Alyssa Wallace offers this beauty tidbit:
”My holy grail beauty product is mayonnaise. It sounds crazy, but as a deep-conditioning protein treatment, it works. People with curly hair have really good reactions from this,” she says.
“If you color your hair or you straighten your curls and you want your curls to go back to being perfect curls, mayonnaise really helps to kick that in motion. If you have damaged hair, mayonnaise will get it back in shape.”
On June 12, 2013, Alyssa Wallace uploaded a tutorial to YouTube in which she instructed viewers in the art of the bantu knot-out – a hair-twisting technique that results in curling-ironesque waves without heat damage.
Come October, the number of views on the video toppled the 1 million mark, and Wallace’s subscriber count had grown to 20,000.
“I still can’t believe it,” Wallace, 21, says. “It’s crazy how quickly things happened. I didn’t know I was that good at this!”
But she is that good – good enough that she left her job at a local retirement community to post full-time on her ever more popular YouTube channel, Alyssa Forever, which showcases hair tutorials, makeup techniques and beauty product reviews.
Wallace says her perfectionism means it takes her about two weeks between videos. She spends her days researching and experimenting before she hits record, and she claims that videos are always on her mind.
Wallace’s aunt, a hairstylist, kick-started her love of self-taught experimentation with hair and makeup when she was a child.
“It hasn’t always been something I’ve been passionate about, but it’s always been something that I could do,” Wallace says. “If I needed to do my hair, I knew I could do it myself. Then other people started to make it apparent that this is actually a talent – a lot of people can’t do their own hair and makeup. That’s when I started to really embrace it.”
Wallace took a chance on her newfound celebrity by applying for Allure magazine’s Beauty Blogger Awards, a yearly competition in which YouTube’s best and brightest beauty enthusiasts vie for top honors. Applicants are judged on the merits of their submissions: a five-video portfolio and a short essay detailing their desire to win. Wallace was shocked to make it into the top 10, and even more shocked to win.
“I was freaking out when they contacted me,” Wallace says. “I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t.”
One year, one award and more than 150,000 subscribers later, Wallace has settled comfortably into Internet stardom. But she isn’t content to slow down. Citing other YouTube beauty personalities such as Bethany Mota and Michelle Phan, whose faces are featured in major ad campaigns and whose subscriber counts are in the millions, Wallace aspires to reach similar heights – on her own terms.
“I really want to be something like they are; they have their own clothing and makeup lines,” she says. “I really see myself owning my own something and trying to be an inspiration for everyone.”
This month, Wallace will travel to New York for a photoshoot and is slated to appear in the October issue of Allure. In September, she’ll make the rounds at New York Fashion Week and Allure’s Best of Beauty party. She also intends to tour Revlon’s international headquarters in New York, where she’ll participate in a question-and-answer session with their cosmetic chemists.
But despite her success, Wallace remains committed to her viewers.
“There are a lot of insecure people out there, and society makes us believe that we’re not perfect the way we are, but I want people to embrace who they are,” Wallace says. “Makeup isn’t to put on a face or a mask; it’s to amplify the beauty that you already have and accentuate your best features. It’s a way of expressing yourself. With beauty, I can be true to myself and embrace myself by accentuating the things I love about myself.”