I’m not gunna lie guys – prior to my big move to South Korea, skincare was not my strong suit, I’m talking like – I used whatever my roommates or sisters had left in the shower or cheap ass drug store products. Now, fast forward 4 months I am obsessed with my skincare routine, and I even know what hyaluronic acid is…YAY!
If you’ve been keeping up with my little YouTube challenge (and if you haven’t been you should click here right now) I shared with you guys what my 2020 intentions/goals are. Number 11 is a reminder that I am the energy I consume, whether it be people, products or food. 2020 is the year of investing in ourselves and letting go of all those limiting beliefs that are holding us back, because remember…WE ARE NOT OUR THOUGHTS. Okay, sorry I’m getting off track. Anyways, after a deep dive down the rabbit hole of instagram attempting to find some new ~clean~ skincare products and/or products that were going to make my skin the best it could be, I stumbled upon our next guest and boy did I fall even further down that rabbit hole. Sally runs a super chic insta page (soon to be blogger) called @actually.skin where she ‘s racked up over 13K followers, works with a number of amazing brands to test out new skincare and makeup…like what more could a girl ask for?
But of course, Sally didn’t just wake up one day with brand deals and a solid community of loyal followers under her belt…it took a lot of fucking hard work – but we never think of the before part of peoples success. We only see what they’ve achieved up to this moment. People don’t just wake up one day with their dream career under their belt. It takes years of trial and error, sacrifices and a real toll on your mental health…which not a lot of people are open to chatting about. But I’m so glad that Sally did. Here to help you gain some clarity in your path, please give an imaginary round of applause.
Hi everyone! My name is Sally and I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. I currently run an Instagram page (and blog! [launch date TBA]) under @actually.skin, where I discuss my favorite beauty products, show snippets of my life, talk about mental health, and post stylized photos. I started my Instagram account when my friend Jessica introduced me to the skincare community and told me that she thinks I’d be a good fit. So in March 2017, I started Actually Skin since I saw that there was a gap in where there was not enough representation for people who have oily, acne-prone skin. Fast forward almost 3 years later, here I am doing the thing I love while having a lot of fun building a community.
I grew up first-generation Chinese-American in New York, meaning my parents came to America to find a better pace of life and to raise their children to eventually take care of them when they’re older. So growing up, I was expected to go down the path to be a doctor or work in business (but I also had my own choice, you know?). I’m pretty rebellious in nature so the more my parents insisted in me going down the path of being an optometrist (random, I know), the more I rejected that idea. Eventually I decided that career path that was more practical where I can be creative as well as gain technical skills was to be in fashion business. I went to the Fashion Institute of Technology and majored in Fashion Business Management which eventually led to me working a year in the fashion industry right after graduation. Unfortunately, the company I was at wasn’t the right fit for me and I spiraled into the worst depression in my life which eventually led me to quit my job last summer in 2019. I was stuck in limbo having thought I wasted 4 years of my life pursuing a degree in an industry that works against people like me: someone who is interested in fashion but doesn’t necessarily dress with the trends. After a couple months of self-discovery and R&R, I eventually decided that I want to pursue a path in beauty. I’m currently working within the beauty industry now and feeling 110% better than ever!
What inspired you to get into the beauty industry? What inspired you to stay?
Maybe it’s really tacky to say but I’ve always been into beauty. I guess it all stemmed from my insecurities as a child and never fitting these high beauty standards both within the Western culture and Asian culture. I learned on my own about makeup and skincare through watching YouTube videos to make myself feel better. In a way it was to cover up my insecurities but I eventually learned that I couldn’t change anything and accepted that I WILL have acne all my life so I might as well learn as much as I can to treat it. And that led me into creating my Instagram platform where I created a community of people who share the same interests as me, which is the sole reason why I stay. Fashion is very who-knows-who where as beauty is very inclusive, from what I’ve experienced so far.
Entrepreneurship is intimidating af. What changes did you have to make to your mindset to get past all the negative assumptions that come with it?
I actually never thought of myself as an entrepreneur, haha! In a way, I guess my platform has become a “business” in a sense that I am currently getting sponsored to review products, which I am totally grateful for. Starting my Instagram was pretty low-risk for me since I had a lot of free time during college. I kept going at it since I’ve received so many kind messages from people telling me how my posts have helped them with their acne or skin troubles. It’s what fuels me!
If the person reading this feels like they want to pursue the beauty industry full time, but has no clue where to begin, where would you tell them to start?
As a person, I’m pretty practical so I don’t want to give false hope. Anyone can pursue a career in the beauty industry, you just need a bit of luck and a lot of hard work. Look at what you’re good at and transform it into a tangible service that you can provide. If you can see yourself working in the beauty industry for a year, two years, or even 10 years, definitely go for it! For me, I used my creative energy and created Actually Skin (are you tired of me mentioning my account yet? Haha!) which landed me an internship-turned full-time job within the beauty industry. Anything is possible as long as you put your all into it.
How did you know that you were on the right path? And at what point did you realize you HAD to make a change?
I never knew I was on the right path, actually. While working at my last company within the fashion industry, I knew I was on the wrong path. I would go into buying meetings and felt uncomfortable and judged because I wasn’t dressed a certain way or wearing the latest designers or season’s clothes (the fashion industry does NOT pay you well enough to wear their clothes). At the time, I was helping the company purchase their beauty products and that was my “break” within the 9-to-6 work week. I previously mentioned how I spiraled into a depression and that was within my last company. That’s when I knew I had to leave since I found myself crying in the bathroom at work almost every day. Cute, right?
What’s your can’t-live-without wellness tip?
With that being said, TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF! I was working 60+ hours at an entry-level job that wasn’t paying me for over-time. You can work for a cool company and make a decent salary but it doesn’t mean you’ll be happy. I learned the hard way that the best thing you can do for your mental health is to give yourself a break.
How do you continue to challenge yourself in regards to personal growth?
I’m never satisfied with my work and that pushes me to grow further. I learn a lot of my skills through experience and seeing what other people do. I take in a lot of inspiration from other members in the skincare community in how they style their photos, what they talk about, and the issues we have in society. That pushes me to use my platform for good and to talk about important issues such as climate change. Recognizing what I lack is how I challenge myself to work harder!
What were the fears you had to face to get you and your brand to where it is now? How did you overcome them?
My biggest fear was showing my face. I had very low self-esteem when I started so I never showed my face until about a year in. I felt a need to represent myself as an Asian-American woman who didn’t have perfect skin and that that is normal. My other thing was to speak up about issues that are important to me. I never wanted my platform to be political but given the current climate that we’re in, it’s hard not to be. Strongly believing that we need to stand up for what we think is right is what drives me to face my fears.
Knowing what you know now. What’s one piece of advice you would give your younger self 1 month after you graduated university?
You can make as much money as you can in the world but one thing that money can’t buy is time for yourself. Remember to take breaks and find work that is fulfilling and companies/people that care about you and put the employee’s growth and development first before the company’s goals.
If our readers had to implement ONE thing into their daily lives, for the next 30 days, what would that be? Why?
If you’re not already, wear sunscreen everyday! I guess that’s probably for the rest of their lives but it takes 30 days to build a habit, right? Sunscreen is super important since the skin is the largest organ in the body and melanoma is the most dangerous skin cancer and it’s easily preventable by applying sunscreen everyday.
Do you have a morning routine? If you do. Spill the deets.
My morning routine consists of checking my email right when I get up. I believe an empty inbox equals a clear mind, or so I tell myself. Then I drink some water, wash my face using a gentle milky cleanser (I am currently using the HoliFrog Tashmoo Water Lily Nourishing Milky Wash), apply toner, serum, moisturizer, and sunscreen. Then I do my makeup and rush out the door.
I am currently rotating between a lot of products right now so keep up with me on my IG account 😉
Must – have beauty product?
Here I go again… Sunscreen! Definitely a must-have. I like the Nivea Sun Protect Super Water Gel SPF 50/PA+++ since it’s lightweight, absorbs quickly, can be applied on the face and body, and inexpensive. Otherwise, I also really love the Dr. Jart Ceramidin Cream and I have probably purchased over 6 tubes of it.
Where can all readers find YOU on social media?
You can find me on Instagram @actually.skin or at my blog (TBA) at actuallyskin.me