The skincare community is vast and complex -- because people are vast and complex! Ohlolly talks with some of our favorite skincare enthusiasts and beauty influencers about the ins, outs, ups and downs in the beauty industry. We discuss their skincare journeys, changes in the industry, and of course, beauty tips and tricks.
This week we're talking to Keelyn from @wwmebeauty. Keelyn is a skincare influencer from Los Angeles, CA. She focuses on highlighting and educating her followers on Korean Beauty to make it more accessible for Western audiences. Hi, Keelyn!
Please tell us a little about yourself.
I’m Keelyn, but my friends call me Kee. I’m a gal of many hobbies and interests. I love watching anime, K-dramas, and playing video games on the regular. I work out during my free time and absolutely can’t live without Pho once a week. Since COVID hit, I’ve taken an interest in reading and writing short stories. I’m also relearning Korean (I’m planning my 4th trip for 2021 -- can you tell how much I like Korean culture?) Overall I’m kind of a busy body, but it’s all in the name of self-care and improvement.
What about your skincare journey?
I started When West Met East in 2016. At the time, I’d lived most of my teen and early adult years with moderate acne over about 60% of my face. I’ve loved Korean culture since college and would admire Korean actresses for their great glowing skin. One day I started looking into Korean products, and I discovered an entire world of healthy, non-chemical, affordable products with the 10-Step Process.
After a chat with my dermatologist, I invested in 15 budget-friendly products. By the end of 2017, K-beauty had brought me clear skin and a confidence I had never found from Western products. After that, I wanted to share my discoveries with other black women struggling with the same issues.
What's your relationship like with the skincare community?
My relationship with my community started out when I was a small fish in a rural pond. Not many people talked about K-beauty, and even fewer were black, so I was left to my own creative devices. I’ve been lucky to meet a lot of great followers, fellow influencers, and brand leaders. I’ve been in it long enough to see a shift on the platform, but I stay because of the amazing relationship I’ve cultivated both on and off social media. While there is still work to be done, the space is ever-changing and ever-growing, and I’m enjoying its metamorphosis.
What's your take on the term “Skincare Influencer?”
It’s a title that makes me feel like I’m in good company: that I’m among those who value the work and effort it takes to put their own skin on the line to share with others. I didn’t set out to be an influencer; I merely wanted to help others who were suffering from skincare concerns and felt neglected by Westen companies. Where I am now is all thanks to the development of the term “skincare influencer.”
What sort of changes to the industry have you seen over the years (for better or worse)?
The most notable is the eruption of diversity and acknowledgment of black creators. We’ve always been here, but we’ve been ignored. This drove me to create a video after the incident with Mr. Floyd occurred. I was tired of seeing how social injustice would fuel change for all of a minute online, and then the space would go back to business as usual.
I’ve loved seeing how this movement has inspired more Korean brands to step up. When not giving due representation to Western culture and ignoring a highly engaged market, brands miss out on breaking the mold and gaining new loyal customers (which would ultimately end in more revenue for them!). My dollar is as strong as a non-BIPOC’s is and must be counted from now on.
Who has anyone influenced your interest in the skincare/beauty industry?
I owe most of my love of skincare to Korean drama first, then to fellow influencers. There are too many to name, but here are a couple that help keep me grounded. Accounts like @funmimonet and @beautyunhyped are some of my closest friends on the platform; I deeply admire their wonderful growth. I’ve been inspired by larger accounts like @ohuprettythings and smaller ones like @thebeautyjars. There is so much education and community here; it’s hard not to be interested in every account you come across.
Which brands are you following right now that have been inspiring to you? Why?
Since June and my video, the outpouring of love from brands in the K-beauty space (like Sulwhasoo, Soko Glam, Missha and more) has been overwhelming and so incredibly beautiful. Of course, I’m spoiled from the love I’ve received from Ohlolly and have been inspired by your work with indie brands for years. When brands take the first step to adopt and support diverse influencers, it sets a new and more inclusive stage. That’s why so many have been inspiring. And while there’s still work to be done. These steps make being a part of this community even more worthwhile.
Do you have a tried & true favorite product?
I really wish I did. I love and use so many to contribute to the overall health of my skin. I can say I have a type of product though: facial oils. I LOVE THEM! As someone who can go from dry to oily and back, a solid facial oil is the one product I know I can’t live without.
Do you have any too-good-not-to-share skincare hacks (could be for travel, daily routine, anything…)?
I actually have a few, but I’ll stick to one that has never failed me. I love to use mist products after I shower. I typically shower at odd points of the day because of my exercise routine, so if I’m not totally ready to hop into my night routine, I spray my face down with a mister. Mists and sprays (and cleansing waters) are perfect for in-between hydration. I plan to share this trick more often in my stories, so look out for the content. It’s kind of the lazy girl’s routine hack, lol. :)
How have you been taking care of yourself these past few months? What does your ideal day of self-care look like?
My ideal day starts with sleeping in and ends with a nice hot bath. In between that, I’m masking with my favorite at-home treatments and watching an anime or Korean drama on Netflix. Days like this also include a bit of physical or online shopping therapy and a long swim in my complex pool. I really try not to do much. With COVID I’ve stuck to home treatments, but I used to frequent the Korean spas in Koreatown (here in Los Angeles). They plan to open again in October, so I look forward to a long hot bath and a deep tissue massage scrub very soon!
A nice hot bath tops our list, too. Thank you Keelyn, for sharing your experiences and “lazy girl hacks” with us -- we need more of those! :)
All photos courtesy of Wwmebeauty