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Photograph: Gabriela HermanFranchesca Ramsey of Chescalocs (youtube.com/chescalocs)Who she is: After a bad dye job caused most of her hair to break and fall out, Ramsey decided to ditch damaging, expensive perms and dreadlocked her tresses in February 2004. Though she’d often consult online loc community Get Up Dread Up (get-up-dread-up.livejournal.com) for styling tips and ideas, Ramsey noticed a few gaps in the information that was available on the Internet. “The forum is mostly Caucasian, and while I still learned a lot, there were things [the members] didn’t have the answers to or that we disagreed on because we have different hair textures,” she says. “It encouraged me to use my voice to talk about my own experience and what I had learned.” Ramsey also noticed a dearth in video content for natural hairstyling. So when she received an iMac with a built-in camera as a present for graduating from the Miami International University of Art & Design, it was just the catalyst the web-savvy graphic designer needed to create her first video in 2007.About her channel: Initially, Ramsey posted a mix of hairstyle tutorials and comedy videos on youtube.com/chescaleigh, but as her audience grew, she found a need to divide her two interests into separate channels. Shortly after moving to New York City from Miami in 2009, Ramsey launched Chescalocs, which is almost exclusively dedicated to loc hairstyles. “I didn’t realize how versatile my hair is,” reflects the self-taught 28-year-old, who has earned nearly 22,000 subscribers for her entertaining, creative tutorials that range from how to fashion oversized buns, pipe-cleaner curls and twisted faux-hawks to the logistics of loc extensions and making an at-home deep-cleaning solution. “I don’t have to see a style on someone that has locs in order to come up with my own version,” notes Ramsey. To wit, she has successfully recreated Janelle Monáe’s signature pompadour and Karmin singer Amy Heidemann’s retro “suicide roll” for locs. But Ramsey doesn’t merely take pop-cultural cues for her videos, which she films and edits herself in her Queens abode. For her “Loc Stars” series, Ramsey features her favorite subscriber-posted hairstyles from her Facebook fan page (facebook.com/chescaleigh). “It’s kind of my way of saying, ‘Thank you for watching and inspiring me,’ ” she explains.Go-to product: “I’m in constant rotation—I try a lot of stuff,” says Ramsey. “But one thing that I’ve been using for a long time is Jamaican Black Castor Oil (jamaicanblackcastoroil.com), which is a great moisturizer. It has made a really big difference in the thickness and fullness of my hair.”Watch this now: One of Ramsey’s most-viewed videos is about a roller-free curling method called “loc knots,” in which dreds are folded in half and wrapped around themselves to form a short ’do. Eventually, they are unraveled to reveal springy coils. “The curls last a really long time and they kind of change the longer you wear them—they start to loosen—so it’s really three styles in one,” she says.
Photograph: Gabriela HermanJessica Harlow of Miss Jessica Harlow (youtube.com/missjessicaharlow)Who she is: Harlow first fell into makeup when she was a teen suffering from acne. “I had to find ways to cover it up using concealers,” she explains. But that necessity soon turned into a passion, as she started taking an interest in the makeup looks featured in magazines and music videos. “I was the girl that everybody came to for beauty advice in high school,” she says. While working at Bloomingdale’s makeup counters such as Origins, Laura Mercier and MAC, Harlow started watching other people’s beauty tutorials and was inspired to launch her own channel in February 2009. Within a few months, the St. John’s University undergrad gained enough followers to make her a YouTube Partner—which allows her to generate revenue from her videos through ads—and she dropped out of college to pursue vlogging full time. “School is always going to be there,” she says of her decision. “I felt [that there was] a lot of potential with this.”About her channel: Harlow’s first video demonstrated how to achieve burlesque performer Dita von Teese’s retro makeup, and the 22-year-old hasn’t strayed from her celebrity-influenced origins since. In addition to producing sexy, wearable looks plucked from pop culture (Megan Fox’s sun-kissed visage, the gold-leaf eyes Emma Watson wore to a Harry Potter premiere), Harlow isn’t afraid to have fun with wild costume makeup—her videos recreating artist-model Rick Genest’s “Zombie Boy” face and Natalie Portman’s dramatic winged eyes from Black Swan make her channel one to bookmark for Halloween. But what sets her apart is the upbeat, positive attitude that has earned her close to 330,000 subscribers. “When I started, everybody was just doing makeup tutorials; nobody was really focusing on self-esteem or inspiring people to have better lives,” says Harlow, who begins her weekly beauty tutorials with the tagline, “Hello, gorgeous!” and has since launched a separate channel (youtube.com/jessicaharlow) devoted to motivational videos. “I always include some sort of inspirational quote or thoughts that I’m having.” Perhaps even more impressive is that the polished, professional videos Harlow films and edits in the basement of her Queens home are rarely rehearsed. “I really never practice my looks before I do them,” she admits.Go-to product: Although major cosmetic brands such as Lancôme and Bobbi Brown have sponsored videos that feature their products, one item Harlow constantly uses in her tutorials of her own accord is Urban Decay’s Eyeshadow Primer Potion (urbandecay.com). “It keeps your eye makeup on forever,” swears Harlow. “I can tell when someone doesn’t use primer because you’ll see a line of eye shadow clumped up across their lids. This makes [your eye shadow] look exactly the same as when you put it on.”Watch this now: Harlow’s videos routinely garner six-figure hits, but her most widely watched clip is a how-to on Katy Perry’s technicolor “California Gurls” makeup (it racked up a whopping 6.7 million views). Even if you don’t plan on wearing a blue wig and a cupcake bra anytime soon, you can still learn some helpful tricks about using glitter on your eyelids.
Photograph: Gabriela HermanRaychel Wade of Cheek to Chic(youtube.com/chicmakeup160)Who she is: A professional makeup artist for the past ten years, Wade serves as the color ambassador for upscale beauty brand La Prairie and runs Cheek to Chic (cheektochic.com), the mobile makeup service she founded in 2002. “The whole genesis of the business was based on makeup lessons,” she says. “I try to demystify the industry and make it more user-friendly, and I think having a YouTube channel is a great way to do that.” As an extension of her company, Wade started posting tutorials in March 2010 at no cost to her roughly 5,000 subscribers, offering the expertise she’s learned through the years working for big-name clients such as Elle, Shiseido and Old Navy. “I’m in the trenches of photo shoots and in hundreds of real women’s bathrooms giving makeup lessons, so I truly know what women are looking for, where they get stumped and how much time they have in the morning,” she says.About her channel: Wade focuses strictly on makeup, and her tutorials are reflective of her professional experience. For instance, since she often does weddings, there are a handful of bridal beauty how-tos. A Jersey Shore series details how Wade created photo shoot looks for each of the female cast members. “People want to know exactly what I did on the set,” she says. “I think it’s really exciting for people to see the exact foundation I used on someone.” Wade also demonstrates how to achieve the red carpet looks of celebrities she hasn’t worked on, such as Eva Longoria at the Golden Globes and Adele at the VMAs—all presented with a self-deprecating, down-to-earth attitude. “I’m not trying to solve world [hunger], I’m just showing people some new lipsticks,” jokes Wade, who films out of her Chelsea apartment. “Makeup should be fun. You can wash it off at the end of the day, and it shouldn’t be stressful.”Go-to product: “I always gravitate towards Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk foundation (giorgioarmanibeauty-usa.com),” says Wade. “I use it on pretty much every client, and it’s what I wear personally. It has a great color range, it’s buildable, it looks like skin, it feels weightless—it’s all of the things you want a foundation to be.”Watch this now: While Wade’s most-viewed video covers the girly look of Jersey Shore’s Sammi “Sweetheart” Giancola (it has received more than 327,000 hits), we’re partial to her spot on Kate Middleton’s everyday makeup, which better fits Wade’s low-key demographic. “I’m speaking to a thirtysomething crowd, which people want to see,” she says. “A lot of the vloggers are really young and [what they’re doing] doesn’t help someone living a busy life in New York, trying to balance kids and work and knowing how to put makeup on.”
NYC’s best beauty vloggers
Tune in to these local YouTubers’ channels for free expert hair and makeup advice.