As I write this, YouTuber Ingrid Nilsen's latest video has almost 100,000 views and 600 comments. It was posted yesterday. Nilsen has no shortage of followers, and hasn't, really, since she started vlogging about clothes and makeup in 2009. While Nilsen began her channel with a focus on beauty, her platform has evolved to something more — an overall message based in activism, feminism, and inclusivity. And her fans haven't gone anywhere.
Nilsen has made a point to speak out on LGBTQIA+ rights (Nilsen came out in 2015 with a powerful, and ultimately viral, video), women's rights, and the importance of voting, and her followers have become even hungrier for her point of view. Nilsen manages to weave narratives about her favorite lipsticks in with the importance of feminism in a way that seems natural, genuine, and accessible. Now, in an incredibly tense and politically divided time, Nilsen tells me that makeup is more powerful for her than ever — even if some commenters don't understand this right away.
"I’ve heard so much about people getting upset, like 'Why are you focused on this?' I’ve seen comments just online like, 'You should be talking x, y and z more," Nilsen tells me at the launch of her new BareMinerals collection. "I’m still in process of everything that is going on. I have to figure out where I am and what I’m thinking and what I’m feeling before I say anything, like most people."
Nilsen, whose BareMinerals collection launched Feb. 1, says that makeup gives her the opportunity to take a step back and clear her mind. This is what empowers her to use her platform in the most effective way possible.
"For me personally, it’s taking a little bit of time to do my makeup...it can almost be like a meditation...it allows my mind to relax. It allows me to think of ideas, it allows me to form opinions on things which is so important because if you’re constantly watching the news — which most of it is very biased — if you’re not able to actually form your opinion, I think that is something we should all feel empowered to do," Nilsen says. "To be able to step away from everything that’s happening, give yourself some time and form your own opinions so you can step back into the world and really fight the fight that you want to be fighting, and that’s up to you. It’s going to empower you even more."
To be able to step away from everything that’s happening, give yourself some time and form your own opinions so you can step back into the world and really fight the fight that you want to be fighting...It’s going to empower you even more.
Nilsen, like many of us, is incredibly busy — and her ritual of using makeup as a small moment of self-reflection and self-care is empowering. While makeup is her personal moment to "meditate" and think critically about things, Nilsen says that this can be anything from writing to exercising for other people. This idea of including as many people as possible is also something that is important to the YouTube star — and something that is reflected in her recent collab with Bareminerals, too.
"For me personally, because I come from a mixed background — since I’m half-Asian — I have blended skin and it’s always been really difficult for me to find a perfect match," Nilsen says, "With [BareMinerals], I don’t have to settle and I know that a lot of other people are in the same position...What I love about BareMinerals is that in their messaging and what you see when you pass by the brand, you see a brand that is representing so many people. And when you look at the actual makeup itself, it’s actually representing those people."
Nilsen's priorities are abundantly clear when you look at her work. Self-care — the idea that valuing and celebrating yourself, no matter your race, or sexual orientation, or anything else — is at the core of all the projects Nilsen has been a part of.
"Because how are you going to fight the battle you want to be fighting if you don’t know where you stand, when you’re not taking care of yourself — that’s first and foremost," Nilsen says.
From major brand collaborations to everyday videos, Nilsen has made one thing very clear — she is fighting the good fight. And she's not just fighting for herself, but for women of color, for the LGBTQA+ community, and for every person who is just trying to find what makes them feel their best.