Jackie Aina wants darker skin to become mainstream in the beauty industry

We’ve finally gotten to sit down with everyone’s favorite beauty guru, aka Auntie Jackie Aina.

This veteran turned beauty influencer has built her brand from the ground up while staying real. With over a million subbies on Youtube, Jackie is known for her in-depth reviews and call it like she see’s it personality. In our Q+A we talk about what she loves most about the beauty industry and changes she hopes to see in the near future. Check it out below.

What’s your background and how would you describe what you do? Tell us your story. 

I started off as a makeup lover, turned makeup artist. In 2009 when YouTube tutorials became a thing I struggled finding looks and tutorials from women who looked like me. So I started my channel and it kind of took off from there!

How did you go from a veteran to a freelance MUA and later beauty vlogger?

It happened all at the same time! When you really love doing something (which for me is makeup) you naturally find a way to incorporate it into your life anyway.

When you first became a freelance MUA what skill did you struggle with the most?

I’d say doing liquid eyeliner on others. That takes some serious practice!

 Being a public figure, you deal with just as much hate as you do love. How do you handle this and how long has it taken you to adjust to this lifestyle?

To be honest I would like to say there is more positive than negative. Now the negative is really ugly and it’s almost extreme, but the amount of support overwhelms it by far. Just like in life in general, you have to block it out and not focus on it. The moment you get caught up in that you’re distracted from all the blessings you’ve been given.

Tell us about a difficult time in your life that you overcame and explain how you do so.

I would say going through anything publicly is not easy. Especially for me because people think I am more open than I actually am. I’m extremely private, but I am very good at making people think otherwise. When I first started my channel I was married, then all of a sudden I wasn’t. I had zero intentions or acknowledging or addressing it publicly but it’s almost like a catch 22. When I didn’t address it, people asked questions, too many questions. Then when I did address it, people felt the need to fill in the blanks and assume somehow it was my fault. Then they ran with it and made up all these loud rumors. That’s another stigma I fight a lot, just because a woman is a divorcée doesn’t mean she’s somehow damaged goods, nor does it mean she’s somehow incapable of keeping a man.

On a date night, what’s your go to makeup look and products you can’t leave the house without?

6 years ago if you asked me that I’d say full coverage beat face with a dark smokey eye and chic/overlined nude lip. Now I like more of a “my skin but better” look. Still full coverage but softer, peachier hues, maybe even skip eyeshadow altogether and just add black liquid liner and a heavy lash. I always wear a liquid matte lipstick because they are transfer proof, if you know what I mean 🙂 I can’t leave the house without the Too Faced liquid lipsticks. I recently rediscovered how much I adore their formula.

 You use your platform to not only discuss makeup but to bring light to issues within society as well as uplifting women of color. What made you do this and how has this helped or hindered your brand?

It was definitely always something that was present in my channel from the very beginning. So it’s not really like it was a shock to people at  all. When I started my YouTube channel my motto in my bio read “going against everything women of color are told not to do with makeup.” I literally started my channel due to frustrations of being told what wouldn’t look good on me because I am dark. Every single year I was doing Black History Month-inspired tutorials throughout the month of February on my channel (eventually I just ran out of ideas so I haven’t done it as much). I always have, and always will, make the often overlooked and under-appreciated a priority on my channel no matter what anyone says or doesn’t like it. Sometimes when I do specific videos, like Foundations for Darker Skin Tones for example, I specify dark skin because people really never understand how we really are left out a lot. So when I get comments like “I feel like I’m excluded from your channel,” it confuses me a bit. If Em Ford, better known on YouTube as “My Pale Skin” on YouTube did a video on foundations for light/pale skin tones of course the video wouldn’t apply to me but overall I wouldn’t feel left out. She’s obviously doing a video covering a topic for a group that is overlooked but it wouldn’t stop me from watching her content.

As you began to grow in popularity, did you have to change anything about yourself or your mindset to become successful?

I think I definitely needed to grow to understand that not everyone who started with you is going to be happy for you when you become successful. That’s probably the hardest lesson I am learning to date. I needed to teach myself how to not take it personal and move on. The “old me” I think would try to reach out to them, and try to understand what the issue is/was when I’ve learned that rarely ever solves anything.

 Where did the nickname “La Bronze James” come from?

Honestly I don’t even know. lol. One day it just came to me and I was like, oh, that’s cute!

What void do you feel you’re fulfilling in the beauty industry?

Being myself, unfiltered. Making people feel appreciated who are often overlooked. Rooting for people of color. I just love seeing people win and that is surprisingly and sadly very rare in the beauty community.

 Where do you see your brand in the next year? What are some of your short-term goals?

With a makeup brand, *wink wink*. Right now I’m just focusing on creating quality content with all the fifty million other projects and ventures I am working on behind the scenes.

What changes are you pushing for within the beauty industry and how are you helping these changes become a reality?

I wish that dark skin was mainstream. In all cultures, not just amongst black men and women. There aren’t a ton of Asian or Latinx vloggers of darker skin at the top and I hope that continues to change soon.

What do you really want your followers to take away from this interview?

That I love them and their support never ever goes unnoticed!