We’ve all been there—all geared up to experiment with a trendy new beauty look, when suddenly you realize: You have no clue how to do it. Sometimes a girl just needs a demo. And while having a personal makeup artist on call to guide you through the process sounds like a pretty lofty fantasy, it’s essentially become a reality—with the help of YouTube, at least. Now a bona fide phenomenon, YouTube’s makeup and hair video tutorials hit that sweet spot where the super-informative meets the charmingly entertaining (and insanely popular—just note the massive view numbers on some of these clips).
Turns out, Washington counts a beauty vlogger among its very own: Meet Claire Ashley, a McLean-based, self-taught makeup artist who’s been generously sharing her enviable talents via her own channel since 2009. Claire’s YouTube channel now has more than 70,000 subscribers—not to mention the staggering 12 million video views. Wondering how to create an office-appropriate makeup look? Or maybe a bronzy summer face? She’s got a tutorial for that (and 128 more looks, too). Claire’s cache of videos even dabbles in DIY fashion projects and shopping hauls. Read on for more about Claire’s rise to YouTube success and her fave beauty tip, then check out a video tutorial she created just for Shop Around readers.
Tell us about how you became a makeup artist.
I didn’t know becoming a makeup artist was in the cards for me, because I never went to cosmetology school. I received my bachelor’s degree in psychology, but I found myself with a passion for beauty. I’d make frequent trips to beauty counters—MAC cosmetics especially (definitely overstayed my welcome quite a few times)—and asked endless questions about products and learned techniques from different artists.
The hands-on experience really started when I assembled a portfolio of the makeovers I did on my sisters and close family friends. Before I knew it, I was doing wedding gigs and photo shoots and quickly realized that this was my calling.
What inspired you to start creating YouTube tutorials?
I played college soccer for two years and decided to hang up my cleats to refocus on academics and my other interests. All of a sudden I had more time on my hands. That’s when I discovered the large beauty community on YouTube. I watched hours and hours of girls applying makeup and talking about beauty, which is what I did with girlfriends or in my bathroom on my own time anyway, so I thought, “I can do this too.”
What beauty trends are you most excited about?
Deep side parts and matte lips. With that combo, you’ll be the trendiest chick in town. A deep side part can be incorporated into a low ponytail look or to give a retro edge to your hair when it’s down.
Matte lips are a great way to rock a bold lip, and the color won’t transfer while sipping on your sparkling summer lemonade. Quick tip: If you don’t own a matte lipstick, just dust a little translucent powder on top of your lips with a lipstick you already own, and voilà!
What’s a beauty secret you wish you could tell everyone?
There are a handful of household products that can be used for beauty and skin care. My personal favorite is olive oil. It’s not just for salads—it can remove makeup, restore your hair, and even give your legs a hydrated glow.
If you were stranded on an island and could only have one product, what would it be?
Assuming this island is going to be scorching hot with cute surfers, I’m going to have to say BB Cream. It’s magical. I almost feel like I’m cheating choosing this product since it is so multi-beneficial. It protects your skin from the sun, hydrates, brightens, and improves the condition of your skin over time—amazing!
Lightning round, beauty style!
Fuchsia—it makes teeth look sparkling white.
Pencil eyeliner or liquid?
Pencil. Someday I hope to say liquid! Someday.
Topknot or braid?
Braid, thanks to Katniss Everdeen.
Nail art or textured polish?
Nail art. (Knowing me, I’d pick off the textured polish within a day.)
Salt spray or glossing serum?
Salt spray—the beachier, the better.
Get the Look:
Garnier BB Cream, $11.99 at Target.
MAC Strobe Cream, $31 at Bloomingdale's.
NYX Jumbo Pencil in Iced Mocha, $4.49 at Ulta.
Benefit High Beam highlighter, $26 at Sephora.
MAC Haute & Naughty Lash mascara, $20 at MAC.
L’Oreal Colour Riche lip gloss in Golden Splash, $7.99 at CVS.
Brushes: MAC #217 blending brush, $23, and Real Techniques foundation brush, $7.99.