Bare-faced beauty

Bare-faced beauty

YP cadet Candace Kwan meets Bethany Mota, the YouTube make-up guru who likes to keep things natural

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Bethany Mota speaking at the Social Media Matters conference
Bethany Mota speaking at the Social Media Matters conference
Photo: Ogilvy

The last place you would expect to see a frenzy of screaming girls would be at a conference, right? But 10 rows of media professionals had to make way for 200 fans at the Social Media Matters conference earlier this week.

But wait ... what if that was the plan all along? The organisers must have been up to something by flying Bethany Mota, best known as make-up guru "macbarbie07" on YouTube, out to Hong Kong for the FanFest portion of the conference.

Bethany's gratitude towards her fans is part of her appeal. "I only got to meet 200 of the 1,500 [people that attended]," she says. "It makes me really sad to know that there are people out there that I can't meet, hug or see in person. [So whenever I do run in to fans], even if it's randomly at the grocery store, I am so thankful that I get to meet them."

Bethany seems unfazed by the response she gets from her fans, but that doesn't mean she doesn't live up to the attention. In a little less than half an hour, she spoke to each fan that came to the impromptu meet-up, taking selfies and even personalising video messages for her viewers.

The 17-year-old has an endearing girl-next-door charm. Like many YouTube channels that start out in a bedroom with makeshift equipment (stacking books on top of each other as a tripod, anyone?), Bethany, too, shoots from her room.

She filmed her first YouTube video four years ago "with my parents' really old camcorder," she says, "so the quality was not very good at all - the screen was broken!"

Bethany stays true to her humble roots, but it's much harder than simply "lights, camera, action" to produce a video that really makes an impression. These days, she uses studio lights and a much better camera.

Despite all the fuss and fame that's now associated with the make-up guru, who has 3.2 million subscribers and nearly 300 million views on her main channel alone, Bethany is just as hands-on as she was when she first started.

"People assume I hire people to film, but I actually just have help from my friends and my family," she says. "It's really hard for me to have someone edit. It's just such a personal thing, and I put my personality into different effects I use."

The end results are worth it. Bethany's personality shines through in her videos, and while she still films in her bedroom, you can't dismiss macbarbie07 as just another YouTube wannabe.

While other make-up YouTubers may toss around concepts like "natural beauty" lightly, Bethany keeps it real.

Bethany says that for everyday looks, personally, she prefers to "keep it simple with just mascara and a lip gloss or balm that has some colour.

"Going all crazy with foundation and concealer can cause skin problems that you don't even have." And, she adds, "I don't really recommend any make-up [for a 13 year-old]".

While her username, macbarbie07, is inspired by make-up brand MAC's 2007 Barbie collection, and her YouTube channel is all about the subject, there's much more to Bethany thank just make-up.

"There are plenty of days where I go out bare-faced," she says, adding going out every day with make-up on "is too much work. I have so many days where I literally go out with my hair in a bun, no make-up on and sweatpants. That's when I feel most comfortable.

"I feel that some girls are pressured into wearing make-up because everyone else is wearing it ... I think make-up is more about enhancing your natural beauty and features instead of covering them up. That's something I've learned through being on YouTube."

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