Hanoi resident Phuong Ly is the founder of Pretty.Much channel and one of the first beauty bloggers in Vietnam. She began blogging three years ago after returning to her homeland from the US and now spends much of her free time blogging as well as working full-time for a PR agency. “I discovered my passion for makeup and skincare during my freshman year but at that time I didn’t have the nerve to pursue it. After graduating, I established my channel with the support of my friends and family,” she recalls.
Ho Chi Minh City based beauty blogger Anh Ngoc is an advocate of women’s freedom of choice. After seeing videos shaming women who wear makeup to feel confident, she started her YouTube channel Cin City to create a place for people to share and communicate about the pleasure of beauty with freedom and confidence.
Blogger Trinh Pham is currently living in the US, working as a marketing assistant for an online business. “I decided to record my first video because I was going through a difficult period away from home and watching YouTube videos was the only thing that I looked forward to after a long day. After a few months of viewing, I decided to try it for myself, so I borrowed a tripod and created my first video,” Trinh shares.
An expensive hobby
Behind the on-screen glamour is a lot of hard work. Though beauty blogging is just a hobby, all three girls have dedicated not just time and money but also a great deal of their mental energy to it.
“If you were to ask me how my life has changed since becoming a beauty blogger, I would say that it’s how I use my free time,” Anh Ngoc says. “Filming may take hours or even a whole day depending on the scale of the project. Editing is also time consuming because I pay equal attention to the quality of vision and the content. The whole process can take up to two weeks.”
According to Phuong Ly, the time spent trying out new products to review should be taken into account as well. “In order to earn the trust of our audience, we have to test the products first and face the risk of skin break outs or other reactions,” she explains. “Then producing the content itself is time-consuming. We have to set up the lights, film, edit the video, and record the voice over. It takes about three days to finish a blog and about a week for a video.”
Beauty bloggers also have to invest in equipment such as a camera, lens, and lights in order to create a high quality video. “You need financial stability to be able to blog as you have to buy new products to keep the content fresh and on-trend,” shares Phuong Ly. However, Trinh Pham believes that everyone can start out by using what they have and making the most of it. “When I first started, I had only a camera and memory card that my dad gave me. But blogging becomes more expensive as you get more into into it as you want to bring ever higher quality videos to your audience,” she says.
Beauty bloggers in the social media era are also at risk of online criticism. According to Anh Ngoc, they are often stereotyped as just pretty faces who can do little other than putting on lipstick and drawing eyebrows. “It takes strength to cope with being judged for taking care of how you look or to be called shallow,” she shares.
Trinh Pham agrees that while social media enables them to pursue their passion, it can be tough when there are negative comments to read. “I guess it’s a good and bad thing at the same time since I love hearing everyone’s feedback,” she confides. “I understand that people have different opinions and ways of expressing them.”
All three Vietnamese beauty gurus are encouraged to continue along this sometimes challenging path by the support they receive from their readers or audience. “People started to recognise me on the street, in shopping malls, movie theaters, and even coffee shops. Keeping up with my blog is quite hard, especially as I have a full-time job, but the support I receive from my readers is invaluable,” shares Phuong Ly.
Ly says that being a beauty influencer is an opportunity to collaborate with cosmetics brands and may in time allow her to develop a career in the field. “Many well-known brands notice my work and therefore I have been offered some great opportunities, such as organising my own beauty workshops, appearing on TV, in magazines, and even TVC,” she adds.
According to Trinh Pham, in the US where the beauty industry is more developed cosmetics brands develop close relationships with bloggers. “They follow bloggers on social media platforms and keep track of all the little details to follow up. It’s not quite like that in Vietnam yet, but I hope to have opportunities to collaborate with brands in the future,” she says.
For Anh Ngoc, being a beauty influencer is a way to showcase her work. “Being an influencer is great because it says something about what you have achieved. For me, whether I one day get chosen to collaborate with a big international brand or not, the most important thing is to always remain connected with my viewers, my Cin City family. As long as we can give back to them even a quarter of how much love they have given to Cin City, we’ll keep being innovative in every video,” she shares.
Phuong Ly, Anh Ngoc, and Trinh Pham advise girls who want to enter the online beauty world that if they have a passion for skincare and cosmetics, they should follow their heart. “But blogging shouldn’t be considered a game. It’s not quite the cotton candy road it may look like from the outside, it’s a rocky road that only determination and passion can allow you to travel on,” Anh Ngoc emphasises.
By Averie Nguyen