Beauty Blogs And Instagram Feeds Don’t Get Chicer Than Eco Chic Beauty
Yenny Khan is a beauty late bloomer. She didn’t use makeup until she was a high school senior and, even after that, stuck to a handful of basic products. Five years ago, Khan switched to clean personal care and a fascination with beauty swelled. “Maybe I’m just making for lost time,” the 36-year-old chuckles. “I’m really interested in skincare because it’s a time to myself. It’s something personal.” Khan, who blogs and is on Instagram under the handle Eco Chic Beauty, gives fans peeks into that something personal with well-crafted pictures of stunning skincare bottles. As she advances her digital content, Khan is starting to reveal more about the person who takes those impeccable shots. Beauty Independent talked with her about coming out from behind the camera, choosing not to take money for social media posts, partnering with brands and heading every workday to an office that has nothing to do with beauty.
How did you get into beauty?
I have a marketing degree from Virginia Tech. For my full-time job, I work at a really large aerospace and defense company, and I do business development. How I got into beauty has nothing to do with my full-time job. Thankfully, I don’t have a health concern that prompted me to get into green beauty. I had been practicing yoga for many years, and I was into eating healthily. I don’t know how I came across green beauty. When I started first getting into green beauty five years ago, I joined Instagram. I came across a post about toxins, and someone mentioned the book No More Dirty Looks. I got a copy for myself and was blown away. Once I read the book, over the course of one night, I threw away all my beauty and skincare products, and started fresh.
Were you interested in beauty growing up?
The funny thing is no. My mom has tons of skincare products, but they are conventional skincare products. I was more of a minimalist. I only had a few products, and those were my go-to products. I would get the same thing over and over. Then, I entered this world of green beauty. I was experimenting with it, and it became a hobby and obsession.
When did you start building your online presence?
About five years ago. Around the same time I joined Instagram, I was getting into green beauty. I wasn’t looking to build an online presence because I have a full-time job. Green beauty was something I was interested in and wanted to get more knowledgeable about. I wanted to learn more about products and ingredients. Once I started building an online presence, I connected with brands and other green beauty enthusiasts. It’s a small, tight-knit community.
What were your early Eco Chic Beauty posts like?
It was showing people what I bought. It was a show-and-tell thing. It was nothing serious. I didn’t get into reviewing products.
When did Eco Chic Beauty start to gain traction?
It was probably about four years ago. At that point, I maybe had a couple thousand followers. I realized it was getting a little more serious when brands started reaching out to me. The first brand that reached out to me was Lina Hanson. She’s incredibly sweet, and she sent me products to try. I was amazed at how well they work. It was completely new to me to receive products. I would always buy the products myself. I never had brands reach out to me and say, “Hey, would you be interested in trying this product?” I thought, “This is kind of cool. Maybe I was meant to have a presence online and on Instagram.”
What sort of posts are Eco Chic Beauty followers most interested in?
There are a few different types of posts they are really interested in. The first one is the round-up post when I post about a particular type of beauty product, and I include different brands in the post. Another one would be when I post about favorite cult beauty brands. People love May Lindstrom, Josh Rosebrook and Earthwise Beauty. These brands have huge followings, for good reason. They are great brands with effective products, and the founders are great as well. Another type of post people seem to love is routine posts that go over AM or PM routines. People are interested in what other people are doing.
How long do you test a product before you post about it?
For some products, it’s easy to get a sense quickly of whether you like it and how it works for your skin, especially cleansers, masks, toners and mists. Then, there are other products like serums and face oils, and it takes more time to see if those products work well for your skin. Sometimes I will use those for a week, and I will put my initial thoughts. Then, I will continue to use them for three or four weeks. At that point, I feel comfortable forming an opinion about how I feel about the products.
How do you like brands to reach out to you?
They will DM me on Instagram, which is fine, but I prefer email because it seems more professional. The emails that I really appreciate ask me what my skin type is so the brand can recommend the best products for me to try. Those are the ones I look forward to receiving.
You don’t ask brands to pay you for posts. Will you charge in the future?
Blogging is not a business for me. It’s a hobby and something I do for fun. I don’t feel comfortable charging brands because most of the brands I work with are small businesses that are trying to get their names out there and grow. I am more than happy to try the products without getting compensated at all. Another reason I don’t charge is because I want to stay as authentic and honest as possible. When I review products, I want to stay unbiased. I don’t want people to get the wrong impression.
Do you think your audience would be upset by a sponsored post?
I think they think I’m honest and, if they thought otherwise, they would post a comment about it, but I have never received any of those comments. I like to be open and transparent. I always put a note saying whether a product was gifted to me by a brand. On my blog, I have a disclaimer saying that the reviews are based on my own impressions and are not influenced by the brand.
Are your blogging and Instagram feed going to stay merely a hobby?
It’s going to stay a hobby for me. I don’t think I could do it full-time because it’s too stressful. Now, I don’t have a set schedule for when I post. I like the flexibility of posting whenever I want or whatever I want. I don’t want brands to tell me all the stipulations they have for posting. I will continue not to charge, but I may think about do an affiliate or ambassador type of program or work on a special project for a brand. It would be nice to get compensated for that. I know I wouldn’t make a lot of money off of it, but it might be nice to cover the costs of hosting the blog, the photography equipment, the props and my time.
If you don’t like a product, what do you do?
I definitely tell the brand first. I tell them my honest opinion of the product. I think it’s important that they hear feedback. At the same time, I’m just one person. If I didn’t like it, it doesn’t mean someone else isn’t going to like it. That’s why I still post about it. I know some bloggers only post about what they like. That’s fine, but I feel readers should also see products that don’t work as well. I always try to put it in the nicest way possible. I don’t like to bash brands.
What do you think works when it comes to partnerships with brands?
Giveaways are good exposure for me and a brand. I have a giveaway going on with Earthwise Beauty right now. It’s interactive. I’m asking followers to tell me when they first fell in love with green beauty. They post their story along with a special hashtag. At the end of the month, Earthwise Beauty and I will read the different entries, and we will pick three of our favorites. They each get a $150 gift certificate to Earthwise Beauty.
You started your blog earlier this year. Why?
I think it’s time to evolve, and show other aspects of my life and interests that I have, which are eco-fashion, sustainable living, health and wellness. All of these things really go together. It’s really a lifestyle.
After you launched the blog, you took a hiatus because you fractured your arm. How did that happen?
It’s not even a funny story. I can’t be like, “I got into a fight.” I was trying to step over a dog gate at home. Somehow, the gate fell, and I fell on top of the gate and landed on my arm. I told my followers that I fractured my arm, and I was going to get back into blogging, but it would be a slow process. I couldn’t pick up a camera and do proper pictures, so I had to resort to my iPhone, and I went back to just being on Instagram for a while.
How many posts do you typically put up in a week?
Maybe one to four. It really depends. There are some weeks when I do zero because I’m extremely busy at work. I can only blog in my spare time at night or on the weekends. One thing that has worked well for me is doing all the product pictures at one time. I will do them all over one weekend and space out posting them.
What’s the process of creating a post like for Eco Chic Beauty?
I’m a very visual person, so I’m always thinking in my head about how I’m going to photograph a product. Usually, the words come after. For Instagram, it could take an hour to three hours to do a post. I think people don’t believe that, but I’m constantly going over my post again and again. There is a limitation to how many words there can be, so you have to edit. Blog posts take a long time. Usually, I can get everything done in a day, but it may take four to six hours. I take the pictures with a nice camera, and I make sure everything looks great. The hardest thing for me is the wording. I’m pretty particular about grammar, and I want things to flow well. For my introduction post, I had 75 iterations because I wanted to get it perfect.
Are there natural beauty trends you sense are on the rise? What ones might go away?
For skincare, I’m really interested in brands that include ancient practices like TCM [traditional Chinese medicine] or Ayurveda. I also think we will see more skincare influenced by other cultures, and I think we will see wellness and beauty collide. Adaptogens are huge, and I have started to see them be used in formulations, which is really cool. Formulators are realizing that they are not just good for ingesting, but they are good for your skin. I think maybe brands will go away from so many oils. Skincare is really saturated right now with face oils.
What do you think of self-care?
People are saying that self-care is a buzzword, and conventional brands have jumped on self-care as a trend, but I think it’s good overall. I like to have time to myself and unwind. You are not going to look your best unless you feel your best.
What changes do you envision in the social media landscape going forward?
A lot of bloggers and influencers are frustrated with Instagram and its limitations, whether it’s the algorithm or how many words you can put in a post. If there is a new platform that’s like Instagram or better, everyone might jump ship and go to that new platform.
You have largely kept behind the camera. Why?
I like a sense of privacy and, initially, for my job, I thought it would be better to stay on the other side of the camera, but I realized that people want to make a connection and know who they are following. So, I’m getting in front of the camera instead of staying behind it. That will allow them to get to know me.
Eco Chic Beauty seems like your alter ego. Is it?
It feels almost like an alter ego. In the aerospace and defense business, a lot of the people I work with are older and ex-military, so I don’t think they care about skincare. I have tried to convert a couple of women co-workers who are closer in age to me. It’s been fun doing that, but my blog and Instagram are definitely different from my day job.