The concept of becoming famous overnight is one of those tropes you hear about, but in the case of 23-year-old Mikayla Nogueira, it’s no exaggeration. In March 2020, like so many other people, Nogueira was bored. “I was bored out of my mind,” she said. “I had nothing to do — but every single day, I play with makeup. It doesn’t matter what day it is, it doesn’t matter what I have going on. So one Sunday, I sat down and I did my regular makeup routine. But this time, I figured I’d give Tiktok a shot and I pulled up the app.” And her life was never the same again.
“The comments section was loaded with questions: ‘How did you do this?’ ‘How did you do that?’ ‘Can you show us this in a tutorial?’ And I’m like, ‘Wow, maybe I’m good at makeup,” she said. At the time, Nogueira worked at Ulta.
Today, Nogueira has 9 million followers. She launched a collaboration with Glamlite in June, and beauty brands are lining up to work with her. When she posts about a product and gives it her seal of approval, it goes viral, receives press coverage and, often, sells out. Nogueira asks herself “why” regularly, she said.
The whirlwind experience gaining a large following within the timespan of a global pandemic has had its challenges, and Nogueira is open about the fact that her mental health has suffered: “Not a lot of people are going to understand what it’s like to go from being a college student with no money to your name to being this massive person on the internet who has millions of followers and is making money and has all these eyes on them,” she said. “I don’t think people understand the pressure.”
That said, she said she loves this career she has created for herself and is determined to continue to love it. “My goal is to not beat myself up so much and keep doing what I’m doing, keep being myself,” she said. “I don’t [want to] change at all, for anyone or anything.”
When we met in-person in NYC in mid-November, I asked Nogueira about her biggest pinch-me moment. She told me that it was scheduled to happen the following weekend, but asked me to please not include it in my story if it didn’t happen. “When I found out I was coming to New York, I thought to myself, if I could meet one person while I’m there, who would it be? And I just took a chance and messaged [makeup artist] Mario [Dedivanovic]. I said, ‘I’m going to be in New York. I’m a big fan of yours, and I’d love to meet you.’ And he responded right away,” she said. The resulting content, which documents Dedivanovic doing Nogueira’s makeup while celeb stylist Chris Appleton did her hair, over the course of six TikTok posts, netted over 35 million views.
Though Nogueira’s life is becoming increasingly glamorous, she still lives in her native Massachusetts and said her local audience is quite large. Starting a brand is not out of the question, as she started as a makeup artist and remains passionate about education. “I love to make people feel beautiful,” she said.
In the meantime, as far as partnerships are concerned, she said, “I’m super picky now. I only work with the brands I really want to work with and only promote the products I really want to promote. Because, at the end of the day, I do it for the love of makeup. They do it for the love of sales.”
TikTok / Instagram
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