Aysha Abdul didn’t set out to become a beauty influencer on YouTube. But after watching makeup tutorials from online stars like Michelle Phan and Andrea Brooks of “AndreasChoice,” Abdul was inspired to pick up her dad’s JBC camcorder and start recording videos.
She soon realized that even though she was entering the popular space of YouTube beauty influencers, there was one thing that set her apart.
“There was no one who was a Black hijabi putting on makeup on her face and making videos, so I kind of filled a void over there. I started building this community that looked like me and had the same interests as me and it was such like a special connection that I had with viewers,” she says, recalling what the landscape was like when she first started her channel in 2011.
Now her channel, which boasts 160,000 subscribers, hosts videos on everything from Fenty Beauty reviews to healthy meal prep ideas and a vlog taking viewers inside a Ethiopian and Somali wedding (Abdul is Ethopian-Canadian). While the topics change, one thing stays consistent: her unapologetic real talk about culture, makeup and beyond.
“People who think [women who wear the hijab are] soft-spoken and can’t talk for ourselves or defend ourselves, but it’s quite the opposite and I think through YouTube people are seeing that a little more,” says Abdul. “[People also think] that we’re not feminist because we choose to cover ourselves. I think a lot of people just think that we’re forced to wear a scarf over our head or dress modestly, which is totally not the case.”
Abdul’s content relates to viewers of all backgrounds, but she has a few tips specifically for her fellow hijabi women:
Tips for keeping avoiding makeup smudges on your hijab
One of the best ways Abdul has found to avoid getting makeup on her hijab is to simply loosen things up.
“Back in the day I used to wear my hijab so tight that my cheeks would pop out of my scarf, so when I took it off there was just so much makeup around it,” she says, adding that wearing her head scarf higher on her head also helps avoid makeup transfer.
The must-have product for all hijabi women
In addition to tying her hijab differently, Abdul says that a good setting spray can make a huge difference in avoiding makeup transfer and just generally keeping your beauty look #flawless. Her recommendation? Urban Decay’s All Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray ($40, sephora.com). “I’ve been using it for about about three years now and I always have backups on me,” says Abdul. “It is my go-to.”
As a YouTuber who often creates content under bright lights, Abdul also says that it’s important for hijabi women to pick up setting powders that avoid flashback—an issue that occurs with some setting powders, where they reflect light and appear super white in flash photos. One of Adbul’s faves is MAC’s collab with PatrickStarr ($34, maccosmetics.com), which works on darker skin tones.
The piece of makeup all women should own
Abdul’s channel has become a hit with women of all skin tones, beauty styles and backgrounds—and there is one product that the YouTube beauty influencer says that all women should own.
“Every woman needs like a really beautiful red lipstick—something that matches your skin tone, because obviously different reds are going to look different on everyone, but just one good red lipstick can honestly change everything,” says Abdul.
Her personal fave is Stila’s Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in “Beso” ($29, sephora.com). “It’s like a blueish-based red and it makes my skin tone pop,” says Abdul. “Every girl, no matter what skin tone, whether she wears a hijab or not, needs a good red lip.”
What to say to people who don’t think hijabi women should wear makeup
A common misconception that Abdul hears is that women, like her, who choose to wear the hijab shouldn’t also wear makeup—and in response, she says people need to reconsider why women wear makeup in general.
“There’s a reason people wear makeup and it’s not only to please men… if [wearing makeup] makes someone confident, then let them wear it,” she says. “I don’t see the argument with that, and obviously, people can have their own opinions and I respect that, but I think people should respect other people’s opinions as well as choices.”