SSIN is a South Korean beauty vlogger with over 490,000 subscribers on YouTube to date. Building off a background in cosplay, she specializes in transformative makeovers. In this interview, which was held in New York City during her 2015 US Cosmetic and Fanmeet tour, SSIN tells us more about how she got started, what she plans to do next, and her personal beauty philosophy.
Interview Gissella Ramirez-Valle, Edits Ruda Lee, Special Thanks Kyungji Lim
Hey SSIN! Great to meet you! Is it true that you never formally studied makeup artistry?
SSIN: That’s right! I never studied any of this formally. Actually, I am a college student studying Graphic Design at Chung Ang University. I’m taking a break, but I should be graduating next year. Up until now I have always gathered all of the "know-how" about makeup and cosmetics from books or from internet searches. I think art, design, and makeup are very connected to each other so I don't experience any particular difficulty when working with makeup.
What inspired you to become a makeup vlogger?
SSIN: In high school I became interested in cosplay and theatrical makeup and I would blog about it from time to time. When I turned 20 I began to learn more about every day makeup. For Koreans, 20 is the start of adulthood and being out of high school means that we can express ourselves more freely. It's common for girls to start experimenting with makeup at that age. That's when I started blogging about my journey with makeup with more frequency, though I still did cosplay too. Over time, my blog started gaining attention and I appeared as a guest on some popular shows such as Martian XFile and Star King where the focus was my transformative cosplay and makeup skills.
In 2012, I began to participate in makeup tutorial videos for Get It Beauty Self, a Youtube extension to the cable series Get It Beauty. After shooting a few of those, I decided that I liked it and I thought that I should do a project by myself. CJ E&M produces Get It Beauty and they invited me to become the first contributor for their Beauty in Me app. I started my Youtube channel in early 2014 in partnership with the Beauty in Me project.
You sense of humor makes your videos very fun to watch, did you develop a character for your channel?
SSIN: My personality is not exactly girlish and in school I was also always the class clown. That’s why this characteristic appears in my videos. That’s just who I am! I have this What’s in Your Pouch series in my channel called, "Bitch! Open Your Pouch!" Some people are turned off by my sense of humor but I wouldn’t compromise my style because of them.
That’s right! You’re doing well being yourself! I'm curious about your creative process too.
SSIN: The creative process depends on the particular video. Some videos come about very naturally from on-the-spot inspiration. Important projects like sponsored videos usually take over a month to produce since there are things like location scouting and obtaining the supplies. Then there is editing, the shortest editing time for a single video has been 4 hours and the longest has been over 7 days!
You consistently release high quality content at a rapid pace! Do you work alone or have you gathered staff to help you?
SSIN: My brother shoots, edits, and subtitles my videos and my best friend acts as my business manager. That’s my core team!
Your videos are subtitled in English. Does this mean that your videos are made with an international audience in mind too?
SSIN: Right now my viewers are 90% Korean, but as you know Youtube is an international platform, so I’m considering that factor. Korean cosmetics are already popular in China and Southeast Asia. They’re currently gaining popularity in the West, so it makes sense to help make information about them more accessible.
How was attending KCON 2014?
SSIN: KCON was very interesting. It was my first time to participate in a Korean event that was held abroad. I was very surprised to see that Korea’s singers, products, food, and culture were popular in another country and that many people attended. After participating at KCON, as a Korean I gained more confidence and I promised myself to continue working hard in developing new content.
Why do you think there is an increase of interest in Korean beauty and cosmetics?
SSIN: Korean cosmetics are known to be cheap and of good quality and that’s why I think they are popular abroad. While I personally like to use foreign cosmetics, I saw some American YouTubers review Korean cosmetics on their channels. I noticed that there is a demand for Korea’s Ulljjang, Get It Beauty, or Idol makeup. So in the future, I will target the international interest by introducing more Korean cosmetics, and special makeup worn by Korean celebrities in my videos.
At KCON only 40% of the attendees were Asian. What do you think about non-Asians wanting to follow Korean beauty trends?
SSIN: I want to make videos that appeal to my foreign fans but Asian and western faces are totally different. For example, many Asians have single eyelids but westerners tend to have deep-set and strong double eyelid creases, so it’s difficult for me to give tips that apply to their features. But I understand why they like Korea's natural makeup style so that’s why I try to give universal tips about skin care, choosing the right foundation, or choosing the right eyeshadow colors.
In one of your videos the subtitles said, “Plastic Surgery? That’s bullshit!" Does this mean that you are against cosmetic procedures?
SSIN: Did the subtitle say that? My brother does the subtitles and sometimes I feel as though he goes too far. (Laughs) That was to emphasize the transformative makeup technique in that video. I’m not really opposed to plastic surgery. I think it’s true that it’s become quite natural for women to spend a lot of time and money in order to become pretty. Nevertheless, the reason why I'm not getting plastic surgery is because I don’t want to have "one face." Some days I am ugly, some days pretty, and some days I am cool. I like expressing many different looks and sides of myself. That's why I use eyelid tape instead of doing the permanent double eyelid surgery.
Actually the criteria of beauty is very personal and I don’t want to impose a particular view. I simply make tutorial videos and I hope that viewers can adapt them in their individual ways.
You seem to be in a deep relationship with a special someone. Please introduce us!
SSIN: (Laughs) I met my cat Ruky under a car late at night around my college campus in Ansung. I named him after a musician I admired at the time. Ruky is 7kg and fully grown up, aged 6!
Will we see you at KCON again this year?
SSIN: Yes! I will be at KCON LA 2015. Come say hi!