“When I meet someone in person, the first thing they say is, ‘You’re so tall!’ The second thing is always, ‘Your skin is actually good!’ I cake it on for my videos, but in my day-to-day life it’s curling my lashes, highlighter, lip gloss, and that’s it. You’ve got to give your skin a breather.
I grew up in the Netherlands, in a small little town. Just a typical Dutch girl. I spent a lot of my youth watching American TV shows—when I was 14 I was obsessed with The Hills, and I looked up ‘The Hills makeup.’ I found this video where a makeup artist named Sandy Gold was explaining how to do a Lauren Conrad eyeliner. Instantly, I felt like makeup had this transformative power. I discovered a whole world of beauty tutorials, and I was in love. After a few months of practicing, I stole my mom’s little camera, put it on a box—it was a hot summer day, I had my music playing in the background, I had my windows open—and created the ugliest green smoky eye. This was 2008. There were no influencers, there was no money, there were no ads—none of that. I noticed that certain people with bigger followings had given their subscribers a name, so I came up with Glow Babies. That really helped because then it became an identity. When I was 17 I decided to go to makeup school to learn some of the technical, basic knowledge that sometimes you step over. Then, when I was 18, someone at YouTube reached out to me and asked if I wanted to monetize my videos. I had no idea what he was talking about! Basically, how it worked was they would run ads on my videos, and I would make a little cut of that. I had held little jobs, like working at the grocery store, but that was it. Now I’m 25, and it’s great that I can make a living doing something I love so much.
My videos are a one-woman show—it’s just me. I have my camera in front of me, and underneath my camera, I have a monitor. That’s where I see everything. On either side there’s a very bright light, and two smaller lights underneath. You know how photographers use a reflection board? That’s what I emulate with those. Because I’m pretty far away from my desk, I have this tray that pulls out with a little tablet on it. That’s how I can control my camera. Before I start, I search the internet for hours looking for inspiration—I look at horror movies, special effects, everything. Then, I take a bunch of screenshots, and pile them together in Photoshop to create a story for myself. I plan it out in my head, but I don’t ever practice beforehand. It’s funny, because in the videos I always say, ‘Now you want to do this,’ like I know what I’m doing. The truth is, I’m usually lost. It always turns out way different from what I expect.
It’s funny, because in the videos I always say, ‘Now you want to do this,’ like I know what I’m doing. The truth is, I’m usually lost.
When I became Global Artistry Advisor for Marc Jacobs Beauty, one of the first ideas they came up with was collabing with a person that nobody would see coming. I love Snoop, and I love how chill he is, but I never thought he would say yes. A couple weeks later they called me to say that not only did he say yes, but that he was going to hop in the studio in a month or so, and that I should start filming my makeup portion. I had a lot of fun filming it, and he responded so well, it was magical. Now, Marc Jacobs and I are working on a beautiful four-part series where we travel the globe. That is coming up, and I’m super excited.
I start with Youthquake by Marc Jacobs. I have combination skin, and somehow this magically takes away the dryness and controls the oil. Then I use primer. A good primer is emollient, tacky, and mattifying. I love Huda Beauty N.Y.M.P.H—you’re supposed to put it on your legs for that Hollywood glow, but if you pop this on the face as a primer, it’s like a magnet for makeup. It has lots of shimmer, and it’s super waterproof. I mix it with the Milk Hydro Grip to make it a little less drying.
The biggest change in my makeup has been the foundations. A lot of people think that when you use too much, it doesn’t look good. But when I look back at old videos where I used less product, my face looks horrible. Now, one of my secrets is this sponge by Juno and Co. It’s better than a BeautyBlender—it has a velvety texture, and that softness creates a veil on the skin. It’s the best sponge ever, and it’s affordable. I use it with Juvia’s Place I Am Magic, which is the most full-coverage foundation on the planet. You can literally cover up your family with it. I follow with an even fuller-coverage concealer, either the Jouer Essential High Coverage or Accomplice. Usually you never put cream on top of powder, but if my liner starts bleeding onto my lower lid, I can go back in with Accomplice to cover it. It stays exactly where I put it, and doesn’t crack. Then I set using a powder, either Accomplice or Fenty Butter, and a setting spray. The one I use is Skindinavia Bridal. You can cry or get steamy, and it keeps everything locked in—it’s made for brides! I noticed that because the spray is wet, it would make my makeup run a little. So I dry it immediately with a little fan. That is life changing.
Then I do brows. I use pencil, and then two gels: a clear one by Milk, which holds the hairs up, and another from The BrowGal. I don’t have a lot of brow hairs, and that one has little fibers in it to really fluff them up.
I always use primer on my eyes—right now I like this one from P. Louise. For me, an eye primer needs to have enough coverage to give me a blank canvas, and it needs tackiness to grip the pigment. I randomly found a neutrals palette from Juvia’s Place, and I fell in love with how pigmented they were. Now they make more bright colors—here I have Festival, Zulu, and Nubian 3. I used all of them for my look today. To me, a cream eyeshadow is just ‘there.’ You don’t get the dimension. It’s beautiful for models who don’t need a lot, but I need a lot. I use this brush, No. 7, from Rae Morris in the crease, and then blend it with Zoeva 228. It’s my all-time favorite—it’s the magic brush. You take it clean and just stroke the edges, and it blurs it out. Nabla’s Precision Buffer Brush is great on the lower lash line. You can pack it on and smoke it out.
Now, one of my secrets is this sponge by Juno and Co. It’s better than a BeautyBlender.
I also love liners. The Highliners are great because they come in every color, and they stay on. I also love this liquid liner by Ellis Faas. One of my biggest pet peeves is when you have beautiful, gorgeous lashes on, and you look up and there’s a gap. I can put this liner on the inner corners of my eyes, where the gap usually is, and it doesn’t bleed down. I always curl first, then use mascara, then put on lashes. Shu Uemura is the only lash curler that works for my stick straight lashes. Next I use Lash Paradise Waterproof—always waterproof for me because I am a drag queen, and I need the curl. I love Lilly Lashes, or Doll Beauty Lashes from the UK. The Kiss single lashes are really nice to put in the center when you want an extra oomph, but I never use them by themselves. I could glue my whole life back together with Infinity Waterproof Lash Adhesive. It’s infinity—Thanos could come in with a snap, and the lashes would still be on. It’s also what I used to glue on these little diamonds from Make Up For Ever. They come in a bunch of colors, and they’re the sparkliest and the prettiest. Drag queens like Naomi Smalls always do a little diamond—I’m going to a meet and greet today, so I wanted to do a little extra.
My looks are always known for the highlight—the more highlight, the better. It’s really all about the brush. Too small of a brush makes it too concentrated—too big, it just kind of goes everywhere. I have a big face, and for me, this Surratt brush is the perfect size. I love O!mega Glaze from Marc Jacobs, but right now I’m wearing Champagne from the Beetique Highlighter Palette. I put it on the cheeks, on the tip of the nose, on the bridge, cupid’s bow, and right above the crack of my boobies. That’s a tip from drag queens. It just makes you look like a million dollars, honey.
Then we go to lips. I always like to do a liner with my nudes. Nude(ist) lip liner by Marc Jacobs is what I’m wearing today—it’s modern ‘90s goodness. I usually use gloss from the MAC collaboration with Christen Dominique, another amazing YouTuber, but I also love Cream and Sugar by Marc Jacobs. It’s so shimmery and so good, and it gives you that minty sensation I love so much.
I take it all off using Tatcha Pure Camellia Cleansing Oil, which is phenomenal. It gets the makeup off, and it’s a lot of makeup. Then I double cleanse with the same cleanser. Don’t sleep in your makeup ever—I don’t care how lit you are, take the makeup off. If you can’t take it off, make the person next to you take it off for you. After that, I go in with Kiehl’s essence. I feel like moisturizers really work well with it. Then I do eye cream, and a tiny bit of the hydrating mask from QMS as a moisturizer. In the morning, I like to use the Tatcha face sunscreen because it doesn’t break me out. It’s good as a primer, too.
My mom looks after my skin—she has her own spa called Cosmetica House, and she calls herself a skin coach. She’s a busy lady, but I do Hydrafacials with her every two to three months when I’m home. I know everybody says it, but drinking water when you travel really, truly helps. And just watch what you eat. I mean, I know when I go for the chocolate I’ll break out for a couple days.
I have super fine, blonde hair that doesn’t want to do anything. I tease, I polish, I curl—I do it all. I get tape-in extensions back at home in Amsterdam, at a place called The Hair Theater. I used to fly out to LA to see Stephanie Gonzales for them, but my wallet didn’t approve of that. It gives me that extra bit of hair, the length, and the body-ody-ody. The less water that hits [my extensions] the better, so I wash once a week. Batiste XXL Volume is the best dry shampoo. It’s pretty affordable, and it has that perfect grip. I also blowdry the oils away every morning—it looks good, so it’s worth it.
FRAGRANCE + BODY
Obviously, Santal 33 is a staple. The one I brought to New York is Yasmine from Penhaligon’s Portraits. They have the whole family of animals, but this is the cat—I love the bottle. It’s mysterious, but it’s welcoming. It’s like, we’re here to have a grand old time. But also, I’m intrigued. But also, I’m going to keep a distance. It’s feminine, but still sexy.
I put so much love and affection into my face, that by the time I get to my body I just want to get it over with. I use Molton Brown body wash—the tobacco one or Russian Leather. That’s it. I use sunscreen on my tattoos, and I would love to be a responsible person who moisturizes her body, but I’m not.
I felt like makeup had this transformative power. I discovered a whole world of beauty tutorials, and I was in love.
My girl Electa does my nails in Amsterdam. She’s so creative. Usually I tell her what I’m in the mood for, and she comes up with something. I just walked up a mountain for charity last week, and things got a little rough so I lost my thumbs, but I always have long nails. The thing is, when I have shorter nails, I feel like I can do anything, so I break them. Now that I have longer nails I’m always asking people, ‘Can you open this for me?’ I don’t necessarily think it makes me a better person, but it doesn’t break my nails. Plus, they make me feel so sassy. I always get the question, ‘How do you wipe?’ I don’t know how people are wiping their asses—are they sticking their fingers all the way up? You just wipe! It’s all clean. [Laughs]”
—as told to ITG
Nikkie de Jager photographed by Alexandra Genova in New York on June 13, 2019.