Up & Up: Kaya Empire
Can you tell us what first propelled you to start creating videos?
I actually never planned to be on YouTube, but a lot of followers on my blog kept requesting that I do makeup tutorials. At the time, I was posting a lot of super glam makeup looks to my blog and writing a lot of posts about makeup. My love for makeup will always stem from a love for my Indian heritage; I believe in embodying my culture’s rich colors and impactful designs through makeup artistry.
Additionally, I felt a responsibility to use my voice to help women with complexions similar to mine find products that work for their skin tones. It’s difficult enjoy makeup when foundations are too light, bronzers are too ashy and eyeshadows don’t show up on your skin color. My amazing, supportive followers gave me such a positive response to my channel’s creation and that really motivated me to invest in my channel.
We love your bold, honest take on so many topics (including these ones)! How do you decide what to tackle next?
Thank you so much! My chemical engineering education offers me a critical lens to look at products from a scientific standpoint. There’s a great deal of misinformation and ignorance in the beauty community about the science behind products and I’m pretty passionate about clearing it up.
As a woman of color, addressing racism and misogyny prevalent in the beauty industry is close to my heart. There’s a lot to unpack. Additionally, just being a consumer and observer to the beauty industry provides tons of material. I keep a journal in which I explore video ideas and map out topics in detail before I film. Life is way too short for me to not make videos about topics I care about, even if they may be unpopular.
Your eyebrows are fantastic. Any tips for acing bold brows?
Put the tweezers down! My mom never let me do anything to my eyebrows until I was thirteen years old (bless her). If you’re trying to grow out your brows, there will be an awkward phase. Just let them be. I’ve started using Jamaican black castor oil and the richness of the oil helps condition my eyebrow hairs to prevent dryness and breakage.
When you feel like your eyebrows have potential, go to a threading salon. Have a conversation with whoever will be doing your brows and be very explicit that you do not want to thin out your eyebrows, just shape them and remove excess hair. I personally don’t trust anyone with my brows anymore after an unfortunate threading mishap a few years ago, so I thread them myself at home. If you’re like me, you can use a dark eyeliner pencil to map out the border of your eyebrows, then pluck/thread everything outside of the line.
What product would you NEVER pick up again?
I will never pick up an eye cream again because the under eye area doesn’t deserve special treatment, compared to the rest of your face. Yes, it’s a very delicate area, but your entire face deserves to be treated with the same amount of care and high quality ingredients. Most eye creams are full of useless ingredients and are outlandishly small and expensive. They’re kind of a scam! I believe in investing in a great nighttime moisturizer to use all over your face, including your under eye area.
Anything else you'd like to add?
The beauty community can be a wonderful place for people to share artistry, discuss products and uplift each other, but it can also be a toxic place full of jealousy, illusion and self-doubt. Don’t hesitate to take a step back. I take regular social media breaks to clear my mind. I hate it when I catch myself aimlessly scrolling through Instagram for an hour or reading nasty comments on a video.
The most important part of my day isn’t posting the most perfectly-curated product flatlay to Instagram. It’s about furthering my education, spending time with my loved ones and taking care of my body and soul. I just happen to enjoy talking about skincare to a camera and uploading the video to the Internet.
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