Beauty is in the hand of the creator

No one can tell you what is beauty -- you have to create it for yourself.

Michelle Phan The Beauty Guru
Michelle Phan trail-blazed the world of fashion and beauty on YouTube, where she has more than 7.5 million followers. Michelle's videos have been viewed more than 1 billion times. She co-founded Ipsy, a monthly beauty-product subscription service.
Michelle Phan
3 min read

Technology has revolutionized beauty.

We're in the midst of a digital revolution, and one-size-fits-all beauty doesn't match this new paradigm. Beauty is in the hands of the creator now, and the creators are normal, authentic people: people who are shooting videos and taking pictures and sharing their beauty tips.

I call this paradigm the digital revolution, because it reminds me of the industrial revolution. That period impacted our economy in a good way: everyone had a job and the economy spiked. The digital revolution opened up our market to be global -- it's called the World Wide Web for a reason. Now we have micro-entrepreneurs everywhere.

My entire career has been built within the digital revolution. Without technology, I probably wouldn't have pursued beauty as a career. My original intent was to finish college, get my illustration degree, and illustrate children's books. As much as I love makeup, it was more personal -- not a career that I was interested in exploring.

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If I had decided to pursue beauty 20 years earlier, I probably would have needed to fly to New York or Los Angeles, assist a big makeup artist for a few years, and then sign up to an agency and build my portfolio. But today, if you want to become a beauty influencer, as long as you have great ideas and can create beautiful looks, you can build a large following.

I'm only one example. I know of a woman, who is a mother. Before she got pregnant, she wanted to build a business, create a fashion line and go into makeup. When she saw how I built my business off the online world, she called me and said, "For the longest time I felt so guilty because I wanted to stay home and take care of my kids, but I felt like I wanted to fulfill my desire to find myself through work. There's so much more to me than being a mother. I miss being an entrepreneur, but I want to stay home."

Of course, she should be a mommy blogger! I told her what lights to buy, what camera to buy, how to shoot herself -- and now she's doing it, and she loves it. She gets to take care of her kids and she's building this online community, who's also her family in a sense. It's a safe environment where she can share her knowledge, her experiences and her tips, create content and, on top of that, she can make money.

But for her, it's not about the money. That's the great part about this industry: Most people who build a business or start their own channel online, they don't do it for money. They do it because they're passionate about it or they want to get the message out.

If you have access to the Internet, you are living in the age of information. Ignorance is really a choice at this point. You can learn anything online. With all this information, our world will become smaller. People will have more access to share more ideas, and our culture will change because of that.

It's already changing. Technology is changing our understanding of beauty.

Tools like filters and apps can manipulate your pictures and you can transform yourself. It shows how beauty is a perception you can create. That's powerful because that shows you that no one can tell you what's beautiful -- you can create it yourself.

We're going through this phase of everyone exploring their beauty. For any girl or any guy, if they want to find someone who looks like them -- whether it's their size, their shape, their ethnicity -- it's easy. It's just a click of a button or a hashtag away.

It's exciting, because I truly believe the next generation, we're going see people who feel much more confident in their skin. They're going to have their own unique style and really own it. A younger girl, she exudes confidence, but it gets chipped away as she journeys through life and she experiences rejection, loss, pain, hardship. She doesn't see a face like hers in a magazine. Today, she can see a face like hers in an Instagram post and people validate that person by saying how beautiful she is in likes and comments. It gives her confidence.

It's going to be a beautiful generation.

*As told to CNET Senior Reporter Joan E. Solsman

Photo by Stefanie Keenan Photography