell. We go over logistics, including video concepts, narrative, flow, talking points, propping and set design.
10:30 a.m. My publicist arrives to handpick outfits, wigs and accessories for the shoot. Nerves are through the roof!
3 p.m. Go over today’s shoot ideas again and test lighting and framing. Before I sit in front of the camera, I like to give myself a half-hour to recap what we’re filming so I can be fully prepared. Everything must be perfect.
5 p.m. Naomi arrives. We’re filming a “25 Questions With Naomi” concept, so we want the video to feel more like a “girls’ night in,” doing makeup together. I first met her in Ghana at a 2018 New Year’s Eve party, and being able to have her on my channel is incredible. She’s so down-to-earth and funny that three hours go by and it doesn’t even feel like we’re filming.
10:30 a.m. Call my contractor and team to discuss my new studio space. I need an efficient layout because my videos require specific lighting, microphones, cameras, furniture, props and more — it’s a big design job. People don’t realize that every video is a full production that takes at least eight hours to create.
12:30 p.m. Write down a bunch of YouTube video ideas based on feedback from my subscribers, brand launches and what I think will be future trends. One that’s growing rapidly is brands focusing on being nontoxic, sustainable and mission-driven. Then, I pick photos for my Instagram feed.
4:30 p.m. Talk with my video editor to discuss changes I need for an upcoming video. I give extremely detailed editing notes and brand requirements, and then we do rounds of revisions. I’m very specific about how I like my videos cut so every minute detail matters, from sound to lighting to pop-up text on the screen. I even specifically have every “um” removed, because that’s one thing that bugs me the most about watching videos.
6:20 a.m. When I’m rushing, it takes me 30 to 45 minutes to put on makeup — on a good day. If it’s a more special occasion, I like to set aside two hours. I find it therapeutic. I put on a peach loungewear-inspired pantsuit with a pair of neon heels and a matching bag, take some photos of my final look for my Instagram, then depart for the Teen Vogue Summit.
9:50 a.m. Arrive at the summit to deliver my 30-minute speech. The magazine’s editor-in-chief, Lindsay Peoples Wagner, and I discuss my journey as a content creator who doesn’t fit into ideal beauty standards. I offer some advice for up-and-coming influencers. A lot of people don’t understand what goes into being a YouTuber. They just see the shiny, pretty outside of what we do. There’s actually strategy involved, you have to be incredibly consistent, and you do have to put some money into it. We make it look simple, and that’s part of the magic. But trust me, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it successfully.
9:40 a.m. Head to the gym for a morning “best butt” workout session.
11:40 a.m. Take a late shower, have a late breakfast and begin my day. Because I don’t work a typical 9-to-5 job, weekends are workdays as well. I deep-clean my beauty tools and organize my makeup closet. For each item I add to the closet, I remove an existing item. I receive thousands of products a year and it can be overwhelming. I have to pay for trash removal.
1:15 p.m. I’m knee-deep in brush cleanser when I suddenly get a call from Naomi (as in … Campbell) inviting me to join her for Korean BBQ. I’m always going to say yes to food! I head to my glam room, where I do a quick makeup look, throw on a tee and jeans and head to the restaurant.
2:45 p.m. Lunch is super chill. Anastasia Soare of Anastasia Beverly Hills and two of Naomi’s other friends join us and we just pig out and talk about life. Naomi can eat! She puts in work. She carries three different kinds of hot sauces with her. She does not play when it comes to flavor.