SOCIAL BUTTERFLY

Mikayla Nogueira Is TikTok's Favorite Makeup Artist

She's been posting videos on TikTok for less than a year, but her refreshingly real approach has earned her more than four million followers.
Makeup artist and TikTok star Mikayala Nogueira withgreen eyeshadow against colorful background
Courtesy of Mikayla Nogueira

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Two hours before I sit down to write this, makeup artist Mikayla Nogueira posts a video on TikTok saying that she's just 1,000 followers away from hitting four million. I take a break to heat a leftover chicken quesadilla for lunch and by the time the cheese has melted, she's reached the goal. Although the 22-year-old's massive following might lead you to believe otherwise, she’s been on the platform for only about a year. Some quick math tells me that equates to about 11,000 new followers every single day.

Of course, if you charted that growth, certain days would show a more dramatic spike than others, like when Nogueira posted what she calls "the video that changed my life," a 60-second clip on how she covers her acne. She estimates she gained about 300,000 followers immediately after posting it.

Followers certainly flock to Nogueira's page to watch — and learn — from her makeup skills, but it's her no-bullshit attitude, genuine gratitude, and charming New England accent (you'll fall in love with the way she says "glittah") that's made her one of TikTok’s most beloved personalities. Nogueira's continued success (she has a "dream collab" coming out with a brand soon and just signed with a major agency) can teach us all about the importance of staying true to oneself on social media. Here, in her own words, are a few snippets of her story.

Allure: What’s your earliest beauty memory?

Mikayla Nogueira: My mom had a friend who sold Avon. I was only 10 years old, but my mom handed me an Avon catalog and I circled a bunch of stuff. I thought, Why not try it out? And the rest is absolutely history. The first time I put makeup on, that was it. When I was 15, I entered a competition called DECA and made a 50-page business plan for freelance online beauty consultations and services. I entered the Boston competition and I won. And then I got to go down to Florida and present it to more people.

Allure: When graduation came around, what was your next move?

Nogueira: My senior year I had to make a decision: Am I going to go to college and get a degree or am I going to go to beauty school to get a license? I battled with that. I ended up choosing college. I went to Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island. It was amazing, but I never gave up makeup completely. I took clients all the time at college, for sorority events and dances. What ended up happening was we went home for spring break in March [2020] and halfway through we got an email saying we're not coming back to school, [that it would be] fully remote. I was devastated.

Allure: But then you found TikTok. What was the first video you posted?

Nogueira: My mom, an elementary school social worker, giving students a tour of the chicken coop on our farm. It blew up, which I thought was really strange. That’s when I realized how the TikTok algorithm works. I'd tried YouTube in the past. I had a Tumblr beauty page. I gave up because it never went anywhere. But it’s easy to go viral on TikTok.

Allure: Wait, how does the algorithm work?

Nogueira: Your video is pushed out to a small group of people who have the opportunity to interact with it. If you receive a decent amount of likes and comments as well as a high “watch time,” then your video will be pushed out to another group of people who have that same opportunity. The better the video, the higher chance of going viral. [Editor's note: For the official word on how the TikTok algorithm works, you can check out this post on the platform's blog.]

Allure: What was your first big beauty hit?

Nogueira: I did a video about how I cover my acne and it got 15 million [views]. I was in a crazy state of shock. I had to seize the moment, so I just kept posting. In my early videos, I was just talking about makeup. But then I started incorporating my emotions, things [going on] in my life. That's when I started seeing the comments. [People saying] they felt like I was their friend. I was like, Okay, I love doing this. This could be a career.

I [had decided to get] my master's degree but I ended up dropping out of school when I found out I'd have to do it full-time instead of part-time because of the pandemic. It was a tough decision, [but ultimately I knew] I could not give up TikTok. That would break my heart.

Allure: You were also working retail at Ulta at the time, right?

Nogueira: Yes, and I felt like I picked the right time to leave. I actually received an email from Ulta [corporate] that said, “We're so happy for you, that you quit. We’d love to work with you on campaigns.”

Allure: What does a typical day look like now?

Nogueira: I like to post at least three times a day on TikTok. But you have to film [sponsored content] in advance because they have to be shown to the client. So some days I have to film a lot of videos because I have to film the ad videos that have to get approved, and then the regular videos that I'm going to post that day. Some days I'll have to do multiple makeup looks. I have really sensitive eyes so whenever I have to do two looks in the day, I'm dreading it because I know my eyes are going to have a reaction.

Allure: So where do you go from here?

Nogueira: I love doing product reviews on TikTok, but 60 seconds is not enough time. I’m building my YouTube studio right now, but I want my videos to be very different. There has to be, you know, humility in it, and it has to be relatable and fun. You don't want to sit through a 30- to 45-minute tutorial. It has to be wicked interesting.

A version of this story originally appeared in the March 2021?issue of Allure.?Learn how to subscribe here.


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